Home NAS setup

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by nbs2, Apr 26, 2006.

  1. nbs2 macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #1
    After seeing a story about some NAS hard drive thing, I was intrigued. I searched MR and wiki and Google, and I think I understand what it is - a networked HD.

    I'm sure it's much more complicated than that, but I'm not sure how. Anyway, I was wondering if someone could help me understand what they are and how it could be used in a home setup. We are not as wired as some folks here, but I was thinking to use it as a back-up drive for our two computers and one external. I found freeNAS.org and that just confused me further - I take it that some sort of mini-OS is loaded on the computer that has however many HDs that you have stuffed in there, and you can make a RAID. Or something. And, I rememebr something about how it doesn't take much of an older machine to run the NAS. Something that has a 95 MHz processor or something. I'm so fracking confused.

    I'm just trying to figure out the uses of a NAS at home and when it is beneficial to have one. Then I can figure out how on earth I go about setting one up.
     
  2. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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  3. Eniregnat macrumors 68000

    Eniregnat

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    #3
    I'll give a simple explanation with some gross generalizations.

    NAS = Network Attached Storage

    Connected to a network via Ethernet, wireless or cable.

    Usually contain their own operating system that does not need to be futzed with.

    Usually administrated through a web browser by using an ip number. Just type in its address into your browser like 190.200.83.82.

    Can be RAIDS (Redundant Arrays of Independent DDisks) or independent/solitary drives.

    Most often used as a virtual drive, i.e. A hard drive that all computers on the network can use and share.

    Many NASs can be aggregated together to form a single virtual drive or placed together to form a RAID.

    Others can fill in. I have to get back to admining my network.
     
  4. blodwyn macrumors 65816

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    #4
    Good summary. I have one, an external enclosure I bought in Fry's that I stuffed a drive into. Having connected it to your network you connect to the drive via your web browser, and make any set up tweaks you want. Usually there's an admin password to set, and some let you set up different user areas and access rights. I set mine with a static IP address within my subnet. I connect to mine through Finder 'Connect to Server', and enter the drive address (mine is smb://192.168.0.210/NAS).

    Couple of things to note: The drive disconnects when the system sleeps, although there are script tricks to reconnect, and the transfer rate is slow - probably less than a quarter the speed of a local USB2 drive. For small files and unattended backups it's not too bad, but for interactive use with decent size files it's a drag.
     
  5. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    #5
    Think of it as a hard drive with a little, tiny Linux server bolted to it.

    An issue for some brands is that the initial setup software is Windows only, so it's trickier setting up on a Mac-only network.

    You also have the same restrictions as you would on a SMB server; some filenames will have illegal characters, and there is a restriction to the maximum filesize,
     
  6. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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  7. nbs2 thread starter macrumors 68030

    nbs2

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    #7
    Ah...so I would guess that is why is isn't really promoted instead of just a standard external HD. With limited file sizes and names, speed, and disconnects, I don't think it will work for me.

    But, why is it so slow? I thought the ethernet connection would give me at least 100 Mbs (which is slow, but not so bad)...heh - the more I think about it, I guess that is pretty slow.

    If I were to set it up as a dedicated backup system, is there any workaround for the file name issues? I assume that not working around would lead to incomplete, if not failed, backups. I don't think that anything would be too big - I don't have anything over 1GB.
     
  8. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    #8
    It varies by manufacturer, but the general process is

    1) plug it into your home network (router)
    2) Turn it on
    3) use your web browser to go to a specific IP address or device name on your internal network *the manual will give specifics
    4) Using the administrative web page of the NAS device (there's a tiny web server built into it) set up users, passwords and permissions
    5) Using Command-K in the Finder, log onto the NAS volume witht he user and password you set up in (4) and it'll show up on the Desktop -- start using it as if it were a hard drive
     
  9. livingfortoday macrumors 68030

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    #9
    I had a Simpletech Simpleshare NAS drive, and it was pretty awesome. It was a LOT faster than my USB external drive, and I had set it to automatically load on startup, so it was pretty much always connected to my computer. I used it to share music between my laptop (wirelessly) and two desktops. It was fully Mac and PC compatible, and I never had any problems with it. Simple to set up, simple to use.
     
