Question Could an old phone be set up as network attached storage?

GunsMadeAmericaFree

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Jan 23, 2007
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I was wondering if an old Android phone might be able to be set up as network attached storage? It would essentially have no/low cost, have the wifi built in, screen built in, and use very little power when on. I'm wondering if a drive might even be hooked up to it. Since Android is really a version of Linux, I was wondering if this sort of thing might work as a really inexpensive way to add storage to a system. Thanks if you have any experience with this!
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
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Considering that most phones under $500, have less internal storage than a $10-20 flash drive, and they have to be re-charged to use, and generally aren't designed for networked file-sharing or server duty, I would personally consider that to be a Bad Idea.

That's not to say that their ARM processor couldn't handle server duty, indeed, many NAS units do have ARM-based CPUs inside. Likewise, if you were going to do this, why not use "real Linux" on a Rasberry-PI, and set one of those up as a NAS? There are even pre-made distros for this usage, and you can just plug it into the wall, without needing to tend to a battery, and plug in a USB external HDD. (Or internal, with the right USB adapter or casing.)
 

GunsMadeAmericaFree

Senior member
Jan 23, 2007
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Considering that most phones under $500, have less internal storage than a $10-20 flash drive, and they have to be re-charged to use, and generally aren't designed for networked file-sharing or server duty, I would personally consider that to be a Bad Idea.

That's not to say that their ARM processor couldn't handle server duty, indeed, many NAS units do have ARM-based CPUs inside. Likewise, if you were going to do this, why not use "real Linux" on a Rasberry-PI, and set one of those up as a NAS? There are even pre-made distros for this usage, and you can just plug it into the wall, without needing to tend to a battery, and plug in a USB external HDD. (Or internal, with the right USB adapter or casing.)
I have several old phones lying around, and I also have half a dozen 480GB USB external SSD drives that I picked up from walmart for $15 each. (not to mention numerous cheap micro SD cards)

I was just wondering if I might be able to use these without having to spend much more cash to make some files that I hosted locally on it easily accessible online, that's all.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
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I have several old phones lying around, and I also have half a dozen 480GB USB external SSD drives that I picked up from walmart for $15 each. (not to mention numerous cheap micro SD cards)

I was just wondering if I might be able to use these without having to spend much more cash to make some files that I hosted locally on it easily accessible online, that's all.
That's quite the deal on those external SSDs from Walmart. :)

Anyways, they make these little boxes, call them a "micro-NAS", I guess. Much like using a Rasberry PI and a NAS distro on an SD / micro-SD card, and plugged in an external USB disk, and serving it up, they function the same way, except with fixed NAS firmware.

Basically, a little box/dongle, with a barrel plug or USB micro-B, for power-in, an ethernet jack, and a USB(3? hopefully) Type-A host socket. You would configure it like a router, with a web browser over your LAN.

Smaller, cheaper, and slightly less functional than a full-blown NAS box with drive bays, slightly less complex to assemble than a Rasberry PI setup.

I don't know who still makes those sorts of things, though. PogoPlug (And the Seagate equivalent) was one of them, but those are obsolete now.

Maybe the market for the standalone "micro-NAS" device has dried up, seeing how popular the Rasberry PI solution is, and how much more versatile that one is.
 

VirtualLarry

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Aug 25, 2001
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The other thing that has killed off the "micro-NAS dongle" market, is the prevalence of routers these days with gigabit or better LAN ports, and one or two USB3.0 ports on them.

You might look into getting a cheap (probably AC1200-ish) router, with one or two USB3.0 ports on it, and plug the external SSDs into the router, and configure it over the LAN.

Obviously, you would configure the networking to be standalone, disable DHCP, DNS, set a static IP, disable wifi if you don't want it to be an additional AP on your LAN.

You might be able to find one on a good sale for $30-40, new.
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
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To answer the OP:

You would need several things to do so with a phone:
1) A USB-to-USB-OnTheGo cable, specifically modified to allow charging the phone AT THE SAME TIME (not normally part of the spec).
2) An app on the phone, that implemented server-side SMB protocol. There are a few file managers that support SMB, but I don't know if they serve files (server side), or just access them (client side).
3) GL with the battery not failing in short order, trickle-charging constantly.

You would probably have to do this over the phone's built-in Wifi, unless you used the USB OtG cable, to connect a USB hub, and from there, the USB external disk, as well as a USB ethernet dongle. This would need to be a self-powered hub.
 
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VirtualLarry

No Lifer
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Since Android is really a version of Linux
Android is NOT "a version of Linux" as far as a distro goes. It uses the Linux kernel, but not the Linux Userspace or AFAIK "LFSS" (Linux File-System Standard). Whether that technically make it Linux, because Linux is mostly just the kernel, I can't say for certain, that would be splitting hairs and I don't have that level of expertise.

I do know, that without some further support, I DON'T believe that you can simply "run Linux programs" on a native stock Android system.

It wouldn't surprise me, though, if someone ported SAMBA to AOSP (open-source Android Platform) though. You might be able to get that going on a phone.
 
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mxnerd

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Jul 6, 2007
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ARM based NAS suggested by VL is much better.

--

Android is client device OS, not a server OS. It's doable but absolutely not ideal. Like VL has said, you also need on-the go cable and your android phone also need to support on-the-go. Most old phones don't have it.

You also have to keep it from sleeping. Don't know if your old phone has the feature, or if you can find APPs that can keep the phone awake.


If you insist using Android, a TV box running Android is a better choice.

=

And if you really care about power usage and all you do is media streaming, and also don't want to deal with ARM, a used Intel Compute Stick might be for you. But the stick could be hot and performance also could be abysmal, I guess.
 

GunsMadeAmericaFree

Senior member
Jan 23, 2007
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Ah, the pogoplug. I had one of those, got it on sale for about 10 bucks. Would have worked great for something like this, but they locked it down so that you had to use their website, which went down.

>>If you insist using Android, a TV box running Android is a better choice.
Hmm, I actually DO have a couple of those lying around - for a while I was upgrading about every 12 months to a better box.... Wish I could replace the Android on one of those with something like GalliumOS....
 

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