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Older Laptop as Nas

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Hello All,

Money is tight, and it seems all the NAS drives with performance approaching that of a dedicated computer based server are $400+ without any disks....

I have an old IBM T41p laptop that I am thinking of appropriating as a NAS. I would like it to share our downloaded movie / music collection as well as our work files (photoshop, solidworks, inventor), as well as perform backups, and downlaod torrents.

Relavent specs below

1.7 Ghz Pentium M
60GB 7200 Hardisk
Intel gigabit ethernet port
2X USB 2.0 ports

It will be connected to the other machines / media streamers via a gigabit ethernet switch and I intend to purchase a pcmcia card with either a firewire 800 or eSATA interface to connect to an external enclosure which houses maybe 2X 1TB drives in raid 1.

First, is what I am trying to do sensible? Is the laptop okay running 24/7 with the lid open in a cool basement. If not then ignore the below questions.

1. Is this worth while? Meaning I can copy a file from this laptop through the gigabit connect extremely fast from the internal harddisk to another conputer on the network. Will this be faster than an standalone NAS >$300. Also since this is a laptop, I would imagine that the power usage would be higher than a standard NAS, but lower than a full PC. The power adapter is rated for around 50 Watts.

2. Will i see much of a preformance reduction going to serving from an external source. Which interface should I use, USB 2.0 or firewire800 / eSata via the PCMCIA card slot.

3. We have two computers with XP and one with Vista64 Ultimate. As well as an AppleTV (using boxee) and a Popcornhour A110, and a PS3. What OS should I install on the server??

Any advice is much appreciated...


Laptop power consumption will be low. Your external drive box will probably consume more power. Running continuously won't be a problem. You can even run it with the lid shut and the screen off if your power settings allow it.

The PCMCIA (probably Cardbus) and internal bus interconnect (I'm guessing PCI) will probably be the performance limit for the external drive bay. I have no experience with external drive bays so can't advise on what will provide the best performance.

XP or whatever is already installed should be fine for the OS.
I think a laptop would work just fine.

I would recommend using eSATA as it can offer the best performance. This review should give you an idea of what kind of performance you might see with a Cardbus adapter... http://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/addonics-cardbus-adapter,1363.html It is an older article though.

You might read thorough this thread (http://forums.smallnetbuilder.com/showthread.php?t=831) as it goes into a bit more depth on eSATA with multiple drives in a single enclosure.


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