Your movies, music and photos in any room, at any time, and safely backed up: that’s the dream. Now read this and make it reality

Scenario #1

You want music minus the humming boxes

Don’t fancy an always-on PC or NAS eating your leccy? Amazon Cloud Player (1) is just the thing: it stores and streams your music, or matches it with its own database. Up to 250 tracks for free, or 250,000 for £22/year, and it works with any web browser as well as iPhone, Android. Kindle Fire and Sonos devices. Anything you’ve bought through Amazon is stored for free, natch. The downsides? No broadband, no music, and quality is restricted to 256kbps MP3. Plus, the service is for music only: Amazon still directs you to its Lovefilm service for films.

Scenario #2

You want all of your stuff, all of the time

Want to stream DVD rips, music, and share files all over your pad? Network Attached Storage (NAS) is your friend. Our pick is the (2) Synology DS213J (from £165, a smart box that connects one or two hard drives – up to 8TB total – into your router. Lossless music and 1080p video can be sent to AV gear around the house via UPnR or over the net to mobile devices. Its DS cloud app even turns it into a Dropbox clone. Plus, it offers resilient’ PC, Mac and Linux backup: you can set the second hard disk to ‘mirror’ the first, saving you if one fails.

Scenario #3

You want serious streaming power

A DIY storage system is an affordable way of keeping and streaming loads of HD media. Start with some basic PC hardware then choose from a world of free NAS OSes. Simplest is Vortexbox: load it on to an old PC, and it’ll auto-rip CDs and DVDs and serve ’em up on demand. OpenMediaVault is more powerful, adding improved NAS capabilities, while tweakers will love the media-centric UnRaid and pro-level FreeNAS. Us? We’d kill two birds with one simple stone: set up right, Windows 8 can serve, backup and play your media… See facing page for that.

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