Why do use a NAS? Related questions

x509

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Title should be: Why do you use a NAS?

I'm gong to do a new build soon, so I was wondering if I should convert my present system into a NAS. But I have these questions:

  • WHY do you use a NAS? What use cases? Types of Files?
  • How many clients? PCs? Macs? other?
  • What kind of storage? How many TB? How many drives?
  • RAID?
  • Which vendor?
  • if you have a homebuilt, what software?
Thanks for replying.
 
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daglesj

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I just use it as a always on data dump/file share and archive. All the others apps and functionality is either uninstalled or switched off. Got about 3-4 machines (all windows) hanging off it.

It's a simple QNAP in RAID1 with 2x3TB WD REDS.

Homebuilds are just too much hassle and effort. The QNAP and it's like are just set and forget, not to mention smaller and quieter.
 

Archaea

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QNAP or Synology NASes are so simple, effective, cheap to run, and easy to use/setup — there is little reason to use a PC for most home use NAS cases — unless you just need tremendous storage. (SAN level)

I bought a QNAP 231P for <$150
Hot swappable bays, extremely low power use, great support, nice apps, NEVER misses a beat, never misses backups to external USB. I threw a couple 10TB WD drives in it from $160 external USBs that were shucked and have them in a 10TB mirror. <$500 total.

It’s fast, feels as fast as a local platter drive on a 1GB NIC for home use. I used 802.3ad to team the two 1GB NICs. I love the QNAP apps that let you access your pics and files from your phone. Also all my phone data syncs automatically from my iPhone to the NAS. No more manually sync of pictures and videos. It just happens in the background. You can use it as a small forum webserver, to record surveillance camera feeds, stream DLNA, sftp server/drop box type functionality and to download torrents. You can even pull up a linux command line for advanced users who want more granular control over the OS. Its really a great little device for $150 ish. Want to upgrade to larger drives with data in place? Yes you can! If it ever dies you just pull both drives, put them in the same, or newer model QNAP chassis and they will just work.

In fact, the whole thing just works!!!

I’ve served from it at my 20 person annual LAN party the last couple years for game downloads and uploads. It does surprisingly well for being their base model. With the teamed 1GB NICs I do see a performance boost with multiple people downloading simultaneously.

Simpler, easier, cheaper, and more reliable than a PC. Support, if needed, is also great — and free. Cut a problem ticket from inside the NAS OS, QNAP uploads the logs they need (with permission) and solves the problem. All really automated.

Encrypt your files, simple app to setup a free SSL cert for remote access that automatically renews for free every six months. Upgraded models will run Plex. What more do you want?
 
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iroc409

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Mine is a Dell T110ii with a Xeon and 32GB RAM running plain FreeBSD that I've had now for maybe 4-5 years I'd guess. It has a 128Gb SSD (severe overkill) for the boot drive and 4x4TB WD Reds in ZFS mirrors for 8TB of storage and it's currently 75% full. I think it's only my second home file server, the first one being some server AMD something-or-other dual core with ECC on a Supermicro or Tyan or something I got used cheap (probably Athlon 64 based).

Originally my journey started out as a Windows Home Server and it was mostly backing up network computers at home in a very unattended and easy manner. It was great for upgrading client machine hard drives with no fuss in place. Eventually I started migrating shared files to the server. Then at some point WHS was going away and I was ZFS-curious so I converted my server to vanilla FreeBSD and haven't looked back. I wanted ZFS and ECC for data integrity, which back then didn't really matter but I do a lot of photography now and I work straight off the machine over the network.

I've considered going back to local storage, at least to work off of, but like having ZFS protection and my shared storage for media PCs and the like is a must. I've considered moving to Synology, but I have all my cron tasks for backups and configurations and such all pretty and ready, and just about everything has security holes these days so I just stick with what I have. I would like to upgrade the machine as it has no native USB 3 and slower SATA.

It's never been heavily loaded for clients, never more than probably 6 clients at the most and that would include desktops, laptops, and media PCs so it doesn't get used hard.
 

Joust

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I use SuperMicro chassis (12-, 16-, and 24-bay). Migrated off xeon enterprise gear to Ivy Bridge for operational costs. I use FreeBSD / FreeNAS, in ZFS 2 (RAID 6-like). I have between 1 and 4 remote users, and 1 - 3 local.

