Network Attached Storage is a computer connected to the network.

In the past its only function was to store and share files over the network.

Today it comes bundled with a lot more functionality.

Compared with a PC a NAS is most of the time:

- headless (no screen, mouse, keyboard)

- lower on power consumption,

- produces less noise (go for a fan less design if you need a real quiet one).

This of course depends strongly on the model.


Although the word NAS depicts certain functionality, in practice it is a computer running Linux most of the time. If done right it will have a web interface allowing you to control the box without Linux knowledge.
If it is running Windows it is often called WHS (Windows Home Server).


Dropping HD prices makes RAID an affordable solution.

RAID is about high availability, not to be mistaken for a backup.

NAS or external Hard Disk

An external HD is the easier of the two. Just connect it to your PC and you are up and running. A NAS is adding another computer (most of the time running Linux) to your network. You have to make shares, add users and give the users access rights to the shares.
A NAS can be placed anywhere, out of sight and out of hearing.
If you use an external HD, noise might be an issue.
An external HD is only available when the PC is on

This applies to a NAS as well but most of the time as it is a low power box we leave it on 7x24.

A low power NAS is probably more convenient and more frugal on energy  than a PC with an external HD.


File server

This is the original use of a NAS. Often it is a Linux box.

A cheap solution to allow users to share files over the network.


A lot of people struggle using a NAS.

They plug it in and then what's next?
If you want to access files (file sharing) on a NAS over the network you have to do a couple of things.

  1. Make users. These are local users only known to the NAS.
  2. Make shares. These are the folders you are going to access (to share) over the network.
  3. Add users to the shares and specify their rights. User X is allowed everything, Y can only read, Z is not added to the share so can’t access it.
  4. On your PC connect to a share using the credentials of one of the NAS user’s you have created. Windows allows for multiple connections but with one specific user only.

Multimedia server

They come in many flavors.

In general you have to configure the server a little.
You must tell it where it can find the audio.
The server process listens to the network using one or more ports.
If you run multiple media servers on one NAS check that they use different ports.


Support for download through BitTorrent, FTP and HTTP

FTP-server, Webserver, MySql

All you need to host your own website.


If your MP3 player can be used to make a phone call, why not let your NAS do the ripping.



Open source NAS, ripper and music server.

You can download the ISO and install it on an old PC.



You can buy a box with Vortex installed.

Vortexbox 1 TB Automatic CD ripping NAS - $429.00

XiVA musicm8 €999.00

XiVA musicm8 system features
  • Zero Configuration — Plug and play solution out of the box
  • Totally headless operation — one box, one solution
  • Automated backup facility — just add external USB drive
  • Web browser configuration interface — simple control from any browser
  • Auto network share — part of plug and play
  • User creation of network shares — allows for easy integration with existing home setup
  • Photo browser and viewer — Elegant interface to your memories
  • Auto camera backup — loads digital photos
  • Online upgrades — no fiddly disc updates
  • MAC, Linux, XP and Vista compatible — all bases covered
Recording with the XIVA musicm8
  • Automated recording of CD — CD record begins automatically when disc is inserted
  • XiVA error correction — for bit perfect CD reproduction
  • Flac, WAV and mp3 options with configurable bitrate — to cater for all tastes and collection sizes
  • Dual encoding — why not have a high quality and low quality version for your iPod
  • High quality metadata from GD3 & FreeDB and cover art SOAP web services — all your music data at an instant
Musicm8 streaming & network features
  • Integrated UPnP server
  • Full iTunes DAAP and RSP support — library instantly appears in iTunes
  • Full support for Linn DS series — Sneaky, Majik, Akurate and Klimax
  • In-built podcast downloader
  • Configurable rip path to allow additional NAS devices — again for easy integration with existing home setup
  • Dynamic DNS ability — for more advanced internet connectivity
  • DLNA compliant — stream to any DLNA device including PS3 & Xbox 360
  • Support for video UPnP streaming
  • Squeeze centre — instant playback with any Logitech Squeeze device
  • Shared folders for video, audio, photos and data backups — easy access via home network
  • Nintendo Wii server and TV interface — stream music to your Wii
  • Wifi photo frame server
  • Remote web access — access your musicm8 anywhere in the world
  • Network password protection — for peace of mind
XiVA musicm8 hardware specifications
  • 1TB storage
  • Integrated high quality, slot load DVD drive
  • Ethernet, VGA, USB, PS2
  • Size: 300 (H) x 65 (W) x 260 (D) mm
  • 110 - 240 V
  • Power requirements 65W max.
  • ROHS and CE Compliant
  • Auto power recovery




Need a bit more storage?

Backblaze tells you how to build a 67 terabyte 4U server.