Network Storage

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Mikey
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Network Storage

Post by Mikey » Sun Dec 09, 2012 4:43 pm

Looking to add some external storage that can be shared by all computers on my home network.

Here's how my network is set up:

A Netgear wireless dual band router is the main access point where my cable modem is connected. This is in a cabinet in the master bedroom
We had reception problems at the other end of the house where the big TV any my wife's computer are located so I added a D-Link powerline adapter, and a Netgear wireless access point at the other end of the house. This solution works great as we have seamlessly great wireless reception everywhere in the house.

There could be up to four laptops, two desktops, two media players, a PV system monitor and two network printers connected at any given time, though usually only a few of those are ever operating at once.

I'm looking for a shared storage solution since none of those computers are ever on all of the time. This is the first time I've ever really looked into this but we have some files that need sharing and it's a pain in the ass to pass them between computers. I've noticed from browsing Amazon that there are some Network Attached Storage devices that provide the interface (seems almost like a a standalone server) but require you to add one or two hard drives. These aren't too expensive but they also seem pretty sophisticated and probably way overkill for what we need.

Anybody have any experience with this kind of stuff?

I'll probably need to expand the hardwire connections on my router as well because the four available ports are taken up by the PV system monitor, a printer, a media player and the powerline adapter.

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Dinsdale
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Re: Network Storage

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:22 pm

Lots of ways to do it.

A really simple (albeit "archaic") one would be to set up either an existing or standalone desktop as a FTP server, or at least have a shared folder on it.

That's an easy solution anyway, that uses the equipment you already have.
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Mikey
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Re: Network Storage

Post by Mikey » Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:31 pm

Not a bad idea. I wouldn't have to hardwire it to the network, or get some kind of additional wifi adapter, either.

My wife's "old" (maybe 7 years) machine sits unused because it's so riddled with crap that it hardly works anymore, and she has a newer one. I could re-format the HDD, re-install the system and have a relatively clean XP (I think) machine that would probably work fine.

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Re: Network Storage

Post by Dinsdale » Sun Dec 09, 2012 5:43 pm

It's also nice to have easily accessable storage, in the event a HD crashes -- you don't lose your stolen music and pron.
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Shlomart Ben Yisrael
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Re: Network Storage

Post by Shlomart Ben Yisrael » Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:21 am

Which model Netgear router do you have?

Some routers have print server/USB storage capabilities already built in.
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Re: Network Storage

Post by Mikey » Mon Dec 10, 2012 4:43 pm

It's a WNDR3400 which, based on the online specs, does have a USB storage sharing port.

Very nice. I'll have to check and make sure when I get home later. Then, all I would need is an external USB drive.

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Re: Network Storage

Post by Shlomart Ben Yisrael » Mon Dec 10, 2012 8:12 pm

Assuming any drive you plug into the router's USB sharing port automounts and is assigned a LAN IP address, just create links on the desktop of any machine you have for easy network access.
Netgear may require you set up a username/password account in the router's settings.
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Re: Network Storage

Post by Mikey » Mon Dec 10, 2012 11:40 pm

Damn Marty. I really owe you one.

Sure enough the USB port was there. I found a four year old 350 MB portable drive in the OL's desk that we never used. Plugged it in, opened the Netgear configuration utility and the drive was available as a network device.

Five minutes of effort. Problem solved, though I'll probably invest in a better USB drive doon. I probably would have found that port sometime when I finally broke down to buy an ethernet switch for more ports as I was installing a $200 NAS box with another $200 drive.

Molsons are on me next time my friend.

