File Server and/or Network Storage


    Do any members run a file server at home or work?

    With the prices of HDDs dropping and storage requirements increasing it seems that a file server or network storage could be an ideal solution or even attaching external HDDs to one dedicated computer.

    I just wanted member's thoughts and advice on setting up a good solution.

    Something like seems a good way of allowing all computers to access the data.

    The only issue I am worried about is clocking up a huge electricity bill. I would ideally like to run this 'solution' all evening and possibly during the night. Being idle would still consume electricity beucase of the cpu, psu et al . A Mini-ITX or small computer systems seem to consume less but initial set-up costs seem a bit high.

    Controlling via VNC could allow me to easily shut it down and start-up when wanting to access data? I want the solution to enable more than one user to access the data via a laptop or another computer be it XP or OSX. Hopefully it also allows access from a remote location such as work or someone else's house?

    Any help would be great :thumbsup:



    you don't need a pc to do that

    all you need is a network hard drive enclosure. they usually have both usb2.0 and ethernet. the ethernet goes into your switch/router.

    they usually have a ftp and smb server, and will take any hard drive.

    all devices on your network can access it. and as long as you remember to forward the ports in your router to the network enclosure's IP, they can indeed be accessed from anywhere in the world as well.

    using a pc would be less reliable overall. and as you say pc's eat electricity! this is by far the easiest and cheapest solution

    oh and vnc wouldn't let you start up a pc afaik... just lets you control mouse/keys.

    you need wake-on-lan supported/enabled in your pc's bios to be able to start it up remotely

    I ran my home network with a Linux network/file server for a few years. At one time it was up 5 years without a re-boot and only died when the PSU went pop.

    Big learning curve but it's one option to look at.

    I have Slug-based NAS - 1.7TB on it (5 external HDDs). I converted my PS2 and Xbox into media players (SMS and XBMC respectively) and access it via SMB. In addition it is running UPnP AV server, which is required for DLink DSM-320RD network player.

    u wanna teach someone linux just for this? lol

    power concerns were implied in the query. so nas enclosure best solution for this instance. as it uses pretty much f'all compared to a pc

    i just use nas enclosure so i can get into it even when the linux box is turned off (which is rare). only real drawback of a enclosure is the logging won't be all that (if it even does any) on your ftp server!

    oh and "ever so slightly" cheaper than building a pc just to serve too :thumbsup:

    I wanted flexible file storage, I looked at some of the non-PC solutions but none of them really did what I wanted. I was also keen on keeping any power requirements down so in the end I went with a cheap, broken laptop - the Dell Latitude C400. On this particular one the screen doesn't work nor does the charging system which lessens the power requirement. As its an ultralight it has no onboard optical drive either which again reduces the power it needs, I plug in the optical drive when I need it.

    Only issue at the moment is that it only has a single USB 1.1 port, I've got a new 750GB FW drive for it and plan on getting a pcmcia FW card organised which should improve the speed.

    It's looking pretty good, it's tucked down the back of the TV where it runs silently - I just VNC onto it and can play back media or organise downloads through the TV itself. It's running web and ftp server plus dynamic dns which lets me access it all externally.

    I really liked the look of the Apple TV box which seemed perfect - a low power processor, laptop hard drive, component out and dedicated graphics for a couple of hundred pounds. However, as far as I can see I can't get Windows on it - I would be wanting it to perform the same role as above.



    oh and "ever so slightly" cheaper than building a pc just to serve too … oh and "ever so slightly" cheaper than building a pc just to serve too :thumbsup:

    Agreed it would be OTT and I've always had one or two old pc's knocking about the house.

    that laptop was a good find there john! only problem really i can see is, having to navigate a desktop OS just to put a film on...

    i admit my solution is less flexible but its simplicity in itself. i play media thru xmbc & a wireless controller. that way theres no "fiddling" , never a missing codec and no chance of... blue screens etc! oh and a back catalogue of xbox games too, forgot about that. added bonus lol

    Nothing stopping you running a media interface on the system which would be just the same as XMBC - it's something I might look into as I have an ATI wireless remote for it but it's not been an issue so far.

    As for bluescreening and missing codecs, well bit of a daft comment - how do you think xbmc runs? It also requires codecs so there's not difference there if either are missing in fact if anything a PC has the advantage as there's more flexibility in choice of software. As for bluescreens, the machine has not crashed or had any errors once in the last few months it's been running nor has it had any difficulty running any of the video or audio it's been required to. We are thankfully well past the Win9x days...


    hehe ok then. i paid £20 for the xbox with a "broken" dvd rom (aka dvdrom in need of dvd lens cleaner).... how much was ya laptop :P

    i used to have a amd64 3.4ghz as a media center a couple of yrs back, in a tiny ideq case. that cost the best part of 800 to put together, and didn't give me any more capability or enjoyment of playing audio or video than the xbox to be perfectly honest! had geforce 6600gt tho which back then was quite nice, gta san andreas looked kinda gorgeous!

    obviously i can't dispute flexibility of a pc... but xbmc does everything i need, i've not ever had a codec issue whatsover (and if i did i'd simply ftp the latest distribution onto my xbox, 3 minute job).

    and lastly, xbox has better outputs straight from the box i daresay.... optical out (on my advanced scart), rca phono audio (not headphone socket like a pc),composite, vga cable for a few quid... all without spending megabucks on pci cards, cable convertors and all kinds of mumbo jumbo. keeping drivers upto date, direct x, headache etc etc

    depends what you want to spend and what you want to be able to do ultimately!

