Server/NAS Software, and some Hardware Q's

Hey folks,

I have old parts and an old system just taking up some room in a closet. I'm thinking of making it into a simple little server or NAS. I've been reading into some differences and what all I can do, and I'm sure I can do both, but there are a few things that still keep me questioning, so I'll ask them here.


I'd really like to be able to use it wirelessly and headless. Just like any normal server/NAS, but I'm not sure if NAS works so well or is even readily possible wirelessly (FreeNAS for example). If using a server, like Windows Server, I think I can go wireless, but Windows Server requires a lot of PC power and FreeNAS requires hardly nothing. Ie, I don't want the OS to require serious juice to run. I'd rather it be simple and able to run on an old Celeron beast (2ghz). So what should I look to here? Is wireless realistic? I'm not concerned with big speeds. It's mainly to serve media like MP3 and stream a movie now and then. A few megs per second more than covers this and I'll be the only user. If wireless, I'd want it to be really secure though, because I live amongst a lot of other people in this apartment complex. Not sure that FreeNAS will let me do this. Sounds more like I'm going to have to go for a full on server.

Server or NAS

Based on the above, do I sound more like someone who needs to setup a server, or would a NAS do this? I'd like to build something that requires the least amount of maintenance, power usage and extras so that I can just part it together with junk I already have. I know a lot of NAS software runs on near anything (I have FreeNAS and did the whole LiveCD/Floppy boot to try it out), but I think I need more. Whatever it is, I just need it to be able to run well on an old 2ghz Celeron (should be more than adequate for a simple little server). Or would a NAS really be able to handle what I'm after?

Overall, need pointers on software for this. Server or NAS. Windows, Linux, Other? Need something relatively easy.

(And on a side note, it would be really cool if I could access my MP3's over the internet while I'm away from this server/nas. Possible?)

Any suggestions or comments appreciated!

Very best, :)
11 answers Last reply
More about server software hardware
  1. Look at Unraid by Lime Technology. Unraid boots from a USB thumbdrive and supports up to 3 drives for free.

    Allows any combination of IDE and SATA drives, and runs with parity.

    I'm thinking of getting an Asus P5N-73 mobo with an E2180 CPU and some RAM and gathering up the various HDDs I have around the various PCs in my house and running UNRAID.
  2. If was me i would move off your wireless idea, ive tried this with "g" spec wireless, and stream higher res video is choppy as all hell. Youd be best running cable (also better security wise.)

    Secondly, going wired would give you back your freenas option which is by far the easiest method for you to use. Although im not sure on your options of over the internet streaming.

    If you went with windows server, for streaming you could use RDC to remote to the machine at home and use (bring sound to local machine) and voila. The only other thing i have in my mind is to setup an FTP , but i dont think this would work for streaming.
  3. Heya,

    Thanks. I'm thinking that WiFi is out the question for now. It's too bad. I would really like to have a WiFi NAS setup where I could just plug in USB drives to the PC and it would enter the drive pool for the NAS automatically. I suppose I can still do that with a wired setup; it would have just been really nice.

    Any opinions on which NAS software to run? FreeNAS is worth while or is something better for what I'm talking about?

    Very best,
  4. Im not one in the know how for Linux distros.

    FreeNAS is fairly common, however ive never used it.

    Other than that you could get away with a simple window OS with the right setup.
  5. Heya,

    So I'm looking at cheap hardware and realized how really inexpensive it is these days to build an extremely workable computer so long as we don't need serious graphics support. I was looking to find parts that required the least amount of cooling/fans, like a CPU that had no real need other than a heatsink, but it seems I have to get extremely old tech to get this and it's more costly than new tech since no one wants to carry it anymore. So I gave up on the `fanless' approach.

    Look at things, here's what I came up with on the fly:

    Motherboard: - Mainly interested because it's cheap and gives me 4 SATA ports right away (most of these low cost boards have 2 at best), and has onboard RAID (though I probably will not use the RAID, I don't mind just having the drives separate for NAS/Server, though I may test RAID5 on it, speed is not essential for this part). Otherwise, it has onboard video and lan and good CPU/RAM support for something modern.

