There's inexpensive NAS and then there's FreeNAS

My review this week on inexpensive home office network attached storage appliances looked at networked storage from the viewpoint of the inexperienced home or small business user who needs something that's easy to set up. If you have some technical chops however, reader Tim Nouchi points out that you can load the free, open source FreeNAS onto an old PC and - voila! - instant shared storage.

"Everyone has an older computer laying around that may be a little slower," Tim writes. "FreeNAS works great AND it's free. I put one 4GB and two 250GB hard drives in a P2 400MHz. The kids' (4) "My Documents", pictures, music, etc are all located here. Good stuff!"

While NAS devices are smaller, more power efficient and relatively inexpensive, you can't beat free. FreeNAS is available at the Web site.

If you read the review, (Hands on: Setting up a storage network in your home ) you'll notice that the storage devices I tested aren't nearly as easy for neophytes to set up and configure as I had hoped.

It's too bad that these devices can't just plug and play, although of the bunch, Buffalo's Linksys came closest.

I've found that shared network devices are a great way to back up data in home offices with more than one computer. That's a win because too many people aren't backing up their data often enough - me included. According to Seagate, just 14% of consumers do so.

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