Rise of the Home Servers

I love storage, and lots of it.

Since first becoming heavily involved with computers and the internet, I have often struggled with simple things like storage.  Where can I put all my files where they will be easily accessible the next time I want to view them?

In 2000 I started building myself dedicated servers that would sit on my network and act as a simple file store.These systems would later be used as FTP servers to share my data, as well as XDCC servers.  This provided the necessary resources for me to both share as well as receive more information from people online.

By 2001, my file servers had grown to hold 300 Gig of information (which was massive at the time) spanning 9 hard drives and two computers.  This was also the time that blank CDs had come down to be roughly $2 each, so were an affordable solution for archiving older files that were seldom in demand.

Of course, since then my file servers have progressed both in size and intelligence.  I currently have a single Linux box that runs some custom software written to improve ease of use.  I don't have a problem remembering what's on hda1 and hde2, but I do have a bit of an issue seeing 16 mapped drives in my windows environment.

To that end, I wrote an application that will work with Samba and handle multiple drives on the fly, letting me view them all as a single drive.  If I add another hard drive, then this software will pick up the new device, format it accordingly (if it's never been formatted), and automatically let me gain the advantange of the extra space.  What used to be a 400 Gig drive would now appear as a 700 Gig drive, if I were to add three hundred gigs to the machine.

No restart required.

This appliation also allows for automatic version control of certain files, with content indexing so that I could query a database for files containing certain words or names.  I was really looking forward to finishing it off in a way that it could be offered to the general public.  I can see some great uses for this in a non-corporate environment where people don't want to use a specific Document Management System or worry about things like version control.  Unfortunately … someone's beaten me to the punch.

HP Media Center ServerOn Paul Thurrott's site, he talks about Microsoft's upcoming Home Server (previously code-named "Quattro").  I can't say that I'm not impressed by some of the features discussed in this article, but I am a bit disappointed that I couldn't have come up with something better sooner.

Depending on the legalities of releasing something that essentially does the very same thing, but on a LAMP platform, I might still release my custom app to the general populace.  I can't say that it will have the same robust backup functions that the Microsoft version will have, but I think that it would provide just about everything that anyone would need.  And if it's an open project, people could always help out by posting revisions or customizations of their own.

It will be interesting to see these devices released later this year.  Hopefully the sticker shock won't keep people from making use of this sort of technology.