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One of the biggest problems still plaguing the environment today are the mass amounts of electronics being tossed out on a daily basis. This goes for everything from cell phones to televisions to your outdated stereo system. While stuff like cell phones and iPods can be easily sold, it’s the personal computer that still lacks consistent recycling.
The majority of both business and home PCs are typically either thrown out with the everyday trash, or turned over to one of the few electronics recycling warehouses in your area. These warehouses usually require some type of fee for disposal as well. Until we get some type of environmentally friendly method for computer recycling, I am going to recommend trying your own way. Such as adding that much needed storage to your home or work network. The simplest and cheapest method for doing this is using the open source FreeNAS. With this software you can convert old PC to NAS (Network Attached Storage).
FreeNas is an open source NAS (Network Attached Storage) operating system. FreeNAS does this with simply 32MB of data on a USB flash drive, hard drive or live boot CD. All of the configuration runs in a easy to use web interface and supports a wide range of protocols, including CIFS (samba), FTP, NFS, AFP, RSYNC and iSCSI. It supports both IDE and SATA drives. It also includes software based RAID (0,1,5), allowing you protection on failed drives.
After you have completed downloading the latest FreeNAS ISO image or LiveCD, you simply take your old, but still running PC and boot-up to install the image or simply run it from the Live CD, if that’s what you would prefer. Like I said before, you may also install this onto a compact flash or USB drive as well.
Once installed, you have a large plethora of options to choose from. Even including the ability for Active Directory integration into your Windows based business network.
The FreeNAS project has been around for a little while, so they already have a pretty good base of users, who can help you out on a moment’s notice. Their website is very easy to navigate, and there is plenty of documentation, and even a wiki on Novell’s site.
So if you have an old PC laying around and you want to convert that PC to network storage, it can’t hurt to download and burn the LiveCD of FreeNAS. Once you get it up and running, your options are limitless. Use it as a multimedia storage device, an FTP server or even as an alternative backup location.
Have any of you used FreeNAS before? Do you have any other suggestions for free Network Attached Storage?