How to build a real NAS with the windows OS (headless)?

tabby27

New Member
Jun 29, 2020
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I've been building these storage boxes for a while now, but what I really want to try next is a windows based NAS. Meaning, I use a regular motherboard, and all those regular parts, but somehow, I can connect it to another pc using a REGULAR usb cable (ideally usb3.2). And the NAS shows up like a regular external USB drive and I just transfer files.

The only part I am confused by is I think I need a special USB port or adapter, that will allow this. You can't just connect to pc's with a USB cable and just transfer files. What is this hardware I will need?

Once I have that figured out, I'll use some software to make it boot up without a monitor and it will be a super minimal windows pc. I've done this with music applications before, where it boots directly into a music app and you just plug in your keyboard and play. But this USB issue, I am confused. Thanks!

edit...forget the NAS name (network attached). I'm not trying to have it be network attached. It is more of a DAS, but with USB.
 

tabby27

New Member
Jun 29, 2020
25
7
3
Doing more reading, this might be impossible:

Make a computer act as a virtual USB device for other equipments

And I've been googling for a while now, and I don't see any adapters or anything to do this.

Maybe the way to do this is on the box I make, use the ethernet port, and on the other end, use a ethernet to usb adapter, and that should work. Using an adapter assuming the actual ethernet port is in use. So basically transferring between pc's over ethernet cable.
 
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randalldeflagg

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May 4, 2015
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you can do a iscsi setup on the second computer/nas and connect to it over the network. it will the present as a physical drive on your desktop. two connectx cards and dac cable will let you run at full speed line speed as well. To get even more nitty gritty, assign them an IP on a different subnet with no gateway or DNS. then it will only talk to each other, and network traffic wont try to route out that connection.
 

discoeels

Member
May 8, 2013
42
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Doing more reading, this might be impossible:

Make a computer act as a virtual USB device for other equipments

And I've been googling for a while now, and I don't see any adapters or anything to do this.

Maybe the way to do this is on the box I make, use the ethernet port, and on the other end, use a ethernet to usb adapter, and that should work. Using an adapter assuming the actual ethernet port is in use. So basically transferring between pc's over ethernet cable.
Yeah, sadly it's not too easy to DIY a USB DAS unless you somehow have an add-on card that supports it. You could with an R-PI and linux though.
 

tabby27

New Member
Jun 29, 2020
25
7
3
Yeah, sadly it's not too easy to DIY a USB DAS unless you somehow have an add-on card that supports it. You could with an R-PI and linux though.
Thanks yes. I think I'm giving up on this effort. Maybe I'll check out the linux way someday. Seems like a headache. Hopefully someone makes an addon card.
 

oneplane

Active Member
Jul 23, 2021
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Windows doesn’t support this. On Linux you can do this with any OTG/Gadget-capable USB controller. You’d set this up with something like LIO. The same can be done with FireWire, Thunderbolt etc. Most of this can be done from macOS hosts too.
 
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WANg

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Jun 10, 2018
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I've been building these storage boxes for a while now, but what I really want to try next is a windows based NAS. Meaning, I use a regular motherboard, and all those regular parts, but somehow, I can connect it to another pc using a REGULAR usb cable (ideally usb3.2). And the NAS shows up like a regular external USB drive and I just transfer files.

The only part I am confused by is I think I need a special USB port or adapter, that will allow this. You can't just connect to pc's with a USB cable and just transfer files. What is this hardware I will need?

Once I have that figured out, I'll use some software to make it boot up without a monitor and it will be a super minimal windows pc. I've done this with music applications before, where it boots directly into a music app and you just plug in your keyboard and play. But this USB issue, I am confused. Thanks!

edit...forget the NAS name (network attached). I'm not trying to have it be network attached. It is more of a DAS, but with USB.
...how is it a NAS (network attached storage) if it doesn't use a network device?

Also, look for a USB cable that has a Prolific PL27A1 or OTI OT730 host-host bridge chip - that would get you USB 3.0 (~4.8Gbps) peer-to-peer transfers in Windows.
 
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oneplane

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Jul 23, 2021
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...how is it a NAS (network attached storage) if it doesn't use a network device?

Also, look for a USB cable that has a Prolific PL27A1 or OTI OT730 host-host bridge chip - that would get you USB 3.0 (~4.8Gbps) peer-to-peer transfers in Windows.
Keep in mind those don’t present as mass storage devices and require interactive applications on both sides. An ethernet cable would make more sense :)
 

WANg

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Jun 10, 2018
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Keep in mind those don’t present as mass storage devices and require interactive applications on both sides. An ethernet cable would make more sense :)
Well, the premise of the thread is broken to begin with - starting with conflating one concept (a network attached storage device) with something else completely different. Sounds like the OP was looking for something more akin to targeted disk mode on Macs, which as a feature does not exist on normal x64 PC side of things to begin with. Furthermore, targeted disk mode is a firmware feature which bypasses whatever restrictions the OS had on the filesystem (since you'll have to reboot your Mac, hold down, what, Command+T to get into it, and it's an EFI firmware feature - MacOS is not active while this is running). Not quite the kind of thing you want your "NAS" to do.
 

oneplane

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Jul 23, 2021
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Well, the premise of the thread is broken to begin with - starting with conflating one concept (a network attached storage device) with something else completely different. Sounds like the OP was looking for something more akin to targeted disk mode on Macs, which as a feature does not exist on normal x64 PC side of things to begin with. Furthermore, targeted disk mode is a firmware feature which bypasses whatever restrictions the OS had on the filesystem (since you'll have to reboot your Mac, hold down, what, Command+T to get into it, and it's an EFI firmware feature - MacOS is not active while this is running). Not quite the kind of thing you want your "NAS" to do.
It is indeed a DAS, not a NAS. On top of that: Windows has nothing to do with DAS. Nor does the concept of a 'server', it's actually a client device in a DAS-perspective and not even a host :D

We could make a real big mess out of this:

- Put linux on a server
- Put a virtual windows install on that
- Add CDC Ethernet or LIO USB OTG Mass Storage Gadget
- Add udev rules to pause the windows VM on USB hotplug, start LIO and on unplug, stop LIO and start Windows VM

Technically you'd then have what what described in the first post, practically it would be very weird and not all that helpful. You could also do USB CDC Ethernet, add a DHCP server and do SMB3 from Windows over a shared C: drive. Still not very helpful, but technically it would be USB :p

Perhaps we should ask what the actual goal was here, so far I've only found "building for the sake of building".
 
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