If you already have a NAS, you probably know how helpful they can be. I recently made one out of an old PC, and I’m already using it to run a media server, a Minecraft server, and a Pi-hole DNS filter for my home. Some of these things, like the media server, you might want to be able to reach from outside your home, but it’s not clear how you would do that right away.
Depending on how comfortable you are with the services on your NAS being available on the web, you have a few choices. You could port forward all of these services on your router so that they can be accessed through your IP address, or you could do something a little more difficult and set up a VPN on the NAS so that you can access everything. This is the safer option.
Why would you want to connect to your NAS from somewhere else?
There are a few reasons why you might want to view your NAS remotely if you run one. The first and most important thing is to be able to get to your files. Since NAS stands for “Network Attached Storage,” it’s likely that you have important files like pictures, documents, and videos on it.
But you might also want to do that so you can stream material you keep on it. I have ripped a lot of movies and TV shows from DVDs over the past 15 years, and I keep them on a lot of different drives. If I move them to my NAS, I can use them anywhere as long as I can join to them remotely.
Last but not least, it lets you use your NAS as a VPN. If you’re traveling and want to watch Netflix or Disney+ from your country while you’re away, you could connect your VPN to your NAS and then watch those services as usual. In either case, being able to view our NAS from outside the office can be very helpful.
For people who use Synology: QuickConnect
If you have a Synology NAS, it’s easy to view it from outside your home network:
- Go to Control Panel > External Access > QuickConnect.
- Check the Enable QuickConnect box.
- Enter your preferred ID in the QuickConnect ID box.
- Make sure the Automatically create port forwarding rules box is checked.
- Check the box to agree to the terms of service as well.
- Click Apply.
You shouldn’t have to set up any rules for port forwarding, and it should work without any trouble. If it doesn’t work, you can set up port forwarding rules for the DSM service on ports 5000 and 5001 and for Synology Drive on port 6690. Synology has more instructions that you can use to set it up so that it works with your network.
Once this is set up, you can download and install a lot of Synology apps online to access your NAS directly. For example, you can find a lot of them in the Google Play Store.
WireGuard VPN Tunnel
Setting up WireGuard is a quick and easy option. I used wg-easy from the TrueCharts store to set up a TrueNAS, and it really only took five minutes. You’ll have to add the TrueCharts Catalog to your NAS first, though. To do this, go to Apps > Manage Catalogs > Add Catalog and put in the following information:
- Name: TrueCharts
- Repository: https://github.com/truecharts/catalog
- Trains: Enterprise, Stable, Operators (commas separate each option you should select)
- Branch: Main
After that, you can look through the library to install wg-easy and set up WireGuard. This turns your NAS into a VPN that you can join from anywhere as long as you port forward the WireGuard port on your router, and it works very well.
In the WireGuard web user interface, you can make new profiles and export them to a.conf file or QR code. Any WireGuard client can then load this file or QR code. I made one for my laptop, one for my phone, and one for my dad so that when he travels he can still watch Irish Netflix. From there, I can use all the services on my network just as if I were there in person. To make a new setup, you just give it a name and click the “Create” button, as shown below.
A backward proxy
A reverse proxy is a great way to connect to your NAS from outside of your network. You can use all of your services from anywhere, and you can also set them up so that they can be reached through custom domain names.
People often use Traefik or nginx, which are both pieces of software, to do this on TrueNAS. Using it, you can make a reverse proxy that you can link to from anywhere. This gives you access to the rest of your network.
It takes a little time to set up and isn’t as safe as a VPN link, but it can be very useful. You could make custom domains so that you could access your Jellyfin server by putting in an address like “jf.lan” instead of a string of numbers and a port sequence at the end. It’s not the worst thing to have to do, but if you want to improve how you use your NAS and how you access it, that’s something to look into.
It can be easy to connect to your NAS from anywhere
These are some of the most common ways to connect to your NAS from anywhere else. It’s hard to write a guide on how to set up each of these because, with the exception of Synology, your setup will make it very different. But if you look for the name of the program and a tutorial for your operating system, you can usually find out how to set it up for your exact setup.
For instance, setting up a reverse proxy on TrueNAS is probably going to be very different from setting one up on OpenMediaVault. WireGuard’s setup can also be different from one machine to the next. On a TrueNAS system, wg-easy does most of the work for me. It’s a Docker image that you can set up on any machine that supports Docker and WireGuard, but based on how your system is set up, that might not be possible.