I am doing automation and HTPC (Home theater PC’s / Media Centers) projects for my own since years and I think its time to share some of the stuff I picked up as well how to get an awesome NAS for less Bucks. Since i am home in Malaysia i will use local sourced good for local prices thus use Malaysian Ringgit for my local readers and also add a conversion to US Dollars for my international readers.

Todays Exchange rate based on XE.com

1.00 USD              =             3.56150 MYR

1.00 MYR             =             0.280781 USD


Choosing the The NAS solution that fits best

There are a lot of solutions out there and I tried most of them. They all have their Pro’s and Con’s. Since this is about building your own NAS i will only focus at Open Source based solutions that are completely free and can be installed on standard hardware.  I am not looking at 1 or 2 bay NAS storage like Synology, Asustore, D-Link or WD (if I would then Synology would win hands down, sadly they are overpriced especially with the US Dollar on an all time high).

Since I want to make sure that everyone can use this guide to build a decent Home Storage and Media Server (without being a IT Pro) I look for overall factors to build a NAS for home use  but also can be used for a Business (if your office is having 20 Employees or more the hardware requirement would be different). This configuration will be a the middle way between performance and price.

What we want to achieve is to build a Solution for Data Storage, Backup and Sharing, a complete Media Server Solution, Security for the home (CCTV / Cameras), Image / Photo storage for teh family (and later i will show how to use the same NAS as as Storage object for XEN Servers and how to build a Highly Available Cluster & Heartbeat solution for any application, as well how you can provision new PC’s with it and use it as personal Cloud. Basically a multi  Server replacement.

i will talk about 3 of the better and more famous solutions out there and have also rated them based on this factors:

Usability (How easy is it to administrate and Use) Feature Set / Add-Ons Community strength Hardware Requirements / Compatibility future Update & Upgrades



FreeNAS_logo_lighthttp://www.freenas.org/ | SCREENSHOTS


Freenas started in 2005 by Olivier Cochard-Labbé with the need of having an affordable storage solution in his home, not finding any open source solution that fit his requirement he wrote his own solution using M0n0wall (a widely used firewall distribution) as a base. Currently a company called IXSystems is maintaining and developing freenas (read the history here: http://www.freenas.org/about/history.html) (Source Freenas)

Out of the box, FreeNAS provides enterprise features like snapshots, replication, S.M.A.R.T. monitoring, remote syslog, and many more. With its simple management interface, FreeNAS is perfect for a business looking to build a custom storage solution, whether for a small office or a growing infrastructure.


Usability               : Pro Skill set required, if  you don’t know what CLI is hands off.

Feature Set        : Great Features and Addons (virtually can install anything)

Community        : Decent Size (mostly Business)

Hardware            : High (needs fast hardware and lot of RAM)

Update                 : Very Easy to Update




http://www.openmediavault.org/ SCREENSHOTS


OpenMediaVault (OMV) is a complete and free open-source software (FOSS) network-attached storage (NAS) operating system (OS). It is developed and designed primarily for home use. Developer Volker Theile began development of OpenMediaVault in 2009 Previously he worked with the FreeNAS project. (Source: Wikipedia)

OpenMediaVault is primarily designed to be used in home environments or small home offices, but is not limited to those scenarios. It is a simple and easy to use out-of-the-box solution that will allow everyone to install and administrate a Network Attached Storage without deeper knowledge.


Usability               : Medium Skill set required, Linux Knowledge a plus

Feature Set        : OK, gaining more popularity so more to come.

Community        : Still Small but growing.

Hardware            : Runs on Pretty much any hardware thanks to the underlying Linux Platform

Updates               : Very Easy to Update



http://www.xpenology.nl/ | http://www.xpenology.com/


XPEnology is an operating system based on Synology DiskStation Manager (DSM). This is possible because Synology DSM has developed under the GPL license . As a result, it is free to use and adapt by third parties. The advantage of XPEnology is that it is compatible with many different hardware and so you almost any old PC / server can use as a NAS (Source: xpenology.nl)


Usability            : Easy to use, beginner level

Feature Set       : Excellent feature set

Community       : Small (but can use Synology community forums)

Hardware          : Low to Medium may not run on all hardware.

Updates:            : Medium, (as the base is Synology DSM not all updates can be installed immediately (check with community)


DISCLAIMER: Please be Aware that I take no Responsibility for any Data Loss, Hardware Damage, financial losses or any other issues arising from following this guide.


