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How to remotely connect to your NAS via internet

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Hi there,

This article summarizes what you need if you are going to set up your home or small business Network Attached Storage (NAS) to be accessible from the internet. Of course there are configuration differences based on your NAS or router manufacturer/model, but I will try to write this tutorial in general terms so it should cover the basics whatever hardware you have.

I will discuss these steps here:
1. set static IP for NAS
2. make NAS accessible outside of LAN

In most cases, NAS should connected directly to your router. Most NAS manufacturers provide their own software for initial NAS configuration (set IP etc.) so you, as an user, are able to login into the NAS and do further configuration that you need (create folders, users, give permissions, etc.). I do not want to cover this part because it really varies from NAS to NAS. If you are running DHCP on your router it may be that your NAS will have different IP in the future which can make it inaccessible for clients. That´s why I recommend that you set a static IP address for NAS. But do not do this by setting a static IP on NAS because if you will use an IP from your DHCP pool range you risk IP conflict with another device in your LAN. You may argue that if you use an IP out of your DHCP pool range you are safe. Partially yes, because you will not conflict with DHCP, but you are loosing track of IPs you set in that way (if you will have more devices set like that you simply have to have some excel document or some kind of records to track it). That's why I recommend you make an IP reservation on your router and reserve this IP (which is out of DHCP pool) based on MAC address. Most routers will support this feature. After you set this on the router, reboot the NAS to let changes apply.

So now your NAS has a static IP which makes it accessible by IP and we do not need to worry that the IP will be changed in the future. Right now if you type the NAS IP into browser, and your computer is connected to the same LAN, you should be able to reach logon screen asking for credentials.

Now, how do you ensure you will be able to browse your NAS from outside your LAN and also why would you do this? The main reason probably will be you need to access your data, your business documents when you are home, or simply upload pictures you took minutes ago on your vacation, to your NAS.

As with every network communication, communication with your NAS is made on a particular port. You need to know this port for your NAS. The manufacturer should have the communication port in its documentation, or you can see it in the NAS menu. Ports usually are 80 or 8080 but for example Synology uses 5000. When you identify the appropriate port, you have to set this port to be forwarded to the IP your NAS is running on.

Lets see an example: router is 192.168.1.1, into router you have connected NAS with static IP 192.168.1.99 which is listening on port 5000 (because it´s Synology model), if you are inside your LAN, you do not need think about anything, just type 192.168.1.99 and you are in. But for requests from the internet this port is not open so you have to configure this directly on the router. In port forwarding configuration you set external and internal port to 5000, TCP protocol and point it to local IP address NAS is running on - 192.168.1.99.

If you have this done, you should be able to access your NAS from anywhere. But ...
... of course you cannot use your local IP (192.168.1.99), you have to point to your router and its external IP address (provided by your ISP). If you do not know it, simply google for "what is my IP" in your LAN and write the IP down. Then if you browse port 5000 on this IP you will reach your NAS (http://externalIP:5000). The only problem could be, as was mentioned in the first part in this article on setting up the NAS network configuration, if you do not have a static IP, which is commonly a paid additional service from your ISP, you can easily lose your connection because one day your ISP changes the IP (and you can bet when this happens, you are on business trip and desperately need to download your presentation - Murphy's Law :)). For this reason smart people developed DDNS, in short it is a client which periodically asks for your external IP and knows it. Then you are connecting not to IP, but to a hostname you registered and behind this hostname is your external IP, every time up to date. E.g. you register on DynDNS.org, and then you type your credentials (domain name, name and password) into your router (I guess it is a standard router feature most of the time). When this is done you are able to browse your NAS located in London from Miami using http://mynas.dyndns.org:5000

I would higly recommand to use as much security as possible. Because if you allow public access to your NAS via the internet like this, it is in dangerous waters. So:
1. use HTTPS instead of HTTP (many products support this) so communication is encrypted and no one see your credentials as plain text
2. use strong password (length, complexity) and change it time to time
3. use additional login security (e.g. 2 step verification)
4. use custom port instead of standard if supported by NAS


Step by step configuration of static IP, port forwarding or DDNS registration and configuration is out of the scope of this article, but if any problems with this, I or any other EE experts will help, I am sure. Or maybe I will write a separate article in the future.

- helpfinder -
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