    Laptop cost nothing because it was broken and was being chucked out - in fact it was one of two, I put them together to make my server pc and one working laptop. Also, the optical drives work fine including DVD burners.

    The original question was regarding low power file storage which the Xbox is not - the fact that a PC can do both the media and storage role shows its strength as a flexible system, rather than the multiple devices you are now recommending.


    oops didn't mean to open a can of worms... i'm a ex system builder so i know all about how to add codecs, where to find them and what is needed for what using gspot or otherwise. the average user may be out of their depth with all this though and want a plug and play solution which xbmc provides

    i'm not making a argument, and i know ALL about xbox power consumption from running one in a car. far from ideal in a mk2 golf gti i tell u that now! i was just pointing out possible options and sharing experience of my setup thats all. this is a low cost solution that would give ftp access to both LAN and external users, from a box 1/3 the size of a laptop. infinitely preferable to something like freenas.

    but if you want proper logging, ip masking and other proper features then i would say install linux and use gftpd without a doubt! but personally the enclosure does me just fine for my needs. different folks, different strokes... the only concern speedking had was being able to share data as far as i can see

    Original Poster

    Hey thank you for all your suggestions given this evening.

    My biggest concern is not running up a huge bill. I currently run my main computer 24/7 and do not want another one really digging a hole in my pocket.

    Going for a NAS option I found this:…843 becuase of File Server: SMB (Windows/Linux), AFP (Mac); FTP Server; HTTP for online browsing; Multimedia server: UPnP™ A/V; Apple. There are plently other NAS options but this seemed good. They all allow 1 x USB 2.0 for additional storage sharing which means I could attach a bigger USB enclosured HDD.

    I also have an old IBM laptop that I could attach some firewire HDDs to or an old Athlon based computer that could be used to house multiple HDDs and in both cases run some Linux server type software to serve me the files. A computer seems a tidier option becuase it can be hidden away headless as one unit and no messy wires etc but just worried about 300w-500w PSU etc.

    The Xbox option seems more media orientated which I can currently do with my console.

    Just wanted advice before I go spending some serious money to set-up a good solution. I need something soon as storage and sharing is becoming a pain in current situation. Things like RAID keep cropping up in mind and therefore even more unsure on whole solution I should have.

    My main machine isn't a tower and thus having data accessible and stored elsewhere is the only solution but at same time need a pretty good one.


    A 300watt-500wattor whatever size PSU etc should only draw as much power as is needed, So it might be happy idling at 85watts etc, Then when you get the graphics, Processor, harddrives running at full blast, Thats when it'll be drawing the most power, Which might be maybe 250watts etc.

    I thought the same thing till I read about it.

    my linux pc has got a low power supply its 145w or something...
    its a dell optiplex with p3 933, 512mb and just onboard intel 810e graphics. does the job just fine and doesn't use as much juice either :thumbsup:
    crap pics but ive wired 2 speakers from a old home cinema kit, 30w rms each they were, so don't even need to bother with speakers
    so its not bad at all, i can vnc into my p4 with windows xp , but i hardly ever need to, i use this linux one most of the time and it cost a fraction of what the p4 did as well in parts!

    Original Poster

    Hey robgoldt,

    Only 145w? That seems interesting! How many HDDs can it hold? What is the main purpose for this set-up? Any more info on the set-up would be great!

    What Linux software is it running to serve up the files?


    its not serving any files. its got a 10gb hard drive from an xbox in it at present.

    its running ubuntu 7.04. this pc just needs to hold linux and its apps, anything else it can stream or ftp from network storage or the p4, this pc doesn't get stressed.

    ive put dvdrw in it as well so thats sorted too. it could hold 4 ide devices. currently theres 2 free. only room for 1 dvdrom obviously, unless u want to cut it and wedge a slot loader in somehow lol only joking. it could take a pci ide or sata pci card if you wanted to add more hard drives but obviously its a lowprofile case and not really a lot of room, but external works :P

    ive put 5 port usb 2.0 card in too as it only has usb 1.1 onboard. everything runs a lot lot faster on linux than xp ever did on this pc thats for definite. and it can do just about anything now that xp can now as well

    It's all about SAN with disk arrays just hotplug more drives when required...
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