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DIY Server vs. NAS Solution

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 
I am looking at setting up a single point storage solution for my home that could be accessible from work or possibly my iPhone. Having a few computers and having certain files on each and using thumb drives to transport stuff is getting old and Im sure there is a better solution.

I would like to:
-Store everything centrally but have access from any computer I use.
-Capability to have music (or video, but not a must) stored centrally but played on any computer.
-Read/Write from any computer
-Simple enough to use/access for my Fiancee (I can setup/maintain)
-Expandable. I shoot around 100-200GB of photos a year and keep all my music/videos on a HD (no more discs) I eat up storage pretty quick sometimes.
- Access from my phone would be nice to check a file or grab a picture but not a deal breaker.

Ive looked at the WD and Seagate (Goflex) options for simple NAS type solutions but I am wondering if building a simple home server would be a better long term option.

If you recommend the WD or Seagate NAS type route what is your experience with using one and expandability?

For a DIY server build I had a few questions on Hardware.

- Board: I was thinking either a Mini ITX or Micro ATX board to keep things small with integrated graphics
- RAM: 2 or 4GB should be plenty I think (1333 DDR3 is cheap right now)
- Processor: ???
- Case: Either upgrade my main rig and use the antec 300 or build a small custom case
- PSU: Something cheap and small
- OS: Windows home server or ????
- Other software needed?

Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 6
Couple of thoughts:
-If you go the NAS route, I would stay away from the typical hard drive manufacturers and go with a company more dedicated to NAS systems such as Synology, QNAP, etc. They are much faster and have better support.
-You'll find as you look at NAS boxes that adding more internal storage bays adds to the base price of the NAS considerably. For me, I have a Synology DS111 with a 3TB drive inside and an external esata 3TB drive that does weekly backups of the internal drive. 3TB is enough space for me so I really like this solution. If you think you're already past the 3TB mark or would quickly outgrow it then I might suggest a server instead since it's a bit easier and certainly more elegant to add hard drives to a server than to keep adding external drives to a NAS. However if you feel that you have a ton of data but only a subset of it needs to be accessed on a regular bases then I might steer you back towards a NAS.
-If you do go with a server, you'll want something along the lines of an atom or amd e-350/e-450/llano processor with onboard GPU. You really don't need a lot of processing grunt on a file server and if it runs 24/7 you'll want good power efficiency.
-If you want access outside of your local network you are going to need to either pay extra monthly to your isp for a static IP address or you'll need to pay for dynamic dns service from one of the many available ddns providers online. To my knowledge there is no way around paying extra to access your local content from outside your local network.
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G700 
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sugs
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hdplex h3 htpc
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CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K ASRock Z77E-ITX MSI GTX660ti Samsung Green 2x4GB DDR3 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Vertex 4 nope Thermalright AXP-140 Windows 7 Pro x64 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
HP ZR24w K800 SG08 PSU SilverstoneSG08 
Mouse
G700 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i3-2125 Asus H61 mini-itx integrated intel hd3000 2x2gb g.skill eco ram 
Hard DriveOSCase
intel X-25m 80gb ssd Windows 7 x64 hdplex h3 
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post #3 of 6
Totally agree. If you go NAS go with one of the big two, QNAP & Synology. Thecus also make very dependable kit. There are others but for this end of the market you can't go wrong with those 3.
Personally I have both. Originally I used my QNAP NAS mainly as a media server. I had various streamers and consoles dotted around that house that all connected to it. Now I instead use my NAS purely as a place to hold all my video projects. We started a production company last year and each job typical generates around 200GB of video. I put the video on individual drives aswell as backup to the NAS. Works great and gives me piece of mind.
Now for media storage and serving I have a complete win7 build. I decided I wanted this as I needed a 24/7 that wasn't too power hungry but could do it all. I use newsgroups alot and this server build manages all of that. I run PS3 Media server, SABnzbd, NZBdrone, Utorrent and file serve natively from the OS. I had purchased a 2nd hand core i3 540 bundle and this more then enough grunt to deal with all these tasks. All my clients round the house now instead connect to this and playback just fine. I replaced the old Wavemaster case with a Fractal R3 and now have capacity for 9 x HDDs plus more if I convert the 5.25" bays. Most of the time I run the server as headless (no monitor) and conncet via VNC on my gaming rig, macs or even my iPad.
You could of course go with a server OS but I decided a full blown 24/7 rig was better for my needs. Hell if I wanted to I could throw in a decent 2nd hand GPU like a 5770 or 460 and play games with really good settings!
If your storing a ton of pics and other crucial data be sure you have some sort of RAID on your solution. RAID is not backup but its protection. I have been through a ton of drives over the years. Its just one of those things. If you get a bad drive and your RAID 5 protected then atleast you won't lose the data. On my server I have no data redundancy but thats purely because its just media. DVD and CD rips can be done again. ON my NAS I have 4 x 2TB drives in RAID5.

