Having a place to store all of your media files in one central location is a nice way to keep your media safe and easy to access. Many households today have several streaming devices throughout the home. Wouldn’t it be nice to have access to all your media content to stream to any device in your home? There are a few cheap solutions that allow you to build your own NAS media server (Network Attached Storage) to serve up all your video files. The nice part about building your own NAS media server is you can customize what kind of hard drives and software you want to place on it.
What is a NAS Media Server?
A media NAS server is a computer or storage bay that consists of several hard drives that allow you to centralize all your data. It can be very useful if you have a lot of video files that you would like to stream to media boxes throughout your house. You can also use this NAS server to backup all of your important files.
Build Your Own Media NAS Server
Old Computer Parts
There are several options to build your own NAS server. If you have an old computer laying around the house you can install some free software that can turn that old system into a media server. This is a great way to re-purpose an old computer.
This one I built using the FreeNAS OS. I have been using this server for many years to serve up videos and backup important data. I had a lot of older computer parts lying around and was able to piece one together. Basically, you will need a computer case, motherboard, hard drives, network card and a USB key or SD card. There are several ways you can configure your NAS setup, depending on your needs and the number of drives you plan on using.
The other option is to build one using new parts for a low power consumption system. We will show you how to do both in this article. Let’s look at some options for free software to turn your computer into a stand-alone home NAS server.
Types of NAS Software
FreeNAS – is a great free software package that can be installed on just about any platform that allows you to share your data over your computer network. The nice part about FreeNAS is you can control and configure your NAS box from a computer browser. Every major operating system is supported with SMB/CIFS (Windows file shares), NFS (Unix file shares) and AFP (Apple File Shares) as well as FTP, iSCSI (block sharing), WebDAV and other methods of sharing data over the network are available. iSCSI also supports VMware VAAI, Microsoft ODX and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and 2012 R2 Clustering.
Minimum hardware requirements:
- Multicore 64-bit* processor (Intel strongly recommended)
- 8GB Boot Drive (USB Flash Drive suffices)
- 8GB RAM
- At least 1 direct-attached disk (Hardware RAID strongly discouraged)
- One physical network port
Here is a video description of the install process from the FreeNAS team:
FreeNAS has a whole series of how-to videos to install and best configure the software.
More how-to videos from the FreeNAS site.
They have a good forum if you get stuck with your install or have questions.
Good source of pdf installs documents.
NAS4Free is similar to FreeNAS but allows you to install NAS software on an older 32 bit systems. NASFree is great if you have older hardware laying around the house. This software allows for many different configurations. NAS4Free supports sharing across Windows, Apple, and UNIX-like systems. It includes ZFS v5000 , Software RAID (0,1,5), disk encryption, S.M.A.R.T / email reports etc. with the following protocols: CIFS/SMB (Samba), Active Directory Domain Controller (Samba), FTP, NFS, TFTP, AFP, RSYNC, Unison, iSCSI (initiator and target), HAST, CARP, Bridge, UPnP, and BitTorrent which is all configurable by its WEB interface.
Check out their Wiki page for a compatibility list and hardware requirements.
Here is a good video of how the install process works:
OpenMediaVault is another free NAS software that is based on the Linux operating system. The software is easy and simple to install. It is geared for the home user and requires limited knowledge of NAS configurations.
Here is their Wiki page for more information and requirements.
Here is a demo video showing the install process:
Build Your Own NAS From Parts
If you don’t have an old computer laying around, you can try building your own system with custom parts. There are several ways you can build a custom NAS server. You can customize your NAS and install one of the software packages mentioned above. Let’s look at a low cost, low power consumption option.
SilverStone Technology Premium Mini-ITX NAS Computer Case
ASRock Rack C2550D4I Intel Avoton C2550 2.4GHz Mini-ITX Motherboard & CPU Combo
Crucial 16GB Kit (8GBx2) DDR3/DDR3L
Western Digital 4TB Internal Hard Drive IntelliPower 64MB Cache SATA 6.0Gb
This can be a fun project for someone who has a little technical know-how. I personally have built several of my own NAS boxes for both media and file backup storage. It is a nice way to keep your files safe and in one place.
Fully Configured and Built NAS Server
The last option is to buy a fully built and configured NAS server. FreeNAS has a really slick system called the FreeNAS Mini. It is fully loaded and configured. It offers low power consumption and 4 terabits of storage. Pretty awesome NAS box if you ask me.
As you can see there are many options to keep your files safe in one centralized localization. Building your own NAS media server can be a great way to customize and learn how a storage device works. I highly recommend trying to build your own.