Home Server

So I am entirely new to data storage and am looking to build a home server/NAS for myself and my fiance.

We recently had a catastrophic data loss, and we are looking to better protect ourselves going forward. Not to mention, who doesn’t love a new project?

We would like to build a storage system that can hold bulk data as well as host our in-home minecraft server. I would also like the ability to image or clone our boot drives once a week in a hot swappable bay and cycle drives in weekly to always have that backed up outside the server in our safe.

What sort of file system can accommodate all these needs with an easy to use interface?

Hardware recommendations wouldn’t go amiss, but I am primarily worried about the software side at the moment. Any assistance or advice would be hugely helpful as there is so much out there.

Thank you!

EDIT: I have about $2k to put into the project. My base plan was 4 12TB drives for the bulk storage and 2 2TB drives to rotate for the clones/images of the boot drives.

Id like to call all of the data in bulk important, i know there is a thing servers can do to notify and backup when drives are going bad, i just don’t know terms yet as this is all very new to me.

For now its just the 2 of us worth of data and a minecraft server.


I don’t mean to be very crass, but a kinda price range, or target to work with would help.

Also any existing materiel that you want to maybe work into the system.

Maybe how many people, and the amounts of data current and projected?

And how important is the data?

I presume some data is more important (personal documents / family photo’s) and some less important (random backed up youtube vids, or scratch data)


Sorry for lacking info, im new to all of this, including how to ask for help.

Thank you for letting know how to better help people help me.

1 Like

Hey, no, it’s great!

I mean, one could just say “Get a brand new FreeNAS Mini” off Amazon, but then it might not be best fit.

You might not have the answers to everything, but the more you know about what you need, the better to shape the question :slight_smile:

Also, from nothing to Jayz2Cents, what is your level of comfort making/maintaining your own machine?

Usually you get more bang for your buck buying used components, and assembling yourself, but some people need pre-builts, with support etc.

There is no rush, just bump the thread in a few days / whenever you have more info to share?

I’d prefer to build my own. That’s the fun part!

Hardware wise, my comfort level is very high. I have built all of my computers since 2002, and my last rig i did with rigid tubing for funsies and that came out great.

Picking parts I may not be very well informed for servers, as I’ve only built gaming rigs. But that’s part of why I came here.

My biggest concern is gonna be the software side of things, and knowing if one thing can accomplish all my goals for my use case.

1 Like

Sweet, that really changes the dynamics!

I’m gonna step aside and let others have a go at making suggestions over the next little while, but just remember, a “server” is literally just a PC with more efficient or feature full components.

here you are getting into another world so to speak.
setting up a hardware based server is not hard (actually choosing the software can be more difficult depending on your OS)
choice of raid setup and how you want it to function, ie set up for speed, set up for redundancy.
then then their is the type of server you want to set up!
dedicated print server, nas, web server, etc.
you also have the option of setup local server or remote.
for safety of backups an off site server may serve you well. (IE in instance of a home fire or similar disaster which could destroy your original computer)
a server in the same room protected via good firewall is good security providing you system login is strong kung fu.
access aside from administrator should be limited.
depending on your OS for example "windows ‘’ can easily set up and configure various types of raid using the storage manager,
Im not that familiar with mac OS and its server setups But Im sure there are fellows here who can answer that better.
Linux has a plethora of server apps that are included with most distros by default and your choice usually during setup.
Debian and Gentoo can offer a wide range of server options. but so can just about any distro.

here is a wiki on raid types and setups.

1 Like

Morning. Some good comments already but will throw in some views on specifics that may help you refine. One suggestion, do a search for “home server build” in the build a PC subsection as the usual suspects have covered this a lot and you met get some alternative ideas.

My overriding comment in every NAS thread, and to clients, is to consider your business needs before worrying about hardware. Therefore it is great to see you clearly state the need before asking about hardware. Well done. So let’s explore!

Sorry to hear that. Hopefully we can create a more resilient solution but remember nothing is perfect so building a backup regime as well as a system is key.

Ok so this adds complexity. Normally for a “noob” storage build I’d recommend a low power consumer storage solution like a MyCloud or a cheap QNAP mirrored NAS. However you want it to also be a game server. This means either running a full fat OS (maybe Linux) or a more advanced consumer NAS that allows containers. Just remember that any situation that mixes “production” loads like a game server with storage loads that prefer cool and stable increases the risk to your data.

Whilst this is an option I’d advise against it. In 2020 your boot partition should be considered disposable. Windows or any other OS can be reinstalled in minutes on a new drive and you can recover programs easily if you retain keys and media. Your data on the other hand is precious. The solution is to either setup a backup regime for just the key data elements that you can’t redownload or to move that data to a separate drive array and backup that whole drive array. Full disk images should be done rarely, say when you do a major update or add features. The main reason for this is space. If you clone a huge disk you can’t compress the file. If you instead use backup software to look for data changes you will only copy increments.

Consider Unraid with a dedicated VM for Minecraft and your NAS shares on their own partition. Just heed the point above about the game server adding complexity. If you want to try a full Linux server that can handle both, and you can use ZFS for storage. Windows would be least advisable as storage spaces is not as good as Unraid or ZFS storage. I don’t think freeNAS would work for you given your plan to disk swap. More on that later.

I’m not sure I understand your data model. Could you expand on how much you need to store please? This may help you answer the question:

  • Four 12TiB disks can hold either 48TiB of data with no resilience, or 36TiB with one disk resilience. Or you could mirror a pair of striped disks (don’t worry if you don’t know what that means) and get 24TiB of fast storage. In 2020 I no longer recommend stripes for speed as the disks are now faster than the average network speed so it is pointless.
  • So do you have 48TiB of data or are you looking for high uptime with one disk redundancy?
  • If you are cloning the boot disks rarely just store them on your main pool, deleting the oldest one to keep space down. There is no need for separate disks.

