Build a NAS from inexpensive components

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Cubytus, Nov 30, 2013.

  1. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    #1
    Hi again,

    as I want to stop wasting time looking through my files on different, archived hard drives, I would like to build a NAS that would meet the following requirements:

    - full encryption of some hard drives
    - 4 to 6 SATA 6Gbps ports.
    - software RAID 0 or 1, or JBOD (will depend upon tested performance)
    - Able to saturate Gigabit port (Older, but significantly large HDD I own cannot, as tested by hdparm on a eSATA computer)
    - silent (mandatory as I don't want to turn it off manually. CPU underclocking is considered)
    - email server
    - AFP for Time Machine server
    - Torrent client
    - SFTP server
    - execute either Motion or ZoneMinder (undecided, but power requirements won't conflict with file server since no recording will be made while FS is active, and vice-versa)
    - USB 3.0 external port for sharing external HDD, printer.
    - At most 5 machines will access the content at any time. So I am talking about low usage,

    Software is yet to be decided, but since Black Friday-Cyber Monday sales will continue for a while in most major retailers, now is the time to buy hardware I guess.

    Hardware owned:
    Storage
    • Blue HDD: 250GB, SATA
    • Orange HDD: 250GB, SATA
    • Green HDD: 500GB, SATA
    • Appz HDD: 500GB, USB 2.0 (internally it is IDE)
    • Toshiba 750: 750GB, eSATA (internally SATA)
    • TM: 1.5TB, eSATA (internally SATA)

    "floaters"
    • WD470, 500GB, USB. Movie and song archives. Now rarely moved, but still useful.
    • G670, 750GB, FireWire 800. Houses virtual machines, mainly. Often gets hauled for demos.
    • HIT500, 500GB, USB. Currently backup, storage and "large USB drive" for quick debugging of incompatible machines.
    • Empty FW800 2.5" enclosure

    Hypothetical system would have:
    1. Low power consumption with aggressive power management to save on noise and UPS power. That must not compromise HDD reliability.
    2. No noisier than an off-the-shelf NAS (18dBA, from Synology's website). Ideally fanless.
    3. Power from laptop adapter would be ideal (19V), or 12V general purpose power supply. Must be tolerant of brownouts as my apartment has only two circuits and voltage varies from 119V down to 107V under full load. No change to electrical circuit can be made.
    4. Completely self-reliant. Must be able to power down by itself if it senses UPS to go low without needing any monitor or keyboard. Must power up at the press of a button to a working state without having to use a keyboard, mouse or monitor. This includes checking and correcting HDDs if an unexpected power failure occurred.
    5. Full Gigabit Ethernet. No crappy Ethernet-USB dongle that cut performance in half.
    6. Able to be installed without external monitor (I don't have any) but directly through a network connection.
    7. Can't decide yet wether to run the NAS-router OS itself from a SD-family card or one of the HDDs. The former seems to be best.
    8. being able to change hardware at will shouldn't be necessary. I don't expect to change anything except HDDs as long as performance is satisfactory.

    Excluded solutions:
    Anything Synology. Although I do really like their products, in the price point I am aiming for, either one gets absolutely no flexibility, or where there's flexibility, price shoots upwards of $1k.
    Raspberry Pi and other micro-boards. They simply don't have a SATA port on them, and don't do Gigabit anyway, but sport an Ethernet to USB2 chip that reduce Gigabit speeds to 1/3 of its speed.

    I already read that an Intel network chip would be better since it puts less strain on the CPU, and sure it can be added later on with a discrete NIC if motherboard doesn't support it. However, I don't know how much requirements rely on compatible hardware.

    Described as is, it may appear that I am looking for an AirPort Time Capsule on steroids, and you would be right. However, it seems to be too limited for its high price, and still wouldn't solve the issue of putting all these drives back online, and doesn't have any data security, etc. I had a look on NCIX.ca and Newegg.ca system builders, and could reach a less than $300 price point on NCIX, but I am unsure whether it will fit. Notably, it had a Seasonic power supply whose quality is questionable.

