Have you ever wanted to create a file server to link multiple TVs and to store all photos, movies, and videos into a centralized file server? In this complete guide, I will cover the steps needed to setup your own Network Attached Storage (NAS server) to store all your media files in a home cloud.
What’s in this guide? This guide contains the following parts:
Start: What you will need
1. Get a network attached storage
2. Install the hard drives
3. Manage storage spaces
4. Create media structure
5. Configure NAS with Kodi
End. Editor Notes/Recommended Software as you need When Copy Blu-ray/DVDs
What you will need? It is useful to think of your home theater as a modular setup with a separate front-end and back-end.Home Theater PC
Your main front-end should be a super silent Home Theater PC (HTPC).
The front-end does not need to have any storage for media files, TV tuners, or DVD/Blu-ray drive.
If you plan on using back-end applications like Plex Media Server to store and transcode your media on the fly, then I would recommend that you build a media server yourself as it is going to be the most cost effective approach.
DIY media server will do all the heavy lifting such as recording live TV, scraping metadata, and transcoding video files and online video streams. It is also a much more affordable solution than buying a powerful commercial NAS server as a media server.
I use my Windows 10-based value HTPC as a media server to record, store, and stream all media files with Argus TV, MCEBuddy and Plex software. Then, I use Plexbmc Kodi add-on on my living room and bedroom HTPCs to access all recorded TV shows from my media server (running Plex).
Network Attached Storage
Digital Media Receiver
Make sure to connect the gigabit router with the Cat6 Network Ethernet Cable to your HTPC to make sure you will benefit from the high transfer speeds.1. Get a network attached storage
There are several sharing NAS devices available in the market with different speeds and set of features.
Just choosing the NAS manufacturer is confusing to many. They all seem to offer almost all the right combination of features but not quite.
I have been using Synology DiskStation 2-Bay Network Attached Storage for years (latest model is DS215j), but if you think your media library will grow significantly in the future, I would suggest you start off with a 4-bay model such as Synology DS414j so you can grow into it even if you only start off with two drives.
Synology is quite expensive and might feel difficult to use for networking beginners, but it offers excellent throughput speed and nearly all the features you could ever need from a network hard drive.
If you have a Mac, you can also use Synology as a Time Machine. Synology also provides good backup software for Windows.
One simple, but important feature that many external hard drives do not have is that Synology shuts down the hard drives after a certain period of inactivity. Then, it automatically turns hard drives on if you search any data from the hard drive.
Lacking this functionality can be very annoying with external hard drives as you will need to turn them on separately when you need to access data.
So, for many users Synology 2-Bay DS215j model is a great choice.
If you would like to add more hard drives in the future, you should check out the Synology DiskStation DS414j 4-Bay Storage Array.
2. Install the hard drives
Many people have difficulty choosing right kind and size of hard drives for their NAS.
Remember that most of the time the NAS servers do not include hard drives, so you need to buy them separately.
A couple of years ago I replaced my old Seagate 1 TB hard drives with Western Digital 2 TB Caviar Green hard drives as one of the Seagate HDDs failed. This incident reinforced the importance to have at least two hard drives mirroring the data all the time.
Installing HDDs to Synology Diskstation is very easy.
You just need to unscrew a couple of screws, connect the power cable and SATA cable, and then put the screws back in place.
In few minutes, I was ready the start the server.
3. Manage storage spaces
Synology has made mapping a hard drive very easy on Windows machines with their Synology Assistant software. This is particularly useful for beginners who do not know how to map network drives in Windows.
Storage Manager allows you to manage your hard disks and storage spaces, expand your storage capacity or create resilient data volumes.
It is important to use more than one external hard drive to store your backups. If your backup hard drive fails, you will lose all your media collection. Thus, I recommend having at least two hard drives in RAID operation.
RAID is an abbreviation of the term Redundant Array of Independent Disks. RAID storage technology allows you to combine multiple hard drives together by distributing the data across multiple disks. There are several RAID levels depending on how many hard drives you have in use.
In the Synology Disk Manager, shared folders are directories where you can store and manage media files and folders.
After you have formatted the volume, it is time to create the folder structure and set user access rights to the folders. I chose to create separate folders for each media type such as Music, Photo, and Video.
The additional folders include Backup and Documents folders for my desktop computer and Web folder for my Web server (local website development e.g. for this website).
When I moved my media library to a NAS server, I spend some time in planning on how my media library would look like on the network hard drive.
