Matt’s Talk on VOIP and
setting up a home File Server
I’m a self confessed geek who
generally likes playing around with
Matthew Smith, works for big blue and is a certified IT Architect.
Note all content is my personal opinion and not that of my employer.
Why would I be interested? – Cost Savings
How does it work?
What do I need to run it?
Cheap easy trial
All out install
Mega geeky install or SOHO
Things to watch out for
Should you get an inbound number..?
Inbounds are tied to your provider ie can’t move..
Resources for more info
Our example - 2 phone lines. When i work from home i need to be able to distinguish the 200 calls
per day my wife receives from the 3 or 4 work calls :-)
2 x $27 rental and 1 x $20 mobile = $74
+ approx 120 local calls @ 17.5c = $21
Calls to mobiles approx $30
and then STD calls to family approx 30@$2.50 $75
Total approx $200 but varies between $190 - $220
1 x $18 line rental 1 x $20 mobile = $38
GoTalk $20 plan which gives me $15 worth of calls with 1 inbound number so don't need two lines
Approx 150 calls @ 10c = $15
Calls to mobiles approx $30
Total $88 (Including $5 effective rental from gotalk)
Saving per month approx $112..!
VOIP – Voice Over IP
ATA – Analog Telephone Adaptors, box that plugs into your network on
one side and a phone on the other.
Softphone – Similar concept to the ATA but runs as software on your
VSP – Voice Service Provider, the company that provides the VOIP
PSTN – Public Switched Telephone Network (ie a normal phone line)
Broadband – Highspeed internet, much faster than using the older dial
Router – The box most people have which connects them to broadband
Skype – Well known VSP great for free computer to computer calls, but
call rates to land lines are not so competitive. Also doesn’t use standard
codecs so cannot use standard ATA’s.
How does it work..?
Surprisingly the same as most mobile phones
Take your analogue voice and digitises it and then
send it via a carrier.. Mobile phones use GSM and
VOIP uses IP network.. Hence Voice Over IP.
So instead of the phone breaking up your
voice and sending it over the air, VOIP breaks
it up and sends it over the internet.
So if you can use a mobile you can use VOIP..
As for call quality.. Generally similar to a
mobile phone call. Like mobiles though it can
FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)
Can I call normal phones – Yes
Can I get rid of my normal phone – Kinda
No number portability
Codec – Software for the conversion of analogue (voice) to digital.
Most commonly used in Australia are 729a and 711a
729a – Good compressed with some minor sacrifice of quality. Some
ability to deal with network data loss.
711a – No compression, best voice quality but uses significant
bandwidth and not good with data loss.
Codec Approx Approx
required per used in 1 hour
729a *31kbps 14Mb
711a *87kbps 40Mb
*Note Kilobits per second ie same measure as your broadband ie 256/64
Resources for more information
Whirlpool VOIP Forums
Dial plan Generator for SPA-3000
Excellent step by step guide to SPA-3000
What do I need to give it a go?
This is the cheapest and most simple way of
Broadband internet connection
Cheap $15 headset from Harvey Norman or Dick
Skype and purchase of some credit on SkypeOut
An account with a VSP (ie $10)
Free Softphone software.
Requires a PC to use it.
Not much good for in coming calls as the
computer needs to be on 24x7 and you
need to be near it.
Acceptable call quality but not generally as
good as a dedicated ATA
Able to select a range of VSP’s and obtain
good cost savings, particularly for STD and
Basic VOIP - Setup
Ok, you have trialled it and are happy so
now its time to get serious.
The aim is to integrate it into your home
so that when anyone picks up the normal
phone it’s going out via VOIP.
Also incoming calls ring on the same
Integrated - Setup
A good quality router is highly
Router with good quality QoS (Quality of
Why do I need it..? When you use your
internet connection for uploading/
downloading files unless you have QoS
your VOIP calls are going to get broken up.
Most routers provided by ISP’s have fairly
limited QoS capability…
A good quality router will cost around $200.
Integrated - ATA
An ATA connects to your network on one
side and your phone on the other.
Good quality phone calls.
Most are programmable so you can have
mobile phones go to one VSP and STD to
another and local to another. Allowing you
to mix and match. Unless yours is locked
then you are tied to a single VSP…
Go with a ‘locked ATA’?
There are companies like Engin who
offer a complete VOIP service, however
that only applies if you accept a locked
Benefit, is that its plug-in and up and
running good support.
Downfall is that you cannot add other
VSP or customise the configuration at all
and typically comes with a monthly fee.
Asterisk software PABX feature
Redirection to extension based on the
Full call monitoring and reporting
More information here http://www.asterisk.org/features
Advanced - Typical setup
Offers excellent features and zero cost
Whilst there is some excellent “How To
Guides” does take reasonable computer
skills to get up and running.
Does require a dedicated pc to run on and
needs to be on 24x7.
Excellent way of deploying VOIP if you are
going to have multiple handsets as the
handset simply plugs into your network.
Some models even come with a mini
network switch so you can plug your PC into
Multiple ATA’s and phones, usually the
more expensive option but does allow
you to connect any normal phone.
