External FTP NAS with the ZyXEL NSA310 Media Storage and a Super Hub

I have a lot of films / music / software / games stored in various places and on various devices in my home. Keeping all this data organised is an absolute nightmare, and with a recent string of disk failures, I’ve also lost quite a lot of it. Following the recent death of an external USB HD I was in the market for a newer model. Looking around it made sense to invest a little more in a NAS to centralise storage on my home network and offer the redundancy of RAID 1 (across two disks, the 4 bay NASs are a tad outside my budget!).

The device I selected is the ZyXEL NSA310, mainly because it was a good price, but also because it has an SMB, FTP and NFS server built in, as well as a decently reviewed web admin panel. Setting it up on my network was incredibly simple. In the box is a setup utility disk that when installed, offers a ‘Quick Start’ wizard to take you through the basic steps to configure the NAS. This utility is Windows only, however it isn’t really required after the intial config.

The NSA310 has a gigabit port in the back so my initial heavy data transfer went quite quickly at around 30 (peaking at 40) Mbps. I then setup the FTP server with a few users to allow external access. This was all completed through the web admin panel (when logged in as the admin user)…

The only complication was to allow external network access to the FTP server was setting up port forwarding on my rubbish Virgin Media Super Hub. Setting up forwarding rules was actually very simple, but that doesn’t stop the Super Hub from being rubbish.

  1. Log into your Hub by IP (probably 192.168.0.1) and enter you login details.
  2. Click on the ‘Advanced Settings’ link at the bottom of the page.
  3. Under the advanced title in the sidebar, click on the Port Forwarding option. This will load the control panel for forwarding.
  4. Now you just need to fill out the fields to create a rule…
  5. Name: You can call your rule anything you like. I called it NAS FTP.
  6. Start Port -> End Port: Enter 20 for the start port and 21 for the end port. These are the two ports FTP most commonly uses.
  7. Protocol: The protocol is TCP.
  8. Local IP Address: This is the IP of NAS on your network, in my case 192.168.0.100.
  9. Click Add, and then log out and you’re finished.

Now you can FTP with the FTP user or admin user you created at your ISP IP and the FTP traffic will automatically be forwarded to your NAS by your router.

UPDATE: I have written a follow up guide for connecting to your NAS using the FileZilla FTP cleint, it is available at, “Remotely connecting to your NAS“.

56 Comments External FTP NAS with the ZyXEL NSA310 Media Storage and a Super Hub

  1. Jules

    Hey, you seem to know yer shizzle so could I request some help?
    I will permalink this so will be back.

    I have the drive connected to my hub (modem and router in one).
    My friends need to access it from their houses across town.
    I have a Dynamic IP address.
    I have set passwords for the users I want to use it etc.
    I can only get in using the admin web address from inside my network. i.e. ftp://admin@servername
    How do I get in from outside the network. Im guessing I have to forward some ports but really, Im not very good at networking (call it a pet hate)
    But… I CAN follow instructions very well and have good computer knowledge.

    Do you have any suggestions or can you point me in the right direction.
    Feel free to email as well.

    Thanks

    Jules

    Reply
    1. Joe

      Hi,

      If your IP is dynamic you have a slight problem. The best thing to do is to avoid resetting your router as every time you do this it requests a new IP from your ISP and the chances of getting the same IP after a reset are almost zero.

      Do you have the make and model number of your modem-router? There is generally a port forwarding page in the admin panel of your router. Try going to 192.168.0.1 in your web browser, or look at the base of the device for the default IP.

      If you send me a screenshot of the admin panel I should be able to help.

      Cheers,

      Joe

      Reply
    1. Joe

      Thanks for that.

      It looks as though you already have an FTP port forwarding rule there. Basically you need to create a new rule in the Add Custom Rules section. Enter the following information:

      Name: NAS-FTP (or something like that)
      Start port: 20
      End port: 21
      Protocol: TCP
      Local IP Address: The IP of your NAS device.

      When you click the Add button it will save it.

