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cutting42

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Hi Techy types

I need to rationalise my data at home. I have in the region of 5 different PC's/laptops around the house with mine, the misses and two kids various machines.

I am quite good at backing up with a 2Tb usb drive on the main home PC using ViceVersa software on all the other machines backing up my docs etc. to that drive. This works OK but it means the main pc has to be on and I would also like to centralise all the data storage for all the machines.

What do you folks do and what is the best advice please. I am reasonably adept at PC stuff and have a couple of ideas but would appreciate other advice before I start buying kit etc.
 

LancsRick

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Aha, I may be new to this forum, and a novice in the realms of woodwork, but this is an area where I'm more than happy to step up to the podium!

There are several options available to you, and several factors in particular to consider in order to assess those options.

Options:
Self contained NAS - Widely available, it's a self contained box with the sole purpose of housing one or more drives to make them available on the network.
Pros: Low power consumption, small, generally straightforward to set up
Cons: Not much use for anything other than storing data and automating downloads. Unless you spend a fair chunk of money you're not going to get great network performance.

External drive connected to router - Some routers have a USB host port on them allowing you to connect an external drive and access it like a NAS
Pros: Low power consumption, small, cheap if you're able to sell on your old router
Cons: Two boxes instead of one, sometimes you run into compatability problems (although rare)

HTPC - Home Theatre PC - This is the route I've gone down have previously explored the NAS route, and don't regret it for a second. As well as acting as a NAS, I can watch all my films (stored on the drive) on my TV, can instantly pull up iPlayer, and get maximum possible network performance. It's the most costly option, but the most versatile by far. You're probably looking at £200- £250 for a nice HTPC setup, which will draw little power and can be configured to Wake On Lan (i.e. remotely turn it on from any PC on your network when you want to access it).
Pros: Extremely versatile, excellent network speed performance
Cons: Will consume more power than just a NAS (although still probably under 100W), physically larger (shoebox size), more complicated to set up


Considerations
What do you want to store? General files? Documents? Media?
How do you want to be able to access these? Any privacy requirements?
Is network speed important? If so, what is your requirement?
Do you want to be able to have any additional functionality?
Is your house physically wired, or do you intend to use wireless? If so, what type of wireless?
Will you need to expand your storage in the future?
What's your budget?



Hope those are helpful points for you!
 

cutting42

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Awesome post, many thanks.

To refine slightly I am about 90% wired and will be 100% in the next year or so as decorating makes it around the house. I do have wireless as well and the machines concerned will mostly be wired with wireless as a backup.

I have a very custom Media PC which is and will probably remain independent as I am a HiFi nerd and don't want to stream audio but have a dedicated audio only pc. This is not a concern here.

I want to centralise General docs, photos and compressed audio (mp3/iTunes), I want to keep certain data private from the kids for example. The kids play PC games but I think these are better kept on the machines, not sure if the saved data for the games can be saved externally ??

Cable is Cat4 so 100 is fine although most kit is gigabit capable even if the wire is not.

Budget is prob a couple of hundred and I have about 1Tb of data currently on my usb drive but it is growing!

TIA
 

LancsRick

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Hmmm, ok. 100mb is fine if you're just shifting the odd bit here and there, but if you're going to be shifting Gbs on a regular basis you'll want to look at going to Cat5e cable since that will open up Gigabit network to you (you don't need to both with 6, plus it's stiffer so it's a royal pain to boot). I've got quite literally hundreds of metres of the stuff so if you want some I'm sure we could strike a (cheap!) deal! If you end up using wireless at all then you'll rapidly fine that anything data-heavy (i.e. more than playing an MP3) will start to show limitations unless you're on wireless-N.

If the most you're going to need to stream is audio, then all of the above options would be viable. I would suggest you go for an "empty" NAS, where you buy the NAS unit and put your own drives in it. It would save any hassle if you need to upgrade the drive in the future, since you wouldn't be disassembling a sealed unit. Privacy of that level could be easily managed with passwords on folders.

I wouldn't recommend putting game saves on a network, whilst technically possible, performance will suffer, games are always best kept locally.

