Best Free Network Attached Storage for Files, Hyper-V, and Backups
There is really no need to purchase an expensive NAS box at all when you have an old PC sitting there and have no use for it.
Alternatively you could easily buy a PC kit from an online retailer and build your own PC.
Now, if you have an old PC, you can use it as-is, perhaps add a new hard drive and with a simple tweak you have a 100% Windows compatible, free NAS device, based on NTFS!
Step 1 to your Free Network Server
Download Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 from Microsoft. It’s Microsoft’s free operating system: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/evalcenter/dn205299.aspx
If you are familiar with the Windows command prompt, that’s what you get on Hyper-V Server. A simple, yet powerful and free operating system.
It offers domain as well as workgroup functionality, RAID functionality, it accepts all Windows drivers and offers a lot of features just like a “full” Windows.
Install Hyper-V Server on the old PC you have and create a network share using this command:
net share OurFiles=C:\Files /grant:everyone,FULL Syntax: net share sharename=folderpath /grant:username,permissions sharename: the name of the shared folder username : Windows user login permission: Read, Change or Full
Optional Step 2: Join Domain
The Hyper-V Server may join your office domain if you want. But it’s not necessary.
You can now access your files using UNC, such as \\myserver\myshare
This method is completely free and most small businesses out there have a spare PC and no use for it. There is no need to buy expensive Drobo or Synology or other devices you don’t really need. Also, there is no need to work with Linux, when honestly most Windows users don’t want to bother learning it.
But there are far more benefits of using Microsoft Hyper-V Server as the base operating system for your DIY NAS device:
- Unlike those buggy and limited Linux based devices, you get 100% NTFS. It is the best file system out there for SMB purposes. It’s the best for a lot of reasons and Linux remains far behind.
- Hyper-V Server offers a command prompt and you’re used to it from your Windows PC. It uses the same commands as a full Windows computer.
- Since it’s Windows, you can install many Windows apps on it, for example BackupChain
- By using BackupChain on your free DIY NAS based on Hyper-V Server, you could run the built-in FTP server, too. That’s great for receiving online backups and remote backups, such as Hyper-V backups from other servers you may have. There is no need to buy another Windows license.
- This type of free NAS box is absolutely perfect for file, database, and virtual machine backup software, such as BackupChain
- Having a 100% compatible NTFS file system is important for Hyper-V backup software . Some NAS boxes out there have trouble with files above 4GB
- Hyper-V Server 2012 R2 is also perfect for file backup. File backups can easily grow beyond dozens of nested folders and deep folder structures are something that Linux based file systems don’t handle properly
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