Turn an Old PC into a powerful NAS / Media Server
4.4 (77 ratings)
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Turn an Old PC into a powerful NAS / Media Server

Learn how to easily turn a computer into a powerful Linux based Network Attached Storage - NAS - and Media Server
4.4 (77 ratings)
Instead of using a simple lifetime average, Udemy calculates a course's star rating by considering a number of different factors such as the number of ratings, the age of ratings, and the likelihood of fraudulent ratings.
5,184 students enrolled
Last updated 5/2016
English
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Current price: $10 Original price: $95 Discount: 89% off
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Includes:
  • 2 hours on-demand video
  • 1 Article
  • 2 Supplemental Resources
  • Full lifetime access
  • Access on mobile and TV
  • Certificate of Completion
What Will I Learn?
  • Learn how to use freely available software to transform a computer into a file server to be used at home (NAS: Network Attached Storage)
  • Be able to backup files from your computer (and those of your whole family…) over the network to your new NAS
  • Use your NAS as a media server to, for example, stream your movies to a TV or tablet, or listen to your music on your smartphone
  • Know the key differences between building a NAS and buying one
View Curriculum
Requirements
  • A computer with a 64-bit Intel/AMD based processor (this will be your NAS and you will not be able to use it for anything else afterwards...)
  • Another computer to access your future NAS
  • A USB memory stick that will be used to boot the server
  • To connect your NAS to a network, you will need... well... a network... (If you have a broadband router with a WiFi, you have a network)
  • Basic computer literacy is enough to follow the course (dealing with files and using a web browser are the main tasks that will be used)
Description

Did you buy a new computer and you still have the older one lying around? In that case, you probably asked yourself what to do with that old PC or laptop that you really liked... It is still working very well but is just not powerful enough anymore for your current needs. Well, do not trash it yet: you can give it a new life by transforming it into a very powerful $2,000 server!

In this course, you will learn step by step how to use freely available software to do exactly that: take a 64-bit computer that is obsolete by today's standards and turn it into a NAS - Network Attached Storage.

Storing and sharing files is only one of the features of your future server! In this course, you will learn how to use it as a backup machine as well as a powerful media server... and this is only a small part of what the software is capable of doing.

Synology Inc. is a Taiwanese corporation that specializes in network attached storage (NAS) appliances. A group of ingenious persons has turned Synology's software into XPEnology, which is the program that you will be using to transform your PC. Thanks to them, you will be able to create your own NAS at a fraction of the cost of a Synology server. In fact, if you already have that old computer we talked about earlier, it will cost you nothing more than about half and hour of your time to set it up :o)

Synology's software being easy to use, I will be showing you the basics to get started. After that, with the straightforward user interface of the system, you will very easily go your own way with your new server and add new functionalities according to your needs or desires!

If you want to buy a NAS from Synology (which I strongly support and advocate!), this course will show you why they are so good :o)

Disclaimer:
I am not, in any way, affiliated to Synology Inc. or the developers of XPEnology (but I absolutely love their products!)
The information contained in this course is for informational and educational purposes only.

Who is the target audience?
  • Do you have one or more computer at home and have no idea of what a server is? This course will give you a good idea and you may even setup a server by yourself as no special networking knowledge is required!
  • If you have an older computer (64-bit processor) lying around and you wondered what to do with it, this course will show you how to transform it into a very useful server: no need to trash it yet!
  • If, like me, you have an old Synology NAS that you cannot upgrade to their more recent 5.x DSM software, you can try it out with what you'll learn in this course. Their software being Open Source, you can freely and legally use it on other hardware than their own.
  • If you already know what a NAS is and have a good one at home, this is probably not a course that you will need, especially if you are the lucky owner of a recent Synology server :o)
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Curriculum For This Course
25 Lectures
01:57:43
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What is a NAS?
4 Lectures 13:52

For those who did not see the course's promo video before coming in, here it is :o)

Preview 01:35

Who am I, and why did I decide to create this course?

... and also, what will you get from it?

Preview 04:25

In this lecture, you will learn what a Network Attached Storage is and I will go more specifically into the Synology brand. I will also explain a bit more of the versatility of this kind of "machinery"... Saving files is only the tip of the iceberg :0)

Preview 04:50

Actually, you don't have to make your own :o) But, you can!

In this lecture, you will learn the differences between a home-made and a real Synology NAS. What are the pros and cons of building vs. buying? You will be able to tell...

Preview 03:02

Just a few questions to check if I made myself clear ;0)

(someone once told me that exams are actually more useful for the teacher than for the students...)

Section 1 quiz
5 questions
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Prepare your NAS
5 Lectures 10:42

What will you be needing to build your own Synology NAS? This PDF is your "buying list"... Chances are that you will not need to buy anything at all!

Preview 1 page

This lecture is just a central "deposit point” for the different files that you will need to download and use in the next lectures. This way, you will not have to browse through all lectures to find the different tools that you need.