Choosing the Right Hardware (Yay, Shopping Time!!)

When Choosing hardware we have to look a bit ahead in time and make sure the System is enough Space to store and serve Media files (movies, Music and more), its 24/7 on so it should be as quiet as possible, Energy consumption friendly, Data Up and Download Speed (Nobody likes to wait for Data)



The Core and the most important part (next to the Hard disk’s) as here lot of things can go wrong so here a few pointers:

1. A small form factor: I like that my NAS runs headless on my desk without taking up all the real estate a normal desktop computer takes up. Keeping the NAS small allows me to keep it nearby without too much extra clutter or have it in the living room next to the TV.

2. Low-power CPU support: Low-power CPUs and the motherboards that run them tend to be a little bit more pricey than their full-powered cousins. However, a NAS is running 24/7, costing you extra and it can be a substantial sum.

3. At least 6 x SATA3 Ports: 6 ports are enough to build a pretty decent storage (if you use the largest hard disks currently available (6TB) that would give you 30TB of usable storage (the rest is reserved for redundancy of disks and fault tolerance.

4. Onboard Gigabit: Nothing beats the speed of devices connected via LAN cable. There are multiple ways to achieve that and you can use a combination with wireless devices but if you transfer large files then you need to have cable and also a decent switch installed. Most Motherboards come with Gigabit Ethernet port built-in so we should make use of it. (I use Cat6 all over my house and that was the best decision I have done as it really pumps up the speed together with my switch as I tend to transfer large Files (movies) back and forth.

5. Passively Cooled CPU, preferably integrated: The primary reason I like an integrated CPU is because the CPU Cooling is done passively thus no failing fans or fan noise.


The Best Alternative in my personal opinion as well currently available in Malaysia, comes with 6 x Sata3 ports but without passive cooling or CPU on board what will add  extra cost to our build but it will improve performance.


here it is the GA-H97N-WIFI the Price is RM 359 (USD 100)


The Specs:

2 x HDMI ports
High Definition Audio
2 x Gigabit LAN
Fast Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac
Bluetooth 4.0, 3.0+HS, 2.1+EDR
6 x SATA 6Gb/s connectors
6 x USB 3.0/2.0 ports




 Processor & RAM

Since we are only serving media and don’t do Virtualization an Intel DualCore G3220 3GHz for RM 175.— (USD 52.–) is more than adequate to do the job and will also decode HD video. For the RAM we are using standard RAM (Non ECC) since the board is not capable of using ECC Ram anyways. So a 8GB Kingston D3 PC1600 Stick will set us back RM 240.— (USD 68.–)

Currently we are at an Expenditure of RM 774.— (about USD 220.–)


Power Supply

The Power Supply is another expense and one where we rather get a good one instead buying the cheapest, but why should we? Because of the noise. Its terrible you are watching a movie and always have a fan sound in the back.

The Cooler Master 550W Silent Pro is the lowest I would go

Cost is RM 289.—( USD 82.50)



Some of the nicer casing I found are sadly not available in Malaysia (Fractal Design) the casing holds 6 Disks, how awesome and for once is not black.

Since i cant get the nice  casing from Fractal Design i went and on a hunt for a decent looking case that is affordable, comes with a good feature set (Quiet, Tool free, enough harddisk slots…) and found the Zalman M1 ITX Casing, that has enough space for 5 Disks and the price is RM 279.—(USD 80.–)




That leaves us with the last component the Hard Disk’s.  All Major manufacturer came out with a NAS Drive line what makes sense. A more Durable hard disk for a higher price. Here we save a little as the proper HDD’s are almost double the price so i went with a more economical version:

3 x 3TB Seagate Barracuda for RM 335.—each for a total of RM 1005.–  (USD 290.–)


That brings the total cost of the system to: RM 2347.—or USD 667.—


if you are looking for a very affordable / value type setup then yuo can choose this build here:

GIGABYTE C1007UN-D ( Celeron 1.7Ghz and Fanless miniITX board) (RM 209.–)

2GB Kingston Ram (RM 70.–)

3 Units of 2TB Seagate Barracuda HDD’s (each RM 265.–= 795.–)

Cooler Master Elite 100 (RM 139.–)

Zalman 400W Power Supply (RM 119/–)

Total Cost: RM 1332.– / USD 380.–