Advice on setting up a file server


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Hey all. New member, first post, yadda yadda yadda. :)

I'm a fairly experienced user but I don't do that much in the way of networking or anything really advanced. Long story short, I have an old XP desktop where I keep all my media but I don't have it networked with my laptop which runs Win7 (Pro, 64-bit). I'd like to install Win7 Home (32-bit) on the desktop and use it as a home file server. I'm not looking to do anything processor/network-intensive like streaming, I just want to be able to access the files from my laptop. I can't go the workgroup route because my laptop (which is a work laptop) is set up for a domain user. As I understand it, I should be able to connect to another Win7 PC that is using a homegroup without disturbing my laptop configuration. Assuming that's true, my question, basically is - is it worth it?

The specs of the desktop, roughly, are:

1.5TB media drive and 320GB system drive, both fairly new.
Pentium 4 (not sure what the exact clockspeed is)
4GB RAM

I can get Win7 home for $99 (OEM) and pretty much be done with it as far as I can tell, assuming I can get the laptop and the desktop to play nice.

Any suggestions? Warnings? Advice?

Thanks!
 
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TrainableMan

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I don't have an answer to your question because I know things get complicated when you use a domain and I'm not an expert at networking but...

I'm guessing there is nothing on the system drive you really need? If there is I would just copy it over to the 1.5TB. Then I would buy an external docking station for about $25 or even a case enclosure.
HD-Dock.jpgHD-Case.jpg

So instead of paying $100 to upgrade the old computer and having the energy usage of a PC running and the hassle of setting up a network, you simply yank out the data drive and connect it via USB directly to the new computer for about $25.
 

Digerati

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Are you really using it as a server or more like a networked attached storage device?

What are you serving?

It should be no problem opening up sharing on the XP PC to allow the other computers on your network access to that machines files. This is much easier if all devices go through a router though it does take some firewall tweaking.

Also, one of, if not the biggest problem area with users migrating to Windows 7 is attempting to put Windows 7 on hardware designed for XP that has no support for Windows 7. So before even thinking of installing Windows 7 on that system, you need to run the Windows 7 Upgrade Advisor to make sure that legacy system is compatible.
 
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Thanks for the replies, guys.

I already have a docking station and I considered just using that but I'd like something more permanent and I'd like to be able to remain mobile.

Digerati, you are correct - it's more like network attached storage. I started looking into NAS devices but so many reviews I read seemed to indicate they were more trouble than they're worth. Figured I'd be better investing a few bucks in the old PC to do the same thing (and probably better).

So, if I enable sharing on the XP machine, that's all that needs to be done? No workgroup or homegroup configuration necessary? I'll start googling to find out the firewall details.

Thanks for the compatibility tip. I was actually wondering about that. I'll run the advisor. If it fails, that would eliminate the win7 option altogether.

FWIW, my setup is pretty typical, I think - LinkSys router (don't know the model but it's pretty standard...wireless G/N I believe), one desktop as described above, and my laptop. My wife also has a Mac that she uses for work but it'll be a cold day in hell before I even think about trying to get thing connected. lol.
 
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Digerati

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So, if I enable sharing on the XP machine, that's all that needs to be done? No workgroup or homegroup configuration necessary? I'll start googling to find out the firewall details.
You enable file sharing on the drives or folders on the XP machine. Then also on the XP machine, you have to tell the firewall to let your other machine have access. It is typically easier if you use the same username on each machine.
 

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