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Network Storage for the Web Worker

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ScreenshotAt our parent blog GigaOM, Om Malik is tackling a question that will be familiar to most independent web workers: what’s the best way to add a bunch of bulk storage to your network, beyond just putting a larger drive in your computer? After considering his own needs, Om pronounces the Buffalo Linkstation Mini “almost perfect.”

Of course, there’s no guarantee that your own needs match Om’s precisely. While the idea of just adding an external box with storage is attractive, you need to think carefully about what you’re going to do with it. Is it just an extra drive that you can get to from all of your computers? Is it a media server? Is it a backup device? Do you need compatibility with multiple operating systems? Do you need web or wireless access?

In addition to the sheer amount of storage (1 terabyte is getting more and more common these days), you need to understand something about the underlying technology. If a storage unit promises RAID 0, that means the failure of 1 drive will cause data loss. RAID 1 gives you complete redundancy, but it cuts the effective storage size in half. RAID 5 gives you redundancy while losing less effective storage, but it can take much longer to recover from a bad drive.

Besides the Buffalo unit, your other choices include Apple’s Time Capsule, Drobo’s products, and many more. Or, of course, you can just load up a spare computer with extra drives. If you’ve added network storage to your own home network, what did you use and how happy are you with the results?

3 Responses to “Network Storage for the Web Worker”

  1. I use a Dell Server with FreeNAS installed. It has been up and running with no faults since December 2006. I only wish my Time Capsule had worked as well.

    FreeNAS is a free NAS (Network-Attached Storage) server, supporting: CIFS (samba), FTP, NFS, AFP, RSYNC, iSCSI protocols, S.M.A.R.T., local user authentication, Software RAID (0,1,5) with a Full WEB configuration interface. FreeNAS takes less than 32MB once installed on Compact Flash, hard drive or USB key.

  2. I have been using an old Raidcore 4400 8 drive card in Raid 5 with a hot spare and global spare for about 5 years now. Started out live with 8 x 160gb and now has 8 x 320gb or 1.92TB of usable capacity. Works great, super fast and the only gotcha is that you need to remember to swap drives every 6 weeks or so to keep things fresh.

  3. i use the readynas/nv+. i bought it a while back, for personal use, but since i started working at home, i use it to back up all my work files and that of the other developer, too.

    netgear recently bought the manufacturer, so it’s no longer possible to buy an “unpopulated” box, without drives. capacity is up to a max of 4 .75TB drives with choice of various RAID levels. the built-in OS automatically configures RAID; all you have to do to increase capacity is slide in a new drive.