Your downloads
1 page

Before installing the software to your future NAS, you will have to boot it from a USB media. This lecture will show you how to prepare it.

Important note: If your future NAS is running Windows, you can do the procedure described in this lecture on that machine! This might be an option for users of Apple computers...

Prepare your USB key
06:28

A NAS has to be connected to a network, hence its acronym. This lecture clarifies a few points...

Connect your NAS to the network
00:50

This lecture will explain how to prepare your computer to boot from the USB memory that you prepared in the previous lecture.

Prepare your computer to boot from USB
03:24

Two quick questions about some key hardware in your future NAS (or in an original Synology box...)

Section 2 quiz
2 questions
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Start your NAS for the first time
4 Lectures 15:52

With your server ready to start, you have now to press the "ON" button to boot via the USB key you prepared previously.

Boot your NAS
01:55

Now that your NAS has started, you can leave it connected to the network and move to your regular computer to start the configuration of your new server... But how do you connect to it? This lecture explains it.

Find your NAS
02:59

You have accessed your NAS, now is the time to configure it! (Part 1 of 2)

Set up your NAS - Part 1
06:12

You have accessed your NAS, now is the time to configure it! (Part 2 of 2)

Set up your NAS - Part 2
04:46
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Disk Station Manager for beginners
11 Lectures 01:13:05

DSM stands for "DiskStation Manager" and is Synology's operating system for their line of servers. It is also the software that you installed on your own NAS :o) This lecture will show you how to start using it.

Preview 05:57

For you NAS to be able to be at your service, you have first to prepare it to do so. This lecture shows you the first steps in preparing your server's file structure.

Where are the files going to?
07:07

If you live in a familial environment, chances are that your entourage will quickly want to have a share in your newly installed server! This lecture explains how to prevent war by allocating space to each familly member...

You are not alone! Users on your NAS
05:19

Now that you have defined that every user will have a separate space on your NAS, let's see how to create user accounts.

Create users on your server
07:26

Your NAS is a file server, so let's put some files on it!

Move your first files to the NAS
10:53

DSM is alright but what if you want to access your NAS' content from your computer's file explorer? This lecture explains how to do it.

Filing without a web browser
08:37

Deleting an application is frustrating but you can at least reinstall it. Losing your family pictures or the latest version of your novel, however, is a much more serious affair as these cannot be replaced that easily! Having a backup strategy for your important content can protect you from accidental loss: if you have a file on two harddisks, the risk is very low to have both crashing at the same time or to do an erroneous deletion on both machines.

Synology has gone to great lengths to help you secure your digital content. This lecture explains one method of doing it.

Mac users can set up the NAS easily as a Time Machine server (I will not go into this as I do not own a Mac... yet but friends told me it is very easy to do. I will update this part when I have more experience with it.)

For Windows computers, there are at least two different possibilities but I will explain the easiest to use, as it will be running in the background: Cloud Station. This software automatically synchronizes files between your computer and your NAS.

Back up your data: Install CloudStation
07:21

Deleting an application is frustrating but you can at least reinstall it. Losing your family pictures or the latest version of your novel, however, is a much more serious affair as these cannot be replaced that easily! Having a backup strategy for your important content can protect you from accidental loss: if you have a file on two harddisks, the risk is very low to have both crashing at the same time or to do an erroneous deletion on both machines.

Synology has gone to great lengths to help you secure your digital content. The previous lecture and this one explain one method of doing it with their CloudStation application.

Mac users can set up the NAS easily as a Time Machine server (I will not go into this as I do not own a Mac... yet but friends told me it is very easy to do. I will update this part when I have more experience with it.)

For Windows computers, there are at least two different possibilities but I will explain the easiest to use, as it will be running in the background: Cloud Station. This software automatically synchronizes files between your computer and your NAS.

Back up your data: CloudStation in action
05:30

Synology's DSM comes with a full package of great optional software. This lecture shows you the simplicity of installing new programs on your NAS and, more specifically, how to add a very good Media Server to your previous "Old PC".

Media Server: Stream your music and movies
06:02

Now that your Media Server is installed, how about using it?

Media Server in action
07:30

To end this section, Synology has a treat for you: on their web site, you have access to a live DSM 5.2
Your mission is to get over there and have a live test of DSM in order to get a "hands-on" understanding of the graphical user interface that you will have in your NAS...

Preview 01:23
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The End... or is it?
1 Lecture 02:17

By now, you should have grasped the possibilities of a NAS in your own computing environment. Synology servers can go much further...

Conclusion
02:17
About the Instructor
Pierre-Alain Wichert
4.4 Average rating
76 Reviews
5,184 Students
1 Course
IT Support Specialist

I have been trained as an electronics technician in the mid-eighties. During my practice I gradually moved into the computing domain, as I got older at the same time as PCs grew more powerful :o) I have more than 20 years experience in IT support and am working in a Swiss business school specialized in executive education.