NAS for Personal/Home Use - Advice Wanted


Dec 24, 2013
Hello, I'm planning on building a NAS for me and my family. This is simply for everyone to have a backup for all their files, and a place where we can store files en masse (like pictures or videos) which we only use infrequently.

I have some hardware already, but i'd need to buy the rest:

Motherboard: MSI H81M-E33 (Has 4 SATA ports, so should be plenty)
CPU: i3 4160 3.6GHz
RAM: 2x4gb 2600MHz
Those three are the parts that I already have, or would procure pretty cheaply.
For the rest i'm planning to use these:

Case: Fractal Design 304
Power Supply: EVGA 500 W1 (for 25 Euro)
Storage: 4x 2TB WD Red in RAID 5

I plan on running the Server on Linux, probably Ubuntu or (FreeNAS?), unless something else makes more sense.
Then use OwnCloud for interfacing with the server.

To the Questions:

I've built a couple of gaming PCs before, but never a NAS; are there any obvious things i'm missing?

Right now I only have 4 drives and 4 according SATA slots, I've read that you can connect multiple drives to a single Port; would that apply in this case? If not, in which situations can you do that?

Are WD Red required for Home/Personal use? The server won't be accessed a lot, but it would be running all day. In addition to that, I've heard that Drives go into Hybernation if not in use, if that's the case, wouldn't Reds be overkill?

Linux seems to be better for Servers for various reasons. I've never used it before, but I can probably learn how to use it. Does anyone have any recommendations/tips on which Distros are best for usage like this?

More of a general Question. I know in gaming circles that building your own system is almost always cheaper, and can more closely match your requirements; is it the same for home servers? Or are prebuilt set ups more competitive?


Nothing's missing only that you wont be able to get to DDR3-2600MHz You're going to be able to get to DDR3-1600MHz at best.

Each SATA data port corresponds to one physical drive. That can either be an SSD or a HDD. You can't have both of them on one SATA port and there aren't any SATA data splitter cables, that I'm aware of.

I'd suggest getting NAS grade HDD's since they are tried and tested for usage outside of a regular desktop. A regular desktop in average will run for an average of 8 hours everyday. NAS drives are built for endurance.

Same principle, as long as you know what you're doing. There have been many people who opted for a cheaper DIY option and ended up paying more because they didn't know what they were doing. So... yeah! :)


If you want a NAS that "just works", then buy a Synology, Thecus or QNAP. They are plug and play. If you want something to play with then build a NAS and learn from it. It is a personal preference. I could probably build a device to toast bread. But it is much easier to buy a toaster. Commercial NAS is similar, it is an appliance.

The premade ones are very nice. They offer easy software gui interfaces. Little to no command line use to do the basic tasks they made available on the interface. They have low power chips and some ECC support.

Your hardware is fine for NAS use. I'd guess it will pull around 30-50W idle, $70/yr. Some of the newer intels pull less idle with the latest power savings features. I'd recommend using that for now and seeing if you like it and considering a change later if it makes sense. P3 killawatt can measure for you.

you have the option to install nearly anything. you can find solutions that are easy. turnkey and webmin are two. plex is very good for media. with plexpass, $100/life, you can cloud sync to your home server for pictures/videos from your cell phone. if you're paying for a lot of cloud storage you can free that up. cloud storage like GDrive is great for keeping docs available.

you can use KVM and run multiple os using proxmox. I use this and run each app in it's own container. so if something goes wrong i can revert it easily and not impact other services. snapshots allow you to fiddle with it and go back like nothing happened.

since you already have a computer ready to go. give a free solution a try and go from there. one raid 5 isn't a true backup. I'd suggest getting a 10TB disk and backup everything from time to time, keeping it offline when not backing up. for the nas a mirror with 2 disks would be better. even 1 disk in NAS and one disk offline for backup isn't a terrible option. stripes can save some $/Gig, but if the stripe fails it's gone. with a mirror you can recover data. NAS speeds aren't really important for media. new disks seq r/w at network speeds.