Thursday, March 12, 2009

Thinking About Storage

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...


Angie said...

So, uh, are you saying I can "have" your camera? ;) You're a genius. And just think, what if I didn't delete the raw photos?!

Ed said...

I just find it amusing that in a few years, we'll have our own little data centers at home to keep up with the ubiquity of data producing devices (e.g. cameras).

Mike said...

Linux journal has an article this month on OpenFiler ( That might fit the DIY bill.