Due to a recent portable HD failure i am now considering a 2-bay NAS drive in RAID 1 configuration. At this time i am looking for something basic where i can backup family photos and files. But this website and your youtube channel has opened my eyes to a new world! unfortunately, i am limited on budget.
What would you recommend between qnap and synology? and is it possible to use a PLEX server on a desktop PC but pull the files from the NAS (like a built in HDD) and the PC do all the work or does the streaming/transcoding and have to happen from the NAS itself?
You can do that by adding network drive on the windows or any other operating system. So you can get a cheap network drive like DS218j set it up and use your PC for any heavy lifting. People do a similar thing with Nvidia shield TV with a connected cheap network drive.
Mounting shares on Windows
Mounting shares on Windows systems is generally handled by using ‘Map Network Drive’ in Windows Explorer or UNC paths.
Map Network Drive
To Map a Network Drive:
Open Windows Explorer
Mount the Share
Right-click the Share and choose Map Network Drive
Choose a Drive Letter
Note: Be sure to choose a Drive letter like Z:. If you choose a Drive letter close to your regular drives, the drive letter mapping can be changed by adding a new drive to your system.
Find regulary updated NAS offers here
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What can I connect to a NAS?
Wireless Speaker Sonos
The great thing about Sonos is that you don't need to pay for music subscription service. With the cheapest NAS at home like DS115j or any other, you can have your backups done for all of your devices and still use your network drive as a Sonos music library. Sonos will connect to your NAS via your network and let access your provided music library. If you have little more of IT knowledge, you can even set up your Alexa or Sonos with Alexa built in to play music on your voice commands ("Alexa! Ask DS Audio to Play Music!").
Nowadays it is so cheap to upgrade your old TV and make it smart. All you need is Google Chrome or EZcast alternative plugged into your HDMI port at the back of your TV. Now you have great functionality added to your TV to send a video file directly from your NAS to a TV. No need for wires and chargers and other mess. You can use your phone as a remote to go to your movies or family videos and cast that content on your TV during family or friend gatherings.
Amazon Fire TV
You may not have a smartphone, or you just simply prefer to control your content with a remote in that case Amazon Fire TV will be a great addon to get to your TV. It also plugs into your HDMI port and will play content from your NAS to a TV. No wires no mess.
nVidia Shield TV
It gets even better! If you want some more entertainment and all previously mentioned functions - nVidia TV is a great thing to get. You can use it for playing games and watching movies from your NAS. The greatest thing is - shield TV does video transcoding. So even if you have a cheap NAS with a weak CPU, in a combination of shield TV you can now automatically on the fly change video file size and format for a destination device. It is a great way to reduce network load and let older devices to play video content which normally was not supported on the device.