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I'm trying to learn as much as possible, and I think I've learned quite a bit so bear with me here under my confusion.

I found a coupe NAS setups. I'm not sure if one is better than the other, other than the price being higher on some, and some coming with drives VS not.

Let me list my setup so you can get an idea of what I want to provide:

  • Macbook Pro
  • Macbook Mini for Media streaming (so far)
  • Windows 7 Gaming Computer
  • Xbox 360

I'd like to provide a storage system for all these devices so they can access files very easily, I'd also like any of these devices to be able to stream media from this storage system.

I'd like this storage system to be hassle free in terms of my confidence in the data integrity. If a drive fails, I want to know that I can replace the drive and all my files will still exist.

I'd like to access this storage system OUTSIDE of my LAN. If I'm out on a job for work I'd like to go in, or be able to have people DL some files. This brings me to a question, is this what iSCSI is?

I'd like this data system to be able to download torrents.

I want to mount any drive on this storage system onto my OSX laptop as if it were a local drive attached. (Is this with iSCSI is?)

I'd like this system to have a GOOD web based GUI. I don't want to install software to use it.

I believe those are the most of my requirements. If I'm missing something that I have no knowledge about, can someone educate me?

Here are the systems I found:

  • $729ish on Newegg Lacie 5Big Network 2 (comes with 5TB of space. iSCSI / mac compatible, torrents, nice ui, + others?)

Is this overpriced for what it provides? It almost seems like a great deal to me because of the 5TB of space it comes with vs the other NAS systems that don't come with storage but cost $600-700.

Should I get a different NAS system? Netgear? Others? Do they have same features? Better? Is it better to buy your own disks?

What about making my own? I'm tech savy all around. It seems cheaper to buy a premade one especially with the support/warranty it provides...

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Routers generally let you put something in the DMZ (expands to the military term), which means it can be directly accessed by the internet, it's for things like consoles that don't know how to act with NAT or UPNP. It's probably cheaper to buy your own disks, but you could work this out with what you are picking. –  tobylane Feb 11 '11 at 0:16
    
Have a look at QNAP. They have some nice four-drive options. –  user3463 Feb 11 '11 at 0:41
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3 Answers 3

up vote 1 down vote accepted

The major downside I can see about the DIY NAS box is that it's very likely you're going to miss out on some performance. This isn't a slam on your tech skills, it has to do with the number of parts involved, and the complexity of the interconnections. I've heard about a few of these projects, and every single one of them wishes they'd just bought something that would work at the performance specified. I guess that part depends on how much you want to have a well-performing NAS vs. your desire for a learning experience.

The idea behind iSCSI is that you can attach a piece of that NAS to your device as if it were a local drive. There are limitations, the fine print is extensive, and I can almost guarantee the xbox360 won't use an iSCSI drive as a local drive (though I see no reason you wouldn't be able to stream to it).

I'd like to provide a storage system for all these devices so they can access files very easily, I'd also like any of these devices to be able to stream media from this storage system.

DIY or prebuilt, no problem here.

I'd like this storage system to be hassle free in terms of my confidence in the data integrity. If a drive fails, I want to know that I can replace the drive and all my files will still exist.

All you need to read up on for this is RAID. You'll want RAID5, sounds like. If a drive fails, pop it out and stick in another. No muss, no fuss. Doesn't matter if you DIY or not, just make sure you know your RAID and you can rest easy. However, do not confuse RAID with backup. Very easy mistake to make, and it can be a devastating lesson to learn.

I'd like to access this storage system OUTSIDE of my LAN. If I'm out on a job for work I'd like to go in, or be able to have people DL some files. This brings me to a question, is this what iSCSI is?

This isn't what iSCSI is for, but you likely won't want to put your critical, important, must-be-backed-up files inside the LAN and the publicly-accesssible stuff in the DMZ, as mentioned above. However, you'll want to look into a good router to control this. Most home routers at this point will allow you to forward in some FTP traffic. The finer points of this are best left to another question (tho I'm sure it's already been described exhaustively here on SU somewhere)

I'd like this data system to be able to download torrents.

That's taken care of if you have another system accessing the drive, you can just stick the torrents on the NAS from there. Unless you want to set it up to be some kind of automated torrent host, in which case you're going to have to go with a PC NAS (seems like Openfiler and Windows Home Server are the popular PC based options)

I want to mount any drive on this storage system onto my OSX laptop as if it were a local drive attached. (Is this with iSCSI is?)

Yep! iSCSI, exactly. I'd spend a lot of research time choosing what iSCSI implementation you want to go with - price and performance vary.

I'd like this system to have a GOOD web based GUI. I don't want to install software to use it.

You'll get what you pay for here. buffalotech.com has an extremely robust control interface. It's not the prettiest, most likely, but you'll likely not find something it can't do. It can also be set up with separate areas for internal LAN shares vs. external shares (FTP, for example), and can maintain its own logins & passwords, fwiw.

However, in terms of not wanting to install software, you WILL have to install a connector onto your laptop to use iSCSI, so bear that in mind when deciding whether you really want it accessible as a local drive, or if pulling up a network share is good enough.

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You can save cash and have a much more versatile server/NAS by making your own from a small format PC and using Linux with an app like Openfiler (Edit: Or as Moab pointed out: FreeNAS).

Using a PC-based unit rather than a dedicated NAS design you can run other apps, like a media/web/mail etc. server without any architectural/processor performance issues.

There's a lot of ways to approach this but a very popular unit for DIY small NAS units is the HP Proliant Microserver - it has 4 drive bays (with caddies), comes with a 250GB drive, 1GB RAM and an AMD NEO 36L dual core processor. A big attraction in the UK is the current (until end Feb 2011) £100 rebate scheme, making the HP unit about £160 after rebate. I have 4 in house already (an FTP/Web server, an Asterisk VoIP Server, 2 as routers and one spare), with 2 more on order.

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I'd like this system to have a GOOD web based GUI. I don't want to install software to use it.

This pretty much puts you SOL for building your own system, even though building your own system, minus the wonderful web GUI would possibly be cheaper.

Before i make my suggestion, let me point out a few things: NAS by definition means you have a network and it has some sort of centralized storage on it. This is your network, not the Internet, so saying you want a NAS and then wanting to access it outside of your LAN is a bit... much. That being said, some NAS solutions allow for web-access.

Second, these are storage solutions. If you want to torrent something, use a computer and save to the NAS. Don't tell the NAS to do it for you (then it's basically just another server/computer instead of a storage solution).

Now that that's out of the way, you may like what Drobo has to offer. Aside from web access they offer everything you want from a good NAS solution, without having to do much yourself. They're also reasonably priced in terms of what is available in the NAS market currently.

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What?, Dlink has enclosures that use Web based GUI's, most quality NAS enclosures do...dlink.com/products/?pid=509 –  Moab Feb 11 '11 at 0:00
    
@Moab: I know that. But if you make your own NAS you generally don't use Dlink/Drobo/etc. Hence no web GUI. My point is, if you want a nice Web GUI you can't build a NAS system yourself, you have to buy one. –  aqua Feb 11 '11 at 0:08
    
@aqua: Eh? Not so. Go and have a look at the Web interface on Openfiler - an Open Source SAN/NAS app....openfiler.com –  Linker3000 Feb 11 '11 at 0:12
    
@Linker3000, did you read the OP question? One of the requirements stated was "I'd like this system to have a GOOD web based GUI. I don't want to install software to use it." –  aqua Feb 11 '11 at 0:15
    
@aqua: did you spot "What about making my own? I'm tech savy all around" –  Linker3000 Feb 11 '11 at 0:16
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