I have been pondering doing some upgrades, should I ever get my money tree to start producing, and have some questions about the different storage methods out there. What I would like to know is, what are the advantages and disadvantages between simply adding a larger HDD to my current system, building/purchasing a server unit, or building/purchasing an NAS box? I have researched this a little, but its hard to get a straight comparison of all three methods together. Thanks in advance :)
Let's take a look at some of the options you mentioned ferg.
First. Any of the above methods will solve your storage issues.
The extra HDD in your existing machine:
The advantage is simply more storage space.
The disadvantages are that it would be spinning constantly even when not being used, plus it would be an extra draw on your power supply.
It would also be fixed & tied to one particular machine.
The External HDD:
Disadvantages are none with the exception that it would be a touch more expensive over a fixed HDD.
The Advantages are that it would only need to be powered when required.
It would be portable so could be used on any system or even connected to a media centre to play any content.
Well, what is a server?
People tend to be smitten by the myth that the server is almighty?
It's seen as something to be feared, that only should be accessed by some technical genius in a computer room in some I.T. Dept.
In fact, there is very little special about a server IMO.
All it really is, is a tower PC with room for more HDD's than the standard home PC.
Because it has the capacity to hold more HDD's it usually has a more powerful cooling fan than would be fitted to a home PC. Other than that, there is nothing special about a server.
This is an option that has a few more sides to it.
Depending on the type you decide to use, it can be advantageous but you would really want the benefits to justify the cost.
You can for example, have the following with NAS.
Networking (allowing you to access your data remotely).
You can also have a redundant setup whereby you install 2- 4 drives but only get the benefit of half the total storage. What happens is this,
Let's say you installed 2 x 500GB drives, one would be for storage & all the data on it would be automatically backed up to the second drive. In the event of the working drive failing, the system would automatically switch to the second drive without any loss of data. You could then replace the faulty drive & the system would never have been down.
The NAS is a good idea where data is mission critical IMO.
I would think that in your case, the external drive would probably be the best option (Just an opinion though).