With so much data on our computers today we need a way to backup without dealing with dozens of dvd disks.
Some people may use a USB or Sata External drive to save a about a TB of data and this is good if you need quick access to this information or need to unplug it and take it with you.
A Network Accessible Storage device is a full computer or specialized networked device that can hold multiple drives for storage. They are accessible in a variety of ways including windows shares or Unix NFS even FTP so you can access your NAS Server from work or home depending on its location.
The main benefits of a NAS Server vs Local External Drives is the amount of data it can hold and the availability to backup or access the data from many computers.
Many people use NAS servers as their media library others just for basic backups and there are a number of specialized solutions such as storing surveillance video.
What do you need to build one?
One really easy product to configure is OpenNAS that can be downloaded and installed for Free.
OpenNAS is based on the FreeBSD operating system and has a fairly simple command line setup for initial install and then a password protected webserver based configuration tool for managing your drives and services.
If you have ever setup a cable modem router then you should be fine.
This is really up to you. The type of hardware needed to support a NAS server is primarly a fast network controller card and a decent set of hard drives.
If you have an older computer with plenty of space you can use that or you can purchase a tower computer case for about $50 and swap in your motherboard, drives and controller cards.
If you have an older motherboard you can purchase a SATA drive controller which can support many drives even external ones.
There is no need for a fast video card on board video will work fine for setup and you will not need to keep a monitor, keyboard or mouse connected so this will save space in your closet or storage shelf.
Once you have built and tested your server computer for proper booting and configured your drives in your BIOS if needed you can use either a DVD ISO or a USB thumbdrive to transfer the operating system to your storage drives.
You can also run the os off of a thumbdrive if you are brave enough.
Whether you are using FreeNAS or another product you probably want to setup a RAID to merge seperate drives into a larger one.
You will also want to Encrypt your files. You never know but this is probably a good idea if you are storing sensitive data.
Assign a Local IP address number to your NAS Server so you can access it from your other computers.
You should not expose this server to the Internet unless you have taken all of the security considerations into account.
Setup a script or backup software on your desktop computers to make the backups unattended overnight or during periods of low use.
Depending on the Raid type you choose you will be able to add and remove drives to your Array in case of failure without losing data. This will require lost drive storage space overhead to restore the data in case it dies but it is a good method of storage for important files.
So if you are running out of backup space on your local drives, filling your shelves with tons of dvds that have dates on them then a NAS Server is probably what you should get.
You can buy one already to plugin and go or in an afternoon you can build one that will meet your exact specifications and probably save you some money.
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