Custom NAS

Creating Your Own Custon Network Attached Storage Solution

A basic instructional into the process of building your custom network attached storage drive, and what it entails.

Episode #4-24 released on March 2, 2014

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Creating a custom NAS drive is not a cake walk. It is often simpler just to buy a ready made NAS drive that we connect on our networks, and follow a manual, but some of us are going to be up to the challenge of building our own NAS drives, and today I will be explaining what you need to start. I'll, also, give you an idea of what it may cost you based on RAID type, and what to expect under various circumstances.

Do you need to use a RAID setup within a NAS drive?

The answer is NO. You can get yourself a pretty big hard drive and use a single drive. Using a single drive means that you have less chance of losing data to a RAID card failure. However, you still need to maintain a back since hard drives fail.

Are RAIDs any good?

Let's say, that under normal circumstances, you don't need one, but you can easily have better data security than through a standard drive setup. The issues are that the drives are no longer portable, and depending on the RAID setup, it can be difficult to rebuild the drives that have failed. There is, also, the chance the RAID card just dies, and all you data is lost to the wind, again, this is why backups are important.

Some RAID cards and even motherboards make it possible to store a backup of the RAID configuration. If you have access to such a feature, use it. This may prevent many headaches in the process. Getting a new motherboard or RAID card that is identical may not be necessarily easy or timely, but you will be happy and less stressed knowing your data is probably not lost. Maintain a backup, just in case, but you probably won't need it if your card or motherboard is still for sale.

What do we need to make our own custom NAS drive?

This does not need to be a gaming grade computer, so any graphics card will do, in fact, you will only need it during the installation of the NAS operating system. We suggest using FreeNAS. In the case of the graphics card being temporary, you can borrow one from one of your computers. The processor and motherboard need only have enough SATA drive connections for your operating system drive, and your RAID setup, if you use more than one drive. RAM can be left at a maximum of 8GB, 4GB will be fine considering that you won't be needing any for visual effects anyway.

You will need a robust power supply, we are talking about a RAID setup possibility in your future with up to 6 drives possible in most computers, and you may be running this computer for days, weeks, months, even years on end. The wattage, and rating of the power supply is extremely important. If you plan of having more than 2 drives in your NAS, I personally suggest going 80+ Silver or better in power supply rating.

You will want to, also, use hard drives that a specifically designed for environments with more vibrations and heat than standard computers. Western Digital Red Drives are made for consumer RAIDs and NAS drives, specific to this purpose.

You will, also, need a computer box that has sufficient cooling for the processor and all the drives within the computer, especially if the computer is continuously powered on. Since there are no graphics cards required, heat will be caused primarily by RAID cards, motherboards, CPUs, and the hard drives. You may consider using computer boxes with multiple drive cages to allow you to separate the drives and allow for better cooling of the entire computer.

The operating system drive should be a SSD drive, because it will last longer, provided TRIM is activated. Data drives should be your traditional drives since wear and tear will occur less on those drives as long as you use the correct type of drives.

How much will this entire setup cost?

Motherboards are dirt cheap if you aren't looking for a gaming grade computer with high end speed. You can, also, use the lower end CPUs since most of the data coming in and out of the computer will be slowed by network traffic. You can use Intel, but AMD will cost you less here. Most computer boxes that will fit all this can be purchased for about $100 or less. You can buy better if you believe you need it, but it is not required. The power supply may run you about $160 for Silverstone, but anything 80+ silver will do. If you already have one, you'll save some money here. The most expensive part of the build will be the hard drives. Presuming you go for the maximum size of drive available, 4 terabytes, your computer will cost $219.00 CDN per drive, for Western Digital Red Drives. This means that you by a small 60GB SSD for $75.00 CDN, you can presume that your computers storage will cost $513.00 for a OS drive with 2 4TB Red Drives, $732.00 for 1 SSD and 3 Red Drives, $951 for 1 SSD and 4 Red drives. Combined with the computer box and motherboard and process, we can presume roughly $1200 for a large NAS drive server using RAID.

How much does a pre-built NAS server cost with 4 drives?

Roughly $725.00, with a single terabyte drive installed, and only able to support 3 terabyte drives. Building your own will allow you to have more space, and you can probably build it for less for a dual drive setup with the SSD used for the operating system.

What about the software?

We suggest FreeNAS, because it is free. It is well documented, and it will allow you to configure your computer correctly.

Any last points to say?

Yes, once you are done building your NAS drive server, and you have installed the OS, you can go into the bios, and turn off the warning regarding the absence of a graphics card. Once you tell the bios it will be fine without a graphics card, you can remove the graphics card from the NAS server.

Host : Steve Smith | Music : Jonny Lee Hart | Editor : Steve Smith | Producer : Zed Axis Productions

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