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NAS vs Shared Folder

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September 18, 2008 5:36:52 PM

Hello everyone,

What is the advantage to having a NAS system at home when one can simply buy a new hdd, plug it into a spare computer and share its root?

Allow me to explain my scenario:

There are 15 computers b/w myself and my 4 roommates. We want to implement a network share that everyone has access to that contains movies, music and various setup files. To do this, we purchased a 1TB Seagate Barracuda (NCQ, 32mb cache) as well as an external enclosure and hooked it up to our routers NAS attachment (Linksys WRT350N).

I have a full gigabit connection to that device from my Vista Ultimate box but managed to average 2MB/sec transfer speeds. This seemed rather slow so I tried sending the same files from my Windows Server 2003 box with a 100MB/sec NIC and managed to get 4MB/sec; double but still painfully slow.

After doing some research, the NAS on that particular router apparently is lackluster and will get an average of 3 to 5 MB/sec. This is farely inadequate for the amount of data we plan on sharing. While my roommate fumed over this and considered spending a few hundred dollars on some dedicated NAS storage servers, it got me thinking: Why not just plug that 1TB drive into a spare computer, set it up as a file server on the gigabit network and share out the root? From my experience this will allow not only faster network access but also NTFS permissions to be applied.

What reason then is there to use NAS for this scenario? (Power consumption isn't an issue for us.)

More about : nas shared folder

September 18, 2008 5:42:33 PM

Normally you'd buy the NAS so that your computer doesn't slow down just because your buddy wants to get/save a file. With 15 cpus/4 bodies you've got enough power there that your solution should work.
September 18, 2008 5:44:47 PM

Ty for the quick reply. Now I just need to find a way to convince my roommate. Once he gets an idea in his head he doesn't veer from it...
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September 18, 2008 6:25:47 PM

Power consumption, noise, space required all come to mind. Dedicated use also is nice.

A good NAS box is also probably easier to setup than Windows networking, in my limited experience. Especially if you want additional means of connecting to it (ftp).
September 18, 2008 6:33:12 PM

Just tell him it's pointless to spend the money when you can turn a spare computer into a file server that will work better than a NAS by simply throwing in some storage and sharing the root like you proposed.


einstein4pres said:
Power consumption, noise, space required all come to mind. Dedicated use also is nice.

A good NAS box is also probably easier to setup than Windows networking, in my limited experience. Especially if you want additional means of connecting to it (ftp).


I agree with the first part, though with all the spare PCs the OP and his roommates have, it won't be a problem.

For the second part, you can add FTP access to your machine that's set up as a dedicated file server, and most likely get much better ftp performance out of it anyway.
September 18, 2008 6:47:42 PM

To answer your question regarding the point of NAS, is because NAS is more than adequate for most home users, and it is very easy to set up. Your requirements though are almost that of an office.

You and your roommate are suggesting pretty much the same thing: Use a file server. The difference is that he seems to want to spend money and you want to use spare hardware. The benefit to buying the NAS storage server is that it would likely come with some sort of RAID configuration already set up and a warranty.

I actually have exactly what you have described as the file storage solution set up at work. One of the other IT guys actually built the computer from parts from newegg. We share out a file on the array of hard drives in the computer. I wouldn't share the root, just in case someone gets into your system. FYI, we installed fedora core on that computer. This "server" accomodates nearly 100 workstations.
a b G Storage
September 18, 2008 6:48:29 PM

If you have an old computer around, you could use FreeNAS and set up a NAS server at no additional expense. P4 or P3.
September 18, 2008 9:18:21 PM

njalterio said:
To answer your question regarding the point of NAS, is because NAS is more than adequate for most home users, and it is very easy to set up. You however requirements though are almost that of an office.


Thats one thing I didn't think of when compared to setting up Windows networking. I guess NAS devices provided by Linksys/D-Link for the consumer market have the ease-of-use advantage.
September 19, 2008 1:30:30 PM

Go read about iSCSI with freenas. You might see an improvemnet in speed with iSCSI.
Anonymous
a b G Storage
April 28, 2010 7:04:35 PM

Here is another con for NAS: They can be so small and trivial they are easily knocked over because people are careless around them. My janitor knocked our Buffalo NAS off the shelf destroying the hard drive. He was really shocked to learn that little "router" was actually a hard drive.

After that we used a small-form factor computer with a shared folder. People are naturally more cautious around a computer. It was a dedicated computer, only running Windows and an Antivirus program. The system was stable the first 6 months and then it started giving us a lot of headaches. Random disconnects occured. Rebooting the computer would always solve the problem, but the problem returned within a few days. We just kept replacing hardware but the problem returned. Ultimately we un-installed our anti-virus (Norton) and that suprisingly permanently solved the problem. Now we are nervously awaiting a virus to take over our server.

Bottom line: The NAS is easier to setup and maintain, but be sure to surround it with caution tape and bolt it to the wall! I didn't do speed tests but it seemed just as fast as our Windows computer with a shared folder.

a c 127 G Storage
April 28, 2010 7:58:28 PM

rozar said:
Go read about iSCSI with freenas. You might see an improvemnet in speed with iSCSI.

iSCSI is a SAN-protocol; meaning only one computer has access. The client controls the filesystem in this case, and this filesystem often does not allow for parallel/distributed use; only 1 pc can use it.

CIFS and NFS are NAS-protocols; shared storage. Here, multiple computers can all connect to the same files simultaneously. The filesystem is controlled by the server instead.
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