Before going on to shopping, make sure that you have your modem’s IP address on hand. It could be 192.168.1.1, 10.0.0.2 or 126.96.36.199. Jot it down somewhere; we will need it later on.
Depending on the hardware available in your electronics store, you can either purchase a Network Attached Storage (NAS) drive with or without a hard disk inside. If the drive is without a hard disk, it is called a NAS enclosure. I will go with this one, since it will cover all the basics. Of course, going with the one already having a hard disk is easier. One of the NAS disks I have at home is Thermaltake’s Muse, so in the article I will explain everything about this one. Yours may be different in shape, but be sure that the configuration is the same. You can find NAS enclosures below $100 at Amazon.com.
Second, we need a switch, because we will be setting up connections. You can purchase an 8-port switch for your home needs. Of course you can go for 5-port if you do not have a large number of networked clients. Anyway, let’s stick with the 8-port one.
Third, we need at least two Ethernet cables.
Fourth, for the enclosure we will need a hard disk. Check what the enclosure supports. Mine supports only IDE disks, yours will possibly support SATA disks. Choose freely, do not stop, go for the highest capacity that fits in your budget. You will thank me later.
After spotting your shopping items, be absolutely sure that they all have Gigabit Ethernet capability in all connections. A chain is only as strong as its weakest point: If you have everything in Gigabit speed, but your cable capacity is slower, then your network will work as fast as the cable’s speed. You can select the hardware easily by checking out the box: It will either read something like “Gigabit Ethernet Port" or “10/100/1000 Mbit". Go and pay for the goodies.
Now, so we don't have to bother ourselves at home, head over to the customer support in the shop. Tell them that you will hook the NAS drive to your network and ask for information on configuring it with a static IP address. Do not let the NAS disk act as a DHCP Server, since the results will definitely be annoying. Tell the customer support personnel that you want a static IP address. S/he will ask you your network’s IP Address. Take out the sheet where you have noted your modem’s IP address in the beginning. Tell him/her that you want your disk to have an address like 192.168.1.200 (or 10.0.0.200 or 188.8.131.52 depending on your network).
A note for the BrightHub readers: separate your IP addresses so that the computers have something like 192.168.1.2, ..1.3, ..1,4 … and your disks are 1.200, 1.201, 1.202 … This will make your network tidy. You can place a networked printer at ..1.150 and you will be able to keep track.
When she is done, ask her to format the disk and get it ready for plugging in.