Tag Archives: DYI

DIY NAS #1: Introduction

I’ve been pondering the thought of buying a NAS system for quite some
time now but could not find a suitable one. My requirements are quite
challenging though, I must admit:

  • Silent: I want to run the system near my desk so it has to be very
    silent. (And I mean super-silent – not just a little silent)
  • Fast: Access to the drives has to be fast.
  • Feature-Rich Software: I want to use the NAS primarily as a NAS, but
    it should offer features like BT downloading and the like. It should
    also act as a iTunes and/or DLNA server.
  • Hardware Features:
    - Wake-On-Lan / Wake-on-Wan
    - Inegrated WLAN Adapter
    - Raid 1, 5 or 10; 10 preferred

I bought some off-the-shelf NAS, namely the Synology DS411slim and
the Acer easyStore H341. Both were decent devices but were not really
up to the challenge. I ended up returning both of them.

The easyStore was fast and feature-rich, running Windows Home Server
(not 2011, though, but the old one). However, it was noisy which I could
not stand.

The DS411slim was silent enough and had some nice features via
DiskStation Manager, but felt painfully slow when copying to and from
the device. Plus it was rather expensive, working with 2.5" HDDs, and
thus also very limited in storage capacity (4x1GB maximum).

After searching for some days now for suitably silent yet powerful
device I could not come up with something good. There is the Western
Digitial MyBook WorldEdition II
but that did not receive many positive
comments on Amazon (for example). Some even state it tends to loose
data, which is quite against the point of buying a NAS in the first
place. Also Buffalo seems to offers some decent devices but they are
either only single drive solutions like the LinkStation Live LS-CHL
or – like the LinkStation Pro Duo LS-WVLR1 – not very reliable (from
what reviews say).

Other devices from QNAP (TS-419P+), Synology (DS411+II, DS410)
and Thecus (N4200) all seem viable options. I feel though that any
single one of them has one flaw or another.

The QNAP TS-419P+ seems to be quite silent (though I could not find any
absolute numbers yet) and offers RAID5. It runs an embedded linux and
has a download manager built in. It feels quite pricy though at about
€480,- (Amazonimage0) without HDDs. The same holds basically for
the DS411+II, which is even more pricy at €520,-
(Amazonimage1)
without any drives again. The same holds for the DS410 at around €450,-
(Amazonimage2).
Sadly, also the Thecus N4200 runs at a stunning €440,-
(Amazonimage3).
Also none of the above come with an integrated WLAN adapter.

That said, you can begin to feel that you should check other options as
well, but which would that be? Easy: build your own NAS! That can’t be
more expensive, can it? The downside obviously is that it is a bit more
work to set up such a system and also the maintenance might be harder.
On the upside, you are free in choice of operating system and features
and you could think about transforming your NAS into a HTPC if you chose
components carefully. Also of interest is the question of power
consumption compared to the other, more integrated solutions and lastly
also the price of the rig.

In the next part of this article series I will present a selection of
components that could be used to build a DIY NAS/HomeServer to suit my
needs.