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Small Business NAS Recommendations

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Hey there, not sure how I found this site... found it awhile back from a blog or something probably, and been following the RSS feed for awhile.

anyways, right now in our small office, we're just using a center computer/server with shared access to store common files. But we're a construction company with guys out in the field, and they need remote access to stuff.

Through this site I became aware of NAS setups... and the more I'm reading, the more I think this is what we need. But... there is SOOOO much info, and so many different models out there it seems, trying to figure out which is going to best suit our needs is tough. Even with all the great resources SNB has on the site in general... I read some review of some models that look good, but they're 14 ore more months old now... is that model still a good product, or has something "better" come along?

So, long and short of it... I'm hoping if I post a bit about the features I'm looking for, folks here can help me narrow down my list of options.

Must haves:
I want to be able to just plug it in to our network (duh.. obviously), dual drive with RAID 1 support. Decent user/group administration. Remote file access. I don't need media streaming, just file sharing. I need it to be "easy" for folks to access those files, with permissions (based on users and groups?) for some to be read-only versus read-write access.

Would like to haves:
built in LAMP. We currently use groupware software hosted by our webhost for shared calendar, contacts, and much more. If I was able to "host" that on the NAS, making our access just fly while in the office, that would be rather nice. I don't plan to host our regular websites, but this would have to be web accessible as well so my job supervisor can access things from in the field, I can access things from home, etc.
Easy ability to expand storage by adding USB Drive, as well as easy way to back up to a USB drive.
Accessible on a network from both windows and linux (so prefer web based admin).

Ummm.. I think that's the major points. Any recommendations folks have to help me narrow down my search would be great!
I'm a big fan of NAS's. I use a DIY RAID 0+1 NAS in my house, but I don't know that they're ready to replace traditional file servers in the commercial sector just yet. All systems out there currently lack an internal backup system and have to backup its files to another device (either another computer on the network, or some kind of tape backup). Many sport user/group systems, but they're not always implimented very well (see Linksys NSS4000). Finding ones that do LAMP are even fewer and farther between.

The main ones you'll see that are worthy of putting in a truly commercial place (and not just a small business) are the Netgear NV+, Adaptec SnapServer, QNAP TS-209 Pro, and a couple others.

The QNAP has the most of what you want (SNB did a review late 2007), but it doesn't host remote access. You'd have to look at some kind of external firewall to handle that (like watchguard or sonicwall). I'd recommend having some kind of backup solution in place that would allow you to backup the files saved on that device to another.

if you want to get it all, then you'd have to look at building something yourself. ClarkConnect is a linux-based gateway device that is super-powerful and could do everything you want. check it out at http://www.clarkconnect.com/
Hmmm, with a RAID controller that plays nicely with Ubuntu, which there are many, a simple plain-jane box with a RAID array and Ubuntu thrown on top would do the trick. There's nothing on your 'must haves' or 'nice to haves' which this wouldn't do - especially on the LAMP side of things. Sure, this isn't a plug-and-play NAS in the traditional sense, but all NASes really are after all is just another PC on the network purpose built for storage accessibility. A relatively cheap PC with a half decent RAID controller could easily do the trick. There's also *edit* FreeNAS **edit** which is a linux based, easy to use NAS OS which you could throw on there. Just a thought, but based on your needs and wants this is what I would do.
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FreeNAS is great, but as it's built on BSD (not Linux) it doesn't support my Promise RAID controllers.

an alternative

While I am not certain it meets all your needs, it may exceed them in some areas, I would give Windows Home Server a look.


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