Network Attached Storage

DIY NAS: what you should know before you begin

by Isaac K.
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Today, the average computer user has more need than ever for increased and expandable storage space for hundreds of Gigabytes of media files such as high-definition movies and music. To enhance security, many less savvy users prefer to keep all their hard drives in a single location. However, there is a more straightforward, far more sophisticated solution to the problem. Sooner or later, many users discover the power of Network Attached Storage (NAS). There is a large variety of commercial NAS devices and brands to choose from, for example, Raspberry Pi. You can also choose to implement your own customized DIY NAS server where you can host your media and work files quickly and securely. Let’s look at the factors to consider before building your own Raspberry Pi NAS.

Why you should consider a DIY NAS solution

  1. NAS servers that you build from scratch are usually much cheaper than going for a full scale dedicated NAS device, which will be expensive.
  2. The custom NAS server that you build yourself will contain custom components and hardware that outperforms any commercially available NAS devices in terms of price, storage space, performance, and speed.

Advantages of DIY NAS

  1. You can put together a system that is more powerful and packed with more features than most of the commercially available NAS devices.
  2. You get better value for your money when you purchase custom components and assemble them into the finished device.
  3. You can configure your custom DIY NAS server based on your unique requirements.
  4. When setting up your own DIY NAS device, it is possible to leave space or options for future upgrades and enhancements, unlike dedicated NAS servers.

Factors to consider before building your own NAS

  1. Storage – as always, this is the critical factor determining your overall NAS design. How much space would you like to use? It is best to start with smaller sizes of mechanical drives in the range of 1-2TB. You can combine these with an enhanced 250GB SSD hard drive. When building your NAS, remember to set up hard drives in a RAID design. This makes the disks redundant and keeps you from losing everything on the NAS in case one disk fails. In a RAID configuration, four 2-TB hard drives offer 4TB of capacity.
  2. RAM – The essential aspects of RAM in a NAS are capacity and speed of operation. It is best to pick RAM from 8GB and above. This is sufficient to sustain most NAS tasks, including streaming. The motherboard you select should be directly compatible with the RAM. 
  3. Power supply – Be sure to get a power supply that is backed by certification and branding. Cabling for the power supply should be modular to minimize clutter inside the casing. Your NAS is not likely to consume more than 500W. This leaves space for future upgrades in combination with a GPU.
  4. Casing – when building your NAS system, remember to keep space utilization to a minimum to allow the future installation of new drives and components. You should buy a case that can fit three or more disks. You should also consider the cooling for the casing.
  5. CPU – CPU options can be either Intel or AMD, which are two of the most popular in the market. Some chips are excellent for regular file and media storage, but you will need more powerful CPUs for multi-user optimization and streaming activities.

Conclusion

Building your DIY NAS device can be a fun and enlightening experience. You will end up with a custom NAS device that runs better than most commercial models and offers more features.

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