Small PCs for network storage (and more...)

This is a discussion on Small PCs for network storage (and more...) within the Tech Board forums, part of the Community Boards category; Hello all, I was just thinking how useful a network storage would be: I have an external hdd that I ...

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    Small PCs for network storage (and more...)

    Hello all,

    I was just thinking how useful a network storage would be: I have an external hdd that I don't want to keep connected to my laptop all the time, even though I use it as a backup disk. However, it would be even more useful to have a small computer (a barebone PC, I guess, or maybe a mini pc, I'm not sure what the difference is) that I can set up myself.
    Now my question is: what PC is best for what I want - and cheapest? I'd rather not spend a lot of money on it, though I'm afraid I will have to.

    Now what I want from it:
    * It must be able to run Free- or OpenBSD (Linux is also acceptable, but I'd prefer Free- or OpenBSD for a server).
    * It must have a wireless interface.
    * It must have at least two USB interfaces (preferably four) so I can connect external hard disks.
    * I might want to use it as a media center eventually, which means it would be good if it would have an HDMI output, and could possibly be extended with a remote control (I guess I'll need another USB port for that...). A BlueRay DVD Player/Writer would be good but I'm not sure if that's going to be worth the extra money.

    I'm definitely going to use it as a network storage (unless it's going to be too expensive, in which case I'll buy a regular network storage device), and I'd also like to keep it running at night to download some torrents so I don't have to keep my laptops running at night.

    Now, do you guys have any suggestions on what I should buy and how expensive it's going to be? Should I look for Barebone PCs or MiniPCs?


    Thanks in advance

  2. #2
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    O_o

    I strongly suggest you look at other options involving multiple machines before trying to combine all your needs into a single machine.

    One warning, just in case: NO CHEAP HARDWARE RAID (FakeRAID). Just use the software RAID provided by the operating system or be prepared to buy a real RAID card. The "FakeRAID" cards generally offer less performance than the highly optimized software RAID solution some operating systems provide.



    what PC is best for what I want - and cheapest?
    None. Name brands are for suckers. Build one yourself from parts or find an OEM reseller in your area to put one together for you. (I'd guess no more than $30 for slapping it together.)



    a barebone PC, I guess, or maybe a mini pc
    It depends on who you are talking to, but generally a "barebone pc" may include everything but the operating system.



    It must be able to run Free- or OpenBSD.
    Okay. You can use virtually every part on the market. O_o



    It must have a wireless interface.
    It doesn't matter what card you choose, just make sure that the operating system has drivers before buying one. (For example, Netgear has a lot of open source drivers for wired cards, but a lot or wireless cards are NDIS only.)



    It must have at least two USB interfaces (preferably four) so I can connect external hard disks.
    Okay. So get a case with an extra external 5.25 slot and throw as many USB ports into it as you want.



    I might want to use it as a media center [...] the extra money.
    BAD. IDEA.

    You are almost guaranteed to spend two or three times the cost of a commercial network media player extra to fit a storage server with "HTPC" gear. (I use my existing PS3/XBox360 for all of my "HTPC" clients, but they can be had for $90 easy.)

    Such a path also limits your motherboards drastically. (Finding a cheap motherboard that can do the "HTPC" job and the storage server job while maintaining "*BSD" compatibility isn't hard. You just will not have many options.)



    I'm definitely going to use [...] laptops running at night.
    *shrug*

    A lot of modern consumer USB backup devices come with limited "NAS" functionality. You could probably get a 2TiB device for $150. You aren't going to manage that price. What are your ultimate goals here?



    Now, do you guys have any suggestions on what I should buy and how expensive it's going to be?
    Well, my suggestion would be to focus on the storage server for now adding a little "extra" CPU to do on the fly "transcoding", and buy a limited commercial "HTPC" client later.

    If you go for the storage server with media server capabilities, it will ultimately depend on how many streams you may need to serve and the type and definition of the content, but you could probably "get by" with $250-$300 (two or three "SD" streams).

    I spent about $800 on my latest server. It happily does massive duty as my storage server (a temporary job to be honest), media server (several "HD" streams limited by network bandwidth), HTTP server, FTP server, repository server, "OS" server, virtual machine server, multiple open source mirrors, and a lot more besides.

    Soma

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    Quote Originally Posted by EVOEx View Post
    Now what I want from it:
    * It must be able to run Free- or OpenBSD (Linux is also acceptable, but I'd prefer Free- or OpenBSD for a server).
    * It must have a wireless interface.
    * It must have at least two USB interfaces (preferably four) so I can connect external hard disks.
    * I might want to use it as a media center eventually, which means it would be good if it would have an HDMI output, and could possibly be extended with a remote control (I guess I'll need another USB port for that...). A BlueRay DVD Player/Writer would be good but I'm not sure if that's going to be worth the extra money.

    ASRock Nettop PCs

    They're about the size of a school lunchbox. I have one of the ION 330s running with a 500gb drive that serves as my HTPC and network storage solution. The newer ION330 Pro can be updated to 2 x 1tb drives. They also have gobs of USB and some have ESATA on them.... The Home Theatre ones have wireless and infrared remotes as well...

    I know they will run Win XP and Linux ... Win7 not so much. Never tried BSD.
    Last edited by CommonTater; 08-27-2010 at 09:48 AM.

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    Okay thanks a lot guys, that helped a lot ;-). And I think I'm going to stick with a pc for network storage and leave out a media center for now.

    The problem is, I couldn't find any good places to customize your own mini PCs. Which is too bad: there were a few mini PCs for about $200 that were nearly perfect but they always lacked something. Sometimes they didn't have enough USB ports, sometimes they didn't have a wireless interface...

    Thanks guys

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