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A NAS (Network Attached Storage) is a stand-alone file-level computer data storage device into which you can install one or more hard drives (either internally or externally), and then connect the NAS device directly to your network. The NAS device is given its own IP address and can be configured to share the hard drives and their data contents on the network to multiple client devices, such as XBMC and other computers. With a NAS you do not have to have your computer(s) powered on permanently and your data will still always be available on your network and accessible from multiple devices. It is also possible to 'convert' a modest computer into a dedicated NAS device, and this is often the cheapest way to obtain your own NAS (potential downsides of using a computer as a NAS device are relatively large device size, increased noise levels and electricity consumption).
1 NAS (Network Attached Storage) and XBMC
XBMC already supports SMB/SAMBA/CIFS (and UPnP) network-protocols, which many NAS devices support. It is also possible to stream via FTP to XBMC, however this is not recommended because the FTP network protocol was never designed for audio/video streaming. Therefore, FTP streaming will not be covered here and is not officially supported. To stream from a NAS device to XBMC simply setup a SMB/SAMBA/CIFS (or UPnP) share on the NAS with an optional username and password, (once you have configured its network settings and connected it to your network), then add a media source for that share in XBMC.
2 The definition of NAS (Network Attached Storage)
NAS (Network Attached Storage) is the name given to dedicated data storage technology that can be connected directly to a computer-network to provide centralized data-access and storage to compatible network-clients. Normally this means a hard-disk-drive storage device that is attached directly to your LAN (Local Area Network), typically a ethernet-based network, and assigned an own IP-address, rather than being attached to a computer that is serving data-files to network users. Network-Attached Storage consists of hard-disk storage, (that can include support for multi-disk RAID systems), and software for configuring and mapping file locations to the Network-Attached Device. NAS software can usually handle a number of network protocols, and share formats. Configuration, including the setting of user access priorities, is usually possible using a web browser.
3 NAS compatible with XBMC
This is a list of NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices and software compatible with XBMC.
Please feel free to add any NAS device or software that you yourself have tested and know if it works with XBMC or not!
3.1 NAS devices that work with XBMC
- DD-WRT, a free Linux-based firmware for several wireless routers, and when DD-WRT is installed onto a compatible router that features an USB-port that port can usually be used to connect a USB-hard drive and share that over Samba or UPnP
- OpenWrt, a free Linux-based firmware for several wireless routers, and when OpenWrt is installed onto a compatible router that features an USB-port that port can usually be used to connect a USB-hard drive and share that over Samba or UPnP
- FreeWRT, a free Linux-based firmware for several wireless routers, and when FreeWRT is installed onto a compatible router that features an USB-port that port can usually be used to connect a USB-hard drive and share that over Samba or UPnP
- HP MediaVault MV2010 and MV2020 has either an internal 300/500gb SATA drive, and a spare bay where you can insert a second SATA drive, and 3 USB ports for external drives or a Printer. Runs a Linux 2.4 Kernel, supports UPnP and Samba, and upto 1.2 TB of data across all drives. There is also an unofficial support site/community located here
- Synology DiskStation series supports from one up till 8 internal hard-disks and a high number of externals via USB 2.0
- LinkSys NSLU2 (Network Storage Link for USB 2.0 hard-disk-drives), which is Linux and SAMBA based.
- As the NSLU2 is Linux-based you can 'hack' it and install all sort of software on it, for more info see wikipedia
- NetGear WTG634U Wireless Router
- Shares from a USB Mass Storage Compatible hard drive connected to it via USB 2.0
- Kuro Box (by Buffalo Technology) for one internal hard drive. Linux-based and supports open source software.
- Buffalo Technology TeraStation NAS 1.0 TB (HD-H1.0TGL/R5) supports 4-drives, RAID-0/1/5 and GigaBit ethernet.
- Buffalo Technology Linkstation HD-HG300LAN and HD-HG400LAN, 300GB and 400GB respective with GigaBit ethernet.
- Maxtor Shared Storage™ Networking Drives
- Maxtor Shared Storage Plus 200GB (H01R200)
- Maxtor Shared Storage Plus 300GB (H01R300)
- Maxtor Shared Storage Plus 500GB (H01R500)
- Maxtor Shared Storage II 300GB
- Maxtor Shared Storage II 500GB
- Maxtor Shared Storage II 1TB
- Quantum / Snap Appliance Snap Servers (Models 2000, 2040, 2200 and 4100) (formerly: Ateonix Nasas).
- ASUS WL-500g (Deluxe) Wireless-Router with USB 2.0 hard-disks support, requires third-party firmware.
- Thecus N2100, 2-internal 3.5" SATA bays, RAID 0/1 and 3 USB-ports for external hardrives.
- Lacie Ethernet Disk Mini 250GB.
- SimpleTech SimpleShare NAS 400GB.
