Back up all your data—and we mean all of it—to your NAS box without installing any software

Back up your Windows, MacOS, and Linux PCs, along with your mobile devices, to a NAS box using its built-in apps and utilities.

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Cloud sync

All NAS boxes feature apps that will sync with online services. Which services and how many of them varies, but the most important are those used for backup by phones: Google Drive and OneDrive. Alas, Apple doesn’t allow access to iCloud from anything other than its own apps. If you’re an iPhone user, I recommend using DropBox.

QNAP is definitely the heavyweight in terms of the number of other services it supports: Google Drive, Dropbox, Amazon S3, Microsoft Azure, and OneDrive to mention just a few, so this is another item to check when you’re shopping. I’m not going into setting up your phone to back up to the cloud. They all do, so read the instructions.

Setting up these apps is almost exactly the same as it is from other devices. Generally, the setup will take you quickly to the site of the service where you can okay access by the NAS box and you’re all done. You might have to define a folder to store the synced data, but that’s about it.


I haven’t talked about the security of these operations. They are generally safe, but obviously not suitable for defense contractors. I have no problem using these methods, and I have for decades, but I’m not paranoid about my stuff—there’s nothing there that I care if someone steals. Lost in many security discussions is the theft-worthiness of your data. Worry about credit-card numbers and financial data such as tax returns, not an ebook collection.

Also what I’ve described is actually a one-way sync, rather than a true static, point-in-time backup. You can, however, define a job as one-time and then change the destination folders. I generally just let my jobs run regularly, then once every few months I also create an image backup. (Using Paragon Backup and Recovery or R-Drive Image.)

Final words

Warnings aside, the absolute best thing about using a NAS box and this methodology is that once it’s set up, it’s completely transparent and requires zero intervention under normal circumstances. That’s very important as it’s become abundantly clear over my two decades of writing about backup that the hardest part is actually getting around to doing it.

Once you’ve set your NAS box up, you’ll probably forget it’s running. But if data disaster strikes, you’ll have a big ole’ grin on your face once you remember that you did this.

Note: This article was edited 5/26/2017 to add information about FTP Directory browsing settings to the FTP discussion, as well as specifying that the chart describes the protocols for backing up to the box using only the box's on-board apps. It was further altered on 2/16/2017 to note that IIS will not be available unless you install the Web Management Tools and check to make sure that the FTP server is among the Window Firewall's allowed apps.

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