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Personal/home NAS: Build or buy?

captain_aggravated
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Between content creation and digital packratism, along with moving from a single computer to a multiple computer paradigm, I'm thinking about having a NAS of my very own.  Should I buy an off-the-shelf unit like one of those Western Digital boxes, or build it out of a cheap PC and some hard drives?

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Depends on what exactly you Wanna do with it. If it's just for saving data then off the shelve will do Fine, but don't go WD. I'd say go Synology or QNap. 

 

I'm currently building my own NAS based on FreeNAS and a Ryzen CPU. 

This way I'm very flexible with my storage setup. For example, I'm running raided SSDs for very fast storage over a 10gbit NIC aswell as nvme cached 6x4TB HDDs with double redundancy (two drives can fail). 

Then the CPU is a "beast" SMT quad core so running VMs shouldn't be a problem either (heard freenas is not so good with VMs though but you could use Unraid or whatever).

Easily expandable ram is another thing but not as important. 

What is important though is sound. Mine is basically unheard of. I'm using a big ass NH-D14 to cool the cpu. That also leads to theast point, custom build is a LOT bigger most of the time.

 

 

So, both have pros and cons and it depends on what you wanna do and how much freedom you want. But please don't go with a 2 bay prebuild, get at least 4 and a decent CPU inside. I've seen some good deals on those aswell (prebuild is also a lot cheaper imo because on a custom one you always wanna add stuff :P) 

 

Gaming HTPC:

R7 1700X - Scythe Big Shuriken 3 - Asus ROG B350-i - Asus GTX 1080 Strix - 16gb G.Skill Ripjaws V 3333mhz - Silverstone SX500-LG - 500gb 960 EVO - Fractal Design Node 202 - Samsung 60KS7090 - Logitech G502 - Thrustmaster T500RS - Noblechairs Icon


Desktop PC:
R9 3900X - H100i GTX - Asus Prime X570 Pro - EVGA RTX2060KO - 32gb LPX 3200mhz - EVGA 750G2 - 250gb 970 Evo - 6TB WD My Book Duo (Reds) - Inwin 103 White - Dell U3415W - Qpad MK-85 Brown - Logitech MX518 Legendary - Blue Yeti Platinum - Noblechairs Icon 


Boss-NAS [Build Log]:
R5 2400G - Noctua NH-D14 - Asus Prime X370-Pro - 16gb G.Skill Aegis 3000mhz - Seasonic Focus Platinum 550W - Fractal Design R5 - 
250gb 970 Evo (OS) - 2x500gb 860 Evo (Raid0) - 6x4TB WD Red (RaidZ2)

 

Audio Gear:

Hifiman HE-400i - Kennerton Magister - Beyerdynamic DT880 250Ohm - AKG K7XX - Fostex TH-X00 - O2 Amp/DAC Combo - 
Klipsch RP280F - Klipsch RP160M - Klipsch RP440C - Yamaha RX-V479

 

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If you plan to leave it on all the time i suggest buying a nice enclosure. Saves a lot of headaches.

 

If you wanna build, get the lowest power consuming chip like atom or avoton that have 10-15 watt tdp.

Ryzen 3600 @ 4.5ghz all cores | Asrock B550M Steel Legend | Radeon RX580 | 2x Samsung 16gb c-die 2666 @ 3600mhz cl16 | 500gb WD SN750 | 9 TB HDD | Deepcool Gammax 400 w/ 2 delta 4000rpm push pull | Antec Neo Eco Zen 500w

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39 minutes ago, captain_aggravated said:

Between content creation and digital packratism, along with moving from a single computer to a multiple computer paradigm, I'm thinking about having a NAS of my very own.  Should I buy an off-the-shelf unit like one of those Western Digital boxes, or build it out of a cheap PC and some hard drives?

2 minutes ago, FloRolf said:

Depends on what exactly you Wanna do with it. If it's just for saving data then off the shelve will do Fine, but don't go WD. I'd say go Synology or QNap. 

 

I'm currently building my own NAS based on FreeNAS and a Ryzen CPU. 

This way I'm very flexible with my storage setup. For example, I'm running raided SSDs for very fast storage over a 10gbit NIC aswell as nvme cached 6x4TB HDDs with double redundancy (two drives can fail). 

Then the CPU is a "beast" SMT quad core so running VMs shouldn't be a problem either (heard freenas is not so good with VMs though but you could use Unraid or whatever).

