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Old 07-10-2011, 02:11 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Building custom NAS unit for home network

Hi guys,

Haven't posted on here in ages, well since i built my first computer in 2008 but the members here were awesome then so im coming back for more advice.

As the title suggests i'm attempting to build my own NAS unit as nothing on the market is quite what I need except for the uber expensive options - so I'm attempting to build my own for cheaper than one of these.

The main points i'm considering when building this NAS is that it needs to be very efficient and eco-friendly (as it will be for the most part on 24/7 and thus don't want huge electricity bills or to damaged the environment too much).

Secondly its going to be using something similar to unRaid or FreeNAS as an operating system running from a usb drive as the boot drive.

My questions are as follows:
1. Has anyone else on here made one? Can they offer any advice?
2. Is it worth using an unRaid or FreeNAS OS over something like WIndows Home Server or even Windows 7?

3. Hardware related - as im going to be using HDDs in Raid i realise they need to be the same drives in terms of size, etc. I'm looking at WD Caviar Greens (due to the eco-efficiency thing) do they need to be the exact same drive/model number so the WD10EARS for example can it be used in Raid with the WD10EADS?
4. Finally is the best option for a motherboard and processor the intel atom due to its low power usage and efficiency or a more standard motherboard with an old intel processor (less power consumption again basically)?

Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
SB
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Old 07-10-2011, 03:28 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Building custom NAS unit for home network

I built mine previously out of an Atom ITX board. Very low power. But after that fried, due to overheating, I now have an AM2 system. (specs in sig) I am planning to upgrade that to AM3 soon. DDR3 is less expensive and more available than DDR2.

Well, you can run any Linux distro off a pen drive. I use Ubuntu Desktop on my server. After FreeNAS didn't do what I wanted. I did previously run Windows 7 on it, but that wastes too much processing power and resources. Try out different Linux distros, see what you like. (distrowatch.com) Use VirtualBox.

Yes, you need it to be the same size, or very similar. Otherwise, you are loosing that extra space. Actually, you can use any drive for power efficiency as long as you set it to speed down when not in use. But yes, WD Greens are nice as well. I have 2 Blues and a Black on my server. Though I set them to speed down. IIRC, it is not mandatory to have two drives of the same model, but it is recommended.

Actually, AMD is much more efficent, IMO. They have Cool n Quiet. Which will clock down the CPU on the fly, using less electricity. Also, AMD will give you much more juice than the Atom can even try. If you, in the future, want to do a little more with it than a file server, AMD is an excellent choice as far as price per performance goes.

Hope that helps ya!
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Old 07-10-2011, 03:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Building custom NAS unit for home network

Awesome post MoM, +1, and Green's are fine for home server/NAS I have two of them running in my home server and I can't complain, though make sure you choose your size correctly.
I store everything on my server and so does my girlfriend's laptop so 2x 1TB in RAID 1 filled up pretty quick.
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Old 07-10-2011, 04:05 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Building custom NAS unit for home network

Thanks for the quick response, I'll look into using virtual box this evening and trying out ubuntu and see how I like it. Out of interest why didn't you like FreeNAS? I'm looking at mainly having the server for Itunes and a movie database between the two computers I own on my network. I will also look into the AMD side of things although i'll admit i'm much more familiar with intel.

And have you any experience with the Ubuntu Server OS? Or can you operate the Ubuntu from a remote source as I intend on not having a monitor or keyboard etc attached - is this how yours operates?

@MyGodAL3X - i'm going for 6 x 1TB in a RAID 5 set-up so i think that means i will have 4TB storage and the rest as a backup.

Thanks again.
SB
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Old 07-10-2011, 04:25 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Building custom NAS unit for home network

FreeNAS for some odd reason repeatably loses my RAID configuration. Had to refresh it in order to get it working, not a normal process. Also I couldn't mount one drive I know is good, tested it on a BootCD, different distro.

That's what I thought as well. Intel Atom, low power, low cost, but low performance. I got the motherboard and CPU combo for $89 plus a $15 Rosewill H/S. Everything else I switched over.

I have used Ubuntu Server, but not very well. a GUI is what I need. You can connect to any Linux distro through VNC (remote desktop) or SSH (never used)

I have mine currently on my AGP side of my monitor. I am trying different things on it atm, such as running MC server and setting up a Firewall, seeing how it works. I can run it headless, yes, but its so much easier using it this way.
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Old 07-11-2011, 06:24 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Building custom NAS unit for home network

Right MOM had a little play with Ubuntu using a virtual machine and i must say it seems a quick OS and nice easy to use system - can i ask how you have it set up for using it as a server i.e. like are the hard drives set up in raid etc?

The other OS im leaning towards is the UnRaid system as it seems to be very easy to use - quick again as its Linux - and also it offers the one drive failure redundancy.
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Old 07-11-2011, 06:40 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Building custom NAS unit for home network

If you just plan to make it into a file server you can just setup folders and share them through samba so that Windows machines can see them.
And if you want to go into more detail the Ubuntu community is great, their forums have how-tos for just about everything.
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Old 07-11-2011, 09:55 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Building custom NAS unit for home network

Yeah, Linux is faster than Windows. Until you add a bunch of stuff. :P

IIRC, in FreeNAS, you need to create a hardware as well as a software RAID. It doesn't work like Windows where it only sees one drive. But that was awhile ago.. I no longer have my 2 x 640GB in RAID 1. Needed more space.

Whatever OS works best for you.

I run Samba as well, very easy to set up.
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