    What are your recommendations from them, or any other that ships to Canada without relying on UPS?
     
  2. MyMac1976, Dec 1, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 1, 2013

    MyMac1976 macrumors 6502

    MyMac1976

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    Apr 14, 2013
    #2
    I don't think you're going to max out Gigabit with those tiny drives
     
  3. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

    Crazy Badger

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    Apr 1, 2008
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    Scotland
    #3
    I'm using a HP Microserver N40 running FreeNAS from a USB stick.

    Meets most of your requirements and with the disks you have can probably be up and running for less than £200.

    Probably won't be as fast as your expecting, but faster than the cheaper end NAS enclosures from Netgear, Synology, Qnap, etc. You'll need a monitor and keyboard to set everything up but after that quite happy headless and access through web GUI or SSH
     
  4. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

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    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #4
    Cost/Performance/Features: pick two.

    Help up help you by focusing on what is really essential.

    As MyMac1976 says, I doubt you'll get the performance you seem to want for a few hundred dollars.

    How much money are you actually willing to spend?

    I think you'd be FAR better off getting a pair of matched larger capacity drives for your RAID, and migrate the data from the other drives to that.

    Can you tell us more about what you were looking at for ~$300? What OS/software were you contemplating. Was it FreeNAS or something else?

    B
     
  5. sammich macrumors 601

    sammich

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    Sarcasmville.
    #5
    I've been running one of these for almost two years now and it does a pretty handy job. There's a slightly newer version, the N54L, which is slightly better. You won't need SATA3 for mechanical drives. It has one eSATA port on the back, but no USB3.

    http://www8.hp.com/au/en/products/proliant-servers/product-detail.html?oid=5336623#!tab=features

    http://h18000.www1.hp.com/products/...html#spectype=worldwide&type=html&docid=13716
     
  6. mooblie, Dec 1, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 2, 2013

    mooblie macrumors 6502

    mooblie

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    #6
    If you do investigate FreeNAS, it's now morphed into NAS4Free:

    FreeNAS is no longer supported, and NAS4Free has more/better features. I too run NAS4Free on an HP Proliant N40L Microserver, on which I got £100 cashback, with 4 x 2TB drives.) Works very well on a mixed Windows/Mac network.

    I also keep a fifth separate drive in the N40L dedicated to TimeMachine, as TM will fill any drive (even network drives) to 80% (?) capacity eventually.

    You can, of course, just use an old PC for this, if you have a suitable one lying around - a great way to re-cycle an otherwise obsolete PC.
     
  7. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    Boston
    #7
    You're looking for high end features on a low budget, I think you'll be hard pressed finding any solution for your price point.

    I personally, like qnap and synology that provide just about all of your wish list. I'd also look to brand new drives to go into a NAS and not reuse existing drives.

    Finally, I think you can save some money by building your own machine for such but again if you cut corners on components due to budgetary constraints you'll be disappointed in its performance.
     
  8. drsox, Dec 1, 2013
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2013

    drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

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    #8
    I built one of these a few years ago using the Ubuntu server. Lots of info on this on the Ubuntu site.

    If I was to do this again I would do this :

    1. Decide a rough budget - it's going to be more than 300 in the end.
    2. Get a MiniITX or mATX board with an i3 level CPU or an integral AMD CPU. Go for Gigabyte or Asus. If you really want multiple SATA ports then it's going to be mATX or an add-in card.
    3. Use a decent 400w or less PSU (Seasonic is fine BTW).
    4. MOST DEFINITELY get new drives and resell the old ones.
    5. If you want advice on how to build quiet units then go to this site : http://www.silentpcreview.com.

    It's not difficult to get a NAS that's quieter than a stock unit, but it's probably going to cost you more in parts. IMO the quietest NAS is one that's in another room. That's what I did in the end and resold the bits I had bought for my DIY NAS. Put the NAS on the end of a Gbit LAN. NASs aren't quiet - esp ones with multiple drives. Even if you use a big case w noise dampening and quiet fans, a remote NAS is better.
     
