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Current Recommendations For a Home File Server? 170

Posted by timothy
from the must-hold-stuff-must-dish-stuff dept.
j.sanchez1 writes "The recent coverage of Shuttle's new KPC has gotten me thinking (again) about a small, low-cost headless file server for home. In the past, I have looked at the iPaq and considered using older computers I have lying around, but for various reasons I have never jumped in to do it. Do you guys have any suggestions on what to use for a home file server (hardware and software)? The server would be feeding files to Windows PCs and connected to the network through a Linksys WRT54GL running DD-WRT firmware." There are a host of good options these days; what has the best bang for the home-user's buck?
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Current Recommendations For a Home File Server?

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  • Why not get a NAS? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cylcyl (144755) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @04:57PM (#21990090)
    There are a number of NAS's out there with good file server features. Netgear's new servers sound interesting. Synology also has lots. They come with web server, file streamer. Some even have bittorrent and USB hub for print servers.

    It's not ultracheap (~$500-$600 + HDD cost) but have low power usage compare to any full PCs
  • DLINK DNS-323 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Lust (14189) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @05:22PM (#21990502) Homepage
    A friend just pointed me to this set-up and I'm fairly happy for home:

    DLINK DNS-323
    Two SATA bays. Can slide in the drives w/o tools.
    Print server (USB)
    Can run in RAID0, RAID1, or JBOD (I chose RAID1).
    web interface for config.

    I bought two 512Gb WD drives which were on sale for $119 each.

    Some peculiar behavior if you really want a secure system: passwords couldn't include non-alpha chars!? And it didn't allow spaces in the WORKGROUP name for the samba mount, which isn't an MS requirement.

    But for home use where you're already considered secure and not so worried about multiple users, I find it great having one giant /Storage that the whole network can access.

    The reviews on Amazon are love/hate, I think for the above reasons. Probably not be the best set-up for an office or in The Wild.

    Random review here: http://www.techworld.com/storage/reviews/index.cfm?reviewid=469 [techworld.com]
  • Easy (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Wiseman1024 (993899) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @05:31PM (#21990640)
    Anything you can scavenge, with as much RAM as possible (for the system cache), running Linux without GUI and needless stuff (saved RAM goes for the system cache), and the best storage drive you can afford having the size you require. Of course, your priorities as far as storage goes should be:

    1. RAM (make all of it fit in RAM; most expensive; ridiculously fast; will probably require a 64 bit machine). Hint: Google uses pulls the critical stuff off RAM, not hard drives.
    2. Flash storage (excellent for concurrency; fragmentation and parallel operations don't degrade performance; lots of other advantages such as durability, power, noise, size, weight, can be turned off anytime, etc.).
    3. Hard disk drive. Disregard the bus, the hard disk is usually slower anyways. Especially skip SCSI unless you have a very good reason for it; prefer SATA.

    And there you go.
  • by tripmine (1160123) on Thursday January 10, 2008 @05:46PM (#21990876)
    These are three little things that I learned the hard way from my own home server experiences.

    1. Ventilation - You don't want your hard drives getting hot and crispy. Hard drives tend to break more often when you leave them cooking themselves for a couple of months.
    2. CPU - Software RAID (especially writing to RAID 5) is very CPU intensive. Ideally you'd have a hardware RAID controller, but they're too expensive. Your better off getting a decent CPU that can handle all of the RAID goodness and everything else the server does. I'd recommend either a dual core or hyper threading.
    3. Logs - Make sure whatever setup you have emails you, beeps at you, or does something to let you know if one of your drives fails. A 4 disk RAID 5 is worthless if more than one drive fails. If you're really serious about keeping your data, don't limp on with a missing drive on your array.
  • by Ajehals (947354) <a.halsall@pirateparty.org.uk> on Thursday January 10, 2008 @09:21PM (#21993814) Homepage Journal
    The minimum system requirements are a 1Ghz or better x86 processor and 512Mb RAM, so whilst they should be easy to meet they are higher than the absolute minimum you could make do with (and obviously you are going to need a x86 box, no using a nice little ARM box or an old PPC Mac). Having said that is apparently runs very well at close to the minimum system requirements. There also seems to be a requirement for a DVD drive and a monitor, which I assume is for the install, so you can probably get rid of both once your 'server' is up and running.

    However according to the FAQ's on MS's own website;

    *Why aren't you releasing the software standalone to consumers?

    We want to help ensure customers have a simplified, quality experience with Windows Home Server. The best way to do this is to deliver Windows Home Server on integrated hardware/software solutions through OEMs and system builders that are tested and meet system requirements.
    So buying it and installing it is apparently not what you are supposed to be able to do. (not saying you can't, obviously, if you can get hold of the software legitimately). That presumably means that anyone *buying* a Windows Home Server as a package, is going to end up with hardware of a higher specification that absolutely necessary, and probably pay a higher price.

    Personally I would say that if you are running (or planning to run) Vista *and* have a requirement for the features provided *and* are not too interested in flexibility *and* have the budget for it, then this is probably a nice and simple approach. For anyone else there are lots and lots of options that (with various degrees of work) will do the same or more for less.
  • Home server. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by mac1235 (962716) on Friday January 11, 2008 @05:21AM (#21996660)
    My current one is a 150Mhz. I will be upgrading in a few months though. I'm thinking of a refurbished laptop for low power.

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