It's been 6 months since I installed FreeNAS and it really has been like an appliance. I back up my machine and my wife's machine with just a few batch files, based on robocopy. I could get fancy with remote backup tools and so forth, but simple works.
I've been calling it $51 Server . It started out as a white box pc that that I had custom built by MWave a few years back. I had needed a Netware box for some Sybase Adaptive Server Anywhere testing and we bought a Dell Server with Novell Netware 5 on it. It's an interesting story of how I ended up with that box, but if you want to skip the story, just jump here.
Netware was installed, but it needed to be configured. The first thing it asked for was it's designation. I considered naming it "One", but precious few would have caught the reference. Usually when I get a server, I'll ask a random co-worker for the first one word that comes to mind. I was talking to one our tech support staff and his word was "pumpkin".
This bugged our IT manager to no end. Normally, IT handles all of our server installs, and the server gets the name of some sort of predator. Since I was the only one who knew Netware (which was a scary thought on many levels), the care and feeding of Netware box was my responsibility.
Getting back to Pumpkin. After running it for a week, we had a somewhat urgent need for another Windows 2000 Server for a temporary remote access situation. I wiped Pumpkin clean and IT installed Windows 2000 Server and named it Viper.
Temporary turned into permanent (about 6 years at this point) and I still needed a Netware box. And of course, we did't have any more money in our budget for another server. But we did have enough money to have a cheap whitebox built. So for a couple of hundred, we got a Celaron 1ghz box with 256MB memory and a 20GB drive. Video and sound were on the motherboard and we had a 3Com ethernet card that had outlived it's prior owner. Using the usual method of selecting a server name, one of the QA people volunteered "moo" as the name. She likes cows and it was short enough that you could easily type it with one hand with moving the hand.
Moo lasted 5 years without issues. We used it test Sybase and it did was asked. Our support for Sybase ended last fall and so ended our need for dedicated Netware Server. The company sold it to me for $1. I spent $50 on a 250GB hard drive and installed FreeNAS on it.
So for the whopping sum of $51, I have a NAS box that is completely managed by a simple web interface.