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Old 21.09.2020, 17:07
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Setting up home server and network

Hi EFin’ Hive Mind

As my family gets older, I am thinking about how to set up a home network. Now, when I say that, I mean a network that allows files to be shared centrally.

I have internet access across multiple devices - so that is not the issue.

I want a non-cloud based option (although cloud back up is OK) that allows us to save pictures, files and media centrally, which can then be accessed from whichever home pc is on the network.

The internet is full of technical stuff, but for someone like me who isn’t computer-minded, it’s a minefield to really know “what’s the best option”.

So I thought - EFin’ ‘ell, which EFers will know what to do... and here I am. I figure someone here will be able to share their wisdom and point me to some cast iron reviews and that meaningful vs. just a sales pitch...

Thanks!
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Old 21.09.2020, 18:04
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Re: Setting up home server and network

Unix, Mac, or that other guy ... ?
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Old 21.09.2020, 18:28
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Re: Setting up home server and network

My solution is primitive, but works.
I have a Western Digital My Cloud EX2. Software is very easy to use. Set up shares (once you set up the storage, again simple), set up a couple of accounts.

Then you can map drives to it. On Apple/Android products download the app. I back it up occasionally to Google Drive, which is more of a folder drag and drop.

In hindsight I woud have got a 3 or more disk NAS, and proper backup software.

Last edited by CodPeace; 21.09.2020 at 18:28. Reason: more
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Old 21.09.2020, 18:45
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Re: Setting up home server and network

We are running a QNAP NAS (8 Bay) and they have quite the large range of 'pro' apps for it but equally it is quite easy to use for personal home use. In particular it is very easy to drop files onto it from a mac/pc on your home network (discovery apps for MacOS and Windows) and then read these off from your smart tv/appleTV or mobile device using either the built in DLNA server or using VLC on any of the devices you can find the SMB server which is my preferred as the folder structure is a little easier to navigate at the start.

Another benefit to QNAP is the ability to have your (apple) Timemachine backups directed there so no need for apple storage or a plug in drive.

Depending on the importance of your files being stored, a 2 bay should do you nicely and fill it with some readily available (and these days pretty cheap) 8TB drives and then you can fill it up with every movie you've ever watched along with all the photos/videos from everyone's devices. If you really need to get a bit more serious the 4 Bay versions will let you run a Raid config of your choosing. You can also set the QNAP up to backup to cloud if this is your preference.

A note on any NAS if you decide to go down that route - make sure it has good ventilation and can keep relatively cool. The newer ones also have a green feature which lets the drives spin down when not being explicitly accessed and you can even put it to sleep if needed.
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Old 21.09.2020, 21:21
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Re: Setting up home server and network

What you want is a NAS - network attached storage.

Basically these are servers on which you install your own hard-drives and on which you can set up everything - storing files and multimedia, streaming files to your TV, backing up laptops, phones, tablets, etc. The server is visible only in your local network but you can make it visible via some cloud services so you can access your files from work or while away from home. And then you can have all kinds of productivity apps.

The big names are Synlogy and QNAP. And some others. Prices range from 300-ish without drives to 600-1k to a fully specced machine with drives. You can have 1,2,4 or more drives, etc.

Give us a budget and we can make some recommendations. But the web and youtube are full of reviews.
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Old 21.09.2020, 22:34
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Re: Setting up home server and network

So first, you want to excavate an extra basement where the datacenter will be located...
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Old 22.09.2020, 09:45
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Re: Setting up home server and network

just a friendly reminder:
NAS is not a backup


NAS is storage, even one with one of more disk in reserve. It does not help you in case of:
- cryptoviruses
- failure of hardware
- theft / fire / flooding etc

Some hardware demands high level of expertise to retrieve data in case of failure of controllers. WD My Book used to be one of those.
Even when hardware is getting more robust, we collect bigger amount of data, so actually hardware failures happens in shorter interval.
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Old 22.09.2020, 15:01
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Re: Setting up home server and network

Anyway, there are a number of easy to use consumer products to do this. As mentioned QNAP and Synology are 2 of the big consumer brands.

A friend went with a more budget/powerful solution: took an existing unneeded PC and installed FreeNAS onto it.
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Old 22.09.2020, 17:49
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Re: Setting up home server and network

This went ming-mong very quickly.

A NAS is a storage device. Any storage device can be part of a backup strategy. I have two Synology devices in two countries that sync with each other (I have 4 of the things in total). I also have a Windows server that leverages O365 and OneDrive to back up into the Cloud too.

The NAS device provide me with a backup as they sync the important content between each other.

One last thing to consider is if ransomware hits you and encrypts your files. Offline backups (say to disk) are a nice safety net there (or drive a sync between NAS devices on demand, for example).

You can also do this amongst friends if you're so inclined; I used to use CrashPlan when it had a free tier to backup in a circle of friends/family.
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