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Can one assemble a Network Attached Storage solution without the need to integrate a other computer components; to just have an enclosure powering multiple disk drives with a USB/Ethernet port routing access externally?

What about Direct-Attached Storage or Storage Area Network solutions? Would they do what I want?

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Interesting question +1. I'm hoping someone more technical than me will answer too – Raystafarian Mar 3 '12 at 12:45

You mean like a network attached USB Hard Drive? You can attach it say to a router with USB, but it's not going to perform like Network Attached Storage because the files will not be managed by a file manager, rather the clients will need to connect to the drive, mount it and stream it in blocks. Will it work? Yes. Is it a recommended solution? No

What about setting up the HDDs onto an existing computer and having a file share setup?

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If high performance isn't a must you can buy a NAS appliance like this one:

NAS Adapter or this NSK 330.

I have the second one and you can install a new firmware (SnakeOS) with more features like a bittorrent client

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