Assemble a NAS “do it yourself”

Published by TheJoe on

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

If I still haven't convinced you about choosing the NAS for your home or business, and you really want to experiment, I hope you will enjoy today's article. Today I'm talking about which components to choose for “build” an autonomous NAS, that is not linked to any particular manufacturer, with which you can indulge yourself in the choice of hardware components. To indulge yourself with the software you will have to wait for a few articles. The speech is long and we will talk about it a little’ further on.

I'll start immediately by revealing that the NAS is nothing more than a real PC connected to the network. Inside the NAS are hidden exactly the same components that you would find in a common PC, but optimized to take up less space and of course, given the basic tasks that he would have to perform, less powerful than those of a classic computer.

In any case, in today's article I will choose quite powerful components for a NAS, so that they can last as long as possible without the need for modifications. I could have based the project on the Raspberry Pi, and there are those who enjoyed doing it, but in my opinion the computing power of the Raspberry would not be able to support audio streaming / important video in a decent way.


I definitely recommend a mini-ITX, better if with integrated processor. You will hardly buy a different processor to upgrade.

Below are three fanless solutions. Some can be connected to a fan, but without fans you will minimize noise.

Cooling down:Fan o fanlessFanlessFan o fanless
Processor:J1900 (2 GHz)J1900 (2 GHz)J3455 (2,3 GHz)
SATA connectors:2 x SATA2 3.0 Gb/s2 x SATA2 3.0 Gb/s2 x SATA3 6.0 Gb/s (expandable)
RAM:Dual channel, fino a 16GBDual channel, fino a 16GBDual channel, fino a 16GB
PCI:2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 Slots2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 Slots2 x PCI Express 2.0 x1 Slots
RJ45:It (support WOL)It (support WOL)2 x Realtek® GbE LAN (support WOL)
USB:6 USB 2.0 (3 frontal, 3 behind)
1 USB 3.1 Gen1
5 USB 2.0 (2 frontal, 3 behind)
1 USB 3.1 Gen1
6 USB 2.0 (4 frontal, 2 behind)
4 USB 3.1 Gen 1 (2 frontal, 2 behind)

Low costs, small footprint and computing power similar to that of a low-mid-range desktop (even a little’ more). In addition, in all three cases a RAM of up to 16 GB, and there aren't many commercial NAS that can boast such a copious amount of RAM (or to make future expansion possible).

I bet you've noticed the location of the USB ports. In fact in the table I used the term “frontal” for the sake of brevity, if you want to indicate the USB header. You will need to pay attention to installing the software on a different disk than the storage. The simplest thing is to buy a cable like this and connect it to the motherboard, then you will take a cable like this and you will connect it to the previous cable, then you will take a 2.5 drive″ and you will finally connect it to the previous cable. On this disk you will install the operating system and all the software necessary for data management.

Unfortunately, this pindal flight is necessary. You need to go from an IDC interface to a SATA interface. Online I was unable to find solutions to this effect, the only alternative seems to be a conversion “IDC – USB” and “USB – SATA”. It is not the most elegant solution, nor the fastest, but it is also true that the computer we are assembling is a NAS and will require neither speed, nor extreme computing power.

Disk for the system

As mentioned this disk will not contain any user data, but only and exclusively the operating system and the applications necessary for managing the files and services active on the NAS. Personally, I wouldn't spend big bucks on large drives. A small SSD from 32 the 64 GB will be more than enough.


The motherboards listed in the article all support up to 16GB of RAM and all have two slots available to install it. You will need to install as much RAM as you will need. The logic, for a system with 8GB of RAM, would like me to install two modules of 4GB each, I instead suggest you to install only one of 8GB total. When you want to upgrade you can upgrade to 16GB by buying an additional 8GB slot, without having to find a way to get rid of the old 4GB modules.

Look here:  Slow down a video "mencoder", "ffmpeg" and "sox"

And two 8GB modules aren't that expensive anyway:

Data discs

This is an important component, on which you will not have to save. Data disks are the medium on which your data physically resides e, unless you want to lose them forever, it is worth spending a few euros more, but to take home a quality product.

Not everyone knows, but there are disks made especially for NAS. Discs designed to stay on 24 hours a day, whose revolutions per minute are reduced to improve durability and are silent. Usually discs marked with red (red) they are designed for NAS.

With several SATA connections to the motherboard you can decide whether or not to configure a RAID.

A system “not RAID” allows the use of both discs (let's say we have two) at the same time. Two 1TB drives will be seen by the system as a single 2TB drive. A “RAID 1” instead it allows you to save the same data simultaneously on both 1TB disks, making them virtually identical.

The advice I give you is to configure the RAID at the software level 1 (we will see it in the next articles) and to save your data so “speculate” on two discs.

One of the most important things is also the brand of the record. You will have to buy two different ones, of different brands, but of the same size.

Having discs of different brands allows in case a production batch is defective to exclude the disc “sick” keeping that healthy. If you bought them of the same brand in case of a manufacturing defect it could be possible that they both stop working at the same time, nullifying the advantage of having configured the RAID 1.

There are several variants of the RAID system, not just RAID 1, but it is not the subject of the article and in the domestic environment I do not think we should take them into consideration. If you want to learn more Wikipedia has a very detailed page on the subject.

Seagate IronWolf
Manufacturer:Western DigitalSeagate
Form factor:3,5″3,5″
Interface:SATA 6.0 Gb/sSATA 6.0 Gb/s
Capacity r / w:180 MB/s180 MB/s
Rotations of the disc:5400 rpm5900 rpm

Beware of don't buy the WD40 ** EFAX and generally all those who claim to use SMR technology. Even if declared compatible, they use a technology that makes it difficult to recover data in case of disk failure.


For the choice of the case you will have to take into account the overall dimensions of the device and the internal dimensions of the case. We cannot take a case smaller than the motherboard, as it would make no sense to take it bigger than necessary.

Obviously, as the number of disks installed increases, the volume of the case will increase. In our case we have 4 SATA connectors on the motherboard that can be integrated with others 4 connectors on one PCI can be installed separately: the Syba. In the most complete configuration you would have a total of 8 backup disks.

power supply

Going to feed more discs, the power supply must also be sized according to what we attach to it. If we are above 400W you will have no problems, and since we are assembling a device that will stay on – presumably – day and night my advice is to buy a silent power supply.


As for the operating system, I have no great suggestions to make. The most popular systems in the industry like Synology (from which it derives Xpenology) and Open Media Vault they are certainly effective and tailor-made for such a project. Keep in mind though that, as already said, a NAS is in effect a computer. You can install any Linux distribution with or without a graphical interface (better without), or rather the server version of your favorite distribution.

There are several packages to administer your own server and, unless you want to install a commercial solution like cPanel or Plesk, I advise you to read an article on the subject that I wrote some time ago.


In this article you have found several hardware alternatives, all compatible with each other, to assemble your DIY NAS. Don't think commercial NAS are very different from one you will build, they will only be more compact. A dust’ the same difference that exists between a laptop and a desktop computer.

The big advantage of a do-it-yourself solution like this is the ability to replace faulty or loose components, you can add disks and RAM at will… you can't do this with a commercial NAS.

Oh, then if I haven't convinced you and you want to buy a ready-made NAS you can always check which was the best of the 2020.


I keep this blog as a hobby by 2009. I am passionate about graphic, technology, software Open Source. Among my articles will be easy to find music, and some personal thoughts, but I prefer the direct line of the blog mainly to technology. For more information contact me.


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