  10. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #10
    oh ok, so you couldn't take an external drive and make your own?
     
  11. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    #11
    Umm, yeah, if you had a spare Linux computer kicking around you could install the drive into. That's the key, it's actually a fileserver. The NAS units do it with an embedded Linux controller and Ethernet card built into the case.

    There are some NAS units you can buy with no drive in them, so you can install your own hard drive. More work to set up of course, and the ones I have seen pretty much demand that you have a Windows machine to do the initial setup from.
     
  12. matticus008 macrumors 68040

    matticus008

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    #12
    If you don't like the premade solutions or their prices, you can do it yourself. If you've got space in a closet somewhere, you can pick up any old PC on the cheap (less than $100, maybe even free) and put together your own. You can use any old Pentium II or III or AMD Athlon (or K6) system with 256MB of RAM.

    You'll want to buy:
    • A quality, name brand network card or even two (wired, wireless, or a mix) for sharing out on the network.
    • A decent Serial ATA controller card with Linux support (if using SATA drives) or an IDE RAID controller (if you intend to use RAID arrays for data redundancy or combining multiple drives in one volume).
    • Hard drives. SATA ones tend to be quieter, cheaper, and faster. You'll want to take special care to get ones that have standard Molex (4-pin) power connectors if you don't plan on replacing the power supply with a modern unit.

    Once you get this together, install a Linux- or BSD-based NAS server and you've got your own flexible, expandable NAS box.
     
  13. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #13
    you can only do it with Linux? not windows or mac os x?
     
  14. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #14
    i had posted a question similar to this before, and i got no response. i had posted that i wanted to know how to setup a file server that would work with windows and mac os x. the computer i have to do it with it pretty powerful (AMD 64 3800+ X2). but no one ever showed me how to do it, and i tried googling, but i couldn't find it
     
  15. matticus008 macrumors 68040

    matticus008

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    #15
    Well you could use a PC or a Mac to host files in addition to being a workstation if you have a powerful computer. The point of an NAS box is to be as lightweight as possible and to be a dedicated-function device, much like a router...so using an Athlon64 would be way overkill, but you could if that's what you really wanted. With a NAS server OS, you wouldn't be able to do anything with that computer except serve files.
     
  16. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #16
    oh ok, i got ya. basically what i wanted to do was set-up a fileserver with all my music and movies on it. how hard would that be? the server would be a pc and the other computers are macs. is this possible? and how easy is it? should i even do it?
     
  17. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    #17
    http://www.macwindows.com/Network.html
     
  18. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #18
  19. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #19
    well i've noticed that you have to pay for most of the stuff on that website. i'm looking for something i can do myself, with just windows xp or maybe linux ( even though i'm not good with linux).
     
  20. CanadaRAM macrumors G5

    CanadaRAM

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    #20
    You can file share with just XP or just Linux -- as long as you have OSX Macs which can connect through SMB natively.
     
  21. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #21
    ok, but can i connect 2 at once? and is that the best way to share files?
     
  22. matticus008 macrumors 68040

    matticus008

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    #22
    Yes and at the home level, yes, to answer your questions. The other option is a FAT32 external hard drive that you physically move back and forth (if your computers aren't far apart this works well because it's faster than the network).
     
  23. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #23
    ok, so on the windows machine, can i create a virtual drive, or is that too complicated?
     
  24. matticus008 macrumors 68040

    matticus008

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    #24
    What do you mean? If you have a network share on a Mac or another PC, you can map that share to a drive letter, yes. If it's on the local PC, then it wouldn't be a virtual drive.

    This is, incidentally, how all of my network shares are done at home--and with a little bit of advance planning, each drive can map to the same letter on every Windows computer I own. Since OS X doesn't use drive letters, you also need unique volume labels for your shares so that you can identify them on Linux and OS X machines.
     
  25. twoodcc macrumors P6

    twoodcc

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    #25
    yeah, i see what you mean. thanks. so can i share a whole hard drive on the pc? can i combine 2 hard drives on the pc for 1 share? (i'm guessing no, without a RAID setup)

    my pc is home (i'm at my dorm) but when i go home for the summer, i plan to set this up. i might bring up this thread again then
     

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