Poll: Your network-attached storage solution

In this week’s podcast, we field a question about home storage servers. Scott and I both have network-attached storage rigs cobbled together from old parts, but then testing PC hardware tends to give us plenty of fodder for such builds. That got me thinking.  What about folks who don’t have a cornucopia of old parts lying around? Does the average TR reader have a dedicated storage box in his closet, or does he rely on something different for network-attached storage?

And so we have a new question for you this week. Do you have network-attached storage in your home? You can cast your vote over on the right column on the front page or after clicking on the comment link below.

In last week’s poll, we quizzed readers on the motherboard form factor likely to underpin their next desktop. Just over half (53%) of those who voted plan to stick with the tried-and-true ATX platform. 27% intend to build their next desktop box with a microATX motherboard, while a surprising 10% will squeeze into Mini-ITX dimensions. Moving in the opposite direction, 6% of those who voted will be using an Extended ATX mobo. The remaining 3% have no plans to build another desktop, presumably because they’ve converted to notebooks.

Comments closed
    • just brew it!
    • 9 years ago

    I’m currently running a home-built Linux box (assembled out of old hardware) with software RAID-5.

    • dashbarron
    • 9 years ago

    An article on Lifehacker awhile back showcased what I believe was a USB drive inside of an old phone-jack hotwired to the RJ-43 connector. On the other end, the user had some DIY connector to plug into his PC and download/send content to the flash drive – a sort of secret yet useful and readily available stash for security sensative documents or uber porn hidden from the Mrs.

    • StashTheVampede
    • 9 years ago

    The Intel “NAS” is running at home and I’m mostly happy with it. This sucker is pretty fast and VERY easy to install new drives (thank goodness). It’s maxed out at 4x drives (1TB each) and I wouldn’t mind going with one of the newer units that use the Atom processor instead.

    It *was* one of the fastest on the Smallnetbuilder leader boards, not sure now where it sits. Either way, no one seems to have this anymore and I’ll be holding onto it until it dies.

    With WOL support and a browser that can remotely power it off, I’m very pleased with the units $150 price when Newegg had it on sale.

    • End User
    • 9 years ago

    DIY Ubuntu box with 5.8TB of storage.

    I’m moving towards storing everything on a server (backed up to a NAS). My client hardware (iPhone/iPad/MBP/netbook/HTPC/workstations) will not have any local data for the most part. Dropbox/iDisk for cloud storage. In addition to file sharing the server will soon handle video encoding and on the fly video conversion to mobile devices (as soon as I upgrade the CPU/MB/memory/RAM/storage upgrade to run Ubuntu/Windows 7 via VMware vSphere Hypervisor).

    • vince
    • 9 years ago

    I set up a NAS box running FreeNAS not too long ago.

    We needed a central place to put our movies and TV shows, and for backups. We have a mix of Windows (Vista and 7) and OS X computers, and sharing could be a PITA (mostly between Mac and PC obviously). Now every computer in the house (all 7 of them!!! don’t ask me how we got to that point…) has read/write access to all 4 drives of the NAS. There’s 3.5Tb of space on there. All are GigE wired except the laptops (one of which can be wired).

    Next step, if I ever get the cash for it, is to have a backup for the NAS itself…

    O.O

      • adisor19
      • 9 years ago

      Umm, why didn’t you set those 4 drives as RAID5 to begin with ? This way you don’t have to worry about backup.

      If one drive fails, just swap it out.

      Adi

        • leigh crusio
        • 9 years ago

        RAID is not backup and it will bite you on the ass if you think it is.

    • nerdrage
    • 9 years ago

    My main PC has a data partition that I share over the network (100 Mbit). About the only thing I ever use it for is to stream MP3s to my real stereo. I back everything up by imaging my entire PC with Acronis to an external eSATA enclosure.

    • Waco
    • 9 years ago

    I just have a few eSATA RAID boxes hooked up to my HTPC which then shares them on the network over GigE. It’s simple and it works well enough.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    DIY WHS Box (just didn’t want to mess around learning Linux or whatever) although since I don’t do a lot with movies it’s somewhat of a waste and I only have 2 1TB drives since mostly all I do is music. It is handy for some NAS and backup action though. I don’t quite understand why someone who can DIY would buy a prebuilt NAS box though, they aren’t terrible but are not very powerful and for some reason cost way too much for what you get.