It's not small. It's not quiet. It's not cheap.

However, it's a lot cheap(er) than a prebuilt enterprise solution in any flavor.
 

x509

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I just use it as a always on data dump/file share and archive. All the others apps and functionality is either uninstalled or switched off. Got about 3-4 machines (all windows) hanging off it.

It's a simple QNAP in RAID1 with 2x3TB WD REDS.

Homebuilds are just too much hassle and effort. The QNAP and it's like are just set and forget, not to mention smaller and quieter.
I really like this answer. At some point, you can save some money but you set yourself up for time-consuming hassles and the risk of the system not working properly. I like to stick with what I know, which is Windows. I barely know Linux, from my (very) old UNIX days.

I'm sure I can find other uses for my current rig, when I replace it with a much faster new build.
 

Joust

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I really like this answer. At some point, you can save some money but you set yourself up for time-consuming hassles and the risk of the system not working properly. I like to stick with what I know, which is Windows. I barely know Linux, from my (very) old UNIX days.

I'm sure I can find other uses for my current rig, when I replace it with a much faster new build.
You probably would get more relevant responses if you told us what your needs are.
 

x509

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QNAP or Synology NASes are so simple, effective, cheap to run, and easy to use/setup — there is little reason to use a PC for most home use NAS cases — unless you just need tremendous storage. (SAN level)

I bought a QNAP 231P for <$150
Also all my phone data syncs automatically from my iPhone to the NAS. No more manually sync of pictures and videos. It just happens in the background.
Just curious about your iPhone sync. I hate, hate, hate iTunes. Did I say that I'm not happy with iTunes. I'm seriously looking for a replacement for the 2 iPhones and 2 iPads in our house. I'm willing to spend some $$$ if necessary. What do you use?
 

notarat

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Just curious. What do you guys think of Drobo?
We had 2 5-bay Drobo's at work and both died around 2 weeks past the warranty cut-off. I am not impressed with them

I use a QNAP TVS-951X at home with 5 HGST 8TB drives and 4 512Gb SSDs in it (for cache) and I'm HIGHLY impressed with the simplicity of the setup and speed of the 10Gbe connection.

I can generate 5-10GB of content per weekent (mainly photography using a 43Mpixel Sony) and video to boot so I need space for backups since the files I generate are for my side/weekend job.
 

Archaea

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Just curious about your iPhone sync. I hate, hate, hate iTunes. Did I say that I'm not happy with iTunes. I'm seriously looking for a replacement for the 2 iPhones and 2 iPads in our house. I'm willing to spend some $$$ if necessary. What do you use?
QNap’s QPhoto app install on iPhone and my wifes android. Set it autosync the pictures with the NAS. Simple as that. Does it all in the background. My phone photos are on my NAS nearly immediately.
 

Spartacus09

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Just curious. What do you guys think of Drobo?
Overpriced for what you get out of drobo~ synology or QNAP would be better price to performance and have alot more options on number of bays, nic connections, and internal compute capability.
That said if you build it yourself you also won't be locked to their specific hardware, if you get a drobo and it fails you have to get another drobo to get the data, the same goes for qnap/synology (unless you do raid1).

Freenas,unraid, ceph, and the like are all great options, heck software raid via windows isnt a horrible option if you are just wanting basic raid1.

edit:
  • WHY do you use a NAS? What use cases? Types of Files?
    protection in case of single drive failure, ease of distributing and saving files
    primarily home media, photos/videos of kiddos, backups
  • How many clients? PCs? Macs? other?
    4-5 max (generally 1-2 simultaneous) pc, mac, and ios
  • What kind of storage? How many TB? How many drives?
    formerly QNAP nas with WD white shucks, 60TB on 12 drives (2 parity) ~ adding more soon when they sell those 8TB WD easystores cheap again :)
  • RAID?
    formerly raid 6, now using unRAID (which is similar dual disk protection)
  • Which vendor?
    QNAP and now custom built hardware (supermicro mostly)
  • if you have a homebuilt, what software?
    unRAID ~ slow compared to freenas or a similar raided disk setup, but fantastic for video/file archive and serving that doesnt need to push more than 100MB/s and really nice to expand (you can expand by one disk at a time compared to multiples required for other OSes)
(sidenote i started off with a drobo 5d, then upgraded to a qnap 1635ax, and now on unraid)
 
