As of just a few years ago, large-scale file servers were commonly reserved for educational institutions and massive corporate institutions. Thanks to rapidly advancing technology, however, file servers are increasingly making their way into residential homes, small business offices and anywhere else that requires a centralized file and software storage solution. In fact, specialized file servers, typically known as NAS (Network-attached storage) servers, have recently been introduced to the consumer market in order to fill this niche.
But why invest nearly two hundred dollars into a new machine when you may be able to make your own file server using outdated PC parts you already own?
If you've been following technology throughout the past 10 or 20 years, you've probably made several upgrades to your home PC – and there's a good chance that some of the parts are still lying around, collecting dust in the back of your closet or underneath your bed. You may have an old computer case, a slightly outdated motherboard or a few old hard drives sitting dormant, when in fact you could put them to use as a home file server.
Contrary to popular belief, file servers do not require a lot of processor speed or RAM to function as a working part of your home network. After all, the only thing it has to do is facilitate access to the files you want to share. These files can be anything from documents to MP3s or even downloadable movies, but the point remains the same: all your file server needs to do is stream these files to other computers or devices throughout your house.
To that extent, the hard drive is easily the most important piece of any file server. Obviously larger hard drives will be able to store more files, and those with faster drive access times will be able to serve your files across the network quickly and painlessly. RAID systems can also be setup, ensuring the long-term performance and efficiency of your file server, while regular backups can be scheduled to transfer your files to an external drive or computer. This maximizes your uptime, letting you maintain continuous operations like a typical off-the-shelf NAS.
The second most important piece of hardware in your file server is the network card. Most motherboards include a built-in NIC, and this should suffice for your new network file server. Hard drives of today do not even come close to matching the transfer speeds offered through modern NICs, so you won't have to worry about causing a bottleneck by using a network card that is a few years old.
Creating your own file server is easier than average computer users realize. There's no need for a high-end graphics card, a surround sound audio system or even a nice monitor. Simply putting a new (or old) hard drive in an outdated system can give you that centralized repository of files needed to share your data throughout your entire home network, and a plethora of options can be implemented from there to mimic the exact functionality of consumer-oriented NAS servers.
Turning Your Old PC into a Network File Server
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