      • wibeasley
      • 9 years ago

      I’d like to see a good comparison of power consumption for at least (a) a pre-built consumer NAS, (b) an Atom Linux NAS, and (c) an Atom NAS. I’m sure there are several other candidates. Hopefully the pre-built NAS would require less power. Any ideas?

        • MadManOriginal
        • 9 years ago

        With a little effort on your part by reading various reviews you can get a rough comparison. Methodology and an exact comparison may not be possible although some sites like xbitlabs do cover a wide variety of hardware and do NAS boxes as well. Finding Atom power consumption numbers is easy enough but I went with a C2D-based setup. It wasn’t terribly more expensive, and even a single core low-end C2D Celeron would hit 100% usage with large transfers (WHS duplication uses some CPU cycles for sure. (My box idles at like 50-60W with two 7200RPM disks and an e7300, no other add-on cards.) Looking at power numbers is interesting but fretting over a few tens of watts at the most, beyond from a purely academic interest aspect, is going too far to me. If one is really concerned about that amount of power draw there are plenty of ways to cut it down in the household as a hole and with a NAS the disks will end up being a significant power draw culprit anyway.

      • FuturePastNow
      • 9 years ago

      I did learn Linux for a previous fileserver I built, and still went with WHS for the current one. I like the integration for backups, and the fact that I can just add drives on a whim.

    • dec
    • 9 years ago

    Home built Vortexbox (Fedora based) NAS/Server. Atom 330, 2GB RAM, 1.5TB HDD, DVD-RW.

    Mainly used as my Squeezebox Server/CD-ripper and general file backup to begin with. Now using it for streaming my DVD’s/Blu-Rays as well now that I’ve finally got a decent network media player.

    Just need bigger HDD’s now ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • themisfit610
    • 9 years ago

    Storage box – 12tb (8x 2TB, minus 2 for parity) in a Dell MD1000 15 bay hot-swap 3RU chassis

    NAS Head -Dell 1950 server (3 GHz C2Q based Xeon, 8GB FB-DIMM). Connected to storage via Dell PERC 6/E controller – external, multilane SAS.

    File System / OS – ZFS, RAIDZ+2 (double parity), powered by NexentaStor, which is basically OpenSolaris core + Ubuntu userland + awesome web UI

    The whole package is serving up CIFS, NFS, and iSCSI over dual GigE. Most of the stuff I had lying around.. I just bought the drives ๐Ÿ˜›

      • pedro
      • 9 years ago

      Allow me to be so bold as to ask ‘why?’

        • Chrispy_
        • 9 years ago

        “most of the stuff I had just lying around”.

        I ran 4-disk 15K Seagate Cheetah array through an very expensive Adaptec card at home once.

        My reasoning was “I had it lying around”, and this was back in the day when overclocking with 1000 fans and open-chasis PC’s held together with tape were more common.

          • pedro
          • 9 years ago

          I get the ‘I had it laying around bit’, but who has 15TB of crap to store?

    • Tibba
    • 9 years ago

    The ever-increasing storage space available on consumer hard drives plus a combination of other factors has kept me from setting up a dedicated storage box.

    PC software based: Underpowered, underfeatured, or buggy.

    Hardware based: same as above, but usually worse.

    I almost always have my main PC running, so by simply sharing a few folders in Windows, I can get the functionality I need. Now that I’m replacing 300+ gig drives with 1Tb+ drives as they age, and using the old drives as offline backups, filling them by means of a USB2 docking station, I have all the “online” storage I need, without a dedicated box.

    I guess wiring my whole house for Cat5e Ethernet nearly 10 years ago has paid off, I can access all the crap I keep on my main comp from any relevant place in the house. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • kizzmequik_74
    • 9 years ago

    Everything’s just local for me. I appreciate the need to have an always-on system for backups and storage, but funds have been tight.

