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Converting unused disk space into private cloud storage

I am the technology person at a public school and I have been toying around with the idea of utilizing much of the unused storage space on my individual student lab workstations as a means of extra storage.  Most of these hard drives are 250GB with only 50GB used at most.  I probably have well over 100 of these machines on my network and was wondering if there was any way to have a small app running behind the scenes that would allow me to allocate a portion of the unused space towards a private cloud storage solution.

My machines are all running Windows 7 Professional and all excpet maybe 5 are on a wired network; nearly all of which never are turned off at night or weekends.  I have 1Gb/s to each PC and a 1Gb/s backbone.  I don't have any specific use for that amount of storage space, but if I can harness it I'm sure I can find a use for it.

Since this is merely a "pet" project, the cheaper of a solution, the better.
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Evan Hines
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Evan Hines
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SuperTacoCommented:
this is kind of off the wall, but you could try implementing iSCSI connection to one main device and set some of that spare space up as separate partitions on the workstations, the create a bunch of iSCSI initiators.  the only downside is it would create a ton of small partitions on the server you wanted to use as cloud storage.
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Gerald ConnollyCommented:
With the current cost of disk space so low, its probably not worth the effort, with 2TByte disks available for under 100 dollars, the pain and anguish and the unreliability and the load on the workstations and the network and what happens if somebody turns off/reboots a workstation in the middle of a transfer etc.
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Evan HinesAuthor Commented:
No argument on your comment connollyg.  This is just a "I wonder if" question.  On the otherhand if one could gain access to say 20TB of storage at no monetary cost (just time), then it could be worth it as many schools, like mine, have very limited budgets for new hardware.
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Gerald ConnollyCommented:
I am not aware of any open source (ie free) software that will allow you to harvest this orphan storage. Its a question that has circulated round lots of time, but nothing has ever been developed. Mainly because of the issues to do with availability and reliability i mentioned in an earlier post
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SuperTacoCommented:
connollyg is right.  my suggestion was very far thinking.  Although it's imaginative, it's not feasible.  You're better off purchasing a storage product
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