  9. Crazy Badger, Dec 1, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 2, 2013

    Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

    Crazy Badger

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    #9
    FreeNAS and NAS4Free both started in the same place, but have now split in slightly different directions. Both still supported though, so just check out which features work best for your requirements. I preferred the plugins for FreeNAS (I'm also running Plex and ownCloud on mine) but you might be happier with NAS4Free. No need for a separate TM drive - just set a maximum size for the dataset you want to use. I have separate datasets for each of the 3 Macs I backup, each with a different max setting.
     
  10. MyMac1976 macrumors 6502

    MyMac1976

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2013
    #10
    What ever you pick I'd probably go with a BSD flavor to have ZFS, my NAS is super old and sits in a closet but If I were to build today I'd go with and AMD APU (A4 3300) some kind of inexpensive mini ITX 4GB of what ever was on sale and a decent intel RAID card. I'd probably build into the cabinent that hold my TV and use it for a monitor when I need to access the system. There are some decent passive coolers out there but they are huge building in give you the opportunity to seperate the drives from everything else so the are not competing for what little airflow they're going to get.

    Remember fo what most people use a NAS for a small home server wouold be better and have the advantage of being your own "cloud".
     
  11. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Mar 2, 2007
    #11
    That's why I expect to use RAID0 on those ones :)

    I don't have a monitor at all, and won't buy one. So chosen software will need to be readily accessible remotely on the LAN. So far, all NAS-oriented distros can achieve that, but not plain Ubuntu server, fpr example.

    Actually after looking around on their website and asking questions in their forums, FreeNAS needs really good muscle to run properly, RAM in particular. They assume this is not even worth trying to run FreeNAS on anything with less than 8GB RAM. It's made for enterprise-class servers, not SOHO use. The point is not to get new drives as the moment, but put those existing drives online. Of course future expansion is considered. I am aiming below $300, depending on which features prove unfeasible.

    SATA 6Gbps is readily accessible on modern rotating drives (cf. Scorpio Black). Older ones surely won't do it.

    This machine looks nice, but 150W won't be able to reliably power those drives I am afraid, and for $400, I think I can get more out of a custom combination of parts.

    No desktop old PC in here. And if it's that old, chances are no performance requirement will be met, so I have to consider only new parts.

    I don't get how serving 4 to 5 users max at any one time qualifies as "high end".
    Synology is excluded for budgetary concerns. No new drives will be bought at the moment, except for the one inside my laptop with failed sectors. I have enough storage space, it just needs to be in one place and readily accessible, fast.

    I welcome comments upon power-hogging features. So far I haven't found anything that would require a muscular machine, except maybe the software NAS and full disk encryption.

    I once had a mix of a Seasonic power supply and an Asus motherboard, in a PC originally built for a gamer. So it was loud as hell, but more importantly, I don't know if the Asus motherboard failed before the power supply, or if a bad power supply fried the motherboard. I also had an Asus laptop with lots of issues after only two years. Since that time, I am wary about these brands.

    I tried to resell the old drives (not so old, but older than my laptop anyways), and got exactly ZERO contact despite continously listing them on three different classified ads websites. Since they're big enough and have no bad sectors, they can be reused.

    And there's no "other room". I am not sure a kitchen would be a good environment for a NAS, not speaking about the long, unsightly cable running through the place.

    I was never able to even run ownCloud on a professionally configured server. Lots of errors 500, non-working encryption, requirement for root access, and lots of issues. I doubt it would even run on a machine configured by an amateur.
     
  12. drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

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    #12
    Not necessarily in a RAID config. Drive firmware has a BIG effect on RAID suitability. Most vendors limit the drives that work in their devices to those with compatible firmware. RAID dropouts caused by false sync errors are the bane of amateur RAID NAS configs.
     
