In a home with several devices and multiple users, it makes sense to get a Network Attached Storage (NAS) appliance.
Synology Disk Station DS216j, $252 (without drives) Apart from file-sharing and backup, the two-bay Disk Station DS216j allows for media streaming – if you store a video file in the NAS, you need not copy it onto your device to watch it. It’s an entry-level, but reliable and power-efficient, home server that’s affordable and meets the requirements of most home users.
Photos, music and video files can then be accessed by and shared with anyone connected to the network. Instead of paying monthly fees to a cloud service provider, a NAS appliance allows you to keep all your content safely in your home.
HOW IT WORKS
A NAS is very much like a server: An external storage appliance that connects to a network. Multiple users or devices connected to the network can access the files stored in the NAS appliance. You can choose one with hard drives already installed or an appliance without drives. For the latter, you can build your NAS with the drives of your choice.
ASK BEFORE YOU BUY
NAS appliances have differing capabilities, storage capacity and speed, depending on their specs and price. Ask about the RAM size and processor speed, especially if you’ll be streaming video or music files, and consider how much storage space your household might need in the next few years. MP3 files have an average size of 6MB to 8MB; high-resolution photos range from 5MB to 10MB; and a 90-minute digital movie file has an average size of 800MB – multiply that with the estimated number of photo, music and movie files you have in your collection.
WD My Cloud EX2, $339 (without drives) Ideal for the home or small office, the My Cloud EX2 delivers fast performances with its 512MB memory and 1.2GHz processor. From the NAS, you can stream videos and photos to connected TV sets and media players. As it is also compatible with iTunes, streaming your music collection is a breeze.
Seagate NAS Pro 2-Bay, $699 (for 2TB) The Seagate NAS Pro series features two-bay, four-bay and six-bay models. You can install apps that enhance the functionality of the NAS, such as Seagate’s surveillance app that turns the NAS into a recording solution for surveillance video cameras. The storage volume on the NAS Pro 2-bay is preconfigured (it comes in 2TB, 4 TB, 8TB and 10TB), which can save you hours of set-up time.