The NAS servers in our house we usually use them to make backup copies, to access locally or remotely all the files and folders that we have copied, and also to play multimedia content on the network with Plex Media Server. Of course, users also set up a VPN server to access the local network securely from anywhere, among many other common uses. Today in this article we are going to show you 5 uses that you do not know that you can do with a NAS at home.
Interesting uses that a NAS can have
QNAP, ASUSTOR or Synology NAS servers, among others, have the possibility of virtualizing complete operating systems , that is, we will be able to install a Windows or Linux operating system within the NAS itself, with the aim of greatly increasing the functionalities of the equipment. . We also have the option of carrying out a light virtualization based on Docker-type containers , in this way, we will be able to enjoy dozens of microservices at home that consume very few CPU and RAM resources on our NAS. Thanks to the virtualization software built into NAS operating systems, we’re going to be able to use the NAS for really cool stuff that we wouldn’t have officially with the manufacturers’ app store.
Centralize home automation
Currently there are many devices in our home that are “smart”, such as smart plugs, humidity sensors, temperature sensors, heating control, motion sensors to alert intruders, door and window opening sensors, connected sound bars to WiFi, Smart TV and many other devices. For each brand of device there is an app for our mobile, this means that we will have dozens of applications to control one or two devices. However, there is a solution to centralize all home automation in our home and also to perform automation: Home Assistant.
Home Assistant is the best solution to centralize the home automation of our home, it has a great compatibility with different brands, so you will not have problems integrating any device you have at home in the management from Home Assistant. Right now we have two options to install Home Assistant on our NAS server:
- Download the ISO image of Home Assistant for Virtualbox or VMware, transform it to the image format of the virtualization software of our NAS server, and finally use this complete operating system on our NAS as if it were a normal Windows-type virtual machine.
- Install Home Assistant and everything you need through Docker.
Regardless of the way you install it, we will have a large number of configuration options to adapt it to our needs. Depending on the NAS you have, the process will be different. With Home Assistant you can monitor different devices, download electricity consumption at home from the distributor and much more thanks to the extensive community there is.
Reverse proxy to access with domains
If you have many web services at home, you can safely access all of them over the Internet by installing a reverse proxy. A reverse proxy consists of software that is installed on the NAS server, and allows us to access different local web services with a specific subdomain. One of the most popular software for reverse proxy is Traefik, this software allows us TLS 1.3 communication, use self-signed certificates, certificates from any CA and also automates the download of Let’s Encrypt certificates, with the aim of protecting the point-to-point connection. best possible.
Traefik has middleware, this allows us to add a strong authentication via Oauth for the services that we want, it also allows us to limit access by country of origin where the public IP is from, configure a whitelist or blacklist to improve security, and even we can limit the requests to be made to a certain number, to mitigate DoS attacks. If you want to easily and quickly access different web services on the local network, and even services that use TCP, you can use Traefik for it. In this article we have a complete tutorial to configure Traefik on QNAP .
Home Streaming with Plex and other apps
If you want to set up your own streaming at home, the best thing you can use is Plex Media Server to play all the movies and series you want. However, the process of downloading the movies or series, copying them to different folders (libraries) of Plex can be somewhat annoying. To improve this behavior, we have some really cool additional software to automate this process.
- Sonarr : is a software that allows us to know when the different episodes of our favorite series are broadcast, later we can use different BitTorrent trackers to download them. This software allows you to carry out a manual search, check if there are problems when downloading it, etc., allows you to register different RSS feeds to proceed with the download of your favorite programs.
- Radarr – This is exactly the same as Sonarr but geared specifically towards movies. This software allows you to order and rename the movies, removing what is related to the resolution, tracker where it has been uploaded, etc.
- Jackett : this software works as a proxy server, it works together with Sonarr and Radarr to connect to different public or private trackers, making HTTP queries specific to the tracker, analyzing the response and sending the results to Sonarr and Radarr, in this way, we will be able to download all as soon as it is available.
As you can see, with this software we can automate the search and download of our favorite movies and series.
In a NAS server we can install a complete monitoring system, this will allow us to check if the rest of the devices that we have in the local network are working or if there is some kind of problem. Furthermore, we could also monitor the status of the NAS server itself without much trouble. We have the possibility of installing a Linux-based operating system such as Debian, to later install everything necessary for monitoring, such as the typical Nagios, Prometheus and we can even install ELK with Grafana to show all the information on the status of the different computers.
The NAS have full virtualization or with Docker containers. Our recommendation is that, if you are going to use monitoring, you directly use a complete virtual machine with Debian, to have all the software at our disposal and not depend on Docker containers, in addition, we could program Snapshots of this virtual machine easily and fast. Manufacturers like QNAP have a software called QRM+ that allows us to monitor Windows and Linux computers, it performs basic monitoring but it works really well. However, advanced monitoring requires a lot of knowledge.
Network level malware blocker
If you are worried about malware entering your home devices, you can set up a DNS server that acts as a malware blocker at the network level, meaning that all devices that connect to your home are protected. AdGuard Home is the best tool you can use for this, it allows you to configure DNS over TLS and DNS over HTTPS to have maximum privacy and security when making requests to DNS such as Google or Cloudflare.
This software can be installed natively on various manufacturers such as QNAP, however, you will always be able to install it through Docker and we will have the same advanced configuration options. Although this software can also act as a DHCP server, our recommendation is to use it only as a DNS server and that it be in charge of filtering all the malicious traffic that may enter our house.
As you can see, a NAS server will not only serve us for backup copies or remote access to our files and folders, but it also has an infinite number of uses thanks to virtualization and Docker.