Pooling Networked Computers Unused Disk Space?

By Analyticus ·
Environment : Windows Server 2003, R2, Windows XP Pro/7 Mixed Clients

I have several machines (clients) on my network with some healthy storage space available because all the client files are being stored at the server for security and backup purposes.

I'd like to somehow use the available disk space on the networked clients as storage space accessible to everyone on the network - I guess it would be like virtual storage(?)

Let's say I have 25 computers with 500GB drives on them and each machine is using 20 GB of that drive to store files relative to the client/OS itself. The remainder of the space is unused; so I have 12,000 GB of space unused on my network. However, if my server were to run out of space, I have to go buy another drive to increase it's capacity. Why not use the 11 TB of storage available on my networked clients?

Is there a way to do that?

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In theory

by robo_dev In reply to Pooling Networked Compute ...

that would work great, but keep in mind that a PC does not have a redundant power supply, a UPS, or a RAID storage array to protect the data. Nor is the PC usually installed in server rack in a climate controlled server room, nor is the hard drive typically backed up. Also, don't forget that when a PC is powered-off or sitting in standby mode, it's disk capacity would be offline as well.

There are also the users who download viruses and I've even seen some users who are not too gentle on the hardware, carrying their laptop balanced on one hand, etc.

From a technical standpoint this would be entirely possible to do, but I think the cure would be worse than the disease from a practicality and support standpoint.

This week I bought a 500 GB hard drive, and it cost $34.95...I don't think any cost savings would offset the additional support costs and hassle involved. Of course I could be wrong.....

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and unexpected shutdowns, security, etc.

by oldbaritone In reply to Pooling Networked Compute ...

I'll second robo_dev's opinion - technically possible, but risky, unpredictable and unreliable in the "real world." Storage is so cheap that the only practical solution is to add a drive to the server.

OTOH, some of the capacity and storage space could be used as a virtual supercomputer, such as SETI@home. It takes a huge task, sub-divides it, and sends pieces out to volunteer participants who share their capacity and storage to help solve the gargantuan processing challenge. But there are redundancies and fault tolerance built-in to that system to address the issues we've discussed. If you have a computing application that needs large amounts of temporary storage and processing power, and can be broken down into small chunks, consider their model:

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