NAS home file server

After posting in systems, i realized it would be better to post here instead

Approximate Purchase Date: This summer

Budget Range: as low as possible

System Usage from Most to Least Important: File server for home network, and a cloud like storage server

Parts Not Required: I'll buy the harddrives later on when i figure exactly how much i need and how i'll set it up

Preferred Website(s) for Parts: newegg, craiglist?

Country of Origin: u s of a

Parts Preferences: nope

Overclocking: n/a

SLI or Crossfire: n/a

Monitor Resolution: none

Additional Comments:
Well i think its self explanatory. I wanna build a super cheap server just for storage of all my files for my home network. I also want to be able to access my files anywhere i go.

I'm not really sure how to approach minimize the amount of money i put into this. I realize that i dont really need good hardware to pull this off, but i've been looking at craiglist used servers and i've seen single core (3.0ghz) blade servers going for $75. The only reason I've been looking at these is because some of them have raid cards, which i plan on using for raid 5 or 10 (havent decided yet).

I would also love to minimize power consumption because i'd like to run this server 24/7 or close to that.

Thanks for the help and suggestions guys.
31 answers Last reply Best Answer
More about home file server
  1. Well you could build a low-powered PC and fill it with hard drives, and run Windows or Linux. Or you could buy a NAS from DLink or somebody like that, plug drives in it and go. The end result is somewhat the same. From what I've read a full PC will be faster, but harder to deal with. The standalone NAS will be easier to deal with, but not quite as fast. The standalone NAS might be a little cheaper, but it doesn't take much PC power to run a server.
  2. Cool. So if i got the NAS plug and play ones will that be able to act as a cloud storage or will i have to have it hooked up to another pc thats on all the time?

    I've been looking around on craiglist and it seems you have grab a p4 2.8 ghz desktop with 1gb ram or so far around $50 which seems reasonable. Would i just need to add a cheap raid card and then install a server os? Would the server benefit more from a dual core
  3. The definition of a NAS is such that it should be plugged into the network not into another PC.

    A P4 will be able to serve your files fine. If you want to do more than this then you may want to consider something a bit faster. Using this older hardware is really going against your low power consumption requirement!
  4. So if i wanna put around 4 drives in raid 5 to access around my house and on the go, what would be the best option in your opinion to help me keep it on a budget?
  5. Products on the marketplace will change with time, I had looked into a D-Link DNS-323 and it would do what you want to do, and hold 2 drives. Something for 4 drives would be more expensive. You can go to tom's homepage and search for NAS, they have done some comparison articles in recent history.
  6. My friend loves his 40TB home server dual Gb, support 802.3ad that I built.
    Very low power about 180W max when use, decent speed over 80MB/sec
    He mainly stream Bluray.iso files to FOUR of his HD players: TVIX S1, his home-made HTPC, Core 100HT-BD and DUNE-BASE

    That was built last year the system capable of handling 30x 3TB HDD

    each SATA port can see 12TB (raid5 from 5x drives)

    as of today the cost would be much lower since the 2TB HDD now in the range of 70's

    Here is the link
  7. Thanks for the link, its helpful to see what other people did. Is there a cheaper raid card that would fit my needs, 4 or so hdds? I dont really need an external display. Do i even need a raid card for hardware raid for how little im going? From what ive heard hardware raid is really only useful when you have lots of redundancies, otherwise software raid will suffice perfectly especially if i decide to use linux as the server os.
  8. Thats for the link! its a bit pricey but i guess it'll have to do as i dont really have another option. About the mini itx cpu combo boards though. I was looking at some of them on newegg mainly the ones with intel atom, but i googled it at none of them support SATA port multiplier.
  9. Oh never mind, the ones i was looking at have the nm10 chipset which doesnt support it, but the one in your 40tb server is on a different chipset.
  10. Ok heres what i have so far:

    mobo/cpu/vga- 13w tdp, chipset will allow for port multiplier in the future if i need to expand, uses sodimm so i can recycle an old laptop
    memory: 1x2gb ddr3 from old laptop
    case enough for my hdds and 250w psu seems like itll be more than enough
    samsung 2tb x3 - for raid 5, i think software raid will suffice for now

