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Building a NAS?


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I need a NAS setup for redundancy (so 2/4 disks in RAID1 or 4 in RAID5) which is quiet, low power and girlfriend approved (so some old server case crammed with HDD's, fans and a loud PSU is out of the picture). I've looked into building a Atom based system but since the motherboards seem to only have a PCI slot it drastically limits the RAID cards these things can accept, unless i spend more on the RAID card than the rest of the system. This would make buying a pre-made solution more palateable. Capacity wise, if I go for a 2 disc system I will aim for 2x 1.5TB in RAID1, and if I get a 4 disc, 4x 1TB in RAID5. Its not a great deal of storage but it should see me through the next few years until I can get something bigger and powerful enough to use ZFS/RAID-Z.

So far I've seen a few things that interest me:

Synology DS209+

QNAP TS-209 Pro II

Netgear ReadyNAS Duo

QNAP TS-409 Pro

Tranquil PC BBS2

Promise SmartStor NS4300N

The Tranquil PC BBS2 interests me most, because it is an Atom based server with RAID5 and a sexy case rather than a NAS appliance masquerading as a server. With this I could roll my own NAS with extra stuff included and it passes the GF test. But, i cannot find a single review of the product anywhere which means it would be a very blind purchase.

Anybody else either building or buying a NAS? Are there other products I've missed? Any advice on setting up a NAS?

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"Drobo + Drobo NAS Mini" comes to mind for small quiet setup. Not the fastest thing in the world, but takes care of raid in a box over USB and the rest of your network.


I've looked into building a Atom based system but since the motherboards seem to only have a PCI slot it drastically limits the RAID cards these things can accept,

Do they have multiple ports for SATA drives though? If so, can't you just do a software raid without the need for a raid card?

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Atom boards come with 2x SATA ports, which isn't enough given that I would need to install the OS onto something if I went with the DIY solution. The Via SN series EPIA mobo's would be better for this, as they come with 4 SATA ports, hardware raid and a CF card slot but this kinda seems like buying into the top end of last years range when the Atom and Nano are considered.

The Drobo share looks nice, but its 500£+ before you put any discs into it, which is a little to much unfortunately.

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I have a Shuttle G2 small form factor with a quad-core proc running Openfiler that is fairly quite. Now I am not running a RAID setup, just a large 1TB hard drive and a couple of WD 500GB USB drives off the back. I built this to be an iSCSI target for my home VMware ESX lab. However, the wife approves on the noise and power consumption :)

I do like the Tranquil you found as well, but I got the Shuttle setup from TigerDirect, I live around the corner from their Illinois warehouse, but they are doing $1.99 shipping through Christmas. My complete setup was around $330.00. I will admit I had some DDR2 800 memory laying around.

Good luck.

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You could always hack into the "Gibson" and store your files in their "garbage" folder...j/k

Yeah. Drobe is not cheap, but no solution really is other than salvaging an old desktop to throw some drives in and hope for the best.

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Look in the classifieds of your local newspapers for a cheap PC,

You really don't need something that powerful to run a NAS OS.

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Vako, might want to look at external sata port multipliers for connecting an external enclosure to another machine.

I still recommend Openfiler as the server software of choice.

We are working off of an old amd machine with 4 drives in it, 2 1tb and 2 500gb and openfiler gives us about 30MB/s when the drives are in a RAID0.

Ideally if you can go with something that isn't going to limit you on interface, and has some expandability that's your best bet.


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Girlfriends don't like 'unnecessary' computer stuff, such as personal centralised storage and backup systems. They still won't want it even if they loose all there music, documents and photos resulting from a hard drive failure and you gently point out that if she hadn't been so against the idea of some thing that was 'unnecessary' she wouldn't have lost any thing.

I think the Drobo + Drobo Share is your best option VaKo, but I don't like the Drobo Share from the perspective of I cannot directly control the software it runs. Also, the Drobo + Drobo Share is expensive compared to a normal computer. The Drobo Share is the most expensive network card ever (yes, I know it isn't just a network card).

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