Home Server Project #4 .: Connect a Pi to external USB storage and create a cheap and cheerful NAS device via SSH Filesystem (SSHFS).
On the client... Install SSHFS and create a mountpoint for the remote filesystem:
$ sudo apt-get install sshfs $ mkdir ~/NAS
Mount the Pi-hosted remote filesystem (example: ip_address:192.168.1.88) to the client:
$ sshfs -o idmap=user 192.168.1.88:/media/external_usb_storage ~/NAS
Contents of the remote hard drive now appear as local directories and files on the laptop. Data transfer between server and client is SSH-encrypted.
Use fusermount to detach from the remote storage:
$ fusermount -u ~/NAS
Raspberry Pi + SSHFS is no speed demon but its very usable. On my laptop using a wireless LAN connection I am able to run Rhythmbox playing music and videos in VLC remotely hosted on the Pi.