Home server vs NAS

I have a fairly simple home network :
3 desktops, all run Linux, 1 dual boot with xp
notebook running os11.4 and dual boots win 7
wifes desktop running win7 and netbook running win7
an older Buffalo Link Station 500 gb nas
HP network printer

Like most, we have many files, photos, music, etc it would be convenient to share across all units. The buffalo LS works reasonably well for simple storage but 500gb is limiting. I have considered converting one of my older desktops to a server. I have a 32 bit HP and a Gateway single core 64 bit which could be used. Both are 5 -6 years old but perfectly functional and I use mostly to ‘play’ with trying different distros.

The question is really the advantages of a server vs nas in such a network. For example, I have music on the nas and can play with amarok from my desktops or notebook by setting the collection to the files on the nas. What would be the advantage of having a server and streaming music from it.

Also in consideration is running the nas at approx 25w vs a server at 150w+. Considerable difference in power consumption and heat generation.

I am also considering building a new lower power server vs buying a new larger nas unit. Seems the considerations would be the same, just the differences not as great.

I many ways, this is a hobby/learning experience, so nothing really ‘mission critical’ that can’t be handled by whatever method I choose including transferring files on usb sticks.
Really trying to understand the advantages (if any) of server vs nas in such a network.

If you are thinking of going down the NAS route,

I can highly recommend the Synology Disk Station DS211J which is quick and very feature rich. Have a look at some of the reviews.

Here is an example review:


Besides power consumption, consider whether your current “appliance” setup (technically NAS only denotes type of file access and storage, not whether a Server or Appliance) addresses all your needs.

As you’ve noted an appliance typically provides limited but reliable service(s).

A Server can provide at least the following which wouldn’t typically be available by an appliance:

  • Better, even full network security, both for file access and network protection.
  • Provide various Services which may or may not be related to Storage like AntiVirus, Anti-Spam, IDS, IPS.
  • Expandable storage, maybe even more varied storage management.
  • Updateable, upgradeable to keep up with advancing technology and threats.
  • Very much in vogue today is the “Home Entertainment Server” which can often proxy for you downloading, scheduling content from the Web, maybe even become your DVR when connected to a television.

A Buffalo is typically a high-end appliance which provides more features than simpler appliances, but is still likely does not as configurable as a non-appliance Server.