It is funny how quickly the ugly storage monster will creep up on you. You have a few kids, buy your wife a nice DSLR camera, and before you know it you have 250GB of precious memories filling up your hard drive. I have manually been backing these up periodically to an external hard drive, but it is a bit of a pain (not to mention that I probably don't do this as often as I should). To top it all off, we have outgrown the available space on that external hard drive, which has lead me to thinking about alternatives.
I first thought about backing it up online. The major problem is the amount of data. For example, if I were to back up to Amazon's S3, it would cost about $40 a month (and increase as more is added), and a one time fee of $25. My upload bandwidth is capped at <300KBs, which means if I were to start uploading the data now, it would take almost two weeks straight of uploading time (not to mention the time lost on interrupted connections, or the fact that I would have to throttle it so that the internet would still be usable). It would be nice to have the data off site, but it is just too inconvenient.
What I would really like is a home NAS. There are a myriad of options available, though the ones that have all the features that I would like get are pricey. This got me to thinking about building my own NAS. The major advantage to this, is that I could setup a system using Open Solaris with ZFS.
During this journey, I came across the MSI Wind barebones system which has an Intel Atom, with GigE, 2 SATA connections, and a CF memory card slot in a nice tiny package (and most recently they have also introduced a newer version that includes the dual core Atom). I've also come across a couple of posts recently that seem to indicate that Open Solaris will run fine on it, and that it looks to be a decent platform to build a small NAS out of. For about $400 you can get the Wind PC, 2 1TB drives, and 2GB of memory.
The price is pretty comparable to most of the low to mid range home NAS units that are available, and it would be a lot more flexible. Oh how tempting...