      Then you can use an FTP client such as FileZilla and connect to your home IP given to you by your ISP. In order to find out what that is go to google.co.uk and search for’[ip address]‘. If you connect using the username and password you setup on the NAS you should be fine.

      Joe

      Reply
  2. Jules

    I have a dynamic IP so when you say to get my home IP from my ISP is this not the same thing as my internal network IP? My modems IP will change at random times (just how often DOES a dynamic IP change?)

    The rule that you see is the address of the NAS forwarded i.e. 192.168.0.5
    Do I need to also create another rule to forward the IP of my internal network i.e. 192.168.0.1

    Reply
    1. Joe

      I’m not sure what you mean by internal network IP. Nodes on an internal network all have an IP address…

      The IP given to you by your ISP will change every time you reset your router. As long as you don;t reset it your IP will stay the same. It’s easy to check your new IP if you do reset your router though.

      No you don’t need to make another rule. The existing firewall rule essentially takes any traffic coming in on the FTP protocol and forwards it to the IP of your NAS. To test it you need to open a web browser and type ftp:// and see if it forwards you to your NAS login panel. You may need to use Firefox to do this. Alternatively use an FTP client. If you create me a test user on your NAS, and give me your IP I can test it for you.

      Reply
  3. Jules

    I thought they reset the IP every now and then, not if you reset the router. If this is the case then it should be ok.
    When I say internal IP I mean the nodes you mentioned.

    Do I need to use an FTP client? I would rather that my mates can just type the address direct into FireFox . Would FireFTP do the trick?

    I created you a user

    Servername: tester
    Username: joe
    Password: tester
    My IP is : 92.236.109.87

    Lemmie know how you get on :)

    Reply
    1. Joe

      Yep FireFTP would do the trick.

      I just connected to your NAS without any problems at all so it is definitely working. Just to prove it, you have a directory called ‘Dik Off’ on your NAS!

      If your mate uses a FTP client then he should be able to connect without any problems too. Let me know how you get on!

      Joe

      Reply
  4. Jules

    Lol, sorry, that was my buddy that put the folder there when he was over and we were trying to set it up.

    Thanks for testing that for me but I may be back to ask for help on using an FTP client (like I said, networking is my pet hate). Although I hope I will be fine.

    Cheers for your help.

    Reply
  5. Jules

    Ok, Im back again because this is like trying to speak ancient latin to me (and I would likely have more luck with that anyway)

    How did you connect?

    Reply
    1. Jules

      Also we are gonna use Filezilla.

      How do we set this up, we have looked over the instrictions and its just mighty confusing.

      Please Jobi wan, you are our only hope.

      Reply
      1. Joe

        I wholly approve of your Star Wars reference so I will help you.

        One question before I do, did you delete the test account you made for me?

        Reply
      2. Joe

        Right, use FireFTP it is much easier.

        1. Install FireFTP using the Firefox add-ons thingy.
        2. In your Firefox address bar type ftp://92.236.109.87
        3. When the prompt box pops up for the username and password enter valid user credentials.
        4. Browse the folders to find the file you want to download.

        Reply
        1. Jules

          So far it just says “connecting” but the NSA310 says I logged in successfully in its log.

          It got thru once where I couldnt see any folders in the directory

          Am I meant to do anything with FireFTP?

          Reply
  6. Ross McKinnon

    Hi there,
    I picked up one of these Zyxel NSA310 devices and can’t wait to use it but it seems the previous owner has changed the default admin logon & password…………so am I screwed or can I reset it somehow?
    There is no data on it as far as I know so if I have to wipe it to reset it, I don’t mind.
    Please help !!!!

    Reply
    1. Joe

      Hi Ross,

      You may be able to reset the admin password using the Zyxel Starter Utility that is on the accompanying CD. Do you have a copy of the CD available?

