NAS Part 1

As with many modern computer users, I have a large collection of digital data ranging from pictures, manuals, backups, game-data, etc.  During college, I had a few external hard drives and I would routinely backup my data to those drives but it was always a pain and it meant I couldn’t access all the data concurrently without plugging all my drives into the various USB ports on my computer.

After graduating and having a “real” job, I decided to build my first NAS.  For those not in-the-know, a NAS is a “Network Attached Storage”.  It is basically a computer with lots of hard drive space that sits on your network and allows other computers on the network access to its storage pools.

My first adventure into the world of NAS was composed of the following items:

  • 1 x APEX TX-381 Black Steel MicroATX case w/300 Watt PS
  • 4 x Hitachi GST 1TB 7200 RPM hard drives
  • 2 GB of Crucial 240-Pin DDR2
  • Intel mini-itx motherboard with 4 SATA ports w/Atom 330 processor

TX381aThe OS for this particular system was Ubuntu LTS.  I setup the drives in Linux
using softward RAID (mdadm) using RAID5.  This gave me a total of 3 TB of storage that I could export to my clients using Samba and NFS. It also meant that if any drive failed my data wouldn’t be lost.

I built this system in May of 2009 for ~$800.  It served me well until I replaced it in April of 2013.

Designing home storage solutions is about compromise, and this server was no different.  Here are some of the pros and cons of this particular build:

Pros:

  • Fairly Cheap
  • Provided 3TB of disk storage
  • Provided a dedicated storage NAS
  • Compact
  • Quiet
  • Low power consumption

Cons:

  • No hot-swap capability
  • Hard drives ran hot (would hit 40 degree C at ambient temp)
  • Linux’s Raid wasn’t as awesome as some of the competition
  • “Only” 3TB of storage started filling up!

These Con’s all lead me to build my next NAS which will be covered in another post.

Barry