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Re: Network Storage

Post by ElTaco » Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:14 pm

So, I"ll throw out a couple other ideas, in case other people have been thinking about a centralized storage solution for the home:

Microsoft Solutions:
Microsoft is putting a lot of storage functionality into Windows Server 2012 for the SMB/business crowd and so if you are an IT oriented person, this may be a good solution for a box at home to share our some storage from one server using SMB (v3 is new to 2012) and/or NFS, IIS or FTP. If server isn't available, you should be able to do similar things with Windows 7/8. Once you have the pc/server, and the disks, its just a matter of simple configuration. Using other features, you can easily share pictures and video with TVs, Game consoles, tablets and such. Back up to the cloud with any one of a million solutions for as little as free to maybe $15/year.
As an Alternate, you can build a PC with 3 or more Disks and than use a Linux distro like FreeNAS and OpenFiler. Both support a variety of sharing technologies such as SMB/CIFS (MS file shares), NFS, FTP, HTTP/webdev. FreeNAS even supports AFP for Apple. You can install it onto a tiny USB key disk and boot from that, than use all 2, 3 or more disks for storage. Use Software Raid (or hardware if you have it) to make your data more resilient to HD failures or use some backup to cloud thing for redundancy. These can be booted and managed through a web interface so its not like you have to manage these with crazy user interfaces and such.

Obviously, doing a PC/server with OS means more management for you (the administrator) and tends to cost more over the years with power, not to mention failures of older PCs, so there are hardware NAS options for home. Plugging a single disk into a wireless router or even into a server is an easy solution, but its not extremely redundant. In other words, since I don't expect you to constantly be upgrading whatever drive you go with, its easy to see how in a few years, you might have a dead drive on your hands. With a single drive, especially if you don't use some cloud backup solution, you may regret your decision to move everything into one place. So, some companies sell some nifty NAS solutions where you can just plug in to the network, give it an IP and it can share those disks out to your local network without much management. Solutions like these tend to be a bit more expensive up front, but they do run at lower power and tend to be a lot easier to manage.
NAS solutions can start with a single drive solution for about $90 to solutions that can take up to 4 drives and cost $600. I'd check out something like Buffalo Technology Linkstation line, Zyxel or Dlink for right around $100 to $130 mark. A really high end but really cool solution is from Drobo, but other companies make similar solutions as well. Great for professionals who need lots of space for home labs.

Cloud type solutions:
Obviously in the enterprise and for mobile users, cloud is the magic word. If your data has more to do with family pictures and you don't mind storing it on the web, using a cloud solution can be awesome, easy and cheap. Most cloud storage providers already provide clients for just about every OS out there (Apple, MS, Android, and Linux) so its easy to integrate with all your machines. The complication is that backup cloud solutions tend to be for a single PC so you pay more to back up and access that data from many devices. Cloud storage solutions are cheap and cool, but tend to offer less space and don't automatically back up your data. If you don't want to use the public cloud, but want cloud functionality than you need a different solution all together, such as what ORB or similar sites offer, where you can log into the web and it connects to a storage devices/nas/computer back at home, but of course now you don't get backup.

Honestly, your best bet is probably to use a few specific services to meet all of your needs. I think you do want some home NAS type storage to back up to from your many PC and to share media stuff to TVs and such from one place. Than, back that up to the cloud with a backup service. This way, you have important documents stored on yoru PC, in your NAS and if its not something really secure, you can also store it in the cloud. For music and such, I"d store it on a central storage at home so everyone can stream to their PC or Music device at home and than let people use Amazon music, google cloud, or any number of other solutions to stream music down to their phone/tablet/work/etc...

Finally, you can also switch/use something like Google Apps or MS office 365 for documents and store them in the cloud. There are some new things that come out every day. Kickstarter and other crowd-funding sites have solutions for cloud/remote storage solutions. Saw one looking for funding just yesterday that will be a "cloud" type software solutions through a service. Neat stuff, but you can definitely accomplish the same stuff with some of these solutions here, depending on how complicated or simple you want your solution to me.

Hell, if you want to be really clever, you can even sign up for Amazon AWS or MS Azure and use it for storage/remote access for fairly cheap.

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Shlomart Ben Yisrael
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Re: Network Storage

Post by Shlomart Ben Yisrael » Thu Dec 13, 2012 7:10 pm

ElTaco wrote:Windows Server 2012


Ewww.
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