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Build a Server - or - purchase a NAS External HDD?

Black Panther

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#1
I've got tons of stuff which I want to make available to my desktop, my laptop and kid's computer - without having to clutter their own HDD's so something else is necessary.

I also want that this would be accessible not only from my own home network, but also through a web-address or something, from work a couple of miles away - for easy transfer of work files and backups.

I need 1TB of space. Anything less would be too little and anything more would be too expensive.

My choices are between either buying something like this or building my own server.

I need help to decide which is the best for my purposes....


Thing is... :eek: I know next to zilch about servers...
I have a spare pc which can be used as a server - it's already assembled with single core processor less than 2Ghz, 512MB RAM etc and an HDD with XP Pro.

The advantages of making a server would be that I can probably insert more 1TB drives if needed in the future, whereas if I were to buy a NAS I'd just have to buy another if I run out of space.
Also I read that a server might be faster?

The disadvantages would be that I only found for local purchase, IDE drives of 500GB costing €90 each - getting 2 of those for a server would cost more than the Lacie I linked to above. Further, I'd also have to purchase a USB wireless so the server connects to the router. Also, the NAS drive would consume only 14W, while a running pc will consume much more than that - apart from having to be switched on when needed so that I'd have 3 systems running rather than 2...

Also read that Linux is best for such servers (either that or buying Windows Server 2003) so I'd have to 'ditch' the XP pro for an OS I've never used?
 

DanTheBanjoman

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#2
Building yourself is more fun of course and you'd keep more options to expand. Then again, if your needs won't grow that fast a 1-2 disk prebuild NAS is a good choice. You can later (few years?) replace the disks.
 

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#3
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#4
Thought about online storage? As in pay for web space...

What kind of media are we talking about anyhow? I would go with a NAS over server.
 

Black Panther

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#5
Thought about online storage? As in pay for web space...

What kind of media are we talking about anyhow? I would go with a NAS over server.
Prefer to have something physically mine... no 'rent' involved.

Media - family videos & photos, save games, MS Office files, office accounting programs backup, customers' data, statements, storage of programs like cpu-z, gpu-z, SIW etc so they're accessible from everywhere without me having to dowload and install them every time... well a lot of stuff both recreational and work...
 
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#6
server with 'Atom'
 

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#7
You don't technically need a dedicated server to do what you want. Just use one of the PCs that are already running 24/7.

Stick a 1TB hard drive in it, and setup the sharing on the network, it is all easy on XP Pro. And for remote access from outside of the network, a simple FTP server using FileZilla should work for what you need.
 
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#8
oh yea good point. Just set up a local network. Why did no one think of this before!

Way to look outside the box newtekie
 

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#9
if it were me, i would build a real cheapo box and stick 2 500 gig drives in raid 0 in it with the option of adding 2 more drives down the road. then i would install the FreeNAS operating system which works very well with media devices.
 

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#10
FreeNAS is what I would use... unless your prepared to pay for NASLite v2
 
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#11
a small atom server with a stripped out version of server 2003 would be perfect. or look into one of the icy box nas boxes with built in bit torrent/ftp/upnp.
 

DanTheBanjoman

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#12
You don't technically need a dedicated server to do what you want. Just use one of the PCs that are already running 24/7.

Stick a 1TB hard drive in it, and setup the sharing on the network, it is all easy on XP Pro. And for remote access from outside of the network, a simple FTP server using FileZilla should work for what you need.
That would be a really, really bad idea. She mentioned customer data and accounting, thus I'd go for a RAID 1 array. And have a third disk to make a backup.
If budget is tight, have a single drive and a backup drive, backup regularly. (Interval depends on how often the data changes)


As for prebuilt NAS or dedicated server, I really don't see much of a difference there.


if it were me, i would build a real cheapo box and stick 2 500 gig drives in raid 0 in it with the option of adding 2 more drives down the road. then i would install the FreeNAS operating system which works very well with media devices.
RAID 0 in a server with data you don't want to lose. That would be even worse.
 

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#13
That would be a really, really bad idea. She mentioned customer data and accounting, thus I'd go for a RAID 1 array. And have a third disk to make a backup.
If budget is tight, have a single drive and a backup drive, backup regularly. (Interval depends on how often the data changes)
From what she described, the home server would be used as a back-up for work files. There is no reason to go with a RAID1 solution in this situation, as the data is already being stored in two places(work and home).

If this was the dedicated server in the work environment, then I would agree RAID1 or 5 would be a must, but for a home server that will just be used for the occasional work backup, there is no need.
 

DanTheBanjoman

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#14
Ah, missed that line. Agreed, RAID1 isn't necessary. In fact, I wouldn't bother backing up my works stuff at home in the first place :)

Still I think RAID 0 is a terrible idea, and the family pictures and the likes still require a backup. So having a backup disk is still recommended.
 
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#15
server 2003 with a software raid 5 array is the most flexible server as you can run utorrent, tversity(for ps3 360), video encoders, folding@home and any other programs you want. compared to say a dedicated nas that will only run what its designed to run and cant be upgraded or expanded.
 

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#16
You have 3 options, really:

1) Desktop with shared hard drive (as little as $400).

2) NAS (around $600)--virtually the same as #1 but all the hardware is OEM.

3) Server ($700 for the OS, $1500+ for the hardware).

If you want to plug it in and leave it be, NAS is the way to go (no monitor, no keyboard, no mouse, just a box with NIC and power)...


