NAS software vs 2003 Server Fileserver which is better

I have a retired domain controller server that has 2003 server 32 bit on it. It has 3 raid 1 mirrors on it totaling 500GB. I just upgraded my domain controllers to 2008 Server.

I want to this server to store archives, backups, music, word docs, pdfs, old photoshop files, etc..

I saw free NAS software out there. My question is .... is there any advantage to using something like , open-e Lite, FREENAS, or openfiler over just keeping my existing 2003 Server software?

I guess I don't understand the difference between NAS and A server with Shared Drives.

Can anyone help me understand the benefits or disadvantages of each?
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"Better" is subjective.  It is like asking what is a better food.  If you define better, as the server must be able to be a PDC, then any non-MSFT product is a non-starter, for example.

So be specific, what features do you consider important in a server for your intended use?  Uptime, ability to do hot snapshots, online expansion, ability to be a DHCP server, etc ..
Cliff GaliherCommented:
It depends on features, speed, licensing. There is no clear answer here.

OpenFiler, for example, can host NFS file shares more easily.  It also does SAN protocols like iSCSI.

FreeNAS can be run on a Linux server, saving you a windows license and CALs.

On the other hand, particularly with RAID cards, Windows driver support tends to provide better performance and error alerting, in the event that your RAID array falls into a degraded state. And while 2003 is quite old (I can't honestly recommend using it with the short shelf-life it has left), if you have need for fast access, Windows has the most stable SMB stack that, along with the drivers, can be a huge boost. Especially with newer OSes.

So you have to weigh what services and features you need, what your security footprint requires, who will be patching and maintaining the system, and what kind of performance you want. Each of the solutions you mentioned has a different set of pros and cons when plugged into that matrix.

As Server 2003 will be EOL next June, any other server OS that keeps on getting support and patches is better.

For a mere file-server task there also isn't really any difference. A NAS is also just a file-server. The main difference usually is that it uses a smaller OS trimmed for that purpose, with all the other unnecessary ballast removed. The OS uses lower resources and will therefore usually run on cheaper hardware.
I prefer NAS software for strict file services.  There is less to patch when compared to Windows Server.

- gurutcc

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MEATBALLHEROAuthor Commented:
All gave a good view.
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