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Network attached storage is a great way to get all your media into one centralised location. Secure and organised, you can take advantage of the great streaming solutions available to owners of a NAS system, and view your NAS-homed content wherever and whenever you choose.

First however, there are a number of things you need to consider.

 

Choose the right NAS

Before you can start enjoying all that streamable media, you need a NAS. Choosing the right NAS brings its own set of decisions. Central to which is capacity.

So, how much media do you have that you wish to store? As well as the original size of your data, how likely is it to grow year on year? If you create your own video content, you’ll likely want to leave a sizeable chunk of capacity left. Consider how likely you are to use higher quality equipment such as 4K video capturing, and account for the acceleration in data growth that will inevitably bring. Carefully consider your required capacity and if in doubt, grab a little extra. Replacing NAS drives with larger ones is an avoidable expense if you do the maths beforehand.

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Another point to consider is the primary use intended for your NAS. If you’re purely concerned with centralising a body of data, the capacity questions above are even more pertinent. But for those who plan to invest in a NAS for flexible streaming purposes, a couple more points need to be made.

When selecting a NAS specifically for streaming, transcoding plays a major role in the buying decision. Essentially, a transcoder will translate any files you wish to stream into a format that device can understand. So with desktop PCs and laptops, this isn’t as much of an issue. A high-speed processor can deal with greater resolutions, and a broad range of media encodings are compatible. With portable devices such as smartphones or tablets, this isn’t always the case. A smaller processor lessens the ability to deal with high resolutions, and usually restricts the choice on available media encodings.

So, if you plan to do a lot of streaming from your NAS, will it be from multiple devices from multiple locations? If so, give your NAS the best chance to deal with the CPU intensive process of transcoding. Ensure it is both compatible with hardware transcoding, and harnesses the most powerful CPU your budget can afford.

 

Load up your NAS

Once you’ve got your NAS, it’s time to get all your media on board. For that, you have a number of options available. You could invest in a sizeable external hard drive, and transfer your data via USB. If that might become a little time consuming, you could transfer your files via network connection. For faster rates of transfer and faster connectivity on your network, you’re better off with a gigabit switch.

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For any device you want to hook up to your NAS, ensure that it’s compatible first. Many NAS solutions will come with a bundled app allowing you to upload/download data from one to the other with ease.

Finally, if you’ve been forking out on a subscription-based cloud solution, be sure to purge your online storage of all its files. Shift them across to your NAS, and free yourself of any unnecessary monthly outgoings.

 

Get your Media in Order

You’ve got your NAS, and you’ve got your media. Now to bring it all together. For that, you need one thing- good old-fashioned organisation. Just like you would for your PC or laptop, a series of labelled and arranged files will ensure you can access your photos, videos and music without being lost in a sea of holiday snaps and 70s albums.

It’s also worth considering that some media streamers require files to be named in a certain manner, possibly to deal with handling metadata. Make sure you get your files formatted correctly before you start streaming.

 

Time to Stream

You’re all set to enjoy your video and audio content, gloriously streamed from your chosen NAS. To make streaming as problem-free as possible, you might want to take advantage of the dedicated streaming apps a number of today’s NAS solutions come available with. One such example is PLEX. Available to download on WD’s NAS systems, PLEX becomes the platform for streaming all your NAS-stored media.

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Getting up and running with NAS streaming apps is remarkably simple. Downloadable for free, streaming apps are likely to support a number of different platforms. Examples include Android and iOS smartphone and tablet apps, games consoles such as Xbox and PlayStation, selected Smart TVs, streaming devices powered by Roku and Chromecast, plus of course your desktop operating system.

NAS streaming apps have pretty much all bases covered then, leaving you free to consume your media from whichever device you choose. Remember though, if you plan to stream to different devices via a number of different users, a hardware transcoder and a beefy processor are recommended for services likes PLEX.

 

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7 COMMENTS

  1. “purge your online storage of all its files”???
    What absolutely dreadful advice, you should be doing quit the opposite!
    A NAS will usually have raid available but that will seriously reduce the capacity of the NAS and for many people is seriously misleading because they believe the common misconception that having raid means their data is safe (when their house is burgled, burnt down, flooded etc they find out it meant nothing of the kind).
    Most people are too lazy to take proper backups and store them elsewhere and online cloud storage is a great solution if you can get people to use it, don’t discourage people from having backups!
    I don’t work for a cloud provider btw.

  2. Every time I read this there are idiots finding something to slate, this time it’s Ben with the above post, what I took from the “purge your online storage of all it’s files” is that the author is advising to do that to save yourself the monthly subscription, which I think is good advice. The rest of the article is a good read too. Keep posting these articles Will, some of us appreciate them!!

  3. Whilst it is always nice to save money by “purging your online storage of all it’s files”, it does depend on how important your files are. Whilst a NAS, particularly with RAID enabled will keep your files safe from hardware failure, this doesn’t save it from burglary etc. as Ben says. So it is not good advice if your files are very important to not save them online. My photos are very important to me so I don’t want to save the monthly the monthly subscription, I want my photos to be safe. I keep them in three places, local, NAS and in the Cloud.

  4. hello i have a korean nas IpDisk NAS II 2e and i would like to stream my music in order to be able to have it available anywhere i am, on my laptop and iphone, and even on other device i could use like a friend’s computer
    can someone help me with this issue?

  5. “purging your online storage of all it’s files”— I would not want my pictures or personal documents in any sort of cloud. NAS you can have private folders. Cloud folders don’t really have enough space for a backup and most of us use NAS for just a file server. media transcoding is okay, but native mkv playback, with ROMS or ISOs of your goodies all waiting to be loaded up on virtual machines and serving the whole family.

    korean nas IpDisk NAS II 2e – Sorry, Can’t read much korean but your NAS does have FTP support. I would use VLC player on your friend’s device to use ftp for media streaming. It can play video or audio and It works on mobile platforms too. I only have an iphone but it works fine.

    Also, if you are not comfortable with using a NAS, I would just get a cheap PC with atleast a good i3 CPU and load up freenas or other free OS. They are open ended and you might find a lot of softwares that work with these. Instead of having just PLEX on most NAS.

  6. Quite why you would use the cloud to store important “never to be lost files” is frankly beyond me. The price for suffisient storage is just plain silly, couple this to the possibility of the company providing the storag going out of business and you have paid a bunch of notes for not a lot of security.
    I have 2 raid NAS devices so have 3 backups there in the property, in case of theft/burglary I have a large hard-drive with all the data on stored at a relatives house. This is kept up to date regularly. REALLY important files are also stored on SD cardsor memory sticks in another relatives home.
    This is in addition to FREENAS storage again using RAID on a redundant desktop PC sitting in the garage and connected via CAT5. This looks like a bit of junk so no-one would steal it, and is only turned on when I need to do any full laptop system backups (once every 3 months) All my photos are backed up on Google photos free service automatically but I would not rely on that.
    Call me paranoid but I trust myself more than an unknown online cloud service.

  7. I have over the years used a variety of NAS devices starting with a WD myBookWorld with 1TB of Storage, after 12 months this proved to be insufficient and I upgraded to s Seagate 2TB device. I now have a Synology DS415 with 4x 3TV drives in RAID5 giving me approx 9TV of Storage that will stream to multiple devices simultaneously

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