Get your PC-based NAS box ready to share
If you plan to convert a PC for your NAS device, you must reconfigure it and define an area to store files in. It will need a keyboard, a mouse, and a display, which may not be practical to attach and use in a closet or other out-of-the-way location. Windows XP's Remote Desktop Connection lets you configure and administer the machine remotely, so you can skip the peripherals -- though the BIOS in some PCs requires that a keyboard be attached unless you change this setting manually. Remote Desktop Connection works with Windows 95 through 2000 as well; go to Microsoft's site for the free download.
If you installed your OS on a small partition and created one or more other partitions for data, XP lets you share files by simply right-clicking a drive icon, choosing Properties, Sharing, and checking Share this folder. Most routers use the default Windows group, named 'MSHome' or 'Workgroup'. If you have renamed yours, you must reset it: In XP right-click My Computer and select Properties; in Vista right-click Computer and click Remote settings. In both versions, select Computer Name, Change and enter the workgroup and computer names.