Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in
Your question

Netbook as server/NAS - good speeds + saving power?

Last response: in Networking
Share
June 21, 2012 11:34:02 AM

Hey guys,
In the past, I had been considering building a mini itx to make it as an always on NAS to keep on my home network.

Now my sister has given me permission to use her few years old netbook. It would save the costs of a MiniITX and only cost maybe $30 - $50 for a good hard drive enclosure.
The netbook runs on a N450 and it actually is powered on quite a lot anyway.

I've decided I'll probably take out my secondary 2TB hard drive and put it into a 3.5" enclosure then plug it into the netbook (as the netbook has a puny 250GB).

I'm trying to save as much power as possible while keeping the netbook/hard drive running at optimum speeds over the network for video streaming, copying/pasting and printing and maybe for larger downloads.

How much does the CPU matter when it comes to network transfers? It will be plugged into our router via either gigabit or 100 megabit LAN. If I were to just underclock the netbook, and push down all the windows 7 settings so it just runs, would I notice any difference in network transfer rates?

And the netbook would definitely use less power than a MiniITX I'd assume.
Also the hard drive I'm planning on using is a WD Green 2TB, so it does spin down when not in use (which is probably going to be quite often)?

Are there any external 3.5" enclosures you'd recommend? its SATA, but the netbook only has a couple of USB2.0 ports, I guess 480Mbps is okay though, the WD Green probably doesn't reach that...
June 21, 2012 1:14:29 PM

It will certainly work. And frankly, the netbook almost certainly has better specs than most budget, standalone NAS devices. Heck, they could be a measly 500MHz CPU, 512MB RAM, etc. And yes, the CPU can be a bottleneck. Many of these budget NAS devices are lucky to get 12-15MB/sec. One concern, however, is if the netbook doesn’t have a gigabit adapter (of course, your NAS clients, switches, etc., need gigabit support too). That will ultimately limit you to ~12.5MB/sec (and probably a bit less since no one gets 100% efficiency w/ ethernet, perhaps closer to 8-9MB/sec). But only testing will give you the actual performance numbers. Just use something like NetCPS or Iperf and find out.

Of course, the tradeoff when buying/choosing any NAS is power drain vs. performance. It's a fairly straight line; the more performance, the more power you're likely to draw. Then again, perhaps we’re only talking about 40-50 watts here, less than the cost of a light bulb, perhaps even less if you can configure the netbook for sleep during off hours. Having the netbook gives you a lot more options to play w/ than your typical standalone NAS.
m
0
l
June 21, 2012 10:50:18 PM

eibgrad said:
It will certainly work. And frankly, the netbook almost certainly has better specs than most budget, standalone NAS devices. Heck, they could be a measly 500MHz CPU, 512MB RAM, etc. And yes, the CPU can be a bottleneck. Many of these budget NAS devices are lucky to get 12-15MB/sec. One concern, however, is if the netbook doesn’t have a gigabit adapter (of course, your NAS clients, switches, etc., need gigabit support too). That will ultimately limit you to ~12.5MB/sec (and probably a bit less since no one gets 100% efficiency w/ ethernet, perhaps closer to 8-9MB/sec). But only testing will give you the actual performance numbers. Just use something like NetCPS or Iperf and find out.

Of course, the tradeoff when buying/choosing any NAS is power drain vs. performance. It's a fairly straight line; the more performance, the more power you're likely to draw. Then again, perhaps we’re only talking about 40-50 watts here, less than the cost of a light bulb, perhaps even less if you can configure the netbook for sleep during off hours. Having the netbook gives you a lot more options to play w/ than your typical standalone NAS.


Most of the people on my network are only on WiFi anyway, so speeds won't be too good, but just enough for streaming and printing - and maybe copying over the network (just not fast).
I'd like to be able to get the netbook to go to sleep at maybe 12AM and then wake up again at like 8AM, because it probably won't be used during the night, any software I can use for that?
Also, most of the external HDD enclosures seem to say that they need to format the drive - I really can't do that with my 2TB because the stuff on it won't fit anywhere else...
m
0
l
June 21, 2012 11:06:10 PM

I don't see why you couldn't use the Windows scheduler to control sleep/wake.

http://www.jesswatts.com/it/automate-sleep-wake-in-wind...

As far as the HDD enclosure, you're only going to need to format the HDD w/ a formal NAS, but not to use a simple enclosure. For a simple USB/SATA enclosure, you just install the drive and go.

And btw, if you don’t have sufficient space to store the data elsewhere, that suggests you have no backup capacity/plan either. Are you sure that’s a good idea, esp. w/ that much data? Personally, I always build/buy a NAS w/ mirroring support (e.g., RAID1), just to be safe.
m
0
l
!