Our simple share drive is but the tip of the FreeNAS iceberg with regard to features. Options include locking drive access to users and groups, creating recurring snapshots for restoring older copies of files or deleted files entirely, and using the power combination of Dynamic DNS and FTP access to give your offsite workers easy access to the files they need. Now that you've mastered the basics, a world of advanced configurations and scenarios is yours to explore!
If you'd like to use your FreeNAS server as a host for automatic client PC backups, you can choose from any number of commercial and freeware applications to run on those clients. If you're running Windows 7 Professional or higher, you can use the built-in Windows Backup and Restore tool (lower versions won't allow you to back up over a network).
Pull up the app within Windows 7 and click the Set Up Backup link. Select Save on a Network, and use the Browse button to pull up the shared FreeNAS folder you created. If you've already assigned yourself a user account on the FreeNAS server, type in your user name and password; if you haven't, use the default admin user name and password you set up earlier.
You can let Windows choose the files it thinks are the most important and should be backed up, or you can identify specific files and folders yourself. After that, you should be done with picking options. Your backup will start its first run. When it has finished, click the Change Settings link, and create an automated backup schedule.
PCWorld Contributing Editor David Murphy loves finding new ways to use old systems, but his electric bill isn't quite as thrilled about the practice.