Need Network Storage? Here’s How To Build Your Own NAS Box

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Need Network Storage? Here’s How To Build Your Own NAS Box

NAS is an abbreviation for Network Attached Storage. This word gained popular in the consumer market as Windows got simpler to use with network-attached devices and hardware costs plummeted. There are several off-the-shelf choices available now that may offer storage for a home or small business network.

The only issue is the cost. A good NAS may cost as much as a PC, prompting the question, “Why not construct your own?” It is not a tough job, but the method varies from that of creating a computer.

Step 1: Find a case

Making a decision on the matter requires deliberation. You must first pick what kind of NAS you want to create. Will it be compact and out of the way? Will you require quick access to delete or add drives? How much storage do you need, and how much room do you require for future upgrades? Finally, how much money do you intend to spend?

If cost is a concern, you may save money by constructing a NAS box out of, well, just about anything. Any box constructed of a drill-able material may be used. You should also ensure that you can add motherboard spacers to elevate the motherboard above the surface it is fastened on (if not, it may short out).

However, it may be more bother than it’s worth. Computer enclosures may be found almost everywhere. Garage sales, thrift shops, Craigslist…it seems like they’re everywhere. Older PCs are occasionally offered for such low prices that you may wind up purchasing a whole machine simply for the casing.

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Readers with extra cash should go to Newegg and look at the latest Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX cases. I like the Lan-Li PC-Q07 for a small NAS and the Antec NSK3480 for a bigger, multi-driver setup. Of course, you could use a full ATX tower, but it would take up more room.

Step 2: Buy the hardware

Powerful hardware is not required for network storage, which increases the heat and power production of a system. This implies you can use outdated hardware. Now is an excellent moment to reactivate an outdated dual-core processor. If you must purchase fresh, choose an Intel Celeron or an entry-level AMD A4.

The motherboard may be simple. Check that it fits your case, that it supports the CPU you chose, and that it has enough SATA ports to support the hard drives you want to attach. Today’s motherboards often support the most helpful functions, such as boot-from-USB and wake-on-LAN. If you’re feeling paranoid, double-check the manufacturer’s website first.

RAM is not, once again, important. Check if it is compatible with your motherboard. Go for two gigabytes (it’s not essential if you run a Linux operating system, but RAM is inexpensive! You could do the same.)

Pick up a hard disk now. All you need is a standard 5,400 RPM mechanical drive with plenty of storage capacity. Everyone has a favorite brand; I’ve had excellent success with Seagate drives, but any large brand name should suffice.

Don’t forget to include a power supply. Some examples include one. The vast majority do not. A NAS requires little power – most will never consume more than 100 watts – so choose something inexpensive and dependable. Antec and Seasonic are two brands I suggest.

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Step 3: Build it

Putting together a NAS is similar to putting together a standard PC. The hardware is same, as are the processes necessary. Check out our PDF guide to constructing your own PC or our more updated graphic guide to creating your own PC.

Step 4: Install an operating system

FreeNAS is the most common alternative for custom-built NAS systems. It’s a free, open-source project that’s quite simple to use and has the capabilities that most users want. Though several Linux operating systems may run identical software, FreeNAS has emerged as the preferred option since it is designed particularly for NAS and does not contain any unnecessary functionality. We’ve previously released an installation guide for FreeNAS.

Others to consider include NexentaStor, Openfiler, and Ubuntu with Samba. The last of them is approximately as simple to use as FreeNAS, but I don’t see why it should be used on a machine that isn’t designed to be used as a conventional desktop system. Check out our comparison of FreeNAS vs. OpenMediaVault vs. Amahi for more information.

Windows is also an option. It readily connects to other devices on the same network (which, let’s face it, are almost certainly running Windows), and there are other remote connection options for access outside your network. However, Windows is expensive, and it is not ideal for users who wish to use the NAS for reasons other than media storage.

After installing the operating system, be sure to activate Wake-On-LAN in BIOS. Without it, you will be unable to wake the computer from sleep and access its data.

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Step 5: Enjoy your NAS

Your NAS should now be operational. Systems like these are low-maintenance, especially if they run a purpose-built operating system like FreeNAS. The system is small enough to fit in the back of a closet or beneath a desk. It will be alright as long as you do not cover it with a blanket. Enjoy!

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