The eTeknix Guide To Building Your Own NAS System For Under $220

by - 6 years ago

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Final Thoughts


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 AMDASRockKingston TechnologySilverStone 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!

Article Index

  1. Introduction
  2. Choosing The Parts & Part Pricing
  3. Building The NAS
  4. Installing The Operating System
  5. Configuring The NAS For Use
  6. BIOS Tweaking, Performance and Power Consumption
  7. Final Thoughts
  8. View All

Author Bio

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12 Comments on The eTeknix Guide To Building Your Own NAS System For Under $220

  • Avatar conservative61 says:

    Forgive my ignorance, but what is the purpose of a NAS? We use cable broadband with WIFI in the house; all or computers have SSDs and/or HDDs. It appears a NAS is basically a local cloud storage system. My wife and I have three desktops, two laptops, two tablets (with WIFI only), and one smartphone. So what advantages would a home NAS offer that the “old fashioned” way lacks? I’m just looking to increase my fund of knowledge and know this is a great place to do so.

    • Avatar AndyM says:

      The benefit of a NAS is always on connectivity so any computer can access the data.

      For example to get something from your main computer to another PC would require having your main computer on when the file is needed.

      A NAS is designed for 24/7 access so you don’t have to go and switch a specific PC on for say a single file. Also, a NAS can be set up for low power consumption (as in this article) so it doesn’t run up a big electric bill.
      Your typical PC will consume much more power as you wouldn’t throttle the CPU/GPU every time you boot up to share a file whereas a NAS would be set up for low power mode all the time.

      My main PC uses around 150w just idling due to the fact it has a GPU, multiple fans, sound card, usb devices and a dvd drive. A NAS will have unnecessary devices disabled to save even more power.

    • Avatar Ryan Martin says:

      Yes pretty much what Andy says below. It’s effectively a centralised form of storage that all computers can access, it doesn’t have to be “always on” but that’s normally the easiest way to make sure it is always accessible to everyone. The idea behind a NAS is that it is designed primarily for mediating access to storage but obviously there are a lot of things you can do with this storage. You can set up internet gateways so you can access it when you’re away from your home network, you could host a website off it, you could use it to stream music, films, TV shows, photos. You could use it as the destination for automated backups from your laptops/PCs in the house. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination really. In most cases people will just use it as somewhere to dump large files when their device is low on storage. E.g. I use a tablet with only 32GB of storage, really difficult for me to store films on it but it is really easy for me to stream films onto it from my NAS. Hope this helps.

  • Avatar conservative61 says:

    Thank you, Gentleman. That was very enlightening. I can easily see advantages over our current system. Especially when I offload picks from our cameras and must upload to five computers just so they’ll be available when/if necessary. I’ve owned computers since the old TRS-80 and Commodore days and have been building them since 1991, but I’ve still not joined the 21st century as far as ease and practicality of connectivity; I bought my first cell phone from Walmart last February for $15 and have used it once. But a NAS, thanks to you guys, is something I’d like to do so I’m off to do some research. A new project with lots of benefits.

  • Avatar josephbagadoughnutz says:

    hey yall, welcome to the new century !!!

  • Avatar josephbagadoughnutz says:

    hey, good one, $220, a NAS with no NAS

  • Avatar Steve says:

    Gents thanks for the great write-up. One question; what do you reckon, would the FM2A88M Extreme4+ mobo be a viable alternative to the one you recommended? My trouble is sourcing all of these from one (decent) place is nigh’ impossible in Australia, and the aforementioned mobo is available (altho it puts the price up a bit, there’s nothing in the price range of the other one)

    • Avatar Ryan Martin says:

      Still a good option Steve. It has Gigabit LAN and 8 SATA ports so there’s plenty of room for expansion, you can have up to 8 drives with it. Remember that you could go even cheaper if you wanted to, it all depends on how many drives you need, for example you could use an AM1 motherboard if you only want to use 2 drives as most AM1 boards still have gigabit LAN. Best of luck!

  • Avatar Dave Wold says:

    Hi i’m new at this where does the black cable from pso9b plug into the motherboard

  • Avatar Roger Griffith says:

    for even less – sleek media center and expandable NAS – works great, super fast on over-clocked raspberry pi b+ http://www.ebay.com/itm/xbmc-Portable-Media-Center-Expandable-NAS-/171709257100?

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