At work, we have several very remote field offices that only have a satellite/VPN link to our network. There are only 2 or 3 users in each of these offices. Because of the slow connection speeds and the need for large amounts of data storage (i.e. construction photos), we are thinking about installing a NAS solution at each site.

So far, I have come up with the following options for doing this:

Linux or FreeNAS (Free – sorta)

We have tons of decent sized spare hard drives and several old PCs. I figured a cheap solution would be to setup a FreeNAS or Linux solution. Besides being cheap, I figured it would also be easy to maintain since I could copy the config files vis SSH and use them at multiple sites.

Unfortunately, my tests have not been as easy as I would have hoped. I’m not sure if it is because of the group policies that are pushed out by our HQ or a configuration error on my part. Right now, I can get a typical Windows login prompt when I try to connect, but it won’t accept my credentials.

Western Digital My Book NAS ($250)

We have this device deployed at one of our locations. It was easy to setup but a couple things concern me. One, when we initially set it up, at one point it lost the configuration we inputted. It would not accept the default admin password or the new one that we had entered. Because the device configuration is “hidden” by the use of a simplified web interface there are no workarounds other than doing a factory reset. The web interface also prevents us from easily copying configs from one site to another.

Drobo ($630 – without HDs)

A sales rep from Drobo sent me some info on this device but I haven’t seen one in person. The biggest selling point for the Drobo is that it is easy to swap out HDs (even while the device is running). That is a great feature but I don’t know if the expense of the device is justifiable. Of course, I wouldn’t mind having a test unit to seehow good it really easy.