Saturday, May 13, 2006

Home office project - file server without the server

I mentioned my list of home office projects in an earlier post. So far the only item I've been able to address is the simpleshare 400 gb network shared hard drive.

The simpleshare is basically an external hard drive that connects directly to your network without requiring a connection to a PC. It is basically a file server without the big computer tower, keyboard, etc.... You connect to the simpleshare over your computer network, just as you would a file server.

Installing it was very easy. You configure it through a web browser and if you don't want passwords for individual users, it's ready to go right away.

Setting up separate shares for each user isn't difficult, but it's not well documented. Everyone in our house has a personal directory which only they have access to. We also create a family directory for common things, like photos and videos. Before creating the private directories aka "shares", we needed to create users for each person. When you create the private directories you can specify which user has access.

Once the directory structure is set up, you can map the "shares" on the simpleshare directly to your computer ala drive F, etc.... Once again very easy and wizard driven.

The beauty of this product is that it costs $300 for a 400 GB mini-server. You can also attach up to 2 external hard drives. The simpleshare gives you some very interesting options:
  1. Share the attached hard drives on the network
  2. set up raid 0 - mirroring - where the 400 gb simpleshare drive is mirrored to one or two external drives - this is the equivalent of having a real time backup on one or two drives.
  3. set up raid 1 - striping - where the internal simpleshare drive and the external drivers are merged to create one very big drive. This is less safe because if one drive dies you lose everything.
  4. set up raid 0 - mirroring with one drive and use the second drive either as a separate shared hard drive or as a backup hard drive in case one of your mirrors fails.

Another powerful option is to connect printer to the external USB port and your simpleshare will share the printer over your computer network.

My fileserver cost about $1500 to build. It included a RAID 5 card with four or five hard drives giving me 600 GB storage. It required the Microsoft Windows XP Server operating system and alot of care and maintenance.

Simple share is a much easier and less expensive solution.

I would like to learn more about how security is managed.

I bought the simpleshare 400 from costco.

The next office improvement project, thought not on my list, is to copy all of our document folders to the simple share and setup a back process from one of the PCs. We'll use the simpleshare over our household network as our primary storage for documents and back up nightly.

After that, I will install the new gigabit switch. Since I'm running cat 5e, rather than cat 6 ethernet cabling, I wonder if I'll see much of an improvement.

have a wonderful evening,


PS Any comments as to where we should store our files would be appreciated: on the local desktops and backup to the simpleshare or the opposite (which we're doing).

Many programs, like quicken and outlook, default to having the data stored locally and not on a remote drive.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I will have to check out the simple share hard drive. I tried something similar not to long ago but the transfer speed was way too slow so had to return it.

Re Quicken, yes it defaults to local but is real easy to change it to anything you want. I have my Quicken data files saved to a thumb drive so that I have access at home or work.