Posted 18 November 2008 - 02:05 PM
It is not terribly expensive. There are a variety of NAS Enclosures that you can buy either with or with drives in theur bays. They usually have at least two bays and can have many more. They will typically accept any SATA or SATA2 drive mechanism. The enclosure has considerable intellegence to handle the network protocol and can frequently also act as a Print Server for your lan so all PCs can print through it without the shared printer being connected to (and dependant on) any particular PC being up and runnung. In a similar manner, they may be able to act as a FTP Server that you could access from anywhere on the Internet. Good for backup and access to your backups from anywhere on the WWW. They may also be able to act as an HTTP Server so you can put up your web site and allow world access to it without impacting your PC.
A reasonable and cheap one is the D-Link DNS-323. It is under $150 empty and I have two Hatachi 750Gb drives in mine (about $100 each) but any full size drive will work. It has its own power and fan and is very nearly silent. I use it mostly as a backup location and mass storage for my Media Center. In this type of environment, it is not frequently accesses and I have it set to sleep after 10 min of inactivity. It wakes automatically on demand (takes about 10-15 seconds). I haven't tried it but in theory, I can leave it running when I am on vacation and upload all my vacation photos to it (via FTP) while away from home. All three PC in the household access it and each have their own private directories as well as some common shares. I don't use it as a Print Server because my printer predates this type of setup and has no network interface.