This is getting long so I’ll just add - having a server is not a perfect backup. You still need separate backups. Ideally you would have another large disk to copy all the server data to and store that in the safe or even at a friend’s house. Main reason is if you are using a windows share via SMB and you get a crypto attack, your server is at risk too. Having cold storage of everything is essential.

Personally, as a rule, I’d rather separate the backup machine from other functions. Just in case …
As a simple backup option I can recommend Odroid HC2 and the appropriate HDD. And if you have the opportunity, even two, and locate one in another physical location to secure your backups as much as possible, even in the event of a fire.
And the machine for the rest of the functions separately based on some x86.

RAID is not a backup

Okay, I am not going to spec out a whole build here but I do have a couple of suggestions and advice.

I use FreeNAS so that’s what I will talk about.

First a hardware guide for FreeNAS. Most of the hardware on here is pretty old but that is in turn good as you can find motherboard / CPU and ECC RAM on ebay for very good prices.

Will it FreeNAS - https://www.ixsystems.com/community/resources/hardware-recommendations-guide.12/

Here is a case to satisfy your drive requirements but…

Case - SilverStone Technology SST-CS380B-USA DIY ATX NAS/Server Storage Computer Case with 8 Front Hot Swap Cases CS380B-USA Cases


Please do not cycle out boot drives if you go with FreeNAS.

Almost everyone with FreeNAS uses a pair of USB thumb drives for the OS.


You mirror these on install and even if BOTH fail you have lost nothing.

In this scenario you reinstall FreeNAS and ask it to scan for existing volumes. Then it goes “Oh yeah, something here!” You select import volume and you are back. If you have been diligent and backed up your FreeNAS config as well you import that to and you are gold.

I will come back with another post later for some motherboard / cpu / ram suggestions.

What sort of processing horsepower and memory will your minecraft server need?

1 Like

Okay, all this should work. Please double check though!

This is all (probably) gross overkill of course.

You would want something like a 650 watt PSU to run the whole thing.

Set your 4 12TB drives up as one vdev in RAIDZ2 (aka RAID6). This is all very simple in the FreeNAS setup GUI wizard.

If you really need more storage later get another 4 12TB drives and setup a second vdev in RAIDZ2 again.

If you did this you would want more RAM as well. The ZFS file system that FreeNAS uses should ideally have 1GB of RAM per TB of raw disk.

You can run the Minecraft server as a virtual server inside FreeNAS.

FreeNAS has support to send data offsite to AWS S3 so you can have an offsite backup.

EDIT: And a suitable CPU cooler as well!

I was bored so I did a FreeNAS installation video.

1 Like

Good Afternoon mak1208,

Hate to hear you had a data loss. It always takes the first one for us to get prepared to stop the next one from happening.

I would NEVER recommed a NAS being more then a NAS. Use it to store data or backup information and get a seperate server for minecraft.

If you want offline or off-site backup, Get an external drive and use it to backup the most important information.

What ro55mo would be perfect for a minecraft and/or other game servers.
It will allow plenty of processor and RAM in case anyone wants to join and also more options for upgrading in the future.

You could even use the same hardware for the NAS with less RAM to save money or go new consumer grade too.

NAS on consumer grade hardware

Ryzen 3400g (built-in graphics)
Thumb Drive for FreeNAS
A PCI-E to sata card
4x12TB drives

I greatly appreciate your well articulated and sectioned response. Sorry for my delay, I got the Flu and haven’t moved much in the past week.

I don’t know if I had a data model in mind really. I would like to keep the backups on redundant drives, just in case something goes wrong with one of the drives (as a drive death is how we lost things before). Speed is less important as we wont be pulling from it often, so the stability and redundancy will be paramount.

The cloning of drives I was looking into only because after the loss of the data on both her boot and secondary drives, her frustration level at the loss of her computer’s functionality made me just want the ability to throw a clone in should her drive go down again in the future.

Though this is seeming to be less and less like a good or really feasible idea.

I would suggest that instead of cloning drives you use an offsite backup. FreeNAS has the ability to backup your entire home server (or a part of it) to AWS S3.

I copied the next paragraph from the internet.

A 3-2-1 strategy means having at least 3 total copies of your data, 2 of which are local but on different mediums (read: devices), and at least 1 copy offsite.

This is how I do my 3-2-1.

The initial copy of the data on my PC which is sync’ed into my FreeNAS via my Nextcloud server. I then have the data I care about backed upto AWS S3.

Movies which use most of my NAS space are not critical for me.

So three copies total. 2 local but on different systems. 1 offsite.

My AWS bill is 35p a month for 5GB.

If you are putting multi terabytes into AWS S3 then this can add up fast but other options exist like S3 Glacier or rival services.

Once offsite backups start getting expensive enough, it might be a time to find a friend who also has data backup needs so you can keep backups at each others houses in a fair trade. This has the added benefit of not being spied on for advertising purposes if you are concerned about that sort of thing, assuming you can trust your friends.

1 Like

I use more or less this type of method … I try to insert a small NAS in various trusted places even if they have only 10Mbps upload. For this purpose I use Odroid HC2 or HC1 and the right size HDD. And backups kept in a veracrypt container which is never decrypted on the NAS, so there is no fear that someone will touch data.
And if you need fast transfers for data recovery, you can always create your own torrent network and download a container through it if necessary, eliminating the bottleneck of one connection if it does not have a large upload. :wink:

1 Like