How to transform your Android device into a NAS drive

Turning your device using Android to NAS (Network Attached Storage) is not as hard as you might think. The Android OS and apps have really got to a mature enough level such that they allow all the features you find in your average NAS. In this short post I will show you how I transformed my Android device (Tronsmark MK908II) into a fully working NAS.

Android to NAS Drive – Hardware used

For this setup I used the following setup:

  • Tronsmart MK908II RK3188T Cortex-A9 Quad Core 1.4GHz Google Android 4.2 Mini TV BOX 2G/8G Bluetooth External Wifi Antenna-Black – this is a rooted Android device that can be hooked up to any TV via HDMI and it turns it into a Smart TV (costed about 65USD)

    Tronsmart MK908II photo
    Tronsmart MK908II
  • 450Mbps Wireless N Gigabit RouterTL-WR1043ND – this is the wireless router that hooks everything to the internet; it also has a few very useful features like dynamic DNS and it has a USB port which in my case I used to power up the mini TV box such that it always stays on (costed about 45USD)

    tplink wireless router TL-WR1043ND
    TPLink Wireless Router
  • a 1TB external HDD drive (costed about 60USD)

    seagate 1tb external usb hdd drive
    Seagate 1TB external usb hdd drive
  • (optional) Edimax USB 2.0 to Fast Ethernet Adapter (EU-4208) – I used this to hook up the mini TV box to the internet via ethernet to get higher speeds; it’s optional because the tv box already has wireless included so it can use that to connect to the internet (costed about 13USD)

    Edimax USB 2.0 to Fast Ethernet Adapter (EU-4208)
    Edimax USB 2.0 to Fast Ethernet Adapter (EU-4208)

The whole setup costed in total approximately 183 USD which is about or lower than the cost of the cheapest NAS which does not have all the bells and whistles that this setup offers to us.

I did not include the TV in this setup because I assume everybody has nowadays a TV with HDMI input. So, hook up the mini TV box to the TV via HDMI, the HDD and ethernet adapter hook via USB to the mini TV box, then the mini TV box powers via USB from the wireless router and also is connected to it via the ethernet cable. That’s all.

Android software used

To mimic the features offered by a regular NAS I have used the following software, coming free straight from the Google Play Store:

  • SSH Server – this application offers SSH access to your device with everything that implies: remote administration and SFTP being the most important
  • Samba Server – your device (with the HDD attached) becomes a drive on the network accessible from Windows networks
  • tTorrent Lite – torrent client that offers a simple web interface that allows remote management of your torrent downloads
  • MXPlayer – very good video player; has a nice feature for searching and downloading subtitles; has had some copyright problems with AC3 and DTS audio encoding, but that is easily solved using a free plugin

These are the minimum software needed which offer SFTP, Windows sharing, torrent download and remote management, etc. Of course you can do pretty much anything since there are a lot of apps for Android.

How to connect everything?

The connection of the devices is pretty straight forward:

  • the router just goes in a power plug
  • Tronsmart mini TV box – gets power via USB from the router (my router has an external storage USB port); I did it like this because my router is always on and so will the mini TV box; you can also connect it to a regular power plug or even to your TV (but then the mini TV box will only be on when you turn  on the TV)
  • Tronsmart mini TV box – connects to the TV via an HDMI cable
  • the Edimax ethernet adapter gets into the Tronsmart mini TV box via USB and also connects via UTP to the router
  • the external USB drive connects to the Tronsmart mini TV box via USB

Configure your setup as a NAS

Most of the configuration will be made on the router. These are a few configurations that I’ve done on my wireless router:

  • activated DHCP to activate automatic assignment of IPs
  • activated dynamic DNS (DDNS) – this is a very cool feature that my router has and this allows me to map a web domain to my IP address (which is dynamicalyy assigned by my internet provider); using the mapped web domain I can always access my NAS from the internet
  • port forwarding: I forwarded several ports such that I can access from the internet my mini TV box; the ports include the SSH port (the one you set in the SSH application) and the tTorrent web server port (allowing me to manage torrent downloads remotely)

On the Android device you will need to activate the Ethernet connection which is by default disabled. The Edimax ethernet adapter is compatible with the kernel used on Tronsmart Mk908, so for me this worked almost seamless. I say almost because for some reason the ethernet interface did not automatically get the DNS from the router, but I solved that using a script. Usually this should go without any problems.

As I already mentioned you have to configure your SSH, Samba application and your tTorrent mainly for:

  • starting the services on bootup of the device
  • setting the ports you want to use
  • quite important, setting a password for accessing these services otherwise you open the gate for everybody

 

This is all. It’s not exactly an out of the box setup, but then neither is a regular NAS as you still have to do similar configurations. The bottom line is that it works and for me at least it was a fun project.

If you have any questions regarding this setup please drop me a comment and i will try to help you.

 

John Negoita

View posts by John Negoita
I'm a Java programmer, been into programming since 1999 and having tons of fun with it.
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