Memory Bank is a wholesale provider of technology products and services. They supply companies with thousands of products but don’t sell directly themselves. They asked me to have a look at a product that they believe would be useful to schools – a Network Attached Storage device, or NAS to those who like abbreviations.
So what is an NAS and why would any school in the country want one? Now, I’m no expert when it comes to computer networking, (just ask my former lecturer in UCD) so the best way I can describe it is as follows:
A NAS is a large hard drive that attaches to a network through a switch and allows all computers on this network to access it quickly. It is really good for sharing media.
Let’s say you have a computer in your classroom. You’ve probably ripped CDs on to it so you can play the songs without having to search for the disk again. You might even have created a playlist of songs for particular lessons or themes. Now what happens when you move to another classroom? It’s fairly difficult to copy all your playlists and tracks from one machine to another. Wouldn’t have been easier to have a centralised place in the school where you could access these songs and, even better, be able to access everyone else’s?
Although this is possible by using a server, they are difficult enough to set up and are generally fairly sluggish. So, if for example you had a DVD copied on to the server and you wanted to play it through the server, the network’s performance would slow down. By having a NAS attached to the network, speed is not an issue and one can watch stored video, listen to saved audio and access any type of file.
In my school, I’m going to use it as a shared drive for all our media. Any time someone pops a CD or DVD into Windows Media Player, it will automatically rip it into the NAS so it can be accessed by everybody in the school.
So far so good. However, if this device is going to work in schools, it’s going to have to be incredibly easy to set up. Luckily, it is. I looked for the instruction manual before starting and found that its entire content was one page long. The manual itself was translated into several languages.
This is the procedure for setting up this device.
- Plug the NAS into your network switch
- Turn it on
- Insert the CD that comes with it into any computer on the network and follow the instructions.
- That’s it.
To set up access to the NAS from any other computer on the network, I found, was straightforward enough, but I admit, to a complete novice, it might be a little bit difficult. I then set up Windows Media Player on every computer to automatically rip CD contents onto the NAS. Again, this probably isn’t easy to the novice but not too difficult to anyone with a reasonable knowledge of computers.
It’s early days yet for the NAS in my school but I can see it becoming a goldmine for all my staff. I’m hoping that every piece of music we purchase, every CD that comes with a teachers’ manual and every DVD we own will be copied onto this device so teachers never have to open their CD-ROM drive again. We were given a 2TB (terabyte) storage device, which is enough for about 120 DVDs or half a million songs! I don’t think we’ll be filling it that quickly! Iomega also offer users the chance to access the NAS remotely but this costs extra after a free trial.
I like this device and I think schools should look into it for storage of their media. Have a look at this video to see a presentation from IOMEGA about how small businesses (like schools) can use this device. Overall, I believe that this type of device has a place in schools as media storage becomes more and more important. I’ll be interested to see how many albums will be on it at the end of this school year.
Last Update: August 22, 2017