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What I'm wanting to do:

I would like to have a hard drive designated to share my media over my wifi. I have room mates that might want/need some media that I have on my hard drive at any given time so I want to make it freely available to them.

I want to note that I want this only accessible to the people in my apartment, not to the outside world.

What I've looked into thus far:

Not knowing much about networking or what I should be looking for, I briefly google some terms that seem like they would have something to do with what I'm wanting to do.

I stumbled across:

My Computer Information:

I currently have a Dell XPS laptop running Windows 7 with a Linsys router (I would have to check the box for a model number). I currently have an external hard drive, but I can also pick up a 3.5 sata if necessary for the project.

My Question:

What do I need to do to make this happen? I would like to know what my options are to set up something like this, approximate costs, and ultimately the best way to go about this.

If you have set up something like this, can you tell me if you ran into any issues?

Any and all help and explanations are appreciated. If you prefer to direct me to articles, I have no problem reading and learning.

share|improve this question

closed as off topic by Dennis, CharlieRB, Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007, Tanner Faulkner, Canadian Luke Mar 5 '13 at 18:24

Questions on Super User are expected to relate to computer software or computer hardware within the scope defined by the community. Consider editing the question or leaving comments for improvement if you believe the question can be reworded to fit within the scope. Read more about reopening questions here.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Shopping recommendations are off topic as per the faq. Also, your question is a little to broad in its current state. – Dennis Mar 5 '13 at 18:02
NAS – Ƭᴇcʜιᴇ007 Mar 5 '13 at 18:13
@Dennis I'm not looking for specific products, I'm looking for what type of hardware I would need. Once I know the hardware, I guess I can read reviews on Amazon or on tech review sites :) – Quick-Qs Mar 5 '13 at 18:15
Specific products or not, cost effective way and approximate costs are clear indicators of a shopping recommendation. – Dennis Mar 5 '13 at 18:17
up vote 0 down vote accepted

It sounds like what you're looking for is a NAS.

Personally, I recommend a full-computer based NAS, but then I must admit I'm biased against a lot of consumer-grade commercial NAS boxes, like the one you linked, because the commercial things are often very limited in functionality.

For a computer-based solution, there are several NAS Linux or FreeBSD based distros that will do a good job making use of the supplied hardware.

NAS4Free, FreeNAS, Open Media Vault and some others.

These let you share storage using a huge number of protocols to a very large number of devices.

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I'm not too familiar with Linux, so I'm unsure about setting up my own NAS. What types of functionality is typically limited by consumer-grade NAS boxes? – Quick-Qs Mar 5 '13 at 18:27
Consumer-grade NAS boxes most often just do SMB (windows shares), maybe FTP, and probably not much else. They also are often annoying to administer (from what few units I've misguidedly tried). If you follow the link for NAS4Free, it will show you all the different features of it, including the giant library of protocols it supports. NAS distros are also generally WebGUI administrated pretty cleanly. – killermist Mar 5 '13 at 18:33
Nice, it looks like it supports Xbox 360 streaming as well. I'll look into it. It looks like I would have to build a custom computer with 4-6gb ram though. Which may run me relatively close to what commercial NAS boxes are at. – Quick-Qs Mar 5 '13 at 18:47
Maybe. But, then you'd also have something with far more functionality that a crappy consumer-grade NAS box. A real computer as a NAS is VASTLY more capable than some mass-market trash. And if you decide later to do something else with it, you can. A consumer-grade NAS CAN NOT be retasked later if you change your mind. – killermist Mar 5 '13 at 18:50

Good question.

It depend's on several things, the ease of setting up a simple media sharing.

Media Sharing is different then running a Media Server. A media server is a piece of software, that run's and allows people to play, stream videos etc.

Media Sharing mean's sharing specific folders, to specific people over the network. It can also be done over the internet. But it's far more secure if the people your sharing with are on the same network.

Now there are two issues that I can think of.

  1. Did you mean the people are on your wifi router using it for internet access? If so, then sharing folder's to allow them view and stream them is far easier.

  2. Are they somewhere in the area but not connecting via your wifi router, then it's still doable to share media.

I think the easiest solution is for you to share the folder's on your network, and try to configure your router to make sure these folder's are accessible to people on the network.

I myself use this old networking utility called Network Magic. Basically it's a freeware, that makes it easy to share folder's across your network.

It's really easy to use, and will help you with other network security setup's as well.

I myself use a tool called AirPlayIt which allow's me to stream to my ipad or ipod touch over the network. It's free, and really easy to work with.

However, if you want an actual media server, you might try something like XBMC, which is a piece of free software that set's up your pc as a full fledged media server, entertainment machine, that allows the user to view streaming content.

Good luck

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Interesting! Thank, I originally meant the first option you put on there. But what if they aren't on my wifi router (I didn't even think of sharing media with family members that live relatively close)? Also in my original post, I forgot to mention that I would also like to be able to access the media from my Xbox 360 if possible. – Quick-Qs Mar 5 '13 at 18:24
Well you'd have to look for some xbox360 addon, which I am sadly unfamiliar with to suggest anything. But if it were me I'd create a folder in your pc, store everything there, and use xbox to remotely access that shared folder, then use some tool to share the folder to others. Perhaps thru dropbox or plex, or xbmc. Takes some digging to find the best way forward. Good luck. – crosenblum Mar 12 '13 at 5:41

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