Q

IDE NAS solution for home network

As a professional home-office user, my storage needs have expanded. I have several disks laying around -- all IDE, exchanged for larger drives in my server/workstation.

I read about a fairly cheap NAS system for 8 IDE disks. Unfortunately, I never noticed who makes the product, and have been searching for it ever since. The disks I have ranging from 75 to 200 gigabytes (GB) would attached to either the server directly (i.e. firewire) or to the network.

Can you suggest a product I can use for this purpose? The best possible solution would allow users to access the disks individually or as one large volume.

The ability to re-use existing IDE drives for cheap NAS storage is one that I have dealt with in the past. The simplest way to configure your old IDE disks as one big drive is to use the integrated volume management capabilities of the Windows operating system to create a volume set. Volume sets are created using the FTDISK capabilities within the Windows disk administrator program. The instructions for creating a volume under Windows can be found by searching for "volume" under Windows help.

Once the volume is created, it will look like one large disk drive. You can then create directories on the drive and share them out for client access over your home network. One of the drawbacks of volume sets is there will be no fault tolerance for data loss if you happen to lose a drive in the volume. If you are worried about data loss, then you can create a couple of mirror sets instead, which would require equal size drives for both halves of the mirror.

You would need a couple of IDE controllers in your server to be able to connect up all the IDE disks you want to create a volume from. IDE controllers are fairly inexpensive, and can be purchased at your local electronics store. Hopefully, you already have a tower case that can fit all the disks.

If this simple software-based solution does not fit your needs, you can always go out and get yourself an IDE RAID controller. There are a number of vendors that offer IDE RAID controllers. The cost differences between the controllers depend on whether they use your server CPU for RAID functions, or have an integrated RAID engine on board. Vendors such as Adaptec, AMI, Iwill and Promise all offer IDE RAID controllers.

This was first published in May 2005

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