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A NAS question for PC experts.


Foghorn Leghorn
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I've been building PCs for over 25 years, so I know a bit about them but my networking knowledge is limited. I have a home network (gigabit wired cat5e) with 5 PCs on it, all PCs have full read/write permissions. That'll shock some people but for what I do with PCs, it's necessary.

 

I have a media PC that doubles up as a server and i've been wondering for some time about a NAS. Apart from size and lower power usage, I've never really understood the benefit of a NAS over a PC. I don't need ext access (via web) to the server, I don't do torrents or large file downloads and I don't use RAID.  My backups are done via USB3 ext drives. No-one else uses the network other than me. I run windows, sometimes I'll use linux but for only very specific reasons.

 

So, am I missing something about the benefits of a NAS over a PC? For instance, PCs can hold 6 int drives whereas a 6 bay NAS can get expensive.

 

TIA

 

Neil

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For your use-case?

No. All the fancy big-bay appliances feature a bunch of extra(neous) functionality like VPNs, streaming and other stuff.

If the only thing you need is SMB fileshares and a bunch of disks, a low/medium end microATX board & CPU combo will do just fine.

 

Some things I always look for in a motherboard:

*expansion slots for multiple network cards, if possible 10Gb ready/suitable - in addition to the onboard NIC.

*6-8 SATA ports preferably, don't need nor want RAID

*M2 slot is a must have

*ECC RAM support is nice, but pretty rare

 

Now, I also run Windows Hyper-V server (HyperV Server is based on 2019 Core - and is free!) so I tend to max out the RAM to 16 or 32GB depending on what the chipset supports.

As far as disks go, VMs like speed so SSDs in the 500GB/1TB range aren't too expensive (hence the M2 slot).
Bulk storage such as digital photo's & video from my camera's is spread out over 4TB disks. I don't use RAID anymore with those amounts - rebuild times are too long and increase the risk of losing the entire array instead of just one disk worth of data.

Edited by alt-92
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Use a 4 bay NAS myself.

Considerably lower power usage than a PC, plus data redundancy from SHR.

Quiet compared to a desktop file server, which may be a factor if you're thinking of

using it as a media server.

 

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If it's working for you, then you're good. 

 

I used to run an older system as a file server. It was fine. I ran Linux on it for security, reliability, and availability. 

 

Now i have a Synology NAS. Easier still.

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Thanks guys. Much as I thought, if it's just simple media file access then a surplus PC is as good as a fresh purchased NAS. I've seen so many articles in PC mags recently plugging NASs that i thought I'd missed something. Obviously the mags are plugging them so they can generate ad revenue to sell NASs but even so, I thought I'd missed a trick.

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I have hardwired ethernet in several rooms in my house. This was installed from the ground up as the house was built (bought off plan so was easy to get this installed). As a result, we have a fairly good network enable house!

 

There is a double socket in the Study/mancave where I have my main PC (used for gaming and general surfing and stuff) but also have a NAS unit. This is used for storing documents, photos, media, etc. Two drive bays, 1 x 1TB and 1 x 500GB not in a RAID configuration, but as independent drives. The drive is shared between myself, and my wife. We store all of our pictures, and music on the drive.

 

As the wife also has a laptop, she is also able to access the drive to listen to any of the music we have ripped from all of our CDs (easier than digging out multiple CD's when wanting to listen to any music).

 

There is also a ethernet socket in the living room, and connected to a network switch unit - sharing off this is a smart TV,  a Sky box, and a Media PC (HTPC) that was built over the lockdown. This allows us to watch services such as Netflix or Disney+ or any of the on demand services from BBC, ITV etc. so the NAS can also be accessed from the smart TV or HTPC for the pictures, or music we want. We use our NAS quite a lot for those purposes. We've had ours for 7 or 8 years now, and it also has a cloud based access portal so I can get access to the files from anywhere I want as long as I have an internet feed!

 

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