Setting Up A Low Cost NAS Using Tomato
In this post I’ll describe the steps needed to setup a low cost NAS using the Tomato firmware on the Asus 520gu. This should work with Asus 500 as well.
If you have no idea what a NAS is, think of it as a shared storage device within your home network that you can access via an ip address to store and retrieve documents, wirelessly. If you and your wife/girlfriend/partner have two separate computers, you could store, say vacation photos in this shared storage. This device would appear as a folder/drive on both a Mac and a PC. You can simply drag and drop files to it.
What you need:
A note about our homebrew NAS…
I’m going to tell what most don’t about setting up a USB Wifi NAS. It is pretty cool to put to good use your spare usb drive or external harddisk. But don’t expect blazing speeds.
Storing files, documents, music, photos are fine. But if you are thinking of doing a hard drive backup or store full length videos, the speeds may not be acceptable.
But don’t let that discourage you! It is still pretty cool! We use it as a back up storage device for our photos and serves that purpose pretty well!
Formatting the USB drive
Tomato supports these filesystems:
When you buy a hard drive, it is most likely formatted to FAT32 since most operating systems support it without having to install additional drivers.
So why pick another filesystem?
FAT32 is by Microsoft! If that doesn’t convince you, you have a file size limitation of 4GB, plus FAT32 provides no security and in general quite inefficient.
FAT16. Don’t even consider it! This was the standard used by old MS DOS OS.
EXT2 is mostly used by Linux Operating Systems. Neither Windows nor Mac can read EXT2 drives natively
EXT3 is EXT2 with journalling enabled. Without the technobabble, that means EXT3 helps prevents file corruption in case of an non graceful system shutdown (if you simply pull the USB drive out without unmounting it first)
EXT3 is most preferred. But the disadvantage is once formatted to this format, you can’t plug in your USB drive to your PC or Mac and try to read or write files. You need a Linux system to do that. (There are ways to get PCs and Macs recognize EXT2/EXT3 drives, but that involves additional work).
The biggest advantage of FAT32 is most drives come preformatted to this format. You can plug in the USB drive to your Mac or PC and you will be able to see this drive as another mount point.
What I’ve done is partitioned my old Seagate 160GB hard drive to both FAT32 and EXT3. They now appear as two mount points on both Windows and Mac.
If all this is too technical, just plug in darn drive into the ASUS router! Chances are that it’ll just work!
Set up Tomato on the Asus router
In the admin screen goto USB and NAS
Your config should look like the screenshot above with the exception of Attached Devices. Don’t attach the USB device yet. Save the configuration above and restart the router. Now, come back to this screen and you should see your storage device listed.
If the device shows up as not mounted, make sure the hard drive is formatted to either FAT or EXT and not HFS+ (Mac) or NTFS(XP). Both are not supported and the hard drive will have to be reformatted. Restart the router with the USB drive plugged in. Check this screen, the device should show up as mounted.
If you’ve gotten this far, you are almost there! Getting the device to mount is usually the biggest hurdle. Now using telnet login to 192.168.1.1:
Connected to davinci.
Escape character is '^]'.
davinci login: root
Tomato v1.23.8615 ND USB
BusyBox v1.12.3 (2009-01-28 23:18:53 EST) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.
root@davinci:/tmp/home/root# cd /mnt
disc0_1 and disc0_2 are the partitions in my USB drive. If you have only one partition, you’ll see only one disc. Note down this info.
Go to File Sharing under USB and NAS. Enter the info as in this screenshot below:
For each directory under /mnt, give a share name and description and save. Set the code page and workgroup name (Windows default is workgroup). Set the access level to Read/Write. Save.
Now on a Mac:
Goto Go..Connect to Server
You will now be displayed the mount points and your share will appear under ‘Shared’ in Finder!
On a PC:
Your shares should appear automatically in Network Neighborhood with the share name you specified
Now you drag and drop files to your NAS device over a wifi network. Pretty cool huh?!
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