How do I do it?
December 23, 2011 1:58 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to network all my storage?

I have two 500 GB and one 1 TB external drives currently plugged into my desktop via USB 2. I have 2 SATA 2 drives hooked up though the mobo, and three old IDE drives as well, all in a JBOD array (yes, I know that's bad) on a Win XP system. I have a lorryload of storage, is what I'm saying.

I'm deciding whether to ditch desktops entirely or to get an upgraded one with Windows 7. I have a Windows 7 laptop, but I'm not sure how I would be able to network all the drives. They all have files on them, but some consolidation is possible. I was looking at one of those pogo plugs recently, but I'm not sure how much they could handle. I'm not sure what sort of networking set-up I should have. What resources can I look to for advice - or would you have an idea of what set-up would be best for me?
posted by droplet to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
You could easily accomplish this with Freenas 7. It can even take care of the usb connected devices. Its an OS, and is rather reliable as long as you set it up correctly.

Check it out, and give it a spin as a live cd.
posted by handbanana at 2:17 PM on December 23, 2011

I just got a Synology NAS, in part thanks to recommendations here, and I'm liking it a lot; however, it's not a good time, price-wise, to be buying new hard drives. If you wanted to keep a desktop machine as a fileserver, then FreeNAS is a nice way to do it, but I think the home NAS is really coming into its own.
posted by holgate at 2:26 PM on December 23, 2011

I'll second Holgate, the Synology boxes are excellent. I've got the predecessor to the DS1511+ and it's great. Zero hassle, incredibly simple setup and doesn't suck as much energy (yours and the grids) or take up as much room as a DIY effort. Check out the web management features on it, it's brilliant.

If you ever get near to filling it up, just buy a bigger drive, yank the smallest out, and put the new one in and click repair. I use mine quite heavily, it's currently filled with five 2TB drives which gives me 7.15TB of protected storage. I've got ~1.5TB left, so probably going to buy the expansion unit sometime in 2012.

I'm a system admin at work, but when it comes to my personal data and projects, to me it's worth the extra dollars (compared to rolling your own) for a hands off, tried, tested and supported solution.
posted by Static Vagabond at 3:26 PM on December 23, 2011

Also-- practicalities of actually implementing it:

You've got 5 SATA drives. Consolidate them so you have a drive empty (bigger the better). The plug that drive into the Synology array, set it up with the Hybrid RAID mode and set up a file share.

Then transfer the contents of another SATA drive to that file share, when the drive is empty, plug it into the Synology array and 'repair' the Hybrid RAID so it grows to include the new drive.

Rinse and repeat until the Synology box is filled with your SATA drives.

The only caveat I can think of is "[when expanding an array...] The size of the new hard disk must be equal or larger to the second largest size of disk in the existing volume. For example, if a volume is consisted of 3 hard disks, with size of 2TB, 1.5TB, and 1TB respectively, the size of the new hard disk must be 1.5TB or above." So you may have to add them in a certain order if the ones connected to your mobo are not 1TB or 0.5TB.

As for the IDE drives-- if required you can plug them into the Synology via USB or eSATA, of course you'd need to buy some caddies to enable that. I doubt they get included in the array though, never looked into it.
posted by Static Vagabond at 3:46 PM on December 23, 2011

Theres a ton of solutions out there. You really need to specify a price range.
posted by wongcorgi at 3:54 PM on December 23, 2011

Response by poster: wongcorgi, let's say up to $500.
posted by droplet at 6:39 PM on December 23, 2011

For $500, get a pair of huge drives and run them mirrored off the desktop.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:01 PM on December 23, 2011

Amazon has the low-end four drive Synology DS411J for about $350. That leaves you with another $150 for an additional drive.

I'd start there. The Synology machines are very nice pieces of kit.
posted by ccoryell at 7:30 PM on December 23, 2011

Response by poster: Looks like I'll be looking into Synology. Thanks, everyone!
posted by droplet at 2:03 PM on December 24, 2011

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