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Windows 7: best home router/network storage combination


20 Feb 2010   #1

W7 Pro 64
 
 
best home router/network storage combination

I want to set up a router and some central storage my wife with her laptop and I with my desktop can share and that is secure. I also want to save energy, and have a secure network.

currently we use a separate DSL modem and router (netgear WPN824) and have a Windows 7 home group. My desktop has RAID 1 and I do frequent backups of data to an external HDD. but whne my desktop is off (and I don't want to waste energy, so leaving that on all day is not an option), my wife can't access it. I also would like to have something where I can have automatic backup.

I eyed buying the NetgearDGND3300 that has a DSL modem built in and is ENERGY STAR rated. Deleting one device (separate modem) also would de-clutter my desk. It also seems to have more security options than my current router, which I like. It has a USB port.
- does that mean I could attach an USB HDD and use that as my network storage and backup? I don't know if that is what the USB port on that router is for. Will I then be able to control the HDD like any other HDD and format it in whatever way Windows 7 lets me?
- are the USB HDDs good enough to be on all the time? they use less energy, don't need additional power supplies etc. But do they last as long?

I also was looking at some network storage, but from reading the reviews the less expensive ones are slow and they use a proprietary file format. If I'm desperate and the thing fails, I want to be able to take the HDD, plug it into my desktop and read the data in Windows, without needing any netear/D-link or whatever software. And I still would need a router, so the expense would be high and power consumption probably too. And the HDDs in there don't get cooled so well.

I don't want to run a separate server for cost, energy reasons and I also like the Hardware firewall the router offers.

Any ideas what the best would be?


I don't want to build a small server,

My System SpecsSystem Spec
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20 Feb 2010   #2
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

Here is an example: Newegg.com - ASUS TS Mini SOHO Home Server w/ Intel Atom N280 1.66GHz 1GB DDR2 500GB HDD installed, powered by Windows Home Server - Server Systems But for your purpose you may consider a netbook with Windows 7 where you attach a couple of disks and share them in the home network.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Feb 2010   #3

W7 Pro 64
 
 

but would I still need a DSL modem? It seems to have a wireless built-in. Does WHS work as well as a router? I mean is the firewall as good as a hardware firewall (like in a router).

It would come with additional cost, as 500 GB isn't that big.

I searched more and my router-HDD combo might work ftp://downloads.netgear.com/files/re...yer_9Jul09.pdf
but I'm not 100% sure.

I also do have a laptop with broken screen and 1 GB RAM and dualcore (I use it in the living room as the media center since my TV serves as a screen and I'm too cheap to buy a new display). It has XP, but couldn't I buy a license of Windows 7 and use that as my server and wireless access point? this sure would be the cheapest, and kind of energy-efficient since it is a laptop. It has too small HDD, though. Can that be done to be secure enough? I mean I don't like the idea of not having a hardware router? Or shoudl I buy WHS instead to get thesecurity that a router gives me? (can WHS still do my entertainment, like playing internet videos from Netflix, or Karaoke songs??).

But assuming I need to buy some 500-1 TB USB storage HDD either way, the cost difference between router and using my old laptop and buying some sort of OS is not that great. WHS cost $ 100 at newegg, the router costs $ 133 and sure can be more reliable than an OS. Especially I can jsut turn off the router whne I leave the house, but turning off and booting up the WHS system requires some inconvenient intervention. My security theory also is, whne I turn off my router all day whne I'm not at home, no one can spend all day trying to hack in, in addition to energy savings.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
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20 Feb 2010   #4
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

well, that's a lot of different arguments:

1. The modem you need in any case - there is no way around that one
2. You need a router if you want a wireless connection. But if you can hardwire all the systems, you can also use a switch like any of those ( the cheapest will do).
3. I would not worry too much about the added security of a router firewall. If you have a good security system (MSE, Norton, Kaspersky), you'll be ok.
4. If you are worried about energy consumption, buy one of those remotely operated switches (that you can operate from the desk) at Home Depot and use that to switch the units on/off. Very handy, I have one that can operate 3 different circuits independently.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Feb 2010   #5

W7 Pro 64
 
 

So I will need a router either way? then I guess for sure I'll get that Net gear router with built-in DSL modem. At least for the laptops I'll need wireless.

But if I just could hook up an USB HDD to my router, why would I then go through the trouble of buying or setting up a server? I'd be OK to use MS synctoy or some other software on each computer to manually sync with the central storage every once a while. I think WHS would do that automatically. But if I sync every couple of days, I'd be fine.

so, now the question, if I hook up an USB HDD to the NetgearDGND3300, can I then just "see" it like a network drive and copy files on it? Or can I include that int he Windows 7 home group? I'm not sure yet how that exactly works out, and don't want to buy it before I know.

I do have Kaspersky Internet Security through October. but if I had reliable Router firewall, I could downgrade to just Kaspersky Anti virus the next time I renew the license. Might not be the biggest money saving, but something.

(maybe, assuming I buy the router anyways, I try my old USB HDD and see if that works before I buy a large USB HDD)

BTW, I read a bit mixed reviews on the NetgearDGND3300,but most bad reviews seem to be from before the firmware upgrade (that enabled USB). any comments on that? It seems to be the only router with built-in DSL modem that has decent router capability.

Thanks
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Feb 2010   #6
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

1. Netgear is fine. I have one NG router myself (and also a Netgear switch in another location). The router/modem combination has it's advantages (compact) and disadvantages (if one function is down, all is down). Besides, you usually get a free modem from your ISP, so why bother with another modem. The ISP may give you a hard time when there is a DSL problem.
2. You cannot attach a USB disk to a router. The router has only ethernet plugs. If you want to work via Homegroup, you need Windows7 on each end.
3. When your Kaspersky runs out, get MSE. It is excellent and free of charge. No need to "downgrade".
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Feb 2010   #7

W7 Pro 64
 
 

That specific netgear router has a USB port (for USB printers etc.) I'm just not sure how exactly it "looks like" being accessed via network.

Is MSE really as good as KIS? I mean probably good and free, but can it beat a paid software? I do use a lot of free software, but KIS is oneof the few thing I pay for to get more security. I'll try it out before I renew my license.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
20 Feb 2010   #8
whs
Microsoft MVP

Vista, Windows7, Mint Mate, Zorin, Windows 8
 
 

OK, I missed that USB printer deal. But that is another matter. You better explore what exactly can be done with this port. I have great doubts that it is good for a disk.
Security system are like religion. Either you believe in it or you don't. Actually in the latest tests (whatever they are worth), Kaspersky lost a few points. It is Norton that is on top now. But that can change any time. About MSE I have heard nothing but good reports. I have it on 4 systems now and when I am back in Europe I will install it on the 3 systems there too.
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