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Alan SilvermanFlag for United States of America

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Advice on a NAS hard drive to buy

I'm setting up a NAS backup solution for a client.   He's a home user with a laptop and two desktops.  The laptop is running Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit.  One desktop is running Windows 7 Pro 64 bit.  The second desktop is a Mac running Windows XP on it.

I've never used a NAS hard drive but assume it's basically a hard drive that's ethernet connected to a router that can be accessed over the Internet or from any computer on the network.  Is this true, or are they a special kind of animal?  

We're looking for a 2 or 3TB drive.  He doesn't have that much data.

The NAS drives run their own backup software.  I run Acronis for backups on my computers.  Will I be able to run Acronis to the NAS?  Is there any advantage to running the NAS manufacturer's software? I'm wary of backup software in general, especially software I haven't extensively tested.

I've been reading reviews of various drives on Newegg and Amazon.  Some say that certain drives are very slow and others that the software is bad, or they charge you for it.  I'd like information on these types of drives in general and recommendations for specific drives.
Thanks,
Al
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We're looking for 2-3 TB of backup space for $150-200.  Are there simple external drives accessible via ethernet as a network drive?  
Al
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@alanlsilverman - as already mentioned, there's no hard drive with an ethernet port on the market - you need a NAS which is an enclosure that turns a regular HD into a network HD...

As for the price(I'm in the UK/Ireland) the cheapest NAS unit I can find is here - http://www.broadbandbuyer.co.uk/Shop/ShopDetail.asp?ProductID=10071&utm_source=google&utm_medium=shopping

Note however the make(D-Link) - I've no experience with this model and as some experts have already mentioned you can purchase NAS units that don't perform as expected

So your price range is low for sure(the other option you have if price is that important is simply purchase an external HD and connect it to a pc/server and share the drive)
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$400-$500 is too expensive for the ordinary home user, although I'll talk with him about it.  He's got a 1 TB drive already attached via ethernet to the router.  He bought it 3-4 years ago. Said he thought it cost about $100. But the fan is going.  Did they used to sell ordinary external drives with ethernet attachments?
Thanks,
Al
I wasn't aware that they did - what make/model is this external 1TB he has?

Are you sure its connected to the router through ethernet? Normally I see drives connected to routers through USB and then its accessible through ethernet(since its really shared by the router to the network)...
Here's a single drive NAS enclosure from Amazon - http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/zyxel-nsa310-best-cheap-nas/
$500 is too expensive for a home user? Wonder how Apple sells so many $599 Ipads then? If a home has multiple PCs and devices and wants a central place to store documents, music, videos, and backups, I think the cost is justified. I know of no disk drives sold with an ethernet port. Most are USB attached to a router, which then shares the disk with the network. The rest I know of are a purpose built Linux server with drives you add (a real NAS). If his current drive has a bad fan, buy another 2-3 TB drive and a usb 3.0 enclosure. Attach it to your PC, copy all the data from your current router-attached drive to the new drive, then move it to attach to your router, freeing up the bad drive. By the way, what kind of router does he have?
Lots of options over at newegg.com.  Search on "NAS", select 2.1 TB or higher, sort by price.

voila!
Thanks pgm554. That looks like a replacement router/storage for this user for only $309. And it supports a USB attached second drive, which you can get by buying a USB 3.5" enclosure and a 7200 rpm Sata HD of your choice of size. The second drive could be his original drive (if it was usb attached to a router), and he could easily copy over his data over the next few nights).
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822148661

Seagate
3TB
expandable via USB mass storage
$179.99 + $20 off through today
That Seagate STAM3000100 is $159 at Amazon.  Right price but terrible reviews. 120 one star reviews versus 65 five stars. Then there's the BUFFALO LS-X3.0TL.  Looked on Amazon and saw lots of bad reviews too. Still it's tempting.  The primary bad review talked about integrated BitTorrent downloader.  My customer doesn't do anything as fancy as that, nor even sharing video and audio across computers.  And he has very little data.  Like maybe 50GB across all computers. Basically he wants the security of knowing that if any of his computers gets stolen, something that disastrous, he's covered.
Al
The old saying is still through - you get what you pay for ;)

Back to the question though - what drive does he currently have? If its ethernet integrated I'd love to know just what it is?

As @Boilermaker(and myself) have already mentioned - the norm for HD's connected to a router is a USB connection and the router handle's the 'network sharing' - so I'd be interested to know what he's currently running...maybe that's all you need, a new drive and connection to his router...otherwise I can't see you getting this cheap
And simplicity of setup is a must.  This client lives almost an hours drive away from me.  I go there for major installs (I recently set up two computers and his network) but otherwise I do everything online.  If I can buy him something online, have it delivered to his house, and if he can just plug it in, I can then set everything up online.  Otherwise mileage alone adds $150 to the cost.
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For only 50 GB of storage, you can buy a cheap (and I mean cheap) used PC and just use it as a file server.  Alternately, dump the original OS and install FreeNAS, and you've got a cheap, commodity NAS box.

I've got two dozen old desktops in my basement.  I set them up and give them away to people who need them and to charities.   But then I recently bought two decent Win7 machines for $210 a piece at Bestbuy clearance.  But this guy doesn't need charity.

His existing drive is a Fantom.  I just remembered it.

All three computers are Windows, two Win7 and one XP.  I should probably just network them and back the critical data up to each other.  I'm looking for a simple solution I can trust.
You can get a new Fantom drive at lots of places. Here is 1.5 TB for 89$ US.
http://www.tigerdirect.com/applications/SearchTools/item-details.asp?EdpNo=782831&CatId=4230
I wasn't suggesting charity.  Charge for your time and materials.  But FreeNAS is extremely stable and interoperable.
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You could get even more creative....

Build your favorite Linux distro and put a virtualization hypervisor on it.  Then you can run a virtualized instance of FreeNAS and still be able to add other virtual machines that allow you to manage the site better....
Thank you for all your good advice.  I’m going to ruminate on it a bit and then choose a solution.
Thanks again,
Alan