How Little I Know About Network Attached Storage and Have a Few Questions

I have recently come into a few (3) hard-drives that I would like to use as a media server.

Currently I run Emby on a gaming PC which has the media files on a hardrive in the PC itself, obviously not the most ideal solution.

Now that I have these two drives however, I want to build a NAS unit that is separate from my PC and that remains up indefinitely.

Here’s my realization.

I have no idea conceptually how a NAS works.

I used to think it was just a box with hard drives in it that had some software installed on them remotely and were attached directly to a home router. No CPU, no RAM etc.

Now I realize how naive I have been, how am I to install the FreeNAS software if it doesn’t have a CPU or RAM? I feel silly for overlooking this.

Would anyone be kind enough to point out how far off I am from understanding how a NAS unit would work?

Essentially I want to build a box and attach it directly to my home Router and have it host my Emby setup. An independent device if you will.

Apologies in advance if this is in the incorrect

yeah - I get it. These things can be daunting.

First, you don’t have to install FreeNas. These units come with a proprietary Linux-based operating system. . . .just slap in your drives and go!

Second. . . yes… . .these puppies are computers. The PR2100/PR4100 have 4gb ram and a Pentium class processor. YES. . .this is important if you are using them as a media server. For plex (a popular video orientated media server package) You can actually transcode files on the fly using the internal brains. Many cheaper NAS boxes don’t have the horsepower.

Third. . . you CAN run 3rd party software on these boxes. Plex (and a few others) is sort-of-sponsored by WD; and are fairly easy to install from the device dashboard. Emby. . . is not “sponsored”; but I believe you can get files and have this software run on the PRO’s without removing the WD O/S. (i.e. you don’t need to load free nas)

Fourth. . .the basic concept is that these boxes sit on your network; plugged into the router. Once setup; I see three basic functions;
a) File server. Files on the NAS can be accessed by any device on your network. Handy if you have more than one PC/Mac in the house
b) Media server. You can RUN programs like Emby and Plex directly on this unit. For example, my Roku has a plex media player app. . .it “sees” the Plex server running on my Nas. . .and buda-bum-buda-bing. ALSO; I have a plex media server setup on my PC. . . that server actually uses the NAS for file storage Yes. . .it’s redundant. No., . .I don’t use the PC based Plex Server much.
c) Backup device. You can run software on your NAS that will occasionally backup your computers. I believe they support Acronis (for PC) and Time Machine (for MAC) - - - - don’t really use it this way; so I don’t have much direct knowledge on this item.-