- Western Digital WD NetCenter™ Network Drives
- WD NetCenter 160GB Ethernet Network Drive
- WD NetCenter 250GB Ethernet Network Drive
- WD NetCenter 320GB Ethernet Network Drive
- WD NetCenter 500GB Ethernet Network Drive
- Western Digital MyBookWorldEdI 500GB Gigabit NAS
- WD My Book Live series available in 1TB (tested), 2TB, 3TB
- Infrant ReadyNAS NV supports up to 4 SATA drives in RAID 0-,1,5 and their own X-RAID protocol. OCE is possible under X-RAID. UPnP and Samba is supported, among other protocols.
- Vantec NexStar LX NAS (Works with latest Firmware Basic46 and XBMC 2.0.1 - tested on January 8, 2007).
- D-Link DNS-323, 2-internal 3,5" SATA bays, RAID 0/1 Standalone and JBOD. CIFS/SMB and allows FXP between XBMC and NAS.
- drives/fdnd.php4 Fantom Drives Network Disk Drive FDND250 does work with the latest T3CH XMBC (Revision 7841/MC360). You will have to edit the SOURCES.XML file or add a source. Under the FILES tag in Sources.xml, under SMB Network Shares (Not Workgroup SMB), add this: <path>smb://absolute IP address/</path>, without a password set. Also, create a new folder in root instead of under public. if you want to manually 'Add Source' to Videos or Music, select Add Network Location, and enter the absolute IP address (ex: 192.168.1.xxx) and the remote share should reveal itself. Also, rename the device without any dashes or other non-alpha characters (ex:change "storage10b-3" to "storage1015")
- QNAP Turbo NAS Series, QNAP storage products provide a complete series of storage solutions and industrial applications for personal/SOHO, SMB (small and medium business), and enterprises. QNAP Turbo NAS Series offer more than just (SMB and UPnP) storage with integrated features such as a WebServer, BitTorrent client, and more.
- Icy Box NAS5220, tested SMB share Gigabit dual disc RAID NAS Supports two 3.5" SATA HDDs of any size
- Seagate GoFlex Home Network Storage System series available in 1TB, 2TB and 3TB (3TB version tested).
3.2 NAS software that work with XBMC
- FreeNAS (sourceforge.net project-page), a free open source FreeBSD-based operating-system that turns any x86 computer into a SAMBA NAS device, (plus firewall and FTP-server). (Tested July 2006)
- Openfiler (sourceforge.net project-page), a free open source Linux-based operating-system that turns any x86 computer into a SAMBA NAS device.
- ClarkConnect Community Edition 4.0, a free Linux-based operating-system that turns any x86 computer into a SAMBA NAS device, (plus firewall and FTP-server). (Tested September 2006)
- NASLite, a non-free commercial closed-source alternative to the above mentioned FreeNAS, which boots from a single floppy diskette.
- NASLite+, the big brother of NASLite. It has more features but is a little more expensive and must boot from a CD or USB stick.
- DD-WRT, a free Linux-based firmware for several wireless routers, and when DD-WRT is install onto a compatible router that features an USB-port that port can usually be used to connect a USB-hard drive and share that over Samba or UPnP
- OpenWrt, a free Linux-based firmware for several wireless routers, and when OpenWrt is install onto a compatible router that features an USB-port that port can usually be used to connect a USB-hard drive and share that over Samba or UPnP
- FreeWRT, a free Linux-based firmware for several wireless routers, and when FreeWRT is install onto a compatible router that features an USB-port that port can usually be used to connect a USB-hard drive and share that over Samba or UPnP
3.3 NAS devices and software that don't work with XBMC
- LanDrive (also sold as "LanDisk" and "LanServer") 3.5" hard drive enclosure with USB 2.0 port and 10/100Mb RJ-45 network-port. LanDrive, LanDrive and LanServer (as OEM hardware) is available under many brand names like Bytecc, Bona, Conceptronic, CompUSA, CoolMax, Datastorage, Ducki, FAN-TEC, Fantom (FDND250), Hotway, Hotec, LinITX, MacPower, MaPower, Mediasonic, Midte, NEM, NHouse, Usbex, Teac and V-Gear/VGear. (File-system permissons on the LanDrive/LanDrive/LanServer are not working 100% with XBMC, and results differ between firmware versions - but all brands and models have the same problem). If you want to test your LanDrive with XBMC then we suggest you try firmware version "NAS-BASIC41" which seems to be the most stable at this time, otherwise try the very latest LanDrive firmware that you can find (together with the very latest SVN build of XBMC).
- CoolMax NAS Model CN-550, supports SMB but doesn't seem to work with XBMC (tested November 2005), another LanDrive?
- Macpower Pleiades USB/LAN, supports SMB but doesn't seem to work with XBMC (tested November 2005), another LanDrive?