Is there a computer you usually leave on 24/7? If so, the cheapest solution would be to just buy a big hard drive, stick it in that computer, and share it. If not, the electrical costs associated with running a desktop 24/7 with network shared folders may in the long run, cost more than buying a NAS up front.


I wouldn't even consider a server in your scenario. I was in your situation and blew $700 on Server 2003 only to be shocked by how little that $600 some extra is actually next to worthless to me.
 
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#17
well use a modified xp install for raid 5 i think theres a article on toms hardware guide on how to do it. and for hardware you would want a atom board as they only have a power consumption of about 35W and are dirt cheap.
 

DanTheBanjoman

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#18
You have 3 options, really:

1) Desktop with shared hard drive (as little as $400).

2) NAS (around $600)--virtually the same as #1 but all the hardware is OEM.

3) Server ($700 for the OS, $1500+ for the hardware).

If you want to plug it in and leave it be, NAS is the way to go (no monitor, no keyboard, no mouse, just a box with NIC and power)...


Is there a computer you usually leave on 24/7? If so, the cheapest solution would be to just buy a big hard drive, stick it in that computer, and share it. If not, the electrical costs associated with running a desktop 24/7 with network shared folders may in the long run, cost more than buying a NAS up front.


I wouldn't even consider a server in your scenario. I was in your situation and blew $700 on Server 2003 only to be shocked by how little that $600 some extra is actually next to worthless to me.
Not sure where you get your numbers, but she already has a spare machine for the job. So I'd say she only has to pick the storage she requires.
 

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#19
let me correct a few things here...

You have 3 options, really:

1) Desktop with shared hard drive (as little as $400).
really it is less an $100 to tack on a decent USB drive and share it. but this limits you to whatever OS you are running.

2) NAS (around $600)--virtually the same as #1 but all the hardware is OEM.
i bought a 320 gig lacie NAS media server used from newegg for 85 dollars.

3) Server ($700 for the OS, $1500+ for the hardware).
linux is free and you can build a brand new rig from newegg for under $400.
 

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#20
Lemme clarify...

really it is less an $100 to tack on a decent USB drive and share it. but this limits you to whatever OS you are running.
$400 is appoximately $100 for OS, $100 for barebone kit, $100 for hard drive, and $100 for what ever else you need (e.g. memory, FDD, optical drive).

I would not be inclined to let this computer run 24/7 as the parts aren't engineered to do so.



i bought a 320 gig lacie NAS media server used from newegg for 85 dollars.
The only NAS I would consider buying is Netgear ReadyNAS. Those run for $400-600 for the most part featuring 2 drives, RAID1. Of course they can be had for a lot less but I, personally, wouldn't go there.

I have no problem leaving these run 24/7 because they are engineered for it.



linux is free and you can build a brand new rig from newegg for under $400.
When I say "server," I mean "server." Specifically, that means a multi-client operating system (e.g. RedHat, Windows Server, Solaris), redundant processors (at least two-way), redundant hard drives (at least RAID1), a strong UPS, and preferrably redundant power supplies.

Any computer can be assigned a server "role" but it is an entirely different matter to "be" a server.

I have no problem leaving these run 24/7 as well because they are engineered for it.
 

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#21
When I say "server," I mean "server." Specifically, that means a multi-client operating system (e.g. RedHat, Windows Server, Solaris), redundant processors (at least two-way), redundant hard drives (at least RAID1), a strong UPS, and preferrably redundant power supplies.
The average entry level (or home, for that matter) server has no redundant PSU's, CPU's are never redundant (unless you have some really expensive hardware) and basically any modern OS can handle multiple clients. Even a UPS is overkill for a home storage server.

You're over complicating things.
 

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#22
Lemme clarify...


$400 is appoximately $100 for OS, $100 for barebone kit, $100 for hard drive, and $100 for what ever else you need (e.g. memory, FDD, optical drive).

I would not be inclined to let this computer run 24/7 as the parts aren't engineered to do so.




The only NAS I would consider buying is Netgear ReadyNAS. Those run for $400-600 for the most part featuring 2 drives, RAID1. Of course they can be had for a lot less but I, personally, wouldn't go there.

I have no problem leaving these run 24/7 because they are engineered for it.




When I say "server," I mean "server." Specifically, that means a multi-client operating system (e.g. RedHat, Windows Server, Solaris), redundant processors (at least two-way), redundant hard drives (at least RAID1), a strong UPS, and preferrably redundant power supplies.

Any computer can be assigned a server "role" but it is an entirely different matter to "be" a server.

I have no problem leaving these run 24/7 as well because they are engineered for it.

i'm not saying you are wrong, im saying you don't need those expensive things to have a simple home file server/backup system.
 

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#23
I would not be inclined to let this computer run 24/7 as the parts aren't engineered to do so.
They most certainly are engineered to run 24/7, and I bet most people on this site run their PCs 24/7. I know 3 of the 4 in my sig run 24/7.

Most entry level servers are nothing more than normal desktop parts with a different OS.
 

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#24
They most certainly are engineered to run 24/7, and I bet most people on this site run their PCs 24/7. I know 3 of the 4 in my sig run 24/7.

Most entry level servers are nothing more than normal desktop parts with a different OS.
OEMs like Dell, HP etc, do often use server chipsets allowing for ECC memory to be used. Apart from that they indeed are nothing special. Of course you get different software and warranty is handled different, that's basically it.