    Still, I’m thinking that my current system will probably get repurposed for network storage once I upgrade, just underclocked and undervolted to reduce power consumption. Next year, maybe.

    • burntham77
    • 9 years ago

    My HTPC doubles as a file backup system. Once per week I do a backup. Plus I have a USB drive that has the same backup sent to it, also one per week. I like having multiple copies of my files here and there.

    • mmp121
    • 9 years ago

    I built my first DIY NAS back in 2004, an ancient P3-450 with a few drives slapped together.

    It was upgraded in 2005 to a P4 2.4Ghz with a few more drives slapped in. Still running strong (got about 2.5TB of storage in it).

    My current plans are to get a stand-alone NAS QNAP something or other with 6 or 8 bays and run it in RAID-6 with one hot-spare ready (2TB drives) sometime this year.

    • CountSmackula
    • 9 years ago

    I now have an ASUS TS Mini (2TB/2GB) running WHS. Was using an old P-III (running XP) with a pile of OLD drives for storage, but over time I ended up w/ more data than I had space for… and considering the current price of larger PATA drives.

    • Duck
    • 9 years ago

    DIY fanless NAS box with TV tuners and http based TV scheduling with media streaming goodness and VOIP server ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Welch
    • 9 years ago

    The sad thing is that I don’t have a NAS at this point….. but I did spring for the D-Link DIR-655 awhile back and have yet to attached an external drive to it….. I should probably get on that.

    • defecta
    • 9 years ago

    I have both an Airport Extreme sharing 2 x 1TB WD USB HDD’s for automatic network backup of our Macbooks over the wireless as well as file shareing and my PC (that happens to be an i7, lol) torrentbox/fileserver/NAS that is on 24/7

    The poll has no option for more than one or both kinds. ๐Ÿ˜›

    • clhensle
    • 9 years ago

    My “server” with an (old) Epox board w/ athlon XP2800 bit the dust last week, blew out the bottom of a cap. Roommate had a spare 2.13ghz 65nm C2Q based xeon, stock cooler for his 45nm C2X, and 4x1gb of ddr2 667, bough an asus p45mobo and HD3450. Installed windows 7 on a 80GB then hooked up the raid card with 2x 1.5TB, 2x 1TB, back up and running this weekend. Tversity for the 2 PS3’s and good ole’ shared folder for 2 Xbox/XBMC’s. 4 IT/IS workers in 1 large house = awesome geek setup.

    • mslowe7187
    • 9 years ago

    we built a DIY home server over christmas last year using my old antec sonata III case and psu (i upgraded to a p 183 and corsair 650 psu), runnin a little dual core athlon II and a couple caviar greens, running windows home server OS, backs up all of our desktops and laptops every night and runs silently in my dad’s office. Great investment IMO

    • PrecambrianRabbit
    • 9 years ago

    Local storage plus a USB external hard drive for me. It seems easier, faster, and more reliable (for my purposes) than NAS.

      • pedro
      • 9 years ago

      Same here. Try as I might, I just can’t get into terabyte territory when it comes to storing crap.

    • September
    • 9 years ago

    All local now. I tossed my piece-of-junk Netgear SC101T – it was really more like a “SAN” than required a Windows XP 32-bit (only) driver on each machine. 8 GB micro-SD cards in tiny USB adaptors FTW!

    • nagashi
    • 9 years ago

    I’m actually looking at building two new COTS NAS’es within the next month. The first will be built using a linksys router running ddwrt with two attached usb hard drives. The second is more interesting. I’m looking at building a NAS INSIDE of a microwave, powered by a car battery, with a big red button on the front that starts it cooking. Neither are for me personally.

    • LoneWolf15
    • 9 years ago

    HP MediaSmart EX490 WHS box, with 1x 1TB, 3 x 1.5TB, and one external 2TB via eSATA.

    Also upgraded the processor to a dual-core E5300.

    • Kurotetsu
    • 9 years ago

    My DIR-655 router has a USB port that you can plug a hard drive into for a pseudo-NAS. Haven’t bothered to try it out yet though.

