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DYI Building a NAS

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NAS

As a storage enthusiast I love to build my own NAS. I am sure that if you read this you know already what a NAS is, but for those of you who don’t; a NAS (Network Attached Storage) is a central point of storage where you can share and manage all your data. Because it has its own hardware it can run its own operating system. Of course you can run Microsoft Windows on top of your NAS but there are a few pieces of software that include SABnzbd (for downloading from usenet), couch potato (automatic downloading of movies), sick beard (automatic downloading and sorting for series) and a lot of torrent clients. The majority of these operating systems comes with a nice and easy to manage GUI so why run Windows on your NAS. In this post I will explain my build and I will create other posts where I install the different operating systems out there.

[Hardware]

I started looking at motherboards that had incorporated a CPU that would be fast enough to extract files and would be able to stream media at the same time (multi-tasking). The mainboard should also have a minimum of 4 SATA ports to attached my hard drives. It also needed to have multiple network ports so I could create a trunk using two 1GB connection to my switch (using 802.3 ad). My last feature was more of a wish than a requirement; remote control using KVM. This allows you to remote control the system without even having to attach a monitor to it. This is easy when your system crash and the hardware is somewhere in the cupboard. The big hardware vendors have KVM alike (iDRAC for Dell, IMM for IBM and IPMI for Supermicro). I chose for the SuperMicro A1SAI-2550F (http://www.supermicro.nl/products/motherboard/atom/x10/a1sai-2550f.cfm) because it did meet all these requirements and had a reasonable price.

Memory was easy; I always use the recommendation from the mainboard supplier. They always test certain memory and provide a

First I install the power supply

First I install the power supply

recommendation (http://www.supermicro.nl/support/resources/mem.cfm). A rule of thumb for the total amount of memory has to do with the amount of terabytes you will have in total. Because I use 12 TB of raw capacity, the total amount of memory should be more than 12. I chose 2 x 8GB (16GB total) of memory so I can also try out ESXi or other hypervisors while still have enough memory for my NAS.

I love the cases from Fractal Design (http://www.fractal-design.com) they have a “Node Series” with enough room for 8 3.5 inch hard disks with enough airflow to cool everything. Tis a bit wide though as my NAS predecessor (TheCus) though all the “NAS alike” cases have one compartment where the mainboard and drives are staged. This means it can become pretty warm inside…

The most important and most expensive part are the hard drives. I was used to the WD Green in my old NAS though I chose for the WD Red because it’s TLER feature. TLER stands for Time Limited Error Recovery and is useful in a RAID setup since it limits the amount of time a drive can spend trying to recover itself from an error which is handled by the raid controller most of the times. The second part is the warranty; the WD Reds do have 1 extra year than the WD Greens.

Below the actual kit-list with the prices I paid during the time of order (July 2015)

Description Price
1 x CX 430W – 80PLUS Bronze € 37.92
2 x Hynix 8GB/DDR3/PC3-12800E/1600Mhz € 83.76
1 x Node 804 - Desktop - Mikro-ATX € 79.62
1 x Ultra Fit USB 32GB – USB 3.0, 130MB/s € 11.48
4 x Red 3TB – 3.5inch – SATA III,IntelliPower,64MB € 394.60
1 x MBD-A1SAI-2550F-O – Single € 241.42
-------------------------------------------------------------
Subtotal € 848.80
21% Tax € 178.25
Total € 1.027,05
Setting up the drives and SATA cables

Setting up the drives and SATA cables

[Building]

In my first job I build PC’s in a small hardware shop for a living. Building hardware is therefore in my DNA 🙂 Below is my personal order of installing hardware;

  1. As a pre I always check if everything is complete and all my tools are present (screwdrivers, wraps and cables).
  2. I start with the power supply install because if you do this at the last step you might damage the mainboard or other parts of the system

    Memory Layout

    Memory Layout

  3. After I have made sure I don’t hold an electrical charge (static), I have the mainboard laying on-top of the cover and install the RAM. Because I have two DIMMS that are dual-channel I had to make sure I was using the right slots. If you check the screen-shot of the manual I had to install the memory modules in slots A1 and B1
  4. I attached the mainboard to the case using the raisers. I always check twice to see where the raisers should be installed and never just install all raisers (burned a mainboard once 15 years ago doing that).
  5. I installed the hard-drives and attached the SATA cables outside of the case to guide the cables better.
  6. I attached the fans from the case to the mainboard instead of using the converter cable that just hook-up every single fan to a power connecter. This way I can control the fans using the super micro code instead of having one setting of speed at all times.
  7. My last step is to attached all the power cables to the mainboard and make sure none of the cables are in the way of the air flow. +1 in wraps

That’s it that’s all folks! I will write another blog post on what operating system I will be using on my NAS.

Final Setup Build

Final Setup Build

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