    CPU: - A cheap X2 4400+. Overkill for what I'm doing, by far. But, it's $43 with free shipping. Can't complain and it gives the system a dualcore to fuel basically anything and everything it will ever need or want. I had to get a Fan/Heatsink for it separately, so is there, but I'm actually miffed about this. A figg'n $43 CPU that needs a heat/sink fan, and one of the cheaper fans I could find was like $20 that wasn't something that was made of crap and probably will rattle something awful. Kind of sorry that a simple stupid fan costs half the cost of something as advanced as a CPU! Advice here? I can't in good conscious spend half the cost on a fan! I wish I could get something that just had a heatsink and no fan req.

    RAM: - 1 gig stick for $20 and free shipping. Simple and sweet. No need for more either, so no point in bothering to try to get more of a deal here.

    That's everything required. The rest is just a case & PSU to power it. I have a spare case and PSU that is more than enough for this stuff.

    So overall, I could build this little system for like $140. Hella cheap for a computer. And thinking about it, that's actually for a dualcore with a gig of ram, haha. I could literally put a cheap 9400gt in there and it could play games just fine. Though I won't be doing that obviously.

    No need for an OS nor OS drive. I have a CDROM drive for it and floppy if need be to boot FreeNAS. Or I'll just toss Ubuntu on it and just share the drives. I'll see what is easier for me in the long run.

    Intended drives, I'll probably just slowly fill it with cheap internal 1tb drives as I run low, I'll just add a new one.


    Thoughts on Energy Use:

    My only concern with all this, is that it may be eating a lot of power that is not neccessary. Using a PSU calc, I was getting a general idea that the above CPU/Board/RAM with a CDROM/Floppy and 4x 7200rpm drives would require about 430watts. Drawing 430watts all the time seems like a hell of a lot for what I'm doing. That adds up to the electricity bill each month. I'm not exactly sure how much, but I'm curious to hear from others where this should be, considering 4x 1tb drives at 7200rpm and the other parts.

    Thoughts or advice?

    Very best, :p
  6. That would be at full load, theres no way your going to be drawing that all the time.

    Suggestion, under clock the CPU. That cpu on has a TDP of 65w once underclocked it wouldnt take anywhere near that, could enable you to run it fanless.
  7. Heya,

    Underclocking, dur! Haha, thank, I totally didn't think of it and you're right, no fan needed in that case.

    On a side note, I've dusted off an old celeron based beast mentioned above. I was looking at this simple SATA controller card that has built in raid capability. It's nothing fast, but speed doesn't matter here since it's just for casual streams across a wired network (or wireless, sometimes) and it's more than fast enough for the typical 10/100 network (I think?).

    Thoughts on this little guy? $25, free shipping, 4 SATA ports and RAID on board. Seems like a great way to turn any old computer with a PCI slot into a NAS/Server slave instantly.

    Think that thing would work? $25 is cheap!

    Very best,
  8. Ive made it a point to steer clear of anything Rosewill. Look into Highpoint controller if you want something cheap and decent.
  9. Heya,

    Well, I've scratched most of the above at this point, haha. I figured I would look into a few different options. I'd like to avoid as many "add ins" as possible. So I found a board with built in everything I'll need and including 6 SATA ports, which is really helpful to not have to get extra ports from a card.

    MSI board:

    From there, I can throw on this CPU and this RAM.

    Lastly, looking at various cases, I'm eyeballing this case: The case looks like it has what I need and I like the look and access. It comes with a PSU that no doubt is garbage, but reading the reviews, folk seemed to have no problems with it. I may give it a whirl at first just to see if it's good enough to power the above parts and a couple of hard disks.


    Very best,
  10. Looking like a plan, cheap and simple the way we like it.
  11. I really like the idea of unRaid. You can put together lots of old different sized drives, and have a bit of data protection with the parity drive. Do you know if there are free/opensource solutions like it? In other words did lime technologies write their own software "RAID" implementation or did they use an existing one and package it and are selling it?

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