Here is an example folder structure for media collections:
I’m using iTunes to organize my music collection and I wanted to make sure that it would update files automatically to the network drive. So I deleted the old iTunes music library and imported a new library from the network storage. Remember to change the default saving folder to NAS as well.
If you are a serious music collector, then you should definitely check out a software called MediaMonkey. MediaMonkey will help you automatically organize and rename files on your hard drive into a logical hierarchy based on attributes such as artist, album, track title and track number.Pictures
Some people like to store photos based on event names. However, I favor a bit more simple structure, organized by year, month and genre. The month categorization is used for general and family photos while the genre categorization is used for highlighting the best photos in genres such as nature, landscape, close-ups and so on.
I use Google Picasa to manage photos from my DSLR camera, so I changed the default folder as the one in the network storage.
If you want to sync mobile photos to NAS server, I would recommend using an app called PhotoSync on your iPhone or Android device.
Here are the steps on how to use Photosync app with Synology Diskstation:
- In order to configure WebDav for Synology, go to “Control Panel” > “WebDAV” > “Enable WebDAV” and click “Apply”.
- Buy and install Photosync app.
- In the Photosync app, choose “Settings” > “Configure” > “WebDAV” > “WebDAV 1”.
- In the WebDAV settings menu, set your NAS server’s IP address, WebDAV post number and login name and password.
- In the WebDAV settings menu, set your NAS server’s IP address, WebDAV post number and login name and password. Click “Done” to save settings.
- Next, choose the “Destination Folder” in your NAS server and modify other settings according to your preferences.
- Now, you can press the sync button to synchronize your photos to your NAS server.
The great thing about PhotoSync app is that you can also transfer photos and videos from your DSLR Camera to your NAS if you use Toshiba Flashair or Transcend Wi-Fi SD Card.Videos
It is better to have as flat of a video folder structure as possible (of course depending on the size of the collection). I’m categorizing videos into four subcategories: Children’s videos, home videos, movies and TV recordings.
Children’s videos and TV recordings have subfolders for each TV show so that it is easy to store all the episodes of a TV show into one folder.
Home videos are categorized by year as I’m not shooting so many home videos that I’d need subfolders by month.
Movies are categorized into two subfolders: HD (High Definition = Blu-ray quality) and SD (Standard Definition = DVD quality).5. Configure NAS with Kodi
Once you have copied all the files to the NAS drive, it is time to configure the server with the media center software. You can do the following steps in most popular media centers such as Kodi, Windows Media Center, Plex, Emby and Media Portal.
There are three main sharing protocols you can use to stream media files from the NAS: NFS (Network File System), SMB (Windows File Sharing, Server Message Block) or UPnP (Universal Plug and Play).
Many people are asking which one to choose and my recommendation is to use NFS as it is much faster especially when using lower performance front-end HTPC devices.
If you are using a fast computer over Gigabit Ethernet home network, you will probably not notice any difference between SMB and NFS. For many people SMB is fast enough.
However, if you are using a slower HTPC such as Raspberry Pi or wireless network connection, I would strongly recommend using NFS sharing protocol.
First, you will need to enable NFS sharing protocol on your Synology NAS:
- Go to “Control Panel” > “Win/Mac/NFS” > “NFS Service” > “Enable NFS”.
- Go to “Control Panel” > “Shared Folders” > Select the folder you want to modify permissions and Select “Privileges” > “NFS Privileges”.
- Click “Create” and type * as “Hostname” and set Privilege “Read only”.
I will use Kodi media center as an example of how to create a video folder share with the network drive:
- Select Video from the Kodi home menu
- In the files view, select “Add videos…”
- Select Browse
- Scroll to the bottom of the list and select “Add Network Location…”
- Choose the “Protocol” as “Network File System (NFS)”
- Browse for new share on your home network e.g, 192.168.1.39
- Select the “Shared folder” on your NAS e.g, Movies
- Enter a name for this media source, e.g, Movies
- Click OK
- In the “Set content” menu select what type of media this directory contains (e.g, Movies)
- Click OK
- Answer “Yes” to the Change content question.
- Depending on the size of your media library, it will take a while to scanning for new content.
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What’s more, if you have some other devices like iPad Air 3, iPad mini 4, iPhone 6S/6S Plus, Galaxy Tab S, Amazon Kindle Fire HDX, Surface Pro 4, PS4, PS3, Xbox, NAS, HDD, etc. the best Blu-ray/DVD Ripper also has them as its output choice, which means you can also convert BD/DVD videos to play DVD/BD videos on your portable devices or via media server,NAS, etc.
Features about this Top DVD/Blu-ray Ripper for NAS Owners :
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Free download and install:
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