Software-based NAS offers free/low-cost storage

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Earlier this year we tested Network Attached Storage (NAS) appliances. Now we're reviewing software-based NAS that you can load onto your own equipment -- whether it's a PC, server, virtual machine, or in the cloud.

We looked at FreeNAS, Openfiler, Open-E DSS, NexentaStor, and SoftNAS. All offer some sort of free solution or service, with some being fully open sourced.

Deploying a software-based NAS solution versus an appliance has some pros and cons. For instance, going with a software solution enables you to select and customize the hardware it runs on to best fit your particular application and environment. For a small and simple network you could load the software on a spare consumer-level PC, or for bigger networks purchase a server or run on a virtual machine.

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