Computer Audio 101: NAS

Network Attached Storage (NAS) allows you to store your digital music library in one place while providing access to it via an Ethernet or wireless connection from any number of network-attached devices. A NAS device is completely agnostic in terms of music-related technology—it will accept any file format at any resolution so you can consider a NAS device more or less future-proof.

Requirements & Recommendations

In order to get your NAS set up and working you need a few things:

  • An Internet connection (the faster, the better)
  • A router (NETGEAR Nighthawk AC1900 Dual Band Wi-Fi Gigabit Router (R7000) $184.99 on Amazon)
  • A NAS (QNAP QNAP TS-251+ $499 or QNAP TS-451+ $599.00 on Amazon)
  • Ethernet cables
The NAS needs to be connected to the router with an Ethernet cable, and every device that you want to have access the music on your NAS needs to be connected to the same router/network either via Ethernet (preferred in most cases) or WiFi.

See Computer Audio 101: File Sizes and Storage to figure out how much storage your NAS needs.

Backup

Setup your NAS as a RAID Level 1 array (see you NAS manual). For backup, you'll need to buy a USB drive with the same amount of storage as your NAS, connect it to your NAS, and using the QNAP web-based tool set up an automatic backup to the USB drive (I schedule mine to run once a week on Monday at 3:00am).

Moving Your iTunes Library Onto Your New NAS

If you have an existing iTunes library that you'd like to move to your new NAS, open iTunes and go to iTunes > Preferences > Advanced. Make sure "Keep iTunes Media folder organized" and "Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library" are checked. Next click "Change" next to "iTunes Media folder location" and browse to the Music folder on your new NAS and click open. Then just go to File > Library > Organize Library and iTunes will take care of the rest. If you don't trust me, here's Apple's Guide to Moving your iTunes Media folder.

One thing to note when using a NAS-based music library with iTunes is to make sure your NAS is powered on and connected before you open iTunes. If it isn't, iTunes will open and connect to its default local music library location. If this happens, you can quit iTunes and re-open it while holding the Option key down and use the "Choose Library..." option to browse to your NAS-based music.