Have your own cloud -- experience with QNAP NAS

August 21, 2015

Tags:qnap nas

NAS, or Network-Attached Storage, is a device that basically stores your stuff online in your own hard drive. You can accomplish this task by setting up an old computer or use a dedicated system by brand name manufacturer like synology or qnap. I was thinking about different choices and finally decided to pull the trigger and bought QNAP TS-251 which was also reviewed by thewirecutter as the best NAS in 2015.

Installation

The installation process is very simple. And it should be, since the whole point of having a dedicated NAS box is to give you the peace of mind without tinkering around to start with. Simply follow the quickstart guide, there shouldn't be any problems.

Media center

Plex is a popular choice for many people including me when thinking about media streaming. It works well on all the platforms and most importantly it's easy to connect to the server without having to fiddle with things like dynamic IP or port forwarding. You just need to sign into your plex account to see the NAS server. I actually disabled the built-in media server and associated apps (video station, photo station, music station etc.) since plex can take care all of them in one app so no need to waste resources on others.

ownCloud

QNAP OS has its own dropbox-like sync funciton called qsync. Even though it's integrated into the OS, I found its performance not quite satisfying. Especially when there were a lot of files to scan, Qsync took forever to finish syncing. ownCloud is an alternative cloud-syncing application, which is very popular. It's a litter harder to setup than say other apps, because ownCloud needs to use Mysql(MariaDB) to function well. ownCloud 8 requires php version 5.4 or up, so I installed the newer version php from App center and MariaDB to take place of default Mysql database.

Calibre server

Now we have multimedia and files served up in the cloud, what's next? How about books and magazines? Personally, I've been using Calibre for this purpose for a long time. It's very good for managing all digital books on desktop since it's feature rich and kept updating. But its content sever is too cumbersome to be used daily. Here comes COPS. COPS is a slim php application to host calibre content online. Some of its features include:

  • No need for many dependencies.
  • No need for a lot of CPU or RAM.
  • Not much code.
  • Search is available

It takes up very litter resources which is good to put into a NAS where it's running 24/7 with all the important data on it, so ideally it's better to keep it not running at high load. The requirement for COPS is also simple, php with gd and sqlite extension and no need for mysql database. I put COPS into the QNAP web server fold and edited the config file to point to the location of my Calibre libray in ownCloud folder. I also added .htpasswd file for security purpose. Look here for some information about htpasswd file. After that, we are all set. Now I can use OPDS compatible reader to access my book library on the go.