Creating a direct connection between your PC and NAS

Airplane propeller with blue sky

NAS devices are great for storing large amounts of files, and making them available to other devices on the network. A typical gigabit home network is usually fast enough to conveniently access those files from your PC or Mac. If you need some extra speed from one of your computers, it might be worth checking if your NAS has an available “better-than-gigabit” port.

What you’ll need

  • A NAS with two network ports, of which at least one is 2.5 gigabit or better.
  • A PC or Mac with a free network port that supports the same connection speed. If your PC does not have one, there are USB3 adapters on the market that are quite affordable.
  • A UTP cable capable of better-than-gigabit speeds, typically “Cat6a”.
  • A working knowledge basic network things, like how to change adapter settings.
  • The NAS and PC need to be physically close to each other, since we’ll be connecting them using a single cable.

How this works

IN most cases, your PC is connected to your home network using either wifi or (wired) gigabit ethernet. Your NAS is likely to be connected using ethernet. To get a faster connection between the two, you could upgrade your entire network to (for instance) 2.5 gigabit, but this would require a considerable investment.

If you just need a single PC with faster acces to the NAS, you can create a separate “network”, with only those two devices. I did this recently, and even at 2.5 gigabit (there’s also 5 and 10), there was a noticable improvement.

Where’s how I did it

These are the steps that were required to get this working with my hardware. That’s a relatively inexpensive QNAP NAS with a gigabit and a 2.5 gb port and a Windows PC with a 2.5 gb port and a cheap USB3-to-gigabit dongle (that I intend to replace eventually).

  1. Make sure the faster ports are availabe. I actually had my LAN plugged into the NAS’s fast port, so I needed to fix that, and do some configuration on the NAS to get the static IP set up again.
  2. Once you have LAN access on both devices working, directly connect the 2.5 gb ports on the NAS and PC using the Cat6a cable. This won’t be plug & play, there’s a few more steps.
  3. On the NAS set the fast port’s IP to something like 192.168.5.99. Make sure to use a different range than your LAN. There’s no DHCP server on our little two-device network, so you’ll need to set the IP manually. Use 255.255.255.0 as the the subnet mask.
  4. I found that I needed to remove the gateway address that was previously there, since it won’t be accessible on this network.
  5. On the PC or Mac, set the fast adapter’s IP address to a different IP in the same range, so something like 192.168.5.100. Again, remove any gateway IP and use the same subnet mask.
  6. When connecting to the NAS and setting up network shares, make sure to connect using the new IP. In Windows, this would be something like \\192.168.5.99\[shared folder], Macs typically use smb://192.168.5.99/[shared folder].

Once I did this, editing photo’s directly from the NAS was a lot more fun than before. I paid three euros for the ethernet cable, which was absolutely worth it. I’ll definitely look for 10 gigbit ports when buying my next NAS…

Featured image by Jennifer Bourn, available from the WordPress Photo Directory.

Roy Tanck
I'm a freelance WordPress developer, designer, consultant, meetup organizer and speaker. In my spare time I love to go out and take pictures of things.

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