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x509

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You probably would get more relevant responses if you told us what your needs are.
To be honest, I'm not sure, except to provide more storage for all my LAN clients. So far, I have been using a jackleg NAS in the form of lots of storage in my main rig, which is then shared out. However, I know that has issues. The files that I would share include all files on my phones and tablets, including apps, music, some photos, books, etc. I also want to be able to share my main photo collection, which is approaching 2 TB and growing. What we don't have is purchased or downloaded movies and TV shows. Those are stored on a Comcast set-top box, which is a completely sealed off environment. If it matters, we just got a Roku stick. All this storage is about 3+ TB right now.

I also have a collection of software downloads, which I use so I can do one download and install on all clients or which I have downloaded so I can try them out in the future, another 300 GB. I'm thinking about converting my remaining software CDs and DVDs. I suspect that if I did that, I would do a heavy cull on those software CDs and DVDs.

One side benefit of getting a NAS is that I would need a smaller case for my next build.
 

Spartacus09

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One side benefit of getting a NAS is that I would need a smaller case for my next build.
I went from a mondo full sized tower to a really sleek mid tower and cable managed the hell out of it, its really easy to get a clean looking case with great airflow when you dont need a cd drive or hdd bays.
 

daglesj

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I really like this answer. At some point, you can save some money but you set yourself up for time-consuming hassles and the risk of the system not working properly. I like to stick with what I know, which is Windows. I barely know Linux, from my (very) old UNIX days.

I'm sure I can find other uses for my current rig, when I replace it with a much faster new build.

The thing is a few too many on this site feel that in order to be an 'enthusiast' you always have to take the 'sledgehammer to crack a nut' route. However, those of us that work in the real world where time is money often just take the simplest and easiest (not to mention reliable) route to achieve the same outcome.

There is no disgrace in letting something else take the strain rather than you. Get a QNAP/Synology, unpack it, stuff the drives in, plug it in, set it up via the web interface and be down the pub 30 minutes later...
 

Keljian

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I run a self built Esxi box with freenas across 8 drives (raidz2)

I store work and home content on it.

I am seriously considering moving to a qnap, with bigger drives (2tb drives at the moment) when I have some spare cash on hand, but I have had bit-rot on photos before so I am a bit “once bitten, twice shy”

To be honest the main motivation to move is power, and it would take years to justify the difference so I may just be better getting a cheap Ryzen board to replace what I have (as they use less power) and be done with it

I serve about 15-20 clients, but 2-4 at a time primarily
 
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jlbenedict

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  • WHY do you use a NAS? What use cases? Types of Files? - I store software, operating system ISO's.. and media files (photos, music and video) ; also carve out an NFS share for virtual machines to my proxmox hosts
  • How many clients? PCs? Macs? other? - Clients = my own workstation and my 3-node Proxmox cluster connected to the NFS share; Emby server connected to the SMB share.
  • What kind of storage? How many TB? How many drives? - 4 x 2TB Seagate Skyhawk drives...
  • RAID? - RAID 10, for 4 TB total space
  • Which vendor? - Netgear ReadyNAS 2304 (RR2304) - Rack mount, 1u, 4-bay NAS.. People shit on Netgear, but i have had absolutely no issues with this NAS. I use it for strictly storage only.. i don't use any of the applications that are available on it
  • if you have a homebuilt, what software? - N/A
 

OFaceSIG

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My answers below.

I'm gong to do a new build soon, so I was wondering if I should convert my present system into a NAS. But I have these questions:

  • WHY do you use a NAS? What use cases? Types of Files?
  • - I use NAS so I can have a CIFS share on every machine in my house.
  • How many clients? PCs? Macs? other?
  • - 4/5 at any given time. All PCs.
  • What kind of storage? How many TB? How many drives?
  • - 3TB, two SATA Seagate 3TB drives.
  • RAID?
  • - ZFS mirror. ZFS or go home. Unless you have a server with hardware RAID, no other software RAID compares to ZFS.
  • Which vendor?
  • - Used hardware off ebay/[H]
  • if you have a homebuilt, what software?
  • - FreeNAS or go home
My signature has all the hardware I'm running.
 
