I'm debating between building a small server and buying a 2 bay NAS. I really just need the capabilities of a NAS like the synology but this would end up being cheaper. anyone buying this who is in my shoes?
I have an E-350 that I use for a file server.
I looked at the straight up mini NAS enclosures but most only supported 2 drives and cost more than an E-350 setup (I paid about $120 for an E-350 w/4gb DDR3 about a year ago).
I prefer having the E-350 over the NAS because it does give some added features. I have Ubuntu running on it and while 90% of the time it's only used as a File Server i also run anything I need going 24/7 on it. I have an IRC client/script, a small FTP server, etc. If i need to torrent something (legally!) i'll do it from there as it's going to save directly to the file server anyway. I mean at the end of the day a NAS would probably work but given the costs i'm happy having something a bit more robust and expandible.
The downside is an E-350 would also require a case, power supply, etc. and to be on the safe side hooked up to a monitor in case the remote goes down. I just have it hooked into my main monitor on the VGA port and swap over in the rare cases when an update hangs or something. A NAS of course is plug and play in most cases but is a lot less flexible.
Speed wise the E-350 works perfectly for this sort of application, i've never seen it really bog down or anything. I don't having it actually playing media though.. it just hosts the file and the actual playback is handled by a media player.