Home Networking - The Ultimate Guide

Think about how much digital media the average household has. From movies, TV programmes, music, games, ebooks and everything else that you can imagine. The vast majority of us keep our digital media in many separate places, and that's not always ideal. However, there are solutions for keeping all your media in one place, and then being able to access it from anywhere you want. If you're interested in knowing how to store your digital media in one place, then read on for more info...

Why You'd Want to...

There are several great benefits to getting all your stuff in one place. Using a home network you can store every single piece of digital media in one device, and then access it from any other device on your home network. You can choose whether to watch that film on your lap top, or the living room TV, or even on your smart phone in the bathroom. Wherever you are in your house you'll be able to access whatever it is that you want. With some devices, you can even access your content from outside of your home network, so whilst you're on holiday, for example. You can make digital copies of older media like DVDs and CDs, allowing you access to their content whilst you clear shelf space and put the discs up in the loft. Imagine being able to lie in bed and get your new CD on your phone, then deciding that you need a shower, so switching the CD to the internet radio in the bathroom. Life really can be that simple.

Your Solutions...

There are a few ways that you can get all your digital media in one place. By far the easiest way is to simply upload everything to a cloud storage account online. This might take a little time, but you'll have everything in one place and you'll be able to access your data from any internet connection no matter where you are. However, this is far from the ideal solution, since storage space can get expensive on cloud accounts. A better idea is to buy yourself a home media storage device. There are plenty of these available online, and prices vary from a hundred pounds or so to around five hundred pounds, depending on how much storage you want. You should look for something that gets about 1 TB of storage, which should give you plenty of room for anything and everything. These devices connect to your home internet network, and then appear as a device on that network, allowing you to easily transfer files to them. You'll be able to store all your media here and then access it from any device on your home network. This will include computers, possibly your TV, and even things like gaming consoles. Additionally, you can even use gaming consoles themselves to store and then share data. You'll need to look at the manual for the console that you own to see whether or not this will work. However, most modern consoles like the Play Station 3 and 4, and the X Box allow you to do this. The disadvantage of storing through a gaming console is basically that these consoles don't tend to have that much storage. 100 GB of internal memory sounds like a lot, but it probably isn't going to hold your whole film collection.

Downsides to Single Storage

Storing and accessing all your digital media from one device isn't without it's problems, however. You will need a decent data plan, for example. Using a regular plan, something like a Post Office home phone and broadband plan, will be a no go, due to low download limits. You'll probably want to get an unlimited broadband plan in order to stream whenever and wherever you want. You'll also need good internet speeds in order to stream smoothly. With a wireless router you may not always get the kind of speeds that you need to stream properly, and you'll need to check out your speeds before deciding on going with one device streaming. You should be looking at minimum speeds of around 3 Mbps to stream well. In fact, it might even be worth getting a faster fibre optic broadband connection if you can to get optimum streaming speeds. This is going to cost you a little more on your monthly bill, but it might be worth it if you're going to stream regularly. And, of course, there's always the problem of lost data. Whilst storing everything in one place is convenient, it's not exactly secure. Should your storage device crash or malfunction, you could find yourself unable to retrieve all your data. You should always have backup copies of any digital media that you have. Ideally, you should have a hard drive that does not connect to your home network to keep a safe and secure copy of all your files on, in case of emergency.

How Difficult is Set Up?

Set up is incredibly easy, particularly if you buy a home media storage device. You'll need to plug in the device, and then follow simple instructions. You may be able to connect to your home network directly from the device itself, depending on the model you buy. However, more likely you will need to go through your computer. Connecting your device to your network is simply a matter of finding the device on the network and giving it the appropriate password to access that network. Once you've done that, you can begin to upload your media files to your device. Depending on how many media files you have, and what sizes they are, it may take a relatively significant amount of time to get everything onto the device. But once you've got all your albums, films and even photos and electronic books onto your storage device you'll be able to get what you need at a moment’s notice from wherever you are in the house. 

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