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Ready4Dis

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  • WHY do you use a NAS? What use cases? Types of Files?
  • Plex media server, minecraft server, backups, software to share between machines, networked dev machine (web based IDE on my own server)
  • How many clients? PCs? Macs? other?
  • I have 6 desktops and a couple of laptops that connect, all PC's.
  • What kind of storage? How many TB? How many drives?
  • I have 6 500gb drives for a total of 1.5TB...
  • RAID?
  • Yes, 1+0, I get about 1TB/s read speeds on benchmarks... plus a have an SSD as the main drive (but it's SATA, so is actually slower than my mechanicals in sequential). It's a hardware raid with a 256MB cache and battery backup.
  • Which vendor?
  • It's a Dell R710 with dual xeon processors 6/12 each, so 12 cores and 24 threads total, with 96GB of RAM with 3 channels for each processor. This is slightly more than an ATOM CPU in a NAS, but hey.
  • if you have a homebuilt, what software?
  • It's hardware raid. I run Ubuntu with docker. I was using proxmox but I switched over recently and am happy with the results. I also 1gb/s ethernet which I can easily saturate with file transfers. My server has 4 1gb NICS, but all my PC's only have a single NIC connecting to it.
Full disclosure, I have crappy satellite internet that turns into basically dial up once I hit 10GB... so I download a file once and transfer to all PC's if needed. I also have a quad TV tuner card installed on the server and use it to capture, record and play digital OTA (so it's a pretty expensive DVR).
 

SomeFknGuy

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Title should be: Why do you use a NAS?

I'm gong to do a new build soon, so I was wondering if I should convert my present system into a NAS. But I have these questions:

  • WHY do you use a NAS? What use cases? Types of Files?
  • How many clients? PCs? Macs? other?
  • What kind of storage? How many TB? How many drives?
  • RAID?
  • Which vendor?
  • if you have a homebuilt, what software?
Thanks for replying.

I use my NAS as a file dump, plex server, and backup platform for my phone and main PC. Total clients(if you include plex) would be about 12. 8 drive, 5x4tb WD Reds and 3x10tb WD Reds. Total storage after parity, system partition, and "apps" is right at 30TB. The system I'm running now is a QNAP unit, though before I had a few servers(R710, 2950, and a HP DL380) and the qnap has filled in and taken the place of all 3 without any noticeable loss in performance.
 

Dead Parrot

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Why: Central location for files and backups. Also avoids need for shares on the PCs.
Clients: 4 or so of mine. Plus any I am fixing for friends while in the house.
2 TB - 2 drives - Raid 1
Dlink DNS-325 - no longer sold

Drives were purchased a couple of months before the great Thailand flood/storm that caused prices to spike many years ago. Think they were $69 per drive.
 

Skillz

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I mostly use mine to store the media for Plex.

I also store other files, mostly pictures I've taken. I also run a large file repository for an old PC game and I keep a backup of the online repository on my NAS in case my server ever fails or something happens to it.

It's got 6, 3TB hard drives. 1, 8TB drive and 1, 1GB drive. No RAID. All separate drive letters.

Media files are saved once to a drive.
Files I want to keep protected/safe I have a copy across two drives.
Repository files on one drive. If that drive fails, I'll just grab them off my server when I replace the drives.

I fooled around with software raid and hardware raid. Just too much hassle IMHO.

I started with 1, 1TB drive. Then it grew to 2, 1TB drives all the way up to 4 before I started buying 3TB drives. Got up to 7 3TB drives and I've been slowly replacing the 3TB drives with 8TB drives.

It's running on a 10c/20t Xeon CPU w/ 48GB DDR3 mated to a x99 motherboard.

(started on an Intel i7 870.)
 

w1retap

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2x 250GB Samsung Evo 850 SSD's (VM Datastore)
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Hypervisor: ESXi 6.7
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VM2: Windows Server 2012 R2
VM3: pfSense
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Functions as my media server (CableCARD support + Emby Server), file server with SnapRAID, Ubiquiti UniFi Video server, network monitoring with PRTG, pfsense firewall, and Pi-Hole.