I'd have a look at offerings from QNAP and Synology to start with. There are other decent brands out there (Netgear, Dlink, Linksys) but generally speaking the QNAP and Synology kit is usually a safe bet. I'm afraid I'm not up to date with current market offerings so you'll have to do your own research into what suits you best! It's usually a fair statement that you get what you pay for with NASes, but be wary of paying for fancy features you'll never use.
 

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petermillard

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As folks say above, a lot depends on what you want to do. I run a mixed Mac & PC home network (wired Cat5e ethernet and WiFi (N) and skewed to the Mac side) that's still in a state of flux. I started with a NAS/router combo (Apple Time Capsule) and 'progressed' to an old iMac in the kitchen that also acts as a server for the house. Files reside on the TC but a big HD directly attached to the iMac backs it up on a daily automated script - good enough for home use.

In practice, most of what we want to share (music, movies, TV) is covered by iTunes Home Sharing, so the NAS/Time Capsule part of my set-up could be dispensed with, but is still useful for basic backups and general file sharing throughout the house.

Media sharing is though a couple of Apple TVs (though there's no reason why it couldn't be another streaming device) or directly through various computers, iPod Touches, iPads, Airport Expresses etc... and overall it works vey well, with the caveat that is BBC iPlayer - not available through Apple TV :( but fortunately I have an internet-connected TV that can access it directly, so more an irritation than a deal-breaker for me <shrug>

HTH, Pete
 

knappers

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Windows Home Server sounds like the answer to me. I have one in a cupboard under the stairs. It sits there with 4 big sata drives in it, acting as one big shared drive. I have about 2tb of films and music on it that get streamed all over the house. It also wakes any PCs and laptops in the house up and backs them up before going to sleep itself. Oh, and it also acts as a small web server.

Si
 

cutting42

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Thanks for the suggestions so far, very useful. I had already highlighted QNAP and Synology as looking as a good proposition so great to have that confirmed.

I am not a fan of iTunes and use software called JRiver as my audio software but do have iTunes for the kids iPhone/Pod/Pad stuff. Very unlikely to be streaming big stuff about as the cabling is mostly all installed and not easily replaced unfortunately. Really just looking for fairly simple file serving without the power overhead of another PC box.

I think I like the idea of a RAID 5 config NAS to give security and further backed up with my existing USB external drive connected to the NAS. I already swap data over ftp with my brother in law in case of fire/theft etc.
 

Steven

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Have you looked at Feenas?

Using some old hardware or freecycle a PC you can add you own hard drives it can also use Raid if required.
 

Woody Alan

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I would suggest having a look at the Hp Proliant Microserver. Generally available for around £230 pounds but HP have been running a cashback of £100 pounds for over a year. The current cashback expired 31st Dec 2011 but they have been renewing it every month. At £130 an absolute bargain stick in a bit more ram and Video card "if" you want to make it a HTC. Keep your eye on the offer. Also look at the N36 owners thread on AV forums the predecessor to the N40.
http://www.avforums.com/forums/networki ... hread.html
for info.
I have bought one and I am running Windows Home server 2011 on it. I also had two readynas duo NAS drives but will be selling one of them.

Alan
 

Woody Alan

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I don't know what your final decision was but the offer has just been extended to the end of Jan 2012.

Alan
 

cutting42

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Thanks Alan

To be honest I am going to wait a bit and see if the HDD prices drop as I want 4 x 2Tb discs and the good ones are a bit pricey at the moment. Also I am really not convinced about a proper server, just another machine to administer, I prefer the NAS approach I think. But they are cheap it has to be said.
 

LancsRick

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They're going to stay pricey for a while, the costs have been driven up by production being hit in Japan as a result of the tsunami. No idea how long it's going to take for prices to drop again, but it won't be overnight!
 

cutting42

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Well I have had a turnaround as a friend of mine has the HP server running OpenMediaVault - a Linux variant - which is free and runs it as a NAS. Still only software RAID but reasonable performance. So I bought the Server for 240 inc VAT and will get 100 back from HP. I got another 4Gb RAM for 14 quid and will use a couple of 1Tb drives I have already to setup and get going. Might bite the bullet and get 2 3TB discs and use RAID1 switching to RAID10 when they get cheaper.

Thanks for all the help and advice.
 
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