      Joe

      Reply
  7. Ross McKinnon

    Thanks Joe but none of those suggestions seemed to work. The utility doesn’t give any option to recover or reset the password. And the reset button seemed to make it take longer to boot up while the SYS lamp flashed but when it stopped flashing, the NSA310 came back online but still without a working default admin logon combo of admin/1234.
    Looks like I bought a dud………… :-(

    Reply
  8. Clint Jones

    Hi Joe, I have a ZyXel 310 and virgin media hub. I have set up the NAS drive with no problems, and now trying to access the docs remotely while away from home. From your instructions, I have fixed my NAS IP & Dynamic addresses, and then on my virgin router, I have enabled port forwarding as you describe above. Please could you describe what the next steps are? Do I now download FileZilla Server?? OR something else? Once that’s done, what next? Thanks for your help!

    Reply
    1. Joe

      Hi Clint,

      Glad to hear that you were able to follow the instructions!

      Now you need to use an FTP client, not server, to connect to your household IP (the one assigned to you by your ISP).

      First find out what your IP is, you can google, “what is my IP” to find out! Then you need to download a FTP client. You can either use standard FileZilla, or you can use a Firefox extension such as Fire FTP.

      There will be a field in your FTP client where you enter the address of the server to connect to, this is where you enter your household IP. Then for the username and password, enter the username and password you use to view your NAS web interface.

      If all is entered correctly you should be able to browse around your NAS in the FTP client and download the files to the computer you are accessing it on.

      I have been asked this question a few times so in the next couple of days I will write a guide for remotely connecting to your Zyxel NAS after setting up port forwarding.

      Let me know how you get on!

      Joe

      Reply
  9. Ross McKinnon

    Hey Joe, No I bought this at an auction so I’m not sure if I’ll ever get it working……oh well, thx for trying anyways.

    Reply
  10. kishore

    Hi Joe,
    Thanks for your guidelines. I have followed each and every step. Somehow I cant access the NSA310 using the fireftp or filezilla. on fireftp it just “connecting”… after input my username and password. on filezilla it says Error.. failed to retrieve directory listing. By the way i can access the NSA on my network by just typing NSA310 and by inputting the password. Any idea why this is happening. do i need to change any setting on the NSA?

    Reply
    1. Joe

      Hi Kishore,

      Did you follow the port forwarding guide that I wrote previously to allow remote FTP access to your NAS?

      Joe

      Reply
    1. Joe

      OK, so it looks like port forwarding is setup correctly. Can you check that the internal IP you have set up is correct? Then double check your IP from your ISP. If those settings look correct it could be a firewall issue. Can you also take a screen shot of the Services panel on your superhub admin section, under Maintenance?

      Reply
    1. Joe

      Ah, thanks for this. It looks like the client connecting in passive mode might be causing the problem. Are you definitely using the FileZilla client, not the server?

      Reply
  11. kishore

    Hi Joe ,
    Thanks for helping me out. apreciate your time but it seems to be having some kind of problem. filezilla says “external IP is incorrect” . never mind. I only wanted to access my nsa310 when i go abroad. I can access it by directly typing the ip adress and the port on adress bar anyway. once again thanks for your time.

    Reply
    1. Joe

      No problem.

      One final thing I would suggest you try is simply change your FTP client. The error you are receiving is a reasonably common one in FileZilla. Some users have found that using a different program resolves the problem.

      If you are using Windows I would recommend http://www.coffeecup.com/free-ftp/

      Joe

      Reply
  12. Ahmed

    Hi there,

    I have a NSA310 and I can’t remember my password :S…is there anyway of resetting my password without losing my files?? Can’t find anyway of resetting it

    Reply
    1. Rob

      You can reset it by pressing the reset button (in small hole on the back) and holding it for around 15s (i.e. Past the first few beeps). it will then do a few bursts of beeps and reset the configuration (not data) to the defaults

      Reply
  13. Tobias

    Thanks for good info about Zyxel NSA310. I am really considering buying one.
    Do you know if the is a way to setup automatic backup to another NAS located remotely?
    My brother has a Synology NAS at his house and I would like to setup some kind of automatic backup of my data from my NSA310 to his Synology NAS.

    I can’t seem to find info on the subject.