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crazycuz20

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  • WHY do you use a NAS? File server/Plex server/VM's for homelab
  • How many clients? PCs? Macs? other? 3 window's PC's, iPad, iPhone, AppleTV, 2 smart TVs
  • What kind of storage? How many TB? How many drives? 5 X 5 TB, 64GB jail SSD
  • RAID? zfs
  • Which vendor? AMD 1920X, 4X8 DDR4 3200, Intel x540 10G nic, Supermicro rack chassis
  • if you have a homebuilt, what software? Dual boot: Freenas and Windows 10 Pro with Hypervisor
 

daglesj

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Norco RPC-4220 4U Rackmount Case
1000w Corsair RM1000 Power Supply
Asrock Rack EP2C612 WS Motherboard w/ IPMI/KVM
2x Intel Xeon E5-2667v3
64GB (8x8GB) Samsung DDR4-2133 Registered (8x M393A1G40DB0-CPB)
1x Intel Pro 1000 Dual Gigabit PCIe Ethernet Adapter
3x IBM m1015 SAS Controllers Flashed to IT Mode
2x 250GB Samsung Evo 850 SSD's (VM Datastore)
7x 4TB Western Digital SSHD's
10x 2TB Western Digital Green HDD's
5x SFF-8087 to SFF-8087 cables
3x 120mm Arctic Cooling F12 PWM Fans (HDD Wall)
2x 80mm Arctic Cooling F8 Rev.2 PWM Fans (Rear Case)
2x Noctua NH-U9DXi4 PWM CPU Fans
Hypervisor: ESXi 6.7
VM1: Windows 8.1 MCE
VM2: Windows Server 2012 R2
VM3: pfSense
VM4: Ubuntu Server 18.04.3 LTS w/ Pi-Hole

Functions as my media server (CableCARD support + Emby Server), file server with SnapRAID, Ubiquiti UniFi Video server, network monitoring with PRTG, pfsense firewall, and Pi-Hole.

View attachment 199983

View attachment 199984

View attachment 199985

That is a cry for help...
 

daglesj

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Why do you say that? I was blown away impressed.
Having that much data round your neck...that's not good. That's a compulsive illness. It's hoarding. A digital pack rat.

Leave big data to big business.
 
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M76

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  1. WHY do you use a NAS? What use cases? Types of Files?
    So I don't risk my RAID being hurt by the shit I Do to my main PC (overclocking, abusing, and running renders for days)
    So I can get away with using a much smaller case instead of a big tower.

    Use case is to serve as a file server for older documents music and video files, so I have quick access to them. Whatever is offline might as well not exist I'm too lazy to go to offline backups.

  2. How many clients? PCs? Macs? other?
    2 PCs, plus 2 TVs as media server.

  3. What kind of storage? How many TB? How many drives?
    5x4TB drives. Planning to expand it soon.

  4. RAID?
    RAID5 (I have offline backups)

  5. Which vendor?
    Highpoint Rocketraid 2720 as the controller, the cheapest Biostar A68N-2100 as the backbone.

  6. if you have a homebuilt, what software?
    No software, Windows 10 installed on it, and simple network share, no perhipials or monitor attached "it just works"
    Raid management accessible with the highpoint webgui
    Media server is Serviio, but that runs off of another PC I wouldn't even try running that on this.
 

M76

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Having that much data round your neck...that's not good. That's a compulsive illness. It's hoarding. A digital pack rat.

Leave big data to big business.
It is not that much data, but the server itself is pure overkill as a simple NAS.
 

crazycuz20

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It is not that much data, but the server itself is pure overkill as a simple NAS.
It's not just a NAS, it's also a router (PFSense), OTA/Cable TV Streamer (Windows 8.1 MCE), and whatever else he's using his VM's for
 

OFaceSIG

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If you look at the boxes in my sig. I run both my NAS and Router off super cheap used gear from Ebay and the [H]. Both are not huge boxes and I assure you they outperform VMs.
 

xx0xx

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I've been wanting to share media (mostly music) storage from a centralized machine in the house, instead of storing it directly attached to one of my daily-use PCs- that way I can more easily manipulate/stream the files from any device.

