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05-26-2012, 03:01 PM #1
- Join Date
- May 2009
A Cheap Guy's NAS Experiment/Alternatives
A NAS clearly has lots of advantages. They can be relatively expensive, however, even without the drives.
In the last few months I have explored various options that others might possibly find useful.
FreeNAS is a relatively inexpensive option. The software is free. The current eversion is 8 but I have also found that version 7 works extremely well for streaming music and movies. The memory requirements for version 8 are substantially higher than version 7. In both scenarios I was able to stream two movies and listen to high definition music _simultaneously_ without issue on a 1 GHz (>7 year old) clunker with 1 GB ram.
FreeNAS is pretty easy to set up but some knowledge of UNIX does appear to be useful. Probably not a requirement, however.
Another option which has substantial advantages is to take an old PC and hook up multiple USB drives to the device. This computer was a slightly faster, slightly more recent (5 year old) clunker than was used in the FreeNAS experiment.
USB 1.0 would work for music but NOT for movies (I presume it was the slow USB that caused the problem).
Using the same USB drives but a USB 2.0 port seems to work fine for multiple movies and music simultaneously.
Currently I have three 2TB devices looked up to this PC. All of the USB drives are "shared" across the network. I have set the PC to go to sleep after 5 minutes of no use. I found a piece of free software for the IPad that sends a "Wake On LAN Magic packet command" to the sleeping PC. Within a few seconds, all drives are back in business. Similar free software is available for the MAC, and I am sure for a PC also.
As I see it, most folks are essentially writing once and reading the drives many times. Thus extremely fast write times are only occasionally of benefit.
IMO, the USB option has a lot of potential advantages:
-If one drive goes to bad, the other drives are unaffected.
-It is trivial to remove a USB drive for portability. If one that needs to copy music or movies from a fast PC, it is easy to move the USB drive to do this and not have to copy across the network
-Should the PC they are plugged in to go bad, it is trivial set up similar functionality with a new PC.
-Configuration is extremely easy - basically it is plug in, share the drives and play.
-It is awfully "green" as the PC is substantially powered down when not in use. My USB drives also go to sleep.
-If you have an old PC lying about, then your cost is only that of a USB drive(s).
-Expansion is easy - add another USB drive.
Based on my limited knowledge of this stuff, the major disadvantages appear to be:
-All drives cannot be "united" to present one giant directory to the user
-There is no RAID functionality although it is unclear to me this is an advantage to most people who are mainly listening to music
-Security is probably much easier to setup/has greater functionality on a NAS. This may or may not be important.
- Expansion can be tricky
Both options require only minimal computer. The Wake OnLAN feature will not be on very old PC's however.
05-26-2012, 04:56 PM #2
- Join Date
- Oct 2011
- Blog Entries
05-27-2012, 07:44 PM #3
- Join Date
- Oct 2011
I use a 2 15TB RAID 5 storage units one mirroring the other for my dedicated HTPC to store all my DVD and Blu-ray movies. For my music server I use 2 3TB externak HD mirroring each other. The units are a pair of drobo s.