Building Your Own NAS Storage from Scratch

Synology 2 bay NAS DiskStation DS218+ (Diskless)

In today’s constantly-shifting world of electronics, it is always important to make sure you have enough storage. There are many ways to get extra digital space, and one of the most effective is Network Attached Storage (NAS).

NAS storage uses devices that connect to a network in a way that enables both the storage and retrieval of data from a centralized location. Not only are such systems flexible, but they also enable you to add on storage as you need.

While NAS storage is commonly utilized by large companies and made by third party corporations, it is also possible to build your own. Though that may sound like a daunting process, it is quite simple once you know the steps.

Building Your Own NAS Storage: A Cheaper Alternative

NAS Storage

Building a NAS storage system is similar to building a PC in many different ways. While you can go out and buy a system, they are often quite expensive and more than most are willing to pay. In fact, purchasing one can cost as much as getting a computer.

For that reason, building your own NAS system is a great way to save some extra money and ensure that you get effective hardware without digging too deep into your pockets.

In addition, creating your own NAS storage will give you much more control over the system and enable you to only put in what you need.

In that way, not only will you have a more affordable network, you’ll also get one that perfectly suits you.

Gather Your Accessories

Of course, as with any DIY electronic device, there are various items you’ll need to gather to create your own NAS storage.

Making sure you have all the correct components is important because it means that you won’t find yourself going back or needing to make an unforeseen purchase. One you get going, you’ll be able to work up until the end.

A Solid NAS Enclosure

A Solid NAS Enclosure

The first item you want to get when building your own NAS storage is a solid enclosure. This piece of equipment is the box that will hold both your motherboard and drives. It is one of the most interesting aspects of a DIY NAS because you have the freedom to do pretty much whatever you want with it.

When putting together an enclosure you just need something that will protect what’s inside it. There are many options for this, but perhaps the easiest (and more readily available) is an old computer casing. Not only are those cheap, but they are quite effective and simple to set up.

You can also go with a new casing if you wish. However, they do tend to be a bit more expensive. That choice is completely up to you.

If you do want to expand your budget, you can go with brand name NAS enclosures as well.

Get A Compatible Motherboard

Another key component to building your own NAS storage is a motherboard. As this is at the center of any DIY NAS, you need to make sure you get one that works for you. 

motherboard

However, it is key to note that you don’t need to go incredibly expensive (though it can be tempting to do so). Rather, you just want something that meets two specific requirements. First, it must fit within the NAS enclosure, and it needs to be compatible with all of your other components.

Something else to keep in mind with this part is that you want a motherboard that has at least 6 SATA ports. That number is the mark because it means you won’t run out of ports to connect your hard drives to.

Many modern motherboards have key features like being able to boot from USB, but older models might not have them. Always look at the device you’re thinking of buying before you decide to make a final purchase.

The Power Of A CPU

CPU

Next up is the processor. As with the motherboard, you don’t need to use the latest model here. Getting something from even one generation back is a good way to save some extra cash on your project. AMD models or entry-level Intel are the best way to go for NAS storage.

You don’t need a lot of power to run your system, and that means simple set ups are fine. Just be sure to invest in a cooling system. That shuts down overheating and prevents any long-term issues from arising.

RAM is also great to have. Though memory can be hard to estimate, when it comes to NAS storage you want to try for 1GB of RAM for every 1TB of raw storage space. That metric is a good mark to hit, but you can go a bit short if you need.

Hard Disk Drives

Hard Disk Drives

Hard disk drives are also key, and there are two ways you can go about getting the one you need. You can either get one or two drives with massive amounts of storage capacity, or you can various small drives to create a redundant array.

Though you always have the option to get a single hard disk for less money, doing so means all of your information is kept in one place. That makes it more susceptible to attack. If that risk worries you, multiple can be a good (though more expensive) way to go.

Power Supply And Extra SATA Cables

Power Supply

After you’ve gathered all of the above parts, there are a few other items you’ll need to get together to complete your NAS storage.

A power supply is extremely useful, as are a few extra SATA cables. Though some enclosures come ready with power supplies, there are many do not have that feature. Check in advance and they buy accordingly.

The SATA cables are important because they allow you to include multiple drives into your NAS storage build if you so choose to do so. A few extras won’t cost much and they’ll save you many headaches down the line.

Building Your Storage

Once you have all of the above parts, the next part is putting them together and physically constructing your NAS.

Though it may be surprising, this is one of the simplest parts of the entire process. In fact, gathering all of the materials together and making sure they’re compatible may be trickier.

The reason for that is building a NAS system is very similar to building a computer. Once again, though that may sound a bit overwhelming (especially to those who do not have experience putting together electronics) it is quite easy. You just need to fit everything into the right slots.

The hardware needed to build your own NAS is the same that you need for a computer, as are all of the steps. That is great because it means you don’t need any extra skills or advanced knowledge of technology to make it work.

Any how-to-build-a-computer guide will help you figure out where all the parts go.

Finish With An Operating System

apple OS

Once everything is built and put together, the final aspect for building your own NAS is installing the operating system.

There are many different options out there, but the most popular is FreeNAS. This user-built, open-source project is easy to use (which is the main perk) and it will also give you every feature you could ever need for this project.

Though you can find many similar aspects on Linux, FreeNAS is often a better option because, as it’s made for NAS, it comes with no unnecessary features or add-ons you won’t use.

windows logo

If you want a bit of variety, you also have the choice to go with systems like Openfiler, NexentaStor, or Ubuntu with Samba. The results of those will vary, and if you want to choose one of them it is a good idea to do your research on what they offer.

Windows is even an option for NAS storage. It works as an operating system because it easily connects to other devices on the network and gives multiple remote connection options for access outside the network.

The only setback is that it is not great for people who want to get more than storage from their NAS. However, if you want to keep it simple, Windows is a great way to go.

Just be sure to enable Wake-On-LAN in BIOS so that you can wake your computer up from sleep mode should you ever need access to the files.

A Simple Yet Effective Storage Solution

Building your own NAS system, as with so many DIY electronic projects, is much easier than it first sounds.

As long as you know what you need, you’ll be more than ready. Downloading an operating system is simple, as is fitting the parts together.

In addition, NAS storage is extremely low maintenance and requires very little upkeep. Once it’s built you can easily store it out of the way (such as in a closet) and not have to worry about it anymore.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.