I suppose a "NAS" would work for this. I have an old unused low-end Lenovo PC sitting around I was thinking of using for this purpose using some lightweight NAS OS or something. The issue is that even this NAS seems like overkill just to serve a single drive's worth of files (like ~80-100GB)? Not really sure what I should do. I just want the files to be easily accessible in the file systems of my Mac and PC (and maybe streamable to mobile devices).
 

x509

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I've been wanting to share media (mostly music) storage from a centralized machine in the house, instead of storing it directly attached to one of my daily-use PCs- that way I can more easily manipulate/stream the files from any device.

The issue is that even this NAS seems like overkill just to serve a single drive's worth of files (like ~80-100GB)? Not really sure what I should do. I just want the files to be easily accessible in the file systems of my Mac and PC (and maybe streamable to mobile devices).
Which is exactly why I, the OP, asked this question.
 
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xx0xx

Gawd
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Yeah, I'm definitely in the same boat, figured I'd toss in my situation too since the responses may be similar and/or help us both. Are you using any solution for sharing files to your network currently?

I guess there's always the old standard of just installing an OS on a box, and then "sharing" a folder so other PCs on the network can get to it, but I'm curious if for a single drive of data / small amount of files if a NAS (whether self-made OR purchased) is worth it. The purpose-made OS/box seems like a better idea to me, especially being able to maybe do things via a web interface, or maybe the "mapping" to a NAS from other devices is easier or more reliable than a "shared folder"? I do feel like streaming media might be easier. Though I guess there are also non-NAS solutions for that (install Linux and Plex or something? idk)

I've done some research online but I've not really found anything too concrete to lead me in one direction or the other.

I guess at the end of the day, I should just try all of the above and see what sticks...
 

x509

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Yeah, I'm definitely in the same boat, figured I'd toss in my situation too since the responses may be similar and/or help us both. Are you using any solution for sharing files to your network currently?
That's exactly what I'm doing, except for my phones and tablets. We have different preferences for apps and music on our devices, so the only practical solution is to have a copy of iTunes on my system and on her system. Another issue with trying to share 1 copy of iTunes is that if my system wasn't on, then she had iTunes throwing off sync error messages. But for photos, etc., it's just one volume, on my system.

But since I use both a laptop and a desktop, it's a bit more complicated, since I have to keep files in sync between both systems. My approach, which works quite well actually, is to use Goodsync.
I guess there's always the old standard of just installing an OS on a box, and then "sharing" a folder so other PCs on the network can get to it, but I'm curious if for a single drive of data / small amount of files if a NAS (whether self-made OR purchased) is worth it. The purpose-made OS/box seems like a better idea to me, especially being able to maybe do things via a web interface, or maybe the "mapping" to a NAS from other devices is easier or more reliable than a "shared folder"? I do feel like streaming media might be easier. Though I guess there are also non-NAS solutions for that (install Linux and Plex or something? idk)

I've done some research online but I've not really found anything too concrete to lead me in one direction or the other.

I guess at the end of the day, I should just try all of the above and see what sticks...
I'm the OP, and I posted this question to get a better idea of what other guys are doing. The easy way out is to simply change nothing, since it all works now, mostly (see about iTunes).
 

xx0xx

Gawd
Joined
Oct 20, 2005
Messages
622
Edit: rambled a bunch


tl;dr- doing nothing is sounding increasingly like the solution for me, but I do like to play around with linux boxes and whatnot. if i find some solution that blows my mind i'll post it, lol

i dont think my use case necessitates buying a NAS... but maybe at the very least, installing a NAS-style OS on a cheap box and playing around with it
 
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Epos7

Limp Gawd
Joined
Aug 31, 2015
Messages
296
I built a FreeNAS box five years ago. One advantage I really appreciate is it allows me to put my main rig in an ITX case (NCASE) as I don't need room for 3.5" drives.

My FreeNAS box is also in an ITX case. It uses an Atom C2750 so power consumption is excellent.

I use it for backups and as a Plex server streaming home and remote.
 
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