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How to Remotely Connect to Your NAS Device

Updated on May 01, 2016

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A NETWORK-ATTACHED storage (NAS) device is a great way to share files in your home and provide always-on storage. If you’re just using your device inside your home, though, you’re missing out. Part of the point of having a NAS device that’s always on is that you can access it from wherever you have an internet connection. There are several ways you can get access, so in this walk through we’ll show you all the best options. We’re using a Synology NAS device for the purposes of this walk through, but the steps are similar for all other NAS devices.

A NAS device isn’t just useful for local storage. It can also give you access to your files wherever you are in the world. This Hub shows you how to make that connection.

1. First of all, you need to turn on any methods of remote access. File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is one such method that is commonly used, and if you have a website this is the method you’ll be using to upload files. Connect to your NAS device’s web interface and look for the FTP option. Select the option to enable it, and make a note of the port number it’s using, as you’ll need this later. The default port is 21, and you should change this only if you have good reason.

2. WebDAV is an alternative remote access protocol. For clients that support it, WebDAV lets you access your NAS device as though it were a local device. It’s a useful protocol, so you should turn it on if your NAS device supports it. Find the WebDAV option and enable it. There will be two options: standard and HTTPS (secure). The second option uses an encrypted connection for extra security. Note down the port numbers used by both connections.

3. Following Steps 1 and 2 gives any user accounts on your NAS device the right to connect via the protocols you've enabled. They’ll only be able to access the folders to which they normally have access, however, so check each user’s permissions and make sure they’re able to access all the files and folders they’ll need to access remotely. Bear in mind that if you've enabled the Guest account, this account can’t access the NAS device remotely, as it would present a huge security risk.

4. Once your NAS device is configured, you need to set up your router to allow connections to it. Connect to your router’s web management tool and find the port-forwarding option (also known as ‘virtual servers’). Click the Add button to add a new rule. You may find that your router comes pre-configured with services built in, so you can select FTP from a drop-down list, for example. If your router doesn't have this, you’ll need to create a new service; look out for the menu option. You’ll be asked to enter a name for the service (such as WebDAV), the start and end ports (the port numbers you wrote down in Steps 1 and 2) and the traffic protocol to accept (TCP for our services). Tell your router where to send the traffic by entering your NAS device’s IP address. It’s best to give your device a fixed manual IP address, if you haven’t already.

5. To connect to your NAS device from somewhere outside your home, you’d need to know your network’s external IP address, which can change. In this case, a better option is to use Dynamic DNS, which assigns a web address to your home network. Look for the Dynamic DNS section in your router’s management page. Select the option to use a Dynamic DNS service and then pick the service you want from the drop-down list. We recommend using www.dyndns.org, as it’s free and easy to configure.

Next, visit the website of your chosen Dynamic DNS service and create a free account. Look for the option to create a new hostname. You can enter anything you want for the first part, but you’ll be limited to the domains listed in the drop-down menu, such as homeftp.net – we managed to get shopper.homeftp.net for our hostname. Click the button to add the domain name.

Then go back to your router and type in your username password and complete domain name (shopper.homeftp.net, say). You can now access your internal computers and home network by typing in your new domain name rather than using your router’s external IP address.

6. You’re now ready to connect to your NAS device remotely. The built-in Windows tool lets you create a permanent icon for a remote connection (FTP or WebDAV) in Windows Explorer. However, Windows’ support for WebDAV is appalling, so don’t expect to get WebDAV working using the following method; WebDAV works perfectly on OS X and Linux, and there are better clients available for Windows.

For FTP, press Windows-E to bring up Windows Explorer and select the Map network drive option. Click the ‘Connect to a website you can use to store your documents and pictures’ link. Click Next twice and enter ftp:// , such as ftp://shopper. homeftp.net. Click Next and untick ‘Log on anonymously’. Enter your username and click Next. Enter a name for your connection and click Next, then Finish.

7. An Explorer Window will open, and you’ll be prompted for your password. Enter this and choose the option to save your password if you don’t want to enter it every time you connect to your server. You’ll see that your NAS device is available under Computer as a permanent link that you can use every time you want to access your home storage.

8. Alternatively, you can use a dedicated application to connect to your server. We recommend FileZilla (http://filezilla-project.org) for FTP, which lets you resume your transfers. For WebDAV on Windows, BitKinex (www.bitkinex.com) is the best software.

To configure BitKinex, download and install the software, then run it. Click the Connect button and type in the address of the server to which you want to connect. For WebDav, this is http://: for normal connections, or https://: for secure connections. For example, we’d use https://shopper.homeftp.net:5006 for a secure WebDAV connection. Enter your username and password and click Connect. If you’re using a secure connection, click Yes if you’re asked to access the SSL certificate. You’ll see a Windows Explorerstyle Window, which you can use to transfer files. Your server is saved into the shortcuts list in BitKinex, so you can access it more quickly next time.


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