Add Network Storage

The concept here is simple. Attach storage directly to the network so all stations can access it. This is called NAS (Network Accessible Storage) or DAS (Direct Attached Storage) and it is a must if you plan on collecting and/or creating pictures, movies and music.

If you connect storage directly to a computer via USB, eSATA or Firewire cable then it’s a DAS device. If its connected to the network hardware (router or switch) then its a NAS device.

There are several ways to add storage to your network:
1. Purchase a SATA hard drive and an enclosure. Place the SATA drive in the enclosure and attach it to your computer via USB cable (which comes with the enclosure most of the time.  (Tip: Workstation computers use 3.5″ drives, laptops use 2.5″ usually. This matters because when you go drive shopping you’ll see different physical sizes and your enclosure size has to match your disk drive size or you’ll be heading back to the store in a bad mood.)

2. Purchase a ready made External Hard Drive. Same concept except you’re not putting the drive in the enclosure. You’ll pay more but these drives usually come with some software to help you with your backups and formatting the drive. If you’re comfy doing those things you may save some cash with option 1.

3. Build your own. There are many ways to build a NAS, but the most simple way is to add hard drives to an existing computer that you already have, create and share some folders and off you go. Some things to remember about building your own NAS:

– If you want to add hard drive failure protection you will have to purchase and install a RAID controller card. This will allow you to control   how data is written to the drives. Also, you must also use SCSI or SATA type hard drives.

-If you use an old Windows 2000 or XP machine as a NAS then you can only have 10 concurrent connections to the folder shares. This isn’t a problem if you have less than 10 computers on your home/SOHO network.

-Go corporate and purchase Windows Home Server. This isn’t a bad product but we can do all of the things it can by going hardcore on our own network. Still, it’s out there and ready to go, still relatively cheap too at around $100.

4. Purchase a ready to go NAS. Designed to attach directly to the network. Some features NAS appliances will give you are built-in redundancy and file/folder permissions, backup software and a web interface to manage it all.

Consider adding a NAS if..
1. A large amount of storage (1000+ GB)
2. All clients on the network can access the device
3. Most NAS devices have redundancy built-in. This means that the NAS can be configured to recover from a hard drive error. (The negative to this scenario is the NAS would most likely have to be replaced, but the data is available, so that makes up for it.)
4. You can use the NAS for backups or main storage
5. They are small enough to pick up and move if needed.

As shown below, you would add the NAS directly to an open network port on the wireless router.

Access and backup your data over the network.

Categories: Home Networking

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