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Converting a Desktop Computer into a NAS


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#1 Ijo07

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Posted 27 August 2005 - 09:22 PM

I'm doing a community service project at a local nature center, and it involves installing network storage into their computer network. I'm not sure of the details yet, but they have told me that they have an "old" desktop computer that I could use to convert to a network storage device. Their computer network consists of around 4 or 5 computers, and is a peer-to-peer network. If I had to guess I would say the desktop I would be converting is running Win 98 or ME. Does anyone know a way to convert a desktop into a network storage device? I would greatly appreciate any help.

P.S.- I'll have more details on this soon.

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#2 gunner

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Posted 27 August 2005 - 09:57 PM

(Never done this. Let me know what you do. ) :thumbsup: Here is some background.:convert a desktop PC into a secure, managed network device that achieves all the benefits of thin client computing while prolonging the useful life of existing desktops. Tremendous advantages are gained by providing remote connectivity to Windows desktops. SimplyRDP is a software-only solution; there is no need to physically open the desktop case, and removal of the hard drive is optional. A quick, easy install and GUI configuration templates permit fast setups of desktops. All desktop applications run on the server. SimplyRDP can be installed on any system running Windows 2000 Professional / Server, XP Professional or 2003 Server. It offers easy configuration for diskless client access to Microsoft Terminal Services using the clientís PXE-compliant network cards - emBoot also provides PXE capabilities via the MBA (Managed Boot Agent) either on floppy or as a bootROM. * SimplyRDP allows aging desktops to run the latest applications. This gives you the capability to run the latest Microsoft operating systems and application software on most 486 or newer PCs. * The solution is transparent to end users - a remote desktop appears to them as any other Windows desktop does. * A single point of administration reduces overall administration costs. * Virtually eliminate viruses and data theft. The desktopís hard drive is bypassed, and access to floppy drives and internet software can be restricted. * Centralizing data storage allows for faster and easier backups and disaster recovery. * Nothing to install on desktops, only need to install once on each server. * An easy to use, simple GUI configuration provides setup in minutes; there is no need to open a desktopís case. Removing the desktopís hard drive is optional.

Visit homepage of SimplyRDP www.freedownloadcenter.com

Edited by gunner, 27 August 2005 - 10:01 PM.

Spike's advice: Backup your data routinely.

#3 Ijo07

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 12:41 PM

I don't know if this is exactly what I'm looking for, but thanks for the lead. I visited Simply RDP's homepage (http://www.emboot.com/products_SimplyRDP.htm) and it seems like this is only useful with client-server networks. Apparently, you install this software on a desktop, and it becomes an add on to the server (a "thin client").

#4 acklan

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Posted 28 August 2005 - 02:23 PM

I converted a 13 bay PC into a file sever(so to speak). I gutted everything but the CD, since it will boot a CD. I installed a second IDE controller and put 7- 20gb EIDE HDs into the case. It was a P-I 233mhz in the old style full tower case. I did a min. W2K install and shared all the HDs with my LAN. Not high end but everyone on the LAN could store their data. Once the machine is set map the drives to the client computers.
If you can configure a Server install Linux instead of W2K, or pick up a copy of Windows NT4 Server for $40 or so on EBay. I was not worried about virus' or security so this low end approach worked for me.
If you already have a server you could remove the motherboard load it with SCSI drives, put a "through the case " adapter in .Then get a cheap SCSI card and put it in the Server computer. That is all the old NAS were a case a power supply or two and enough SCSI drice to fill the chain. I have two store bough NAS 1- 4 cd drive HP and 1- 6 drive SCSI 18.1gb with two Adaptic 2940 card installed. Except for not having a MB they look similar to my home made version.
I'm sure others will have better ideas but this did work for me and if you have the OS on the old desk top you should only have to aquire the HDs.
FYI: An off the shelt NAS for one HD is only $80. It just plugs into the next available RJ-45with the purchase of the HD your choice.
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#5 Ijo07

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Posted 02 November 2005 - 08:25 PM

Hi, sorry for the long delay, I had to get my project approved first. I finally got the specifications of the network situation and computers at the center.

The network is composed of one DSL connection (1 Mb/Sec Bandwidth) connected to one router with five host computers (directly connected). The router has WLAN capabilities. The center's director had no idea what kind of cables or router he was using, evidently he had contracted a computer company to install it. I'm guessing they're your standard Cat5e cables. The host computers are relatively outdated- they're P III 500 MHz machines with 256 MB's of RAM and 6 GB Hard disks running Windows 98 SE.

The system I will be converting into a server also has these specifications. Obviously, I will need to upgrade the hard drive. I'm thinking two 80 GB Hard Disks should probably do the trick. If I am to use RAID layer 1, would I need a specialized hardware controller?

Should any other components of the server computer be upgraded too (Ram, OS)? I'm trying to compile a list of all needed equipment and its costs so I can see how much fund raising I'll need for the project.

Also, would it be possible to password-protect the folders on the server?

Thanks for your help.

#6 acklan

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Posted 03 November 2005 - 05:10 AM

I want to start by saying I am not a server expert. I am just sharing what works with my LAN.
On a small LAN you don't need alot of computer. I am assuming this computer is dedicated to being a server. I would not recommend anyone using it as a personal workstation.
If you just want to file share and not run an HTTP, FTP, termial, application, or other type server I would recommend installing XP Pro. You could still use the IIS, or FTP options as a server but it is not neccessary for what we are talking about.
Setup XP on the 6 gb drive with the security software you need. Antivirus, antispyware, firewall,... and format your other drives to the file format you will be storing. NTFS for NT, W2k, XP. FAT32 for 98 and ME. Create the folders and set the folders to share and password protect them. Atleast 6 characters. Also make a common folder so files can be shared without giving out each others password.
You will need a RAID controller. If money is an issue I would recommend a ATA-EIDE controller verus a SCSI. I recommend EIDE anyways.
Once you are up and running map the drive/folders you wish each computer to have access to. DO NOT share the C:\ drive of the host computer. This will give you limited protection from someone tampering with the OS or critical files.
I would put firewall protection on each computer on the LAN if the LAN is tied to the internet.
This is not a high tech approach but unless you want to learn how to configure a server it will share files with minium hassle and expense.
If you have questions please reply. It's better to ask before you are committed to a plan of action.
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#7 glenron

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 10:37 PM

:thumbsup: Hi, can a set-up such as the one you are describing be used by both Mac and PC's on the network?

#8 acklan

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Posted 16 January 2006 - 11:09 PM

I believe it can. When you use Linux to serve window's file the is a program named Samba that allows the cross talk. I will look into it. If you have a Mac laying around you could serve files with Apache for Mac.
Serving Apache on MAC OS X

This may help.. http://www.macdevcenter.com/pub/a/mac/2002/11/19/mac_pc.html
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#9 Snapper

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Posted 17 January 2006 - 07:03 AM

Im not sure how tech savy you are, but a real easy/efficient way to do it would be to install winxp on a machine (for facilitating permissions) share all the drives , map them to each node, and a raid 1 (mirror) could easily/cheaply be made with an add on pci card. rather than installing a NOS which would be the answer, albeit active directory and cost associated would be challenging for some.
just some quick cheap advice, all the above responses are well qualified as well, i just think this may fit your profile also.
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