Take the 2-minute tour ×
Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. It's 100% free, no registration required.

My home network/storage needs are changing and I am searching for some opinions and starting points on what a good network/storage layout would be that can serve my needs for a few years into the future. I think I have a decent starting point for equipment, but I am also willing to invest fairly heavily in a solution that can last me for a while. I am a bit of a tech nerd and I have a moderate tolerance for setup of the solution. I would prefer if maintenance of the system is somewhat low once it is setup, but I am willing to accept some tradeoffs.

Existing equipment:

  • Router - Netgear WNDR3700 (gigabit)
  • Router - DLink Gamerlounge DGL-4300 (gigabit)
  • Switch - 16 port Trendnet green switch (gigabit)
  • Switch - 5 port Trendnet green (gigabit)
  • Computer - i7-950 office computer (gigabit ethernet)
  • Computer - Q6600 quad core media center, hooked up to TV, records shows (gigabit ethernet)
  • Computer - Acer 1810T ultraportable laptop (gigabit and N ethernet)
  • NAS - Intel SS4200-E (gigabit)
  • External hard drive - 2TB WD Green drive (esata)
  • All kinds of miscellaneous network connected TV, Bluray, Verizon network extender, HDhomerun TV tuners, etc.

Requirements:

  • Robust backup solution for a growing collection of huge family picture files and personal files, around 1.5TB. (Including offsite backup)
  • Central location for all user's files, while also keeping them secure from each other.
  • Storage for terabytes of movie backups and recorded TV, and access to them from all computers (maybe around 4TB eventually)
  • Possibility to host files to friends and family easily

Nice to have:

  • Backup of terabytes of movie backups

Intriguing possibilities:

  • Capability to have users' Windows desktops and files look the same from all network computers

I am not sure if the new Windows Home Server 2011 would fit into this well, if I need a domain server, how best to organize my backups, or how to most effectively use RAID. Currently I am simply backing up all computers to a RAID 1 on the NAS box, which I was thinking could prevent a situation where I reach for a backup and find that the disk is corrupt.

One possibility that I am thinking about now is simply using my media center PC with a huge RAID of hard drives on which all files are stored. Pseudo-backup of all files would be present because of the RAID, but important files would also be backed up off site via carrying hard drives to work. But what if corruption seeps into the files and the corrupted data is then backed up? Does RAID protect against this? I really want to take next to zero risks with the irreplaceable files. I can handle some degree of risk with the movies and other files.

I'm looking for critiques on this idea as well as other possibilities. To summarize, my goal is high functionality, media capable, and robust backup of irreplaceable files.

share|improve this question
    
I like the QNAP four-drive NAS devices. Slap some Western Digital black drives in there and you'll have some nice hardware for storage. –  user3463 Feb 9 '11 at 6:39

1 Answer 1

Shaun, Have you looked into a Home/Small Office NAS (Net Access System). I'd highly recommend the Synology family of products. I am currently using their DiskStation DS211J and absolutely love it. You can find details and my (and other) reviews for this devices at this web addr: http://www.amazon.com/Synology-DiskStation-Diskless-Attached-DS211J/dp/B0049MPQGI/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1301961036&sr=8-2. My review can found under username 'JCL69". I recommend the Synology NAS because it has a huge number features that are great for home users but it's also great as a small business oriented device. It has two internal SATA Drive Bays and 1 External USB port (for a third drive). It supports raid if you want to RAID the internal drives.

I use my NAS to store all my media files (Music/Video/Photo) and as a central repository for my data files. The DS211J NAS has a built in DLNA (Also known as UPNP) server that is just the ticket for what you want to do. You can build user accounts and setup file access permissions for all the data on the NAS and secure it by user name/account. You can access your media data from any DLNA enabled PC/Smart Phone/PDA/Game Box/TV that is DLNA enabled. All Win 7 and most Vista boxes have Microsoft's media center installed which functions as a DLNA client. X-Box 360, PS3 and Wii Game boxes have built in clients, and some TVs now include them as well. When you power up a DLNA client it will automatically browse your local network for DLNA Servers - it will find the NAS server and will display a menu on the client which gives access to Video, Music and Photo data stored on the NAS.

An example; your wife could be uploading her photos to the NAS photoshare app and at the same time a son/daughter could be watching a video stored on the NAS, also at the same time you could be listening to your favorite music stored on the NAS. I have personally had 3 clients simultaneously streaming HD movies, a net radio playing music streaming from the NAS and I was concurrently streaming audio from the NAS - All this going on at once with not a single dropout or hiccup!!! Impressive. The way it works is: populate your NAS with up to two 2 Terabyte drives (and 1 additional USB drive) and build your NAS - (set up user acct's set permissions etc) set up your backup schedule, Start Win/MAC NFS services (so you can use 'drag n drop') to copy/move files to/from your NAS using the standard windows or MAc folders. Then enable all the features you want to: DLNA server (when it's enabled it automatically creates a 'music' 'photo' and 'video' folder on your 1st physical drive). Move/Copy any video/photo and/or music files you choose from your PC's to the corresponding folders on the NAS and -Voila, they are available to any DLNA enabled client on your network.

I also store my Spreadsheet/word processing and many other data files on my NAS and that makes it available to all systems on my network 'that have the appropriate permissions set' (and the admin - "you" set those). It also will work with Win 7's Sync utility for keeping your data files up to date and synchronized. The Synology NAS also has an FTP server, Web Page server, DDNS, Photo Station, Download Station, I-Tunes server etc etc etc. So, you or a member of your family can be on the road, or at school and if you have your laptop/PC/Smart Phone/PDA - and access to an internet connection (ie wireless in a hotel room etc) you can have full access to all the data on your NAS (across the internet). From your hotel room/School Dorm etc simply log on to the NAS (via the Internet) and copy files, listen to music, etc.

I Know this is a long post but I really think the DS211J (or larger unit) would be an ideal fit for you. Prices is very reasonable for all the capability you get. Runs on a Linux OS and you can add more Apps to the server, performance is terrific, support is from their own techs via telephone, setup is just short of painless (depends on how familiar you are with NAS technology) - but has a great user guide and lots of on-line resources (if you like). Nope I don't work for Synology but I absolutely love their products and I would not be without my NAS...... Joe

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.