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I have a relatively small home network and host quite a few lan parties. I feel the need to have a proper NAS solution setup.

I want to centralize backups instead of using external drives. I also want the ability to have a centralized network share.

It seems that both products would suite my basic needs well.

I think addons and other features are quite interesting, and would love to play with them. I would like the ability to run a http server so I can drag and drop a file to a folder and quickly link a friend a file that I want them to view.

Major factors that are leading me to Windows Home Server is its ease of extending storage. If my share fills up, I can simply add a drive and I have more room. With FreeNAS, I am not sure what I'd do. Reorganize my files?

Any input is greatly appreciated.

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closed as off topic by Sam Jan 19 '12 at 11:34

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6 Answers

Personally, I use FreeNAS, because the only thing I'm interested in is massive storage. I have 6x1TB drives, and it allowed me to use it as an iSCSI target.

Sounds to me like you're going to want to use Windows Home Server. FreeNAS is a bit more hardcore, but for that very reason it might not do what you want.

(p.s. you're bound to get a dozen people on here telling you to use OpenFiler because it's somehow better than FreeNAS. They're entitled to their opinion but I quite like FreeNAS).

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iSCSI does seem really neatl actually almost a must. Can I share a single iSCSI drive, or share parts of it? I am not opposed for FreeNAS. I use pfsense as an embedded solution, one of the best pieces of software I have ever used. My only concern with FreeNAS is the ability to extend storage with relative ease and how to automate backups. Maybe I can use the NAS as my main "pictures" drive.... –  Brandon Aug 20 '09 at 4:06
    
I love PFSense too. Anyway, with iSCSI you can create virtual images on your disk and mount them as iSCSI extents. So yes, you can share part of your disk as iSCSI - but ONLY as iSCSI. It's like a VMWare Disk Image. If you mount it you can use it as a normal disk, but otherwise it's just a binary file on your drive. Extending storage is very easy, you just add a new disk and mount it, same as you would in WHS. However, when it comes to backups, it doesn't have any native backup utilities. I use the iSCSI functionality along with the native Windows backup for backing up my files. –  Mark Henderson Aug 20 '09 at 4:14
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I would have to recomend Windows Home Server for easy of use and functionality (such that my non-technical wife is very happy to manually start a backup of her latop or restore a single file from a given point in time).

If there are specific features or information you are interested in, just leave a comment and I can try to answer any questions as best I can.

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Do you use indexing much? That is something FreeNAS will definitely not have. It is my understanding that FreeNAS can. Do not really have many questions. Serving files is kind of boring. –  Brandon Aug 20 '09 at 4:05
    
Correct, FreeNAS does not have native indexing of its files. –  Mark Henderson Aug 20 '09 at 4:12
    
Here is a free trial of Windows Home Server microsoft.com/downloads/… –  notandy Sep 30 '09 at 19:30
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FreeNAS... only because the latest RC can do ZFS. :) Everybody else makes good points and you can argue forever, but ZFS is the best file system to have for a NAS, bar none.

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What is so great about ZFS. Seems to be a big deal! –  Brandon Aug 20 '09 at 12:44
    
opensolaris.org/os/community/zfs/whatis Might not be your cup of tea though. –  churnd Aug 20 '09 at 14:55
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What do you have to lose in trying FreeNAS? It's free. Windows comes with added cost, hassle of updates and antivirus and some form of administration work on it while FreeNAS is largely stripped down just to do what it is meant to do well and updating it is really kind of a quick snap to do.

In other words you don't lose anything other than time in downloading and trying FreeNAS and if you don't like it moving to Windows.

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One major benefit of Windows Home Server is that it requires very little computing power. A Celeron or Atom processor and 2GB of Ram is all you need. Combine that with a very large, inexpensive SATA drive and you're set.

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Without knowing more about your requirements, I'd suggest Windows Home Server. It really is bone dead simple. And, it provides redundancy without RAID, which means you can just drop in new drives and start taking advantage of the extra capacity, no resizing of arrays, no rebuilding, you can use different sized drives, etc... It uses a an algorithm that balances data redundantly across drives.

The backup is really nice. You can access it like a file based backup, but you can also reimage a computer from it using a boot disk. Also, it uses an algorithm that only stores one copy of any given file. So if you're backing up 5 XP machines, all with the same service packs and patches, it only stores one physical copy of them.. this really saves on disk space.

It can also act as a terminal services gateway, to allow you to access computers remotely, even when behind a firewall, without configuring the firewall for each computer.

And finally, it also acts as a windows media server, so you can rip movies or music to it, and then watch them on your tv with a laptop or windows media extender.

It's really a useful tool, and it just works. Make sure you apply all patches though because there was a data corruption bug in the first release... fixed later, but you want to make sure that is applied.

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