Easily expandable ram is another thing but not as important. 

What is important though is sound. Mine is basically unheard of. I'm using a big ass NH-D14 to cool the cpu. That also leads to theast point, custom build is a LOT bigger most of the time.

 

 

So, both have pros and cons and it depends on what you wanna do and how much freedom you want. But please don't go with a 2 bay prebuild, get at least 4 and a decent CPU inside. I've seen some good deals on those aswell (prebuild is also a lot cheaper imo because on a custom one you always wanna add stuff :P) 

 

So I'm facing a similar dilemma as the OP, except the intended use case is not personal but rather household use. I originally planned to repurpose and retrofit my dad's PC after the end of it's life cycle this year. I thought it would be perfect for such use as it has 8 SATA ports (albeit half are SATA2).

 

Well turns out some of those ports are dead or cause some major drive fuckery, 'cause I had to spend well over 2 hours swapping cables around just to get all of his 4 current drives detected. So there goes that plan.

 

My PC will be at the end of it's cycle next year, but it only has 4 SATA ports. Of course with both I could buy an HBA or a SATA expansion card, but the cheap ones are bad and the good ones are quite more expensive than I'd like.

 

The main reason why I was considering retrofitting a PC was that it would have enough space and power for a 10Gb NIC. But then I found out that QNAP has a line of higher end NAS boxes with an actual PCIe x4 slot, and they offer a 10Gb network card and combined 10Gb network and dual M.2 cards. They're more expensive than a basic Synology or WD box, but they seem to offer a lot more versatility in return (the product page keeps mentioning running VMs off these NASes but I'm sceptical about that) So that's what I'm looking into at the moment.

Quote and/or tag people using @ otherwise they don't get notified of your response!

 

The HUMBLE Computer:

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X • Noctua NH-U12A • ASUS STRIX X570-F • Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4 3200MHz CL16 • GIGABYTE Nvidia GTX1080 G1 • FRACTAL DESIGN Define C w/ blue Meshify C front • Corsair RM750x (2018) • OS: Kingston KC2000 1TB GAMES: Intel 660p 1TB DATA: Seagate Desktop 2TB • Acer Predator X34P 34" 3440x1440p 120 Hz IPS curved Ultrawide • Corsair STRAFE RGB Cherry MX Brown • Logitech G502 HERO / Logitech MX Master 3

 

Notebook:  HP Spectre x360 13" late 2018

Core i7 8550U • 16GB DDR3 RAM • 512GB NVMe SSD • 13" 1920x1080p 120 Hz IPS touchscreen • dual Thunderbolt 3

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If you have enough junk bin parts, build one yourself junk bin and second hand server parts.

Workstation 1: Core i7-9700K ~ 2x Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB DDR4-3000 ~ Gigabyte Z390 UD ~ Sapphire RX 580 8GB ~ WD Black NVMe 1TB ~ WD Black 2TB ~ macOS Big Sur amd64
Workstation 2: 2x Xeon E5-2696v2 ~ 8x Kingston KVR 16GB DDR3-1600 Registered ECC ~ Asus Z9PE-D16 ~ 2x Reference RX 480 8GB ~ WD Black NVMe 1TB ~ WD Green SATA 6TB ~ Windows 10 Pro Workstation amd64
Home server: Xeon E3-1231v3 ~ 2x Samsung 8GB DDR3-1600 Unbuffered ECC ~ Asus P9D-M ~ Broadcom MegaRAID 9271-8iCC ~ Gigabyte 480GB SATA SSD ~ 8x Mixed HDD 2TB ~ 16x Mixed HDD 3TB ~ Proxmox VE amd64

Laptop 1: Dell Latitude 3500 ~ Core i7-8565U ~ NVS 130 ~ 2x Samsung 16GB DDR4-2400 SO-DIMM ~ Samsung 960 Pro 512GB ~ Samsung 850 Evo 1TB ~ Windows 10 Education amd64
Laptop 2: Apple MacBookPro9.2 ~ Core i5-3210M ~ 2x Samsung 8GB DDR3L-1600 SO-DIMM ~ Intel SSD 520 Series 480GB ~ macOS Catalina amd64

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11 hours ago, captain_aggravated said:

Between content creation and digital packratism, along with moving from a single computer to a multiple computer paradigm, I'm thinking about having a NAS of my very own.  Should I buy an off-the-shelf unit like one of those Western Digital boxes, or build it out of a cheap PC and some hard drives?

