New to NAS - Questions about scalability...

I have several PCs throughout the house, each with different storage needs. What I think I want is a centralized NAS device that will allow me to store my files in one place, and will allow me to expand and grow it as needed.

The specifics:
I would like to start with something like a barebones NAS device that allows for 4-6 HDDs so I can add a new drive as my storage needs grow. The most important factor here is how the growth is managed. Ideally I'd like to start with a single 2 TB drive in the NAS device. If I have a mapped drive to the NAS on all my PCs, let's call it S:\ and down the road I add an add'l 2TB drive to the NAS, will it seamlessly integrate into the already mapped S:\ drive? Or would I have to create a new drive mapping to every new HDD I add, for example if I started with one HDD and incrementally added 3 more, does that mean I'd have to have an S:\, T:\, U:\, and V:\ to utilize all the storage?

Also open to other suggestions, ie, the pros and cons to building out a Windows based file server vs. NAS. I have a barebones PC, all that's missing is the HDDs if price is worth factoring into the equation. Thanks guys!
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  1. It really depends on the NAS, and the software that controls it. Ideally you would want data protection(raid) built into the NAS, so a single drive may not be the best solution. Typically the NAS systems for home use are pretty basic, but if you were to come up with a backup solution to back up the data(maybe to an external drive) then you could easily backup, add storage, reformat(creating a larger drive), and the restore your data. A server just adds more complexity than you need(and you are still stuck with the same issues) - all you need is data storage.
  2. Thanks for the reply. How would I know which NAS solutions meet my needs? Is there a keyword or feature that I need to look for as far as the scalability goes?

    At this point, I'm not too interested in RAID, unless it's an absolute necessity. For better or worse, I'm using an online backup solution which I've so far been happy with and I'd like to keep using that for the foreseeable future.

    Starting out I need about 2-4 TB of storage. My wife and I are new parents with our second child on the way. Now that we have an HD camcorder, I'm really looking for a solution that will allow easy growth down the road.

    Edit: Did a little more research, it sounds like X-RAID2 will meet my needs? Is this an industry standard or is it proprietary? I see Netgear offers it on their NAS, is this function called something else with other manufacturers?
  3. Yes! You can integrate and newly add HDD into the existing Volume - yes volume not HDD , because it has to be a RAID array in order to expand. So this mean you can not start out as SINGLE drive :-), and this feature only available in enterprise NAS.

    There are TOO many steps involve and can lead to lost data
    1st expand the physical volume
    2nd then expand logical volumes
    3rd then expand partition

    For normal usage just add a new volume and map it
    There is a dynamic volume that allows you to append volumes together, but I'm not an expert of it

    Windows file server is OK, but it takes lost more resource than other counter part like Linux, FreeBSD, and most important factor to consider is vulnerable to computer's adware and virus.

    Our company use eBOX-N
    this NAS allows us to add more volume to it - total of 25x HDD

    So far we only have 5x 2TB to give us 8TB space we also use the iSCSI to allocate to other systems too
  4. When you buy a quality NAS, increasing the volume size is as simple as adding a hard drive until the capacity of drives.

    Then, you can still increase by swapping HD's with larger ones and only having to reboot.

    That said, please use RAID 1 minimum. Hard drives do fail.

    ReadyNAS does this very well, but the price of a 4 - 6 drive unit is NOT cheap (nor with any quality NAS)

  5. In case anyone else is in the same boat as me, thought I'd provide a brief update. I've setup an old PC with FreeNAS and so far I love it. I did some basic tests with a few smaller HDDs I had sitting around and it seems to work great for my needs, adding additional drives to an existing volume is a 30sec process. Just dropped in a 2TB HDD tonight and I'll continue to do some basic testing. I'll continue to follow this thread so please feel free to ask if anyone is looking for additional information.
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