Home File Server
Why would I be interested?
Protecting important files from disk failure
Share files / printers without having to leave all the
computers on all the time.
How does it work?
Linux / Samba (Compared with Windows Server)
Networking, wired and wireless
Backups? (Using Windows backup and DVD’s)
Networking / File Server Terms
RAID – Redundant Array of Inexpensive
Disks. Typically used to provide data
protection if one of the drives fail.
Network Switch – Device to allow
multiple Ethernet devices to connect
NAS – Network attached storage
NAS – Easy inexpensive option
NAS Devices are small and robust,
whilst they won’t have the performance
of a dedicated server, they are affordable
and easy to manage.
Generally only support a single drive.
Some have aftermarket firmware
allowing limited support for RAID.
Pricing generally around $200-$300
After a period of time all disks WILL fail. RAID
provides redundancy in the event of a failure.
RAID 1 mirrors two disks, in the event that one
fails the other still has 100% of the data. Mirror
= 50% overhead.
RAID 5 stripes data over the disks so that any
single drive failure won’t loose data. More
economical as only a single disk is lost for
redundancy ie 4 disks, 1 redundant therefore
Hardware v’s Software RAID
Hardware RAID is done via a dedicated
card added to the computer, cards with a
dedicated RAID processor typically cost
Software RAID means that the computer
has to do all the calculations for RAID.
This typically doesn’t perform as well,
however doesn’t cost anything above the
Looking after the disks
Heat is the enemy of hard drives,
keeping them cool will significantly
improve their life expectancy.
Make sure you keep a flow of air over
the drives, when you stack more 2-3 in a
case they generate a lot of heat. It’s as
easy and cheap as a $5 computer fan
and some silicon
Linux V’s Windows for Server
Linux = Free..!!!!
Linux has lots and lots and lots of HowTo’s and free information
on the internet. Great community that’s generally happy to help
Linux easy to install these days.
Linux runs well on old computers.
Linux has software RAID 5 included. (So does Windows 2003
Setting up SAMBA (File and printer shares for Windows) is still
harder than Windows networking.
Linux generally just runs and runs and runs… Server running for
6 months without reboot is common.
Webmin is a web based interface that will make managing and
configuring the server much easier.
Hardware for a Linux File Server
Basically any old computer. For RAID5 I’d
recommend a Pentium 500 minimum with
256Mb of RAM. (Can be built with
significantly lower spec’s but performance will
suffer) Note old computer, but NEW drives..!
I also like to add a Gigabit Ethernet card which
is helps if multiple people are playing video
from the server at the same time.
Eventually you will accidentally delete a
file or suffer from a disk failure or
Windows XP comes with MS Backup Free.
Also plenty of low cost options available.
Schedule it to backup the network volume to
your local computer on a regular basis
Copy the backup onto DVD’s for safe
keeping, make sure good quality DVD’s
For the average home network a 100Mb
switch is fine. If you want to be able to move
large amounts of files ie 100Gb then consider
going with a Gb ethernet switch.
Without Gb network you will be limited to
backup to DVD at 6x unless you copy the files
over the network to your computer first.
A Gigabit switch costs around $200 and a
Gigabit network card is approx $50. Most new
computers come with a Gb networking.
Generally pretty easy
Check your channel is clear before using
it otherwise you may suffer reduced
distances and drop outs etc. Network
Stumbler is an excellent free tool.
My approach is to use layers, anything single
approach isn’t enough.
Things I’d recommend
Change the default admin password on your
MAC filtering, whilst this can be ‘spoofed’ I’ve never
seen anyone actually do it. It’s a good start.
Encryption using WEP or WPA. WPA is better but
some computers will not have support. If using
WEP make sure your key is long and complex.
Hiding SSID, don’t bother causes problems with
getting pc’s to connect and doesn’t help security.
From my home there are 3 other wireless networks in range, 2 are not secured.!!
Should I enable user accounts on the file
server or not?
Simple answer would you care if someone
got access to those files?
Particularly if you go with wireless ensure
your network is locked down. That way if
someone does get into the network they
won’t gain access to your files.
I also restrict access ie the kids can view
movies but not delete or move etc.
Converting DVD’s to files
Why..? Means the discs don’t get lost /
damaged. With compression my server
can store 100’s of movies.
Kids don’t fight over the latest DVD.
Opensource / Freeware available to ‘rip’
the DVD. This is now legal in Australia
as long as you own the original.
VLC Great free player also has inbuilt
How to play movies over the
Media PC – Connected to a TV or Projector
Full PC includes a full range of options. Can even
get PC’s in small cases the size of a VCR now.
If you have an Xbox they support streaming of
movies over the network
Dedicated box for reading network drives and
playing movies / music to the tv / stereo.
2.4Ghz Antenna to beam from computer to TV
The brave knight slayed (well almost) the evil
telecommunications Dragon who was stealing
from the hard working peasants. Then with the
gold the villagers game him, he setup a home
theatre that was enjoyed by all those in the