John's Musings

Yeah, Me Neither

Network Attached Storage Project

I've always needed a network file server but now more than ever. But network file servers are expensive. So I decided to see if I could build one and save a few dollars.

Here's a list of materials

- Lenovo TS140 with 16GB of RAM (cost $342)

- Western Digital 4TB Red NAS Hard Drives (cost $147 ea.) (3 ea.)

- SATA cables (cost $3.61 ea.) (3 ea.)

- SSD Hard Drive 60GB Silicon Power (cost $29.99) optional, the OS can be installed on USB Thumb Drives

- SanDisk Cruzer Fit USB Drive (cost $14.49 for 2 ea.) Use 2 for a redundant Operating System. Using a USB drives saves room for one more hard drive for storage.

- FreeNAS (cost FREE)


- Inexpensive platform on which to build a home file server.

- Whisper quiet and attractive. Well constructed case.

- 5 SATA connectors

- Easy to assemble and upgrade

-Space for more RAM if needed


- Large tower, not suitable for sitting on entertainment center

- Only room for 4 to 5 hard drives

- SATA connectors are SATA III 3GB

- Motherboard did not come with latest firmware installed. Must make bootable USB DOS disk to upgrade firmware.

- Had to change boot order in BIOS after installation of OS to allow FreeNAS to boot. (This would probably happen on any new DIY install).

- Comes with a DVD drive. That could be on your PROS list, but not on mine. Unnecessary for what I'm doing. I unplugged mine and swiped the SATA connector.

There are multiple NAS Operating Systems out there but FreeNAS is probably the standard. Some other options include:

- NAS4Free

- OpenMediaVault

- Amahi

- Rockstor

There are certainly several more options however those are probably the more popular ones. Depending on your needs any of the above may work just fine. In my instance I am just installing this as a network attached file server. I have no desire to serve media files or run extra services such as P2P, Cloud, or other torrent services. Just files. So almost certainly every single OS listed above will suit my needs.

Many like the ZFS file support of FreeNAS and NAS4Free, others swear by the BTRFS file system in Rockstor, and yet others swear by the speed and stability of Debian Linux which OpenMediaVault is based on.

It was a breeze to set up FreeNAS and to begin providing much needed network file storage space.