    Tobias

    Reply
    1. Joe

      Yes this is possible.

      - Go to your NAS web page and log in as the admin user. Make sure you go to the admin panel.
      - Under the Applications header in the sidebar you should see a list of services, at the bottom is one called package.
      - Click on this and it will give you a list of additional service that you can enable.
      - There is one called BackupPlanner, guess what it does?! The description is…

      Use this to schedule and run backup jobs for files stored in your NAS to an internal drive, external storage device or to another NAS in the network.

      - Install the package and I imagine this will provide the functionality you require.

      Let me know how you get on please :)

      Reply
  14. Jon

    Hi Joe

    Have my NAS all setup and running fine. Can access it via web browser from either a Windows device or Android device but when accessing from the android device, and go to file browser, none of the Icons at the bottom of the browser are showing so can read files but can’t update / save them back to the NAS. Not a problem from a Windows machine and think this may be due to not having Active X on the Android Browser. Any ideas on how to remotely access and update files via Android ?

    Jon

    Reply
  15. Jonas

    Hi Joe,
    I was able to complete the FTP connection with your guide. Thank You!
    Now i have due to my ISP i have dynamic IP, so when my router restarts (due to power problems for example) the IP changes. Can i fix this by setting a static or fixed IP on my NAS or router?

    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Joe

      Hi Jonas,

      Glad to hear the guide helped.

      You would need a static IP on your router from your ISP. Most ISPs will charge you extra for this as essentially it is a business service. It is always worth asking though!

      Joe

      Reply
    1. Joe

      This will be to do with your firewall. You will need to allow FTP in the output chain. It could also relate to the dynamic ports used by FTP to transfer files. Try opening the port range from 50,000 to 50,100 and see if that helps.

      Reply
  16. ruhul

    Dear joe,
    quick question ,can i host my website on ZyXEL NSA310.i have statics ip address and domain,so do you think this device will be compatible for that service?

    Regards
    Ruhul

    Reply
    1. Joe

      Yes it is possible. If you look in the ‘apps’ or advanced features section of the admin panel you can install a web server package. I think you can host WordPress too.

      Reply
  17. lee

    Hi Joe,
    question regarding accessing my NSA325v2 remotely via zyxel’s zcloud app on my iphone.
    I have set up port forwarding to my NAS device on my router as per you article and also reserved an Ip but when I type in the ip address in my app it comes up with the following”error:504 connection failed”
    Any help would be much appreciated as i am useless with computers and netwroking.

    Cheers

    Reply
    1. joe

      It could potentially be the port it is trying to connect on if the app is not using the standard port 80.

      Reply
  18. oz

    Hi Joe, great stuff here. Helped me a lot when trying to set up my NSA 310. Quick question for you. I got FTP working and I can login remotely using windows FTP/file zilla or typing the address into the windows bar. However, is this safe to do or should I be using SFTP? How would this work? Do I just need to setup port forwarding for SFTP, just like I did for FTP on my router configuration/admin page? Or do you think FTP would suffice? Greatly appreciate your help. Thanks

    Reply
    1. Joe Gardiner

      SFTP being over SSH, I’m not sure if you can SSH to your NAS. I’m pretty sure there isn’t an SSH server installed by default. You probably could, however, use FTP(S) which is FTP-ing to an SSL encrypted domain. you’d need to buy an SSL cert or you could use a self-signed one. You’d have to double check that you can use SSL with your NAS.

      It’s worth checking forums for advice on this, as SSL on a low powered single core CPU can be a real drain and it might not be worth the effort.

      Reply
      1. oz

        Thanks Joe. There is a section in the manual about using FTPES to connect to your nas drive via File Zilla, however I think you need do install certificates and forces HTTPS. I must admit this isn’t an area I am familiar with.

        However, I would like to give users the ability to remote onto my nas drive outside the network to access shared folders etc. I can use FTP, but my concern is that this wont be secure to transfer files to and from my nas drive. Should I be worried? Do you have any suggestions? Thanks.

        Reply

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