Given the price and features I'd go for something like a Netgear ReadyNAS. I've got the cheap 102 and 2 3TB WD reds mirrored. I've had this for 6 years now and not a glitch.

 

Currently it serves as a ISCUSI target, SMB file server and does daily incremental backups of my valuable data to onedrive.

 

Sure it's not going to be the fastest thing in the world. About 60MB/s performance on the iscusi and SMB protocol. But I used to run my steam game archive directly from it and it's more than good enough. And given that the enclosure cost $80 US back then, it's the best bang for buck I've ever had! I'd be keen to see what people with newer faster versions are experiencing!

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Cool discussion thus far. 

 

10 hours ago, vojta.pokorny said:

So I'm facing a similar dilemma as the OP, except the intended use case is not personal but rather household use.

I'm a bachelor, so "personal" and "household" are synonymous to me.  ?

 

There are a few things I want a NAS for.

  • Right now I have one machine, so all my personal and work documents live on it.  I'm soon to get a small laptop with a MUCH smaller system drive and buy or build a desktop, so I'd like a convenient central storage space.
  • Right now, I have a 64GB USB 2.0 thumb drive that lives permanently plugged into my docking station containing stuff I never need when out and about, like the "My Documents" folder from my high school computer.  That would get moved to the NAS.
  • Backups of my system drives.  Right now, I don't take whole system backups, I only back up my files.  If I have a crash, I reload the OS from scratch, then restore my installed software and files from backup, and I do this in an non-ideal way.  I have two portable external hard disks.  They would remain in use for offsite backups, but I'm going to take more and more frequent backups of more systems to a NAS.
  • Statement of fact with absolutely no implication of intent:  I've got a lot of movies and TV shows on DVD and very few devices with optical drives these days.
  • I have a blog that I'm considering turning into a Youtube channel, and I'll need some volume to store footage and such.

My house is currently not wired for Ethernet at all, that's on my to-do list.  When I do run my cable, I'm not planning to buy a new router or switch; my current one has gigabit ethernet, so that will do. 

 

I'd like at least 3 if not 4 drive bays; I'd like to do some sort of striping scheme rather than mirrored.  Old habit says RAID 5 but I understand there are practical limits to RAID 5 with modern several TB drives?

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48 minutes ago, captain_aggravated said:

I'm a bachelor, so "personal" and "household" are synonymous to me.  ?

I'm a bachelor student :D temporarily living with my parents

Spoiler
48 minutes ago, captain_aggravated said:

Right now I have one machine, so all my personal and work documents live on it.  I'm soon to get a small laptop with a MUCH smaller system drive and buy or build a desktop, so I'd like a convenient central storage space.

I have a desktop and a laptop, and use a combination of personal and school provided OneDrive, network sharing and external portable drive to have all I need wherever I need it. It's kinda all over the place, but it's working, and capacity is only now starting to become an issue.

1 hour ago, captain_aggravated said:

Backups of my system drives.  Right now, I don't take whole system backups, I only back up my files.  If I have a crash, I reload the OS from scratch, then restore my installed software and files from backup, and I do this in an non-ideal way.  I have two portable external hard disks.  They would remain in use for offsite backups, but I'm going to take more and more frequent backups of more systems to a NAS.

I mostly intend for the NAS to be a large storage pool and backup target for my whole family, as both me and my dad are incredible data hoarders, and his backup system is even more all over the place than my storage one. When was his last backup, I dare not ask.

 

The exteral drive is 4TB, so it's enough to store up to 2 periodic (usually quarterly) backups of both my 500GB OS SSDs, and the latest one always gets copied to a 2TB RAID1 array on the desktop - right now that takes up almost a third of all data on the array, even with highest compression of the backups. Important files and documents are then copied over to the array and external drive manually and critical files are backed up to the cloud as well.

1 hour ago, captain_aggravated said:

I have a blog that I'm considering turning into a Youtube channel, and I'll need some volume to store footage and such.

Rookie photographer about to go on 5 month exchange abroad here :D

1 hour ago, captain_aggravated said:

I'd like at least 3 if not 4 drive bays; I'd like to do some sort of striping scheme rather than mirrored.  Old habit says RAID 5 but I understand there are practical limits to RAID 5 with modern several TB drives?