    total comes to $420

    any good?
  11. Be VERY careful about "port multiplier" support. I kicked myself in the a$$ because I thought my chipset supported PMP (which it technically) when I purchased a MediaSonic four bay eSATA enclosure. Turns out that my chipset (Via VX800) supported CBS PMP mode (older mode) while the external enclosure required FIS mode PMP to operate. These are things that are rarely mentioned inside manuals, you gotta dig pretty deep to check them out.

    Otherwise here is what I'm doing.

    I have a Via Nano L2200 1.6Ghz Mini-ITX board from Jetway with 2GB of DDR2-SDRAM in a small flat enclosure. The system is running with a 160GB 2.5" internal SATA HDD. It has an onboard gigabit ethernet port and all the rest of the "standard" stuff. Originally I had an external two bay eSATA enclosure that did RAID 0/1 (I had it in RAID 0). Put two 1x1TB 7200 SATA drives in there and ran with that for awhile. I recently upgraded to a MediaSonic 4 bay eSATA enclosure with PMP support, I planed on using Windows based software RAID with 4x1TB disks. I ran into a snag with the PMP support and elected to purchase a $50 eSATA card that specifically supported FIS based PMP. If I had know about the CBS / FIS mode issue I'd just of spent a little more and opted for the RAID version of the MediaSonic enclosure.

    Basically this is my suggestion, build a Via based (do not use Atom, you'll regret it later) Mini-ITX server then purchase an external eSATA RAID enclosure. This will allow you to not provide a network file share (that's all a NAS is) but also have your own AD / DNS server or whatever project you desire, including VPNs or web servers. If your an enthusiast it make sense to build your own multi-purpose home server rather then buying a bunch of appliances, and then building your own home server.

    Logic supply is a good site for just about everything Mini-ITX based. Their wanting for the newer generation of Via boards so I'd suggest you get the mainboard from Newegg. Just ensure the board will fit the case as some boards come with a CF-Card slot (booting off Flash) under them which prevents them from using some cases.
  12. bavman said:

    samsung 2tb x3 - for raid 5, i think software raid will suffice for now

    Atom will not perform particularly well for RAID 5 using software raid. However it will be faster than gigabit LAN. Can't say I recommend using the Atom / board though - especially when it's an embedded processor.

    When building a RAID array it's often a good idea to diversify the drives you are using as drives from the same manufacturer in the same batch are likely to fail at the same time. So perhaps pick up one Samsung, Seagate and Hitachi/WD.
  13. First off, thanks for the recommendation about diversifying drivers, so what kind of hardware would you recommend for raid 5?

    From what im understanding if i want a software raid then i need a decent cpu, but if i choose hardware then ill need a decent raid controller which will run 100-150, but i can get away with a weaker cpu?

    Lets say my budget is $500 right now including harddrives and everything. Less would be better if possible. I would like at least 4tb or so of usable space, and at least 1 drive fault tolerance.
  14. I didn't have a look at the case / PSU you listed. That PSU is going to be total garbage and you are at real risk of system instability because of it.

    I'm from Scotland so I'm not particularly clued up on US pricing and availability unfortunately.

    You may want to consider a mATX form factor motherboard instead of anything smaller - it just starts to get more expensive. Maybe consider a low end core 2 duo or an i3.

    I think RAID 5 meets your requirements as running RAID 10 for 4TB will require 4 drives instead of 3.
  15. How would an athlon x2 compare to the c2d? Theyre the cheapest dual core cpus @ 3.1ghz right now. If I got any higher i might as well get a i3-2100 since its cheaper then any core2dou. I'll look into it when i get back home and run any other ideas i get by you guys. Thanks for all the help so far.
  16. Ok so how about an
    athlon x2 3.1ghz - has lower tdp @ 65w
    This raid card:
    3 different 2tb harddrives
    1gb of ram (2? do i even need that much?)

