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Old 20th Mar 2017, 20:00   #1
QuagaarWarrior
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NAS or Expansion Unit?

Hi everyone,

Bit of background: I currently have Plex running on my computer which streams my media around my house. My media is kept on an internal hard drive. As I've filled up my internal storage I was looking to get a NAS.

I had a quick look at Synology and noticed that they do a 5 bay NAS and a 5 bay expansion unit.

My question is do I need the NAS or can I get away with only buying an expansion unit?

Whatever I buy will be plugged into my PC (which is always on) which will be doing all the heavy lifting anyway (such as providing the grunt for streaming, transcoding etc.)

What do you guys think? Do you think I could just buy an expansion unit, plug it into my computer, point Plex at the libraries on the unit and I'm all done? Or does the expansion unit require a NAS to function properly?

Thanks for any replies.

EDIT: Wow joined this site in 2012 and have 4 posts. That must be some kind of record! It's people like me that keep the community alive
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Old 20th Mar 2017, 20:28   #2
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AFAIK you need the nas first.

Check out xpenology if u like to diy
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Old 20th Mar 2017, 20:41   #3
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The expansion unit is a proprietary thing, but that doesn't matter: what you describe yourself as needing isn't a NAS, but a DAS. That's a directly attached storage (DAS) box rather than a network attached storage (NAS) box.

With a NAS, you've got an entire second server. It won't talk to your existing server directly; it'll talk over the network.

With a DAS, you've got a box of disks. It talks to your existing server directly.

Sadly, DASes aren't cheap - in some cases they'll cost you more than a NAS, oddly enough. This five-bay Orico DAS is 199, for example, and has USB 3.0 Type A and Type C connections to your existing server - which means you'll take a CPU hit when transferring data to and from it. This StarTech one adds eSATA connectivity, which is way less CPU intensive than USB, but costs 213.88.

Personally, if I were in your shoes, I'd either transplant your existing computer to a case that can take more than one internal hard drive or buy an HP MicroServer and turn that into your Plex box so you can power down your existing computer (with the added bonus the MicroServer will almost certainly draw less power than your existing system, saving you money on your electricity bill.)

If you are looking to buy a MicroServer, though, don't buy one now: HP frequently runs cashback promotions that'll save you 40 or more.
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Old 20th Mar 2017, 20:57   #4
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For Plex I'd just get a USB external HDD, it's the cheapest way and you can always add another later on if necessary; Plex will happily look in multiple locations for a single library.
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Old 20th Mar 2017, 23:24   #5
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So I have experience of skinning this cat in all the ways you could think of.

I started out by using external 1Tb HDD's back in the day as we would bounce drives between machines across our two flats. When we finally moved in together I gutted the drives and installed them in an old Shuttle XPC machine to use a server (Ubuntu 9.04 era).

fast forward a few years (7 years....) and that old shuttle morphed into a HP N36L with 2x2Tb running Win7, then most recently another morph into 3x 3Tb drives in the N36L running FreeNas.

I won't transcode on my microserver as it doesn't have the grunt to do real time transcoding, however don't let that put you off the idea, my microserver is getting fairly old now.

A modern take on my build would set you back ~520, that should be able to do all the transcoding you need and cut your power bill a fair chunk.

I also own a ORICO Aluminum Dual bay enclosure (9528RU3) where I run my old 2x 2Tb drives for backup. I like the Orico enclosures a lot but I did find when punishing the drives the stack would get a little toasty, so that's something to keep an eye on.

If you want quick easy storage to add I would go the route of the Orico style enclosures

The only question you've not answered is how much storage you really need?
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Old 21st Mar 2017, 06:18   #6
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I would add more HDDs . Find some space in your case or buy a different case with more HDD slots. If it's ports you're short of, then add an internal usb3 card or sata card.
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Old 26th Mar 2017, 14:20   #7
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The cheapest way might be to pick up a bunch of USB3 external drives, and maybe a USB addon card if you need it. Janky, but cheap.
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Old Yesterday, 13:37   #8
QuagaarWarrior
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Hi everyone.

Sorry tried to reply at work but it didn't post for some reason.

Just wanted to say thanks for the feedback/ideas.
Will look into some of these suggestions as they make more sense than buying a NAS.
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