Networked media storage

I’ve decided I want to start storing my media (pictures, videos, music) on a networked drive. The problem is that there simply isn’t any room where my router is for something like that. What are my options? Here’s my setup:

The wireless router is in my family room, behind the TV (AT&T U’Verse).
I have a PS3 that I use as my media server (also hooked into the router).
My computer is a laptop that’s usually in the family room.

The best place to put storage would be in my den, about 40 feet away. Running cords isn’t an option. I know there are external harddrives that work on a network. Can they be paired with another router or extender of some sort? I’d like to be able to be on iTunes on my laptop, download a song, and have it store on this drive in my office. Can that be done economically?

What you want is a wireless access point to plug it into that can do client mode. WAP54G does this naively or you can buy a cheaper router, install DD-WRT, and use its client mode function.

Some NASs have wireless now, so you could do that too.

So I can take an external drive and just plug it into this? It doesn’t need to be connected to a computer at all? (I’m guessing I’ll have to at least plug it in initially so that I can tell it the network password at least, right?) It’ll be in the same room as my (very basic) USB printer. Can I plug that in as well?

How’s this guy look?

ASUS TS Mini SOHO Home Server w/ Intel Atom N280 1.66GHz 1GB DDR2 500GB HDD installed

An alternative to the Linksys router with DD-WRT firmware would be a Linksys NSLU2. I don’t think you can buy them new any more, but there are hundreds on eBay. You can plug two external HDDs into it via USB (they have to be formatted with the Linux EXT3 file system), and if you feel like messing around with it, there is an active developer community. Mine has 1.5TB of attached storage, runs the uNSLUng 6.10 Beta firmware and Firefly Media Server, serving over 16,000 tracks not just over my intranet, but out through an open port on my router too.

Also worth looking at are the Buffalo Link/Terastations… you can do the same things with these, but I like the NSLU2 as it is so small.

If you can, try and go for a later model 66MHz NSLU2. The early ones were 33MHz, but can be “de-underclocked” by removing a tiny surface mount resistor. Having said that, mine is a 33MHz model and it works just fine. Could be quicker, but it doesn’t annoy me enough to start unsoldering resistors.

Can this be done from a Windows 7 computer?

In theory, yes, but not easily, although the NSLU2 requires any disk it uses to be formatted specifically by that NSLU2 before use. There is a format routine built into the NSLU2’s web config page specifically for this.
Any disk formatted as such, while attached to the NSLU2 is readable in Windows.