Having taken you on a brief journey of building your own NAS I think there are a few crucial reflections I want to share with you, in case you need any more persuading or dissuading as to whether this might be right for you.
Firstly, I think it is fair to say that component selection is crucial to any DIY NAS build. Throughout my build process it has been evident that choosing quality components gives you a quality build. The quality SilverStone power supply has allowed for solid power consumption figures and the peace of mind of knowing I have all the relevant power circuitry protections if someone goes wrong. The sound-proofed SilverStone PS09B case has allowed the build to be quiet but also discrete, the only minor blemish on an otherwise excellent budget chassis is the lack of cable management options which could be achieved by getting a larger case or a modular power supply with shorter cables (such as SilverStone’s PP05-E short PSU cable set for their Strider Series PSUs). I think Western Digital’s Red drives are also stars of the show because they have offered up incredible performance, low power consumption and almost no noise whatsoever which is something that has surprised me having used my trusty (and noisy) Samsung F3s for the past 3-4 years. A lot of the aspects of the quality won’t become evident because a lot of the quality is related to what won’t happen (PSU explosions, rapid component failure, excess power consumption and heat) rather than what you will notice. In this regard I think it is important to be aware of the risks of “cheaping out” on things like hard drives, power supplies and so on.
Secondly, I think it is also fair to say that while a DIY NAS isn’t rocket science, it certainly isn’t for the faint-hearted. Setting up a DIY NAS with something like FreeNAS is a steep learning curve. There is a lot of technical jargon and technical hurdles to be overcome at all stages, in fact the system build is probably the easiest part: which may seem daunting. It is also an iterative process because a few weeks after having used your NAS there are things you want to change and optimise, new ways of configuring volumes, altering permissions, reducing power consumption and so on. I think this is part of the enthusiast experience that you’ll either love or hate – a DIY NAS build is unlikely to be a set-and-forget style build, you will be endlessly tweaking and tuning it as you learn new things. Anyone looking for something that simple and hassle-free is better off looking to pre-built and configured NAS systems like the Western Digital EX2 or EX4 NAS systems (reviews here and here respectively) that even come pre-fitted with hard drives so you pretty much just need to plug and play.
So there you have it: our fairly in-depth DIY NAS build guide for enthusiasts on a modest budget. We hope you have found this guide useful and if you do have any questions then please post them in the comments below. We welcome and encourage all feedback, comments and criticisms as well as suggestions for improvement in future NAS guides. We will likely revisit the DIY NAS idea at a later date so please stay tuned for that!
Thank you to AMD, ASRock, Kingston Technology, SilverStone Technology and Western Digital for providing the components to make this build guide possible. I’d also like to say a big thank you to those companies again for their patience in awaiting the completion of this guide as I have struggled on through my university degree finals!