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View Full Version : NAS in a box or build my own?



Tukapa
09-02-2013, 06:10 PM
Hi team

Now that I'm getting through ripping my blu-ray movies (uncompressed) I'm starting to think about the best bet for storage of all my media (bearing in mind I have yet to do all my standard DVD's and 400 odd CD's into FLAC).

I simply don't have enough room at the moment and need a solution that I can bung on the home network and access via XBMC in other areas of the house.

So - I was looking at the NAS in a box solution and see that the Synology ones come with a good reputation but the Synology DiskStation DS413j (http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=408342) is a bit more pricy than I had hoped.

Then I saw this D-Link DNS-345 Sharecenter Quattro NAS device (http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=402133) on special for quite a bit cheaper and after checking out a couple of reviews it seems to be a solid piece of kit.

Then I thought I would look into building my own. I have an old tower case floating around, I have a redundant 500GB laptop hard drive which I could use for a system drive so I priced the remaining components which include a motherboard (http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=412399) with 6 SATA3 connectors as well as 4 x USB 3.0, an AMD A4 5300 CPU, 4GB Ram and an Antec 450W PSU which came to a total of $310. I figure chuck in FreeNAS and I have saved myself $110 off the D-Link (and $360 off the Synology) which I can put towards 4 x 3TB Hard Drives.

Now perhaps the simplicity (and quietness) of the NAS in a box is worth a few of those dollars saved so I'm interested to hear from anyone who has built their own or has other experience with this sort of thing.

Thanks.

fred_fish
09-02-2013, 06:58 PM
I'd say build your own.
That way you can upgrade bits (and especially OS) as tech and your requirements change.
Often the 'box' solutions get no love from the vendor once it is sold, has a custom OS tied to specific hardware, and you end up with something that doesn't do what you want anymore.

inphinity
09-02-2013, 07:17 PM
Personally, I'm a fan of the Seagate BlackArmor series. While building your own is certainly worth looking at, for example that motherboard you've linked doesn't support Raid 5, so if you want any redundancy you'll have to go Raid 10, and only be able to utilise 50% of your total disk space.

wainuitech
09-02-2013, 08:44 PM
Build your own, you have more options than a premade - looking at that D-Link DNS-345 , its actually not that cheap - The spec's say NO Storage come with it, so by the time you purchase a couple of X capacity TB drives its not that cheap.

gary67
09-02-2013, 09:08 PM
chuck amahi on it as it has greyhole disk pooling. While not a true raid its similar in how it can be set up, it also has outlook integration and with hda connect you have your own vpn

Chilling_Silence
09-02-2013, 09:21 PM
Definitely DIY. With things like the Raspberry Pi (If you don't need high speed and are cool with USB HDD's) or any Atom box running something like FreeNAS, they're a *breeze* to setup and well worth the investment if you ask me :)

Alex B
09-02-2013, 09:40 PM
I built a few DIY solutions but in the end brought a Synology DS212j, uses bugger all power, has an awesome UI, and "just works".

wainuitech
09-02-2013, 10:46 PM
General comment, not aimed at any post or one -- Lately there's been a few post with "it just works" mentioned - when it turns to sh1t - does it "just fix its self" :p

jcr1
09-02-2013, 11:24 PM
I'd also say DIY. I built one a few years ago. Actually just converted my old PC when I bought a new one. Installed Debian without a GUI, set up samba and as backup storage I was away.
After a while I went for a Synology 108j - which was good, in a way, but when I got big ideas about setting up websites and remote access etc. I found it just didn't cut the mustard. I think the operating systems in NAS's are generally pretty limited. If they had a proper linux system installed they'd be far more "tweakable". I wouldn't put them down totally, but if you want flexibility then build. I have, again, lot of fun doing it, a total learning curve and the cost of the new machine I think would be cheaper than what I paid for the Synology about 4 years ago - it's sitting in a cupboard at the moment while I figure out what I'm going to do with it:D. I took the hard drive out of it to use in my new project.

Chilling_Silence
10-02-2013, 12:08 AM
Actually now you mention it, I setup a pcengines Alix system for a company with 2x USB HDD's almost 3 years ago now. It's literally locked away in a safe at this company.... been rebooted several times when power / UPS failed, but still just keeps on ticking away... Can't recall if it's running FreeNAS or just straight debian but yeah, good times :D

Tukapa
10-02-2013, 08:49 PM
Thanks for all your suggestions.

Looks like build my own it is!

I remembered I have a Coolermaster tower case floating around here with the following guts in it;

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ 2.71Ghz Dual Core CPU
Asus M2N-MX SE Plus motherboard
2GB DDR2 Ram
250GB Hard Drive
DVD-RW Drive
Coolermaster 450W PSU

I have a couple more DDR2 sticks floating around so can bump it to 4GB easy enough.

The case also has room for five HDD's, plus three spare 5.25" cages which can be adapted obviously to take another three HDD's further down the track.

