The Best Torrent Features for Your Network Storage Device

There are many reasons to use the peer-to-peer (P2P) features of a network storage device rather than downloading these files to your computer: you’ll save power, you’ll put less wear and tear on your computer, and you won’t have to run your primary system all night long just to download game updates or movies in the public domain.

But that doesn’t mean your NAS device’s torrent app is flawless. The specific features of built-in NAS torrent apps make or break the experience, and there are a few that you shouldn’t compromise on.

For starters, your NAS device’s torrent utility must be able to process links to Web-based .torrent files. It’s much more convenient: Instead of having to download a file to your computer system, and then pull up your NAS device’s configuration screen, and then “upload” your torrent file to your network storage device to get your download going, you should just be able to link to a torrent file hosted online and let your NAS device take care of the rest. The era of needing to download these indices to your hard drive is over, and your BitTorrent utility should know it.

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Network Storage and Torrent Downloads: A Perfect Pair

It would have been difficult to write this post prior to peer-to-peer filesharing becoming an accepted form of Internet data transmission. But the concept has really taken off, and for good reason: Rather than to wait for a single server to send along your requested data, you access a file that has been split into chunks, downloading bits and pieces of this file simultaneously from multiple sources at once. The result: significantly faster file transfers.

The problem with torrents is that they’re widely perceived as means for distributing illegal copies of copyrighted material. We all know that’s not cool.

What is cool, however, is the fact that companies like D-Link have started to embrace legitimate peer-to-peer traffic by building support for torrent downloads right into the software that comes with their network storage devices. If you’re already using apps like uTorrent or Vuze to simultaneously grab snippets of files from an army of your peers, you might dismiss built-in torrent support as irrelevant. Why bother firing up a similar utility on your network storage device?

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How to Tell a Bridge from an Access Point

Let’s refresh: As I’ve previously described, a network bridge can connect wired devices to a wireless network. The benefits are obvious: say goodbye to the miles of cable you’d otherwise need to connect faraway wired devices to your router. When you connect wired devices to a bridge, they can communicate wirelessly with your router and all of the devices on your network.

Got it?

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When to Say No to HD: When Buying a Network Camera

I’m no Luddite, but I confess: I haven’t paid much attention to the rise of high-definition webcams and network cameras. That’s because depending on how you’re planning to use a network camera, a high-definition feed might very well be unnecessary.

When I set up a monitoring system for my room using network cameras, this is one of the few times I preferred a low-def option over a super-charged, 1080p-resolution alternative. For starters, standard network cameras are less expensive. That’s a big deal if you’re looking to install a multi-cam setup. In that case, choosing high-def cameras is going to cost you some serious coin.

And even then, you might not end up with high-def footage! A number of network cameras that claim 1080p compatibility note — in the fine print — that the 1920-by-1080 resolution image only applies to still images. The video feed might default to a slightly less impressive 720p resolution. Now, 720p is nothing to scoff at, but it means that you’re paying top dollar for a feature (HD pictures) that you might not even use in your video monitoring network.

What’s more, the way a network camera translates its image to the Web for remote viewing can render even 720p video resolution unnecessary. Suppose you’ve set up a network camera in a room in your home and you want to use your wired or wireless network to pass its feed to a website like uStream or Justin.tv. If the host limits the resolution or bitrate of your broadcast, you’re wasting your HD network camera’s power: What good is a 1280-by-720-pixel feed that you can only view in a 640-by-360-pixel window on one of these sites? You’re better off shooting in the lower resolution — 640 by 360 — than having the site automatically discard your cam’s detail by forced resizing.

And don’t even get me started on the new world of bandwidth caps for mobile smartphone and tablet users. Do you really want to waste your precious mobile bits and bytes pulling up a high-definition network camera feed when a standard definition picture will serve just fine?

When you’re looking to buy a network camera, don’t be fooled by high-def claims. The best network camera is one that fits your home-monitoring needs. And don’t forget about features: A network camera might not be able to deliver an IMAX-like video feed, but if it can send you an email whenever it detects an intruder passing through an area, that’s a huge leg up on a network camera that can only snap high-definition stills.

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What Features Do You Need in a Network Camera?

Deciding between wired or a wireless connectivity is the first step toward figuring out exactly what kind of network camera will work best in your home. The networking connection is the easiest part to figure out. .

Now what about the other important features found in typical network cameras?

If you’re planning to shoot video in the daylight, you might not need to worry about cameras that can perform in low-light or no-light environments. But don’t assume that these important features don’t exist: Infrared-LED equipped cameras like D-Link’s brand-new Wireless N Day/Night Home Network Camera (DCS-932L) can help you to monitor a location 24/7. This lets you check up on pets and babies, and safeguard critical areas of your home without the need for a full-fledged security system.

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