EDIT: I agree with Decapitor. A static IP is really useful. I can manage pretty much all my server apps from anywhere. On my iPhone, iPad....whatever.
post #4 of 6
I wanted to add that if you don't want to pay extra per month for outside access you could consider taking advantage of the many free web services for storing media and files. I have uploaded all of my music to google music, which allow me to stream my entire music collection from any computer or from my android phone. I also have all of my pictures uploaded to picasa. Picasa recently changed their upload policy so that you can upload unlimited pictures as long as they are under a certain resolution (it resizes them automatically). This isn't good for backup purposes since you aren't actually saving the files remotely, but if your intent is to show somebody a picture that you took while on the go then it's great for that purpose. There are also plenty of other photo sharing websites, some geared towards professional photographers such as smugmug. For files, you could use something like google docs for word docs and pdfs, or dropbox for more general purpose file storage. For my needs these services are great because I'm unwilling to pay extra per month for access to my NAS. It's up to you but I would at least consider these options. Plus, by using these free online services you are also creating offsite backups, which could come in handy in case of a burglary/fire/etc.
sugs
(13 items)
 
hdplex h3 htpc
(7 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K ASRock Z77E-ITX MSI GTX660ti Samsung Green 2x4GB DDR3 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Vertex 4 nope Thermalright AXP-140 Windows 7 Pro x64 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
HP ZR24w K800 SG08 PSU SilverstoneSG08 
Mouse
G700 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i3-2125 Asus H61 mini-itx integrated intel hd3000 2x2gb g.skill eco ram 
Hard DriveOSCase
intel X-25m 80gb ssd Windows 7 x64 hdplex h3 
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sugs
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hdplex h3 htpc
(7 items)
 
 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
Intel 3570K ASRock Z77E-ITX MSI GTX660ti Samsung Green 2x4GB DDR3 
Hard DriveOptical DriveCoolingOS
Vertex 4 nope Thermalright AXP-140 Windows 7 Pro x64 
MonitorKeyboardPowerCase
HP ZR24w K800 SG08 PSU SilverstoneSG08 
Mouse
G700 
CPUMotherboardGraphicsRAM
i3-2125 Asus H61 mini-itx integrated intel hd3000 2x2gb g.skill eco ram 
Hard DriveOSCase
intel X-25m 80gb ssd Windows 7 x64 hdplex h3 
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post #5 of 6
Good advice above already.

I'm going to throw in a middle of the road option between full DIY and a pre-built solution :
This HP Micro Server : $299 : http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16859107052
(Was on sale for $199 a week or two ago and I've often seen it for $250 or bundled with other items for same price)
It basically has everything you need besides OS and HDDs. And it's more powerful than Atoms commonly found in pre-built NAS

If you just want a NAS, install FreeNAS on the thumb drive in the internal USB port and four 2/3TB HDDs and you got yourself a pretty good NAS.

Other option is using WHS2011, Windows Server 2008 or any Linux server distro for a full blown server. Doesn't sound like you need this since you just want to store music, videos and photos.

It will be very easy for your Fiancee to use since all you have to do is map the NAS to your main PCs and it's just like another internal drive. You should be able to grab pics with your phone, just depends on your phone(Android vs Apple) and getting an app that can read network shares from your wifi.
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post #6 of 6
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the input so far guys, looks like I need to do a bit more research before I figure out my path.
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