Another reason why I wanted to retrofit a PC was Windows Storage Spaces, recommended to me here as a superior solution compared to RAID. At the time it still had the ReFS, which got pulled from W10 Pro (as if Microsoft wasn't making enough money already), but even without it it should allow for more flexibility particularly in drive configurations.

 

This is a signifficant consideration for me as I don't want to just throw out and replace all of our current drives, but I suspect that it may not be a factor for you.

 

No knowledge about practical limits of RAID 5 other than it has better array capacity/total drive capacity ratio than RAID 1 or RAID 10, but then again that's not really a limit is it?

Quote and/or tag people using @ otherwise they don't get notified of your response!

 

The HUMBLE Computer:

AMD Ryzen 7 3700X • Noctua NH-U12A • ASUS STRIX X570-F • Corsair Vengeance LPX 32GB (2x16GB) DDR4 3200MHz CL16 • GIGABYTE Nvidia GTX1080 G1 • FRACTAL DESIGN Define C w/ blue Meshify C front • Corsair RM750x (2018) • OS: Kingston KC2000 1TB GAMES: Intel 660p 1TB DATA: Seagate Desktop 2TB • Acer Predator X34P 34" 3440x1440p 120 Hz IPS curved Ultrawide • Corsair STRAFE RGB Cherry MX Brown • Logitech G502 HERO / Logitech MX Master 3

 

Notebook:  HP Spectre x360 13" late 2018

Core i7 8550U • 16GB DDR3 RAM • 512GB NVMe SSD • 13" 1920x1080p 120 Hz IPS touchscreen • dual Thunderbolt 3

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I'm trying to be a Linux-only house.  Fusion 360 is the ONLY thing I use Windows for anymore, but that's another thread for another section.  Most commercial and FOSS NAS systems run a Linux kernel, so I think I'll be right at home.

 

14 minutes ago, vojta.pokorny said:

No knowledge about practical limits of RAID 5 other than it has better array capacity/total drive capacity ratio than RAID 1 or RAID 10, but then again that's not really a limit is it?

Something about the occasional write errors during copying times a huge data volume means that it's that much more likely to produce a corrupted drive, along with the relationship of time between drive failures and time to rebuild drives?

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4 hours ago, captain_aggravated said:

Cool discussion thus far. 

 

I'm a bachelor, so "personal" and "household" are synonymous to me.  ?

 

There are a few things I want a NAS for.

  • Right now I have one machine, so all my personal and work documents live on it.  I'm soon to get a small laptop with a MUCH smaller system drive and buy or build a desktop, so I'd like a convenient central storage space.
  • Right now, I have a 64GB USB 2.0 thumb drive that lives permanently plugged into my docking station containing stuff I never need when out and about, like the "My Documents" folder from my high school computer.  That would get moved to the NAS.
  • Backups of my system drives.  Right now, I don't take whole system backups, I only back up my files.  If I have a crash, I reload the OS from scratch, then restore my installed software and files from backup, and I do this in an non-ideal way.  I have two portable external hard disks.  They would remain in use for offsite backups, but I'm going to take more and more frequent backups of more systems to a NAS.
  • Statement of fact with absolutely no implication of intent:  I've got a lot of movies and TV shows on DVD and very few devices with optical drives these days.
  • I have a blog that I'm considering turning into a Youtube channel, and I'll need some volume to store footage and such.

My house is currently not wired for Ethernet at all, that's on my to-do list.  When I do run my cable, I'm not planning to buy a new router or switch; my current one has gigabit ethernet, so that will do. 

 

I'd like at least 3 if not 4 drive bays; I'd like to do some sort of striping scheme rather than mirrored.  Old habit says RAID 5 but I understand there are practical limits to RAID 5 with modern several TB drives?

It does not sound like your doing that much that would require a load of speed. Really sky is the limit, maybe avoid over engineering things. A cheap 3 or more bay readyNAS would do everything for you at a lower profile and power budget than a recycled PC.

 

Currently I automatically dump my PC's to the ReadyNAS with weekly incremental backups, then the ReadyNAS automatically backs these up to a onedrive account I have. It facilitates everything you could want. My PC can fail, my ReadyNAS can get flooded and I could restore a PC or get any file on the PC from any moment in time I like over years.

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Or...kicking around the idea of building a desktop in a case that's going to have a few 3.5" drive bays I don't have any plans for.  I could just cram a few WD reds in there and not bother with the additional hardware?  It's just little old me, I already use SSHFS all the time for stuff...It would save some money.  Any reason to not to?

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