The only two issues (due to age of the motherboard) I have with it are;

It only has two SATA connectors - presumably I can add a PCI expansion card to give me more SATA without any issues for the NAS box (would this cause speed bottleneck issues?); and
It has no USB 3.0 (which I wanted for adding external hard drives in the future - just in case) and I see all USB 3.0 expansion cards are PCI-e which this motherboard doesn't have. This is something I could probably live without but would have been a nice to have.

I guess the only other thing I would be worried about would be the noise of this tower running.

It is currently running 32 bit Vista Home Premium.

jonovw
10-02-2013, 09:33 PM
change the fans if your worried about noise

Chilling_Silence
10-02-2013, 10:20 PM
2GB of RAM for something like FreeNAS or Linux is *HEAPS*!

Yes you can add a PCI SATA card. It won't be your bottleneck. You can easily add in a gigabit network card too if you want faster network speeds.

To be honest, USB2.0 peaks at 480mbps, and most networks are 100mbps, so USB3.0 isn't *really* that much of a big deal for most people. Start with what you've got, see how you go before your plans get too lofty.

Another thing you can do for speed is set up a RAID array. Again, this is much easier to do in FreeNAS than it would be in Vista. Highly recommend you download FreeNAS, it's tiny and easy to install. If you have a secondary HDD lying around you can pop in temporarily to give it a shot, then it's well worth spending an hour trying it out :)

Tukapa
11-02-2013, 07:01 AM
Thanks Chill - hadn't actually picked up that mobo only has 10/100 LAN - will definitely pop in a gigabit card.

With a PCI SATA card and a PCI gigabit network card that's both the available PCI slots populated.

Perhaps I'm better off flicking off this machine and putting the funds towards the new build I referenced in my first post. At least that way the mobo comes with plenty of SATA, USB 3.0 and gigabit LAN all on board.

I've been reading up on FreeNAS and that i the intended path for this project.

Thanks.

inphinity
11-02-2013, 08:43 AM
2GB of RAM for something like FreeNAS or Linux is *HEAPS*!

Not to be disagreeable, but to allow FreeNAS to take full advantage of ZFS, you really need 6 - 8GB of RAM.

Chilling_Silence
11-02-2013, 09:34 AM
That's *IF* you want to go with ZFS ;) Also I believe that's only for a specific feature or two like file de-duplication or something?

Start with what you've got and if you find you've quickly outgrown it, then you can always replace it :)

Alex B
11-02-2013, 10:53 AM
I'd also say DIY. I built one a few years ago. Actually just converted my old PC when I bought a new one. Installed Debian without a GUI, set up samba and as backup storage I was away.
After a while I went for a Synology 108j - which was good, in a way, but when I got big ideas about setting up websites and remote access etc. I found it just didn't cut the mustard. I think the operating systems in NAS's are generally pretty limited. If they had a proper linux system installed they'd be far more "tweakable". I wouldn't put them down totally, but if you want flexibility then build. I have, again, lot of fun doing it, a total learning curve and the cost of the new machine I think would be cheaper than what I paid for the Synology about 4 years ago - it's sitting in a cupboard at the moment while I figure out what I'm going to do with it:D. I took the hard drive out of it to use in my new project.

That's quite an old NAS, DSM 4.1 will do VPN/Remote access via Pinhole& DDNS/webserver stuff. There are a bunch of apps for it too, can even use it as an Asterisk box.

inphinity
11-02-2013, 11:14 AM
That's *IF* you want to go with ZFS ;) Also I believe that's only for a specific feature or two like file de-duplication or something?

Start with what you've got and if you find you've quickly outgrown it, then you can always replace it :)

Yeah, de-duplication, pre-caching, and RAID-Z are all fairly RAM-intensive. Surely if you're bothering with a NAS you want some sort of data protection (mirroring or parity) and decent performance, though, right? ;)

Tukapa
11-02-2013, 07:01 PM
After reading all the advice I've made my mind up (I think!).

I am stripping out the guts of this one;

AMD Athlon 64 X2 5200+ 2.71Ghz Dual Core CPU
Asus M2N-MX SE Plus motherboard
2GB DDR2 Ram
250GB Hard Drive

and putting it in another older tower case I have here.

I will flick that off with the Vista OS that is installed and I will put the coin I get from that towards this motherboard (http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=412399), along with the AMD A4 5300 (http://www.ascent.co.nz/productspecification.aspx?ItemID=409688), and 8GB Ram.

I will chuck the new stuff into the generic Coolermaster case I have here which has 5 x 5.25" bays and 5 x 3.5" bays so heaps of room for adding more hard drives in future. That case has a Coolermaster 460W PSU which should handle the NAS power needs.

The mobo comes with 6 x SATA 3 connectors and 4 USB 3.0 connectors as well as built in gigabit so all my wants are covered.

I will chuck FreeNAS on a spare 500GB 2.5" laptop drive I have here and see how that goes.

Thanks for everybody's advice!

Alex B
11-02-2013, 08:22 PM
IIRC you can run freenas from a USB stick.