    • cygnus1
    • 9 years ago

    I built a server into a fairly inexpensive 4U rack mount case that has 20 hot swap sata bays. I’ve got 8 1TB drives (7 in raid6 w/ a hot spare) and several other smaller drives.

    I’ve got less than 1TB of free space on the big raid array so I intend by Q1 next year to acquire 8 2TB drives to replace the 1TB drives. I’ll migrate the 1TB drives into another box and set them up in raid 0 to use as a backup target for the whole network.

      • cygnus1
      • 9 years ago

      i also have GigE for all the systems upstairs and a powerline ethernet setup to the home theater downstairs (which has a mac mini, xbox360 and directv DVR)

      • tay
      • 9 years ago

      How much porn does one man need?

    • Thanato
    • 9 years ago

    I have hot swap bays on all my computers, and just move my entertainment media to whatever computer I need. It works fine for me.

    • PenGun
    • 9 years ago

    My 24″ tower from the 90s holds 7 drives with room to spare. Why would I need to go anywhere to store data?

    It’s pretty nice with red paint and beige accents. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • wira020
    • 9 years ago

    My house got a few computer ( mine and roommates) and the only means of moving data around is using external hard disk… so…. what is this called?

      • PenGun
      • 9 years ago

      A form of sneakernet.

    • jrr
    • 9 years ago

    linux box with low-power atom and hardware raid5

    • d0g_p00p
    • 9 years ago

    I moved all of my storage to NAS/iSCSI boxes a couple of years ago. Right now i have a pair of Theacus N5200Pro boxes doing the storage job. I still have local storage for games and apps but gone are the days of cramming disks into my desktop.

    • cegras
    • 9 years ago

    I guess my computer serves as the storage for our photos and whatnot ..

    • yehuda
    • 9 years ago

    Local works for me. I used to think NAS would grow in popularity in this age but there really seems to be no rush to help that happen. Although virtually all new computers ship with gigabit ports, consumer routers are still 100/10 and network-attached solutions are kinda pricey (last I checked) and their performance is ridiculous (again last I checked) as if someone mangled the network interface on purpose. In the end I use and recommend USB and with the speed bottleneck lifted in USB 3.0 I expect to continue to use such devices. If things have improved on the network front I’ll be happy to hear.

      • MaxTheLimit
      • 9 years ago

      My DNS 323 was only 100 bucks and while it’s going through 10/100 on the router, it is more than enough bandwidth to stream any 1080P movie to my media center. Network transfers are the only thing I have a problem with. Sometimes when transferring files of 30-40GB the wait can be long.

      • cphite
      • 9 years ago

      I got a Buffalo NAS a few weeks ago and I’ve gotta agree the performance is ridiculous. Not a huge deal in my case – I basically just wanted someplace to dump my mp3 collection, vacation pics, etc – but it’s way slower than I expected.

      • MadManOriginal
      • 9 years ago

      You haven’t checked on networking stuff for at least 5 years then huh? :p GigE switches are dirt cheap and there are plenty of good GigE router/switches with wireless too.

    • MaxTheLimit
    • 9 years ago

    Dlink DNS 323 with dual 2 TB drives, a portable 500GB drive, and a media center with two more 2TB drives. 8.5TB total storage. Well enough for my purposes.

    • seawolf1118
    • 9 years ago

    got me a QNAP TS-659 Pro Turbo NAS w/ six Seagate Barracuda 1.5 TB ST31500341AS. this NAS has tons of features, more then I had expected. very sturdy and whisper quiet.

      • 5150
      • 9 years ago

      I have a QNAP TS-809U-RP at work with eight 2TB drives and it is an amazing device! I only wish I needed to use more of it’s features.

    • Delphis
    • 9 years ago

    Linux RAID ftw .. self built fileserver and network gateway, running 64bit Debian.

    • Homerr
    • 9 years ago

    DIY Windows Home Server

      • eitje
      • 9 years ago

      ++

      • FuturePastNow
      • 9 years ago

      Same here.

    • blastdoor
    • 9 years ago

    time capsule

      • MagerValp
      • 9 years ago

      Time Capsule +1

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