Trying to build a NAS device



I have several older PCs that I have sort of turned into ‘network attached storage’ units by basically installing XP, installing several hard drives and then connect it to my router via an ethernet connection.

I would then basically change each installed internal drive so it has sharing properties and then map each to my main PC as a separate drive letter. It has been working good for the most part, but I’m wondering about trying another way.

I thought about maybe trying to install Windows Home Server on an older PC. Does this program then take ALL the internal drives (3 of them) and make them look like one big drive throughout my network when I try to map a drive from this PC?

Is there maybe another alternative to Windows Home Server? Something that might also be cheaper?



Use FreeNAS


I have wanted an NAS for quite a while. I looked at the Drobo at Photoshop World and it looks like a nice system. I decided not to go with it. Maybe because I like to fiddle with hardware. The Drobo with the Drobo Share would have been $700 before any drives were added.

What I decided to do was this:
Areca ARC-1220 PCI-Express x8 SATA II Controller Card $499
SUPERMICRO CSE-M35T-1 Hot-Swapable SATA HDD Enclosure $105
5 - Western Digital Caviar RE2 WD7500AYYS 750GB 7200 RPM SATA 3.0Gb/s $1000

Those drives are designed for RAID and the Areca card is a true hardware RAID card that can run 8 drives.

I had a huge old server tower and server power supply and a decent Asus Mobo with AMD x2 CPU. I also have a 80 Gig IDE drive for the OS to keep it separate and off the RAID.

I put everything together and set it up for RAID 6 and will end up with 2.25 TB of storage. The advantage of RAID 6 is that it can lose two drives at the same time and not lose data. RAID 6 is probably an overkill and RAID 5 would have been good enough.

I loaded XP-64 for the OS and set up file sharing. I have been using it for a few months and it is fast and secure. More expensive than an off the shelf NAS, but better in most every way.