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NAS - Network Attached Storage why build one when you can buy one for less than $300?

"How do I build a NAS when I only have two computers on my small network?"

Really you don't need a Network Attached Storage, all you need to do is "Share" one hard drive or volume with the other computer.

To do that you need to give the user of the other computer/user access to rights to the volume on your computer.

(I won't go in to detail how to do local shares here, if you need instructions, may I point out that the help is on your computer, press F1 and type in sharing.)

You could use a local share as long as the computer is running, but when you shut down the computer the share will no longer be accessible.

One way around this problem if you don't want to leave your computer running all the time is to use an older computer to build a NAS or you could buy an external device that is specifically made to be a Network Attached Storage (around $300 to $600 or so depending on the size of the hard drives and the networking type - wired or wireless).

Building a server is one way to go with the Network Attached Storage, it gives you experience with the Server OS (Windows, Linux, Novell) although you will have to buy a license for some Server OS's.

To build a server or a Network Attached Storage using a client OS is just like building any other computer.

What you want to use is up to you, do you need access for under ten users at one time? Or more than ten?

If you have a small network and the maximum number of users that would need the storage is under ten concurrent connections then using a client OS such as Windows will work but the security will be weak because it is a local share and the user id's are created on the local computer and not in a domain.

If you need more than ten concurrent connections then you will have to use a server OS.

If you go with a server OS for your Network Attached Storage why not use some of the services that a server OS provides such as a Domain (this will increase the security of your network almost a thousand fold - NO Domain ID and password - No Access!)

Along the lines of using a server OS you also have some more neat services, DNS (Domain Naming Service), DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol), WINS (Windows Internet Name Service) [Windows Servers only], and so on.

Need a server? You can build your own!

As for the commercial grade NAS devices I have worked with the larger versions that had 30-500 TB storage and a proprietary Operating System that I had to go to classes for three days before they would give me access to the darn thing.

With that said the small 1-3 TB storage devices that you can buy (I haven't researched them yet) probably use a Linux OS with access to the security through a web browser, not very secure in my opinion.

Regardless of which way you go mass storage is here to stay:

  • Do you go cheap by sharing a drive on a computer?
  • Do you build your own NAS?
  • Do you spend $180K and have so much storage that it would take a couple of decades to fill up?
  • Or do you buy one of the off the shelf $300-$900 devices?

Me? I have a full blown server with 6 TB of storage, a Domain, and all the extras a Server OS provides.

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