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I’m looking for a cheap and reliable solution that allows me to share files and a printer in me home network. Raid support and very low power consumption would be nice extras. Should I go with a NAS or a hand-built home server? What about the software? Is Windows Home Server worth the price (compared against freely available open source alternatives)?

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6 Answers

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I use a DLink DNS-323 for this. It's a 2-drive NAS enclosure so you can buy your own hard drives. It's low power: it spins down when idle. And it has a USB port you can use as a print server. It can also act as a DHCP server if you need that for some reason. As of writing, I'm seeing it on Amazon for $128 AR.

It also has RAID but I vaguely recall reading a few odd things with it. Something like you have to reformat both drives just to enable RAID-1.

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I myself am in the running for a QNAP system, as they are highly configurable and very low power. The TS-219 Pro will get you more than you need.

My Criterion were (in order from most important to least):

  1. RAID 1 for full backup between drives
  2. Low Power (so I can shut everything at home down, but maintain low power access)
  3. All OS Support (many are only W2k/XP/Vista compatible)
  4. Server of SSH, SFTP, HTTPS
  5. Low Cost
  6. iTunes Server

One place I found that was helpful for evaluation of OTS NAS's for the home was here

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Just bought myself a TS-219P and have to say I am very impressed. Great bit of kit. Can finally dump the useless WD worldbook which has been a pain in the backside. –  Martin Jul 15 '09 at 15:11
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I would go with one of these Windows Home Server, either from HP or Fujitsu. The configuration is very easy and straightforward. The backup procedure is fast and copies whole hard disk partitions.

It's very easy to exend the data storage, because WHS has its own mechanism for keeping data redundant. I recently bought one and added two 1.5 TB "green" hard disk for low power consumption and was able to use them after minutes. I also tried to restore two partitions from a backup and it worked very well.

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Check this: http://www.lime-technology.com/joomla/

I don't know if it meets all your requirements, but for 3 disks it's free, so you can try it. It is system you install on any PC, and it changes your PC into NAS.

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I've used a Samba server on my home network for almost 15 years, so I'm pretty comfortable with that, and would recommend it from a reliability perspective, as well as a learning opportunity.

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I have a HP MediaSmart Server, specifically the HP EX475 (replaced by the HP EX485) and really like it. It is quiet, small, and green. I like the fact that I can use it to remote desktop into any of my machine when away. It also has 4 hot swapable drive bays.

If I didn't need the remote desktop proxy feature, I might consider the HP Media Vault 2120, but it only has one drive bay.

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