  13. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #13
    Vendors of what? Is a software RAID considered a "vendor"?

    Otherwise your point makes sense, so how would I test suitability for RAID configuration?

    I still do require proper hardware to link all these drives, even in JBOD mode. This topic is about recommended hardware. Software issues, if any, will be posted once everything is mounted.
     
  14. drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

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    #14
    I had two sets of software RAID in a PC running on two Adaptec RAID cards. Both were forever resyncing so I canned them.
     
  15. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #15
    Your setup is unclear. Was it software RAID, or hardware RAID with those Adaptec cards?

    Also, what parts combination should I use to start building a suitable NAS?
     
  16. MyMac1976 macrumors 6502

    MyMac1976

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    #16
    I think you need to read a bit and revisit this again after Christmas..
     
  17. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #17
    Software means no specialized hardware involved. Postponing everytime an obstacle arises is a guaranteed way to get nothing done.

    So, what combination of parts should I start with to build this NAS? Options such as Intel NIC can be added later on if not already present.
     
  18. cs02rm0 macrumors member

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    Jul 31, 2013
    #18
    I'm trying to do something similar, but reusing no existing parts and trying to get to 24TB.

    Currently I've got components priced up at about £1400 (probably means in the US it would be about $1400 - £ being worth more but our prices being higher). About £800 is the drives, so £600 for case, motherboard, RAM, CPU, PSU and cables. I'm probably going to hang on a little longer and see if availability of the Asrock C2750D4I picks up here (8 core Avoton, 12x SATA, 2+1xGigE, 64GB ECC RAM).

    18dBA is a heck of a limit to try and hit, I'm considering a fanless PSU but that's probably an extra £50 at least.
     
  19. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    #19
    Remember RAID is not a backup. How do you plan to backup that 24TB? And it's not going to be quiet if you plan to cool it properly.
     
  20. cs02rm0 macrumors member

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    #20
    I don't plan on backing it up (but if only I had a penny for every time someone mentioned RAID is not a backup). Neither do I expect to hit anything like the OP's 18dBA!
     
  21. MyMac1976 macrumors 6502

    MyMac1976

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    #21
    I back up my 24TB to another 30TB then back up irreplaceable to individual drives that aren't plugged in. People looking at NAS and home servers don't stripe there non matching non-backed up drives to saturate a gig it's connection that they won't saturate anyway. This thread is silly
     
  22. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #22
    We are not looking for the same thing at all :)
    But try to get 24TB out of $1400 from Synology. Not even worth clicking. 18dBA won't be achieved with all drives running at the same time. Only, they surely won't, thanks to aggressive power management.

    But why wouldn't a GigE ethernet be saturat-able? More modern SATA drives are supposed to max it out with little to no effort.
     
  23. drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

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    #23
    These Adaptec cards used software RAID.
     
  24. Cubytus thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #24
    Let's make that clear, in my setup, I don't expect to have to add a discrete SATA card when those ports are already present on the motherboard. That could change if it provides a major advantage for only a small cost premium.
     
  25. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

    Crazy Badger

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    #25
    I suspect you can get it running without a monitor, but it's easier with! I don't have a monitor (other than screen on iMac and MacBooks) but found a "friendly" retailer with a no-quibble returns policy who kindly lent me one for a few days :D

    FreeNAS does work better with more RAM, and you can put 16GB in the HP Microservers even though they say 8GB max. RAM is still relatively cheap, so you can max out for around £100. Not that it helps you, but HP have a £50 cash back offer in the UK at the minute (http://www.ebuyer.com/daily-deals?utm_source=b2c_monday1&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=b2c_monday1) so you could pick one up for £129 ;)

    I'm certainly an amateur when it comes to this stuff, and ownCloud is working wonderfully for me. I've migrated everything from various cloud services (Dropbox, Skydrive, Google Drive) onto ownCloud with no problems at all. Still using iCloud for Mail, Cal and Contacts as that looked like a leap too far when it just works across all my iDevices :apple:
     

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