    Also how does sound, then a decent 300w psu to leave some overhead room. How about mother board, will any decent one work good?
  17. I was googling this afternoon and I couldn't really find any benchmarks on the x2's raid 5 performance. However it's likely to perform better than an atom!

    Somewhat confused at why you are picking up a software raid card? Most linux distros will let you set up a software raid array with just a collection of drives; regardless of how they are connected. Had you thought about what OS you'd like to run?

    Any motherboard should do the job. Try and find something with lots of SATA2 ports though and you could potentially avoid the raid card.
  18. So, drop the raid card...decent mobo with 6 or sata drives. I was thinking about ubuntu or another linux distro as i heard they work really nicely for this kind of stuff. I might be able to get windows server if i can get it discounted through my school, but id rather not spend a lot of money on an o/s.
  19. Bavman go with a Via CPU if your going for software RAID. Their more then strong enough to get max speed and you won't need an expensive HW RAID card to go with them.

    Please understand its not "Intel Atom" or nothing for Mini-ITX. Atom is actually one of the worst mini-itx CPU's to ever be built, Intel deliberately hobbled it to prevent it from competing with their i3. They didn't want to create another Celeron era. If you need a manufacture then look up Jetway, they make great mini-itx boards with the Via Nano series. Even the dual core Nano's are carried by them.
  20. Even though they are both 1.6 or 1.8 dual core or single core? is it a better chipset too?
  21. Don't let the "Ghz" be your deciding factor. Most dedicated RAID chips run at 66~133 MHZ tops, specifically the Intel i960 (common in older LSI MegaRaid cards).

    CPU's have different architectures that lend to different performance capabilities. An UltraSparc T3 only runs at 1.6Ghz yet can easily outpace any x86 CPU on the market for total IPS. You had Pentium 4's running at 3.6Ghz that would get stomped by a single core Phenom or Core running at 2.0Ghz.

    The Intel Atom CPU doesn't do speculative computing and has an incredibly weak branch prediction unit. Its slightly stronger then a cell phone CPU. A Via Nano is a real full up speculative CPU with a full branch prediction unit. It's clock rate and voltage are deliberately kept low (you can't OC them) because the CPU is designed to run in ATM's, cash registers, casino gambling machines and various environments that can get dusty and experience temperature extremes without ventilation. They even produce CPU's that run without needing any active cooling (fanless).

    For chipsets you'll see the XV700, VX800 or CN1000. They have a newer one that should be available now. Via integrates a weak GPU onto the northbridge chipset, you end up with models designed with HTPC and others for barebones server work. Via CPU's are also soldiered to the board, their part of an integrated design. You just need to add RAM, some form of storage (CF / HDD) and a case / PSU and your finished. The icing is that padlock encryption is supported in OpenSSL for VPN's both in Linux and Windows NT. Linux supports padlock through the dmcrypt function for disk encryption, Windows you can use DiskCryptor for padlock supported full disk encryption.
  22. Thanks for the input. Im looking around at VIA itx boards, but all the ones ive found offer only 2xsata ports. So would i need an expansion card in the pci slot?
  23. That is because most Mini-ITX cases only have room for two drives. Jetway has a pretty good selection but I can't look at .tw sites from my work computer. When I get home I can browse through their selection and pick out a few models. My suggestion if you want to run multiple drives in a RAID setup is to go with an external enclosure.

    The reason is that Mini-ITX PSU's tend to be low power in nature. If your building your own I'd suggest going with a PicoPSU 50~60W, their 90%+ efficient and sip power. The Mainboard + RAM + internal 2.5" HDD will use less then 40W of power and will have to remain on full time. Adding another four 3.5" 7200RPM HDD's will go beyond what that small of a PSU is capable of doing, both in power and cooling requirements. Something like a MediaSonic 4 bay RAID enclosure will take care of the power / cooling of the HDD's and RAID them out to what appears to be a single SATA device (connected to the 2nd SATA port through an eSATA bracket). This is the method I use due to my power situation.

