Network Attached Storage - build a low cost one
Running out of storage for your files? Have an old PC just collecting dust?
After reading an article on PCMech.com about a NAS, I decided to tell you how to make a reliable system to backup your computer or network computers and it will not cost as much as your house.
What is NAS? And what will it do for me?
What is it? Network Attached Storage - NAS, file storage, or Network Appliance, is a very basic computer with large capacity hard drives. It also has 'redundancy' - that is the hard drives have a fault tolerance that if a drive fails you don't lose your data. This is called RAID (see this page for explanation on RAID Arrays)
One of the NAS systems I am familiar with is Network Appliance this is a high-end system that the storage capacity started (in 2005) at 30 tetra bytes, they also cost $25,000 or more each.
What if you want to have 30 Tetra byte of storage for your home or small business, do you have $25k to spend? No?
Well there is a way to get this type of storage with out the cost.
So what do you need to make a Network Attached Storage?
A old computer, a raid array controller, and the hard drives that make up your raid array.
I upgraded the drives in my server last month and paid $260 for two 500 gig SATA drives. So I have a Tetra byte of storage. It is not however a RAID Array, it is two drives that I use all the storage, To make it a RAID of one Tetra byte I would need one more 500 gig drive and the array controller.
What you will need to make the Network Attached Storage -NAS (minimum hardware):
How to make the Network Attached Storage:
Clean up your old computer (dust / dirt) and the data on the hard drives that you don't want to use. You may want to upgrade the network cards to the maximum your network can handle. You may also want to upgrade the processor and memory - not necessary.
Install your RAID Array controller and you hard drives. Some PC RAID Array cards need to be setup when you first start your computer. Such as with the HighPoint controller, you pick the drives you want for your array and the type of array. I suggest if you can afford it you use a RAID 5 Array for you drives (see the page for an explanation of RAID Types) because if one fails you will be able to recover your data with a replacement drive.
Your Operating System can be Linux, Windows, or if you have the experience DOS. I suggest that you use Windows XP. Why? Because most people are familiar with XP, it is stable, and MS will be supporting it until 2014.
Once you have your OS installed your next task is to setup the network. If you have two identical network cards in your computer you can either 'Team' them or use Microsoft's Network Bridge. This will double the network speed of the computer. You will not see the '200MBS' but you will see a dramatic increase in your through put for the computer, this would be the same for any computer on your network. This however will not work if you only have two computers and want to use a crossover cable to connect them together.
Next you need to setup the volume that will hold your files, how you setup the array volume or make it multiple volumes depends on your situation. You may want to separate applications from video and sound files, or have a separate volume for computer drive images, or like me one for just games.
When you have all this done your last consideration is security. You should harden your NAS the same way a server is hardened. Also you should consider turning off services not normally used such as COM+, DCOM (see this page for a list of Network Attached Storage services you can turn off).
Now you are ready to back up your computer(s) to the NAS. You can use any backup software to do the deed, such as Windows XP Backup, or you can do it manually. You can do a search for programs that will do a scheduled backup, this is one I am testing at this time: Cobian Backup
To go a step further with your new network attached storage you may want to use a tape backup to back up your valuable data for redundancy.