I decided that 2014 for me was going to be the year of the Network Attached Storage (NAS). Last year was the year that I finally abandoned my desktops and went all laptop for both my Mac-based iOS development workflow and general purpose computing (i.e, everything else on my Acer i5 running Lubuntu). This year I wanted to have a massive centralized storage where I could put all my videos and photos so I can access it from any laptop or mobile device. What follows is what I chose and how to hook it up to Lubuntu.
I first looked at external cloud solutions (DropBox, Box, CrashPlan, BackBlaze) and although they were all cool they were unfortunately out for me due to three reasons. First, the storage limits – I didn’t want Gigs – I wanted Terabytes. Although, CrashPlan and BackBlaze both offer unlimited online storage they limit the number of devices. Two, I didn’t have all the files centralized on one computer and it would be best to centralized all my Mac, Linux, and iOS data first before I could go to one of these offsite back-up solutions. Third, these all cost money in a form of a monthly fee of $5 or $50 yearly subscriptions. These offline solutions are definitely part of the final solution but I decided that would be a second phase for me. It looked like I had developed a phased project that broke down into two phases of centralization first and then offsite continuous backup second.
The first phase then came down to having a Network Attached Storage (NAS) type unit. The new Airport Time Capsule looked cool but I wanted something less Appley. I have had good experiences with Western Digital (WD) drives and saw in the January 2014 issue of Maximum PC a head-to-head between Dropbox and the new WD My Cloud product. A successor to the My Book branded drive this new My Cloud branded offering provides a shell to a NAS device and it was cheaper than a Time Capsule. I was sold and for X-mas asked Santa for the WD My Cloud 4TB Personal Cloud Storage – NAS (WDBCTL0040HWT-NESN) device.
Set-up was literally plug and play. There is an iOS App for iPad and iPhone/iPod Touch which allows upload to and download/stream from the NAS. The WD website and User Manual mention Mac and PC software to mount and sync that make connection a breeze. The device supports Time Capsule so I’ll be doing that with my Mac laptops (yes – there is no limit to how many computers connect to this thing). Then came my Linux laptop. There was no mention of Linux which is a shame since you would think that they are leveraging the community’s efforts in their products. But it was easy enough to connect my Lubuntu laptop as a Network File System (NFS) Client via three shell commands.
First, I changed directory to my home directory and created a nfs directory in there:
$ cd $HOME
$ mkdir nfs
Then I applied the following three shell commands:
$ sudo apt-get install nfs-common
$ showmount -e <IP Address of the My Cloud Device>
$ sudo mount -o soft,intr,rsize=8192,wsize=8192 192.168.1.132:/nfs ~/nfs/
If you cd into nfs you’ll be accessing the WD My Cloud device. That’s it. I started to copy twenty mp4 files totalling 1.6GB into the device through 802.11n and it took 8 minutes. I was then streaming these on my iPad mini.
If you are asking how do you find the IP Address of the My Cloud Device well that may be the trickiest part of this whole thing. On some versions of Ubuntu I’ve heard that it automatically sees the WD My Cloud in the Network (going to Nautilus / Network for example). Others recommend you view your router’s Admin Panel to find the NAS IP. If you visit your router’s admin panel you can also take another approach of using the MAC address of the My Cloud to reserve an IP address on your router since the default on the MyCloud is to use DHCP. Once you have the IP you can go to it in a browser using the http://<My Cloud IP Address>/UI interface which WD calls the Dashboard. From there you can assign a static address to the WD MyCloud device and not use DHCP and undo the reservation on the router.
I hope this helps assure you you can connect to this from Linux. I know once I finished the plug and play I panicked for a bit thinking I wouldn’t be able to connect my Linux machines to this device but now I happily throw everything I have onto this. Also, it has a USB 3 port on the back so I can simply plug another 4TB USB drive on it and expand it in the future.
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