- Argosy HD363N, supports SMB but doesn't seem to work with XBMC (tested March 2005)
- Tritton Simple NAS NSS001, supports SMB but doesn't seem to work with XBMC (tested September 2005)
- NETGEAR Storage Central SC101, does not support CIFS/SMB/SAMBA or UPnP, (instead if requires a proprietary protocol and software to be installed, thus it can not be supported by XBMC). Note! This device is only added to this list of unsupported NAS because so many people have asked if it works with XBMC!
- XIMETA NetDisk (NDAS), does not support CIFS/SMB/SAMBA or UPnP, (instead if requires a proprietary protocol and device-driver to be installed, thus it can not be supported by XBMC). Note! This device is only added to this list of unsupported NAS because so many people have asked if it works with XBMC!
4 Converting a cheap old computer into a dedicated NAS
This is a guide on how to make an 'old' computer into a cheap dedicated NAS box by using a free (and simple to use) operating-system/software like FreeNAS, Openfiler or ClarkConnect Community Edition. This guide will hopefully get a little more step-by-step oriented over time as people who test and play with this software add information from their experience, but for now a short description will have to do. So for now please refer to the the respective websites of the mentioned operating-systems/software for more information, documentation (user-manuals) and FAQs.
4.1 Required hardware
- The computer itself:
- As people and companies upgrade to new computers they often give away or sell their old computers, which are usually 4 to 6 year old hardware. The most common are branded desktop or midi-tower computers like those from Compaq, Dell, Gateway, HP, and IBM. These 'old' computers are no longer good for gaming or even office tools as they are perceived as too slow. This however means that you can get hold of them fairly inexpensively, or sometimes even for free. However, the older the computer is, the more likely you will have to spend some extra money on it to get the performance you want/need.
- The hardware needed is an Intel or AMD x86 (IBM-compatible) computer, at least 200Mhz processor and 96MB of RAM (however a 500Mhz+ processor and 256MB+ RAM is recommended to be able to disable the swap/page-file) and a network-controller/adapter, (FreeNAS even supports GigaBit NICs, which is great if your other computers support GigaBit too).
- The optimal installation location of the operating system can be debated. While some of these 'NAS operating systems' upload everything into RAM (if you have enough RAM), some of them require read/write access to the installation location. This means that if the installation location is on the same hard drives you are sharing, they will not be able to spin-down very often and the computer will thus generate more noise and heat. A great solution to this problem is to make the installation location a solid state memory device (that doesn't have any moving parts), such as a Compact Flash card (if you have a Compact Flash to IDE/ATA converter) or a USB flash memory key/stick (if your computer supports booting from USB). By obtaining a computer which supports booting from USB in BIOS, you can free up an ATA/SATA-slot and will be able to connect an extra hard drive to the system.
- Storage (the hard disk drives):
- The hard drives to be shared as storage can be connected via IDE/ATA, SATA, SCSI, USB or Firewire. Most of these NAS softwares also supports hardware RAID cards and software RAID 0, 1 and 5. Best is though if you get a computer with two or more IDE/ATA channels as then you can use at least four IDE/ATA hard drives which gives good value with the most GigaBytes for your buck. SATA hard drives are as cheap as IDE/ATA (and faster), however you must then purchase a SATA PCI-adapter as none of these 'old' computers comes with SATA ports on the motherboard, but one the other hand if you plan on upgrading your NAS-compuer in a year or two then those SATA hard drives (with a SATA PCI-adapter) is the smarter choise.
- Another nice feature is hard drive spin-down when idle (after ex. 30-minutes) which saves the life-time of the shared hard drives. All IDE/ATA hard drives connected to the internal IDE/ATA controller on the motherboard or on an internal a PCI-adapter support spin-down. Many external USB enclosures and internal IDE/ATA/SATA to USB-adapters on the other hand do not support spin down, remember that if you plan on connecting your drives via USB.
FreeNAS is a complete operating-system and NAS software package which is free and open source, (so you do not not need any other operating-system on the target computer) and it features a nice web-interface for all configuration, (so no keyboard/video/mouse is needed after the initial installation). The FreeNAS boot-image itself takes up less than 32MB memory and can be booted from a hard drive, a USB-stick, or a Compact Flash card (if you have a Compact Flash to IDE/ATA converter).
If you have tested this NAS operating-system/software then please contribute some information and your experience here.
good OS because its linux...but the only problem i had with it is that you cant have local user to authenticate ftp.....users have to come from ldap or windows domain controller....and i not fluent enough with linux to make that change via the command line....freenas has no users that you can create either......so remote access is not looking so good unless you just want anonymous aceess or you have to use a ftp server on a seperate computer and share your nas that way so you can have users and passwords
4.4 ClarkConnect Community Edition
If you have tested this NAS operating-system/software then please contribute some information and your experience here.