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Windows 7: NAS boxes, NAS Routers, and Torrent Boxes

14 Jul 2013   #1
monkeylove

MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
 
 
NAS boxes, NAS Routers, and Torrent Boxes

I had difficulty using a NAS with torrent capabilities, mainly because I use Win 7, and also I could not replace the HD after it started to malfunction.

Right now, I'm using an old notebook with XP and an external HD for torrents. This is a lot easier to manage because I can disconnect the HD and access the data from a desktop if something goes wrong with the notebook. But the whole thing takes up too much physical space.

I found out that there are routers that have built-in software, including torrent clients, and external HDs can be attached to them. I'm thinking of getting that if the old notebook or router no longer works.

If anyone has been using these routers, let me know the ff.:

Can the contents of the external HD be read by Win 7? I need this in case I need to replace the external HD or back up the contents, especially if the router malfunctions.

Does these routers allow me to back up the settings as well as various torrent client files (like any tracker files, etc.)? That way, if the router malfunctions and I need to do a factory reset, I can restore not just the settings but also the list of trackers, etc.


My System SpecsSystem Spec
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14 Jul 2013   #2
bobafetthotmail

Win 7 Pro 64-bit 7601
 
 

Not all routers can do that. Apart from a few select models that ship ready to torrent (likely to charge you a lot for this feature as it requires high-end router hardware, like say this), only those that can install dd-wrt AND have enough internal space for that and Transimssion (the standard linux torrent client) can do it. This article is a good one
Since dd-wrt is basically linux running on ARM, the USB drive will be recognized and used just fine regardless of formatting (so windows will see its contents as well).

Routers generally don't malfunction unless you do something stupid (overclokcing their ARM processor), and if you add a generous swap file on the usb hdd (512 mb at most) you can avoid crashes and reboots due to Transmission acting up.

I personally prefer to leave routers alone as if you screw up you kill the only access to the internet you have.
And because their hardware sucks even if you cough up 200 bucks for the unit, so they can do a very limited amount of things other than routing network traffic and connecting to the Internet (if it is a modem-router).

I suggest to look at Raspberry Pi. As it is basically a mini-PC running linux, and can do micro-server roles, torrenting roles and even run XMBC. And is much easier to work with than a router, while keeping more or less the same price (40-ish euros/bucks shipping included). It sells for around the same price as an average modem-router, but can rob a router blind as far as features go.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
14 Jul 2013   #3
monkeylove

MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
 
 

I found out yesterday about routers from Buffalo that have DD-WRT and provide NAS features, like the WZR-HP-G300NH2. I read that more companies are now adding DD-WRT to their routers.

It's great that Win 7 will be able to read the HD fine. I'm guessing that the swap disk option is found in the configurations of the router, NAS, or torrent box.

About routers malfunctioning, this is currently taking place for the one that I'm using. Once every few days or weeks, workstations in the system will no longer be able to access the 'net even after I restart the router and modem. I have to reset the router to factory default to fix the problem.

The news about the Raspberry is great, though! I will definitely consider that. Thanks!
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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14 Jul 2013   #4
bobafetthotmail

Win 7 Pro 64-bit 7601
 
 

making a swap file is done by terminal commands. dd-wrt is linux, remember?
The link I provided above contains how to do it, down near the end.
Plus three links to run and configure a dd-wrt router.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
15 Jul 2013   #5
monkeylove

MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
 
 

Got it, thanks. I am not very familiar with Linux, but I managed to mod a NAS and use telnet to install Transmission, etc., and mod a router with Gargoyle. As long as instructions are given clearly in guides, then I should manage. The bad news is that my current router has a USB port but can't be modded. I have a cheaper router that has been modded but has no USB port. Given that, I'm thinking of getting a Raspberry Pi, as you recommended, and make it a torrent box. When the router needs to be replaced, I'll just get one that has DD-WRT.

My only concern is that I'd like to be able to back up and restore torrent client configuration files or incomplete downloads easily in case one or more hardware components fail. I had difficulty doing that using the NAS because I had to telnet to the unit from my Win 7 desktop, then back up the torrent configuration files to another directory in the same NAS, then use "chmod" to change ownership of the backed-up files so that I could copy them (which included the torrent trackers) to the Win desktop. On top of that, the NAS did not come with any installers, so the only way to replace the HD when it started malfunctioning was to clone it first to a new one, which could become difficult given sector errors.

My understanding is that with a Raspberry unit I can back up, clone, etc., the SD card that contains the OS and software. If I install a torrent client like Deluge, then I can configure it to make a copy of the trackers in the external HD, together with the incomplete and completed downloads. That way, I can access the torrent files and trackers easily through Win explorer for back up, etc. Are these points right?
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jul 2013   #6
bobafetthotmail

Win 7 Pro 64-bit 7601
 
 

Quote:
My understanding is that with a Raspberry unit I can back up, clone, etc., the SD card that contains the OS and software.
Yes. It's just an SD card. Depending on the formatting, you might not be able to see it from Windows. It will likely be a ext2/3/4 partition, so to alter stuff inside it you will need a linux live-CD or VM to access and modify it.
Windows will say that it is empty and prompt you to format it every time you plug it in a Windows PC, it's a lie. Don't do it. (you can sidestep the issue by creating a tiny FAT32 partition, say 2-3 MB, just to shut up it)

This is a quick-start, then after you did setup everything (I assume you don't care about coding, so you can skip that part) you follow this guide to setup SSH (remote desktop, if you need a full graphical interface and not just a command line follow this afterwards)
So afterwards you can do all other setup and control from your PC.

If you don't have a suitable SD card lying around (any 4 GB SD card is perfectly fine given your needs), you can buy one preloaded for cheap (usually those that sell the Raspberry sell those cards too), but it's recommended to do it yourself, as this way you know how to fix stuff if needed.

Quote:
If I install a torrent client like Deluge, then I can configure it to make a copy of the trackers in the external HD, together with the incomplete and completed downloads.
Sure. In case the program itself does not allow that from its options, you can always make a symbolic link to have any folder of the device (within reason) transferred to a user-specified path of your USB HDD. This thread.

I personally prefer Transmission as a linux torrent client though. As it allows anyone in the same network to control it from the browser. THis is a tutorial to setup Transmission.

Quote:
That way, I can access the torrent files and trackers easily through Win explorer for back up, etc.
To do that you need to setup the folders you want to share using a samba server (protocol that allows you to connect to it with Windows Explorer). This tutorial.

It sounds a bit daunting, but you should be ready to torrent in half an hour tops (download times of the OS and tools not included).
Note that you will likely need to get a power adapter to run the USB HDD. A powered USB hub with a Power brick giving 2 Amps will be enough to power both the Raspberry and the HDD (if it's not a 3,5'' beast that has its own power brick anyway). Like these setups.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jul 2013   #7
monkeylove

MS Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit SP1
 
 

Thanks very much! The links and advice you gave are very much appreciated.

I'll bookmark and follow the links you provided, and will post if I encounter any problems. I have Linux Mint running in Virtualbox in my Win 7 desktop, and it can read storage devices attached to the desktop, so I will try it for some of the steps given in the links. For the OS configuration, though, I think I will have to borrow a computer monitor.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
16 Jul 2013   #8
bobafetthotmail

Win 7 Pro 64-bit 7601
 
 

Or a TV. Its RCA composite plug isn't exactly plug-and-play like the HDMI port though.
I think that most further questions will be better answered by the raspberry pi community forums. This is still a forum about Windows 7 after all.
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