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Looking for a "this is all you need" recommendation.

We're a small ad agency with both mac & pcs that access and share files from a 3 yr old Windows 2000 box (no server software). We currently have 1TB on the "server" and back it up to 2 different Seagate Free Agent Pro 1TB external drives. But we're low on space and are looking for something that's bigger, that we can still access from Mac & PC, EASY backup system, secure from viruses, firewall enabled. Not sure if a NAS will work or if we should have a real server. We don't really get on that box except to restore files, or run Norton on it. I hope I've provided enough for a general recommendation. Thanks.

Rob Phx

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What's your level of expertise with Linux - are you comfortable setting up a NAS server as Bart suggests ? If not, I'll post an answer with some pre-built NAS suggestions. – gareth_bowles May 19 '10 at 19:37
Familiarity with the platform helps, but FreeNAS and OpenFiler are turnkey solutions, more or less. They're meant to administer through a web interface, so you shouldn't need to get into command lines or understand what they're built on with any depth, although it can help. – Bart Silverstrim May 19 '10 at 19:52

Most NAS's are real servers, running a form of Windows or an embedded Linux :-)

Sounds like you're looking for general CIFS support and the ability to add storage. Since you have a backup solution in place, I'd consider getting a beige box with several large drives in it and running something like FreeNAS to configure with RAID. Shouldn't be too hard to get increased storage capacity from that and it will be compatible with anything that can mount Windows shares, and you can administer it from a web page.

The server itself will be immune to common viruses. You should still run something on the clients to check that there aren't viruses on the shares, though. I don't remember if FreeNAS has the ability to run Clamscan or not. On the plus side, a generic system running FreeNAS should be inexpensive and easy to get parts for.

If you don't have budgeting concerns I'd otherwise look at a Dell NAS. Our system is a little on the older side, but it's basically a Windows appliance, and you can install an antivirus of choice on it.

At any rate keep in mind what RAID you want to use and get a decent network card. You don't say what kind of files are copied to and from it, but if they're big, you'll want to use a RAID level and disk controller (and drives) that can handle high speed transfers. It's not hard for a NAS to get overwhelmed with several large data requests if the network is a gig in speed and the drives aren't high-quality and high speed.

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Thanks Bart. We know next to nothing about configurations. Don't want to touch command line anything. We do launch files directly over the network. For example, I regularly work on several files that reside on the server and are launched from my Mac. They range from small to occasionally 1Gb for large format trade show graphics. Everyone in the office can have access to everything so permissions aren't an issue. We're low-tech so an easier backup system would be great (whatever came on the Seagate drives). My knowledge of raids: if a drive fails, replace it- no loss of data. That's it. – Rob May 20 '10 at 23:28
We're okay spending under $2,000 for an easy, fast, safe, system. Turnkey sounds good. – Rob May 20 '10 at 23:30
RAID-look at the Wikipedia, it gives a nice summary. Come back to SF if you have RAID questions. Openfiler and FreeNAS are available for free download, and you can try it out if you have any spare equipment to test on. If you don't have the equipment yet, read up on RAID before buying the drives so you can get what you want tailored to your configuration. – Bart Silverstrim May 21 '10 at 1:17

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