    In South Korea where I work, utility bills follow an exponential tiered pricing system. The first tier is actually sold at under cost and is subsidized by the SK government. Once you pass the first tier your cost per kwh doubles to a relatively low cost. Pass into the third tier and it doubles again, the fourth tier has it double yet again. As you can see anyone utilizing large amounts of power will hit into a $500~700 USD a month power bill during the summer. But if your run your house economically then its typically $70~150 USD a month during the summer. The extra money from the top is used to subsidize the lowest level. In this environment it is absolutely critical that anything running 24/7 (router / server / HDD array) be economical electricity wise else I'll be bumped into a higher tier bracket.

    So rather then upgrade to a micro-ITX or higher formfactor with the required 250W+ PSU I chose to stay with a highly efficient mini-ITX @40W (max) and an external enclosure @60W (max).

    You can use 4x internal HDD's with a Micro-ITX or standard ATX board, they make Via boards like that, although at that time you might just go with a low end I3 / I5. Its a Pro / Con decision you have to make.
  24. From work I can access a few things. You can review different boards from here,


    The boards look a bit pricy $150~230 USD each, but its worth it in the long run. EPIA (the -ITX line originally created by Via) was originally designed for industrial purpose's, its just slowly seeped its way into the consumer market. Once I get home I'll post stuff from Jetway's site.
  25. Best answer
    Ok possible boards are,
    Jetway NC74-2007-LF
    This board is 1.6Ghz Nano, supports 64-bit via EMT64
    2 DDR3 slots, supports up to 8GB of memory.
    1Gbit LAN
    USB / COM / ect..
    1xPCIe 16 slot (8 electrically)
    1xMini-PCIe x1 slot (laptop component)

    One of their newer boards is the Via EPIA M-850
    1.6Ghz Nano, 64-bit CPU (EMT64)
    2xDDR3 slots for max of 8GB
    1GB Ethernet
    1xPCIe x4

    Note on the jetway boards, they have their own daughter board expansions system. These boards attach ontop the regular jetway board and provide various functions. Everything from 3 x 1Gbit Ethernet port adapter to a 4xSATA II Raid board, even some serial boards for working with high speed serial connections (T1 / OC3). Contact jetway and they can tell you if a particular daughter board is compatible with your mainboard. Jetway also carries AMD and ION equipped boards. Pick what you need.

    For the HDD enclosure I strongly recommend something from MediaSonic. I was extremely happy in the quality and performance of their equipment.

    HFR2-SU3S2 This is a 4 bay Sata II enclosure that does RAID 0/1/5/0+1. It has its own IO processor chip that does the XOR calculations so this is true HW RAID, it doesn't use your CPU to do anything. It supports eSATA and USB 3.0, although I prefer eSATA whenever possible.

    The big plus for using an external device like this is that your data is always available regardless if your server buys the farm. If something really bad happens and the server is non-accessible, you can pull the enclosure and connect it directly to any PC via USB and read your data. Makes it ideal for a RAID-5 setup and storing your system backups on it.

    This should be enough info for you to get hunting, good luck.
  26. All seems like nice hardware palladin9479 but can you comment on compatibility with Linux distros / Windows Server?
  27. Fully compatible with all common Linux (RHEL / Debian / Suse / Mandriva) and Windows XP / 2003 / 2008.

    I've build dozens of routers and servers based on this hardware so I'm pretty confident in its stability and universal compatibility.
  28. Best answer selected by bavman.
  29. Thanks to everyone for the help. Hopefully I will be ordering by the end of the month. Ive decided to go with a VIA board combo, and an external raid enclosure. I feel this will be a good balance of energy efficiency and performance.
  30. When configure as RAID5, SPM394 works with ANY SATA port. It does not care where SATA port suport PM or not

    Once configure as RAID5, the mobo sees SINGLE BIG HDD drive... That the beauty of it you dont have to deal with Linux, FreeBSD, WHS... drivers

    Now SPM394 supports 3TB you with a 2x SATA ports you can have a 24TB volume
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