Nas Operating system

what do you recommend to use for building a nas and why ?
I got some suggestions to use unraid instead of freenas ( but from what i researched it :wink: ZFS is too cool to miss and this will be nas to use and learn from this project )

I will be using it as archive + media storage. i already own 18TB in 2 computers and need to back them up :expressionless: so will need minimum to have 32TB .
must be fast to copy files not going to wait days to copy 18TB , every while will transfer few TB’s, so my main concern is redundancy and size. will use it to store 4k HDR videos then play them from the network or copy to the machine to work on them , so i am thinking to convert my current pc into a free nas

that is very important to be able to add up storage later :confused: i read about ZFS and it seems awesome but issue is i cant buy 18TB right now to back up my current 18 so will need to buy 1~2 drives every month so i will increase capacity as i go , but freenas doesn’t allow me to do that ? wt if i use freenas but not zfs still can’t add at all ?

the pc specs am thinking to convert into freenas is:
i7 3770k
maximus V formula
16GB ram
gtx 970 ( xD will sell it and buy 10GBE card ) or bad idea? will need gpu like that to decompress videos ti play them directly from the nas or ? .
512SSD samsung evo ( good as cacheing? or too overkill ? )
18TB of varient HD’s capacity , planning to start getting 8TB’s nas seagate drives ( bought 2 already so i need 2 more at least )

also will need to build 4k HTPC so am confused to convert this build into NAS or buy somethign from Qnap or ready nas enclosures…
the 4k htpc for gaming but light weight games like DMC , trine , 60fps preferably on aC origins XD basically a console killer so maybe adding 1080 is enough to my 3770k etc…

The pre-built NAS enclosures have a bad value. My recommendation is to use that machine for freenas and build a small ryzen 2200g or 2400g system for the htpc

Now that I’m on desktop let me elaborate a bit.

As far as software goes, Either FreeNAS or OpenMediaVault are going to be your two best options. I’ve recently made the move to the OMV 4 beta and it’s quite nice. A bit more involved on the command-line side of things, but I’d say it’s got more features than FreeNAS. (ZFS included through a plugin) The choice is yours and I’ll be available as a resource for either.

Regarding hardware, your best choice is whatever’s laying around. If that doesn’t suit your needs and you want to build a custom box, my recommendations are the following:

  • Case must have dust filters. Trust me on this, you’ll want them.
  • SATA controller should be capable of JBOD or passthrough mode, so that the OS can see smart data and have raw access to the drives.
  • General rule of thumb for ZFS (with deduplication) is 1GB of ram per TB. That said, I don’t recommend using deduplication. 16GB of ram should be plenty (it’s what I have been using on my NAS for about 6 years) for just about all your tasks.
  • You might benefit from a GPU for plex transcoding. a GTX 1050 or 650 or something like that is inexpensive and will provide the performance you need to transcode 2 streams simultaneously. (keep in mind that GPU transcoding produces a lower quality stream than CPU transcoding in a lot of cases)

I don’t recommend 10GBE unless you have a good reason for wanting it. If you’re ready to upgrade your entire (or most of) network to 10GBE, I would go for it, but you might find that it only provides additional functionality for specific workloads.


XD 1 there is no network almost to speak of. i work at home and have 2 computers not even connected so i am tired of copying over hardisks usb 3.0 or Esata.
so i will have to get a switch and decent router anyway.

so from what you wrote my current rig should suit my needs, and i will build a gaming rig for htpc :slight_smile:
so if I have right now 18TB of variant drives capacity’s (raid 5 ) i can add later to expand the size or do I have to format them all ? (freenas , using ZFS or not )
for the ram i agree my 16gb should be good enough ,
the 10GBE is because of how long it will take to transfer the 18 TB :frowning: , and making any 1TB transfer in near future will take me long time on regular gigabit lan.
ok at least i can start on gigabit and upgrade it later . i will keep the 970 and see how it goes

tnx :smiley:

In that case, I’d just go with 10GBE. I think you’ll enjoy it. When I made my recommendation against, that was me being under the impression that you already had 1GbE networking in your house.

So, ZFS is complicated in that manner. For a RAIDZ(1,2,3) which is the equivalent of RAID5 or RAID6 with the number at the end being the number of disks lost to parity so RAIDZ1 is essentially the same as RAID5.

ZFS can also not add disks to a RAIDZ “vdev” as they call it. You can, however, add another identical (to follow best practices) vdev to double your capacity.

When you create a ZFS pool, you can have multiple RAID5 groupings striped together (or just pooled) to make a single filesystem. I’m probably not doing the best job explaining it, but that’s because I’m trying to be brief. If you’ve got a bunch of non-matching capacities on your system, btrfs might be a better fit for you. Also, FreeNAS only supports ZFS. If you want to use BTRFS, you’ll need to use OpenMediaVault or RockStor. (my vote goes for OMV)

ye now i have bunch of disks not matching capacity , but am working on making 5 disks Seagate nas drives 8TB each so far have 2 , and will buy like 1or2 every month
so i will create btrfs on the drives i have now and make zfs raid on the nas rated drives once i got them all in best idea right ?

That’s not a terrible idea. Personally, I would stick to one filesystem, but if you’re set on ZFS, you can definitely use btrfs to temporarily store the data until you get the drives you need.

hmm =.=! yeah will i still see what happen hhh

Just my 2 cents, but for a dedicated NAS appliance, I would probably ony research Synology, as the arrays can be transfered between their units. (from what I hear)

For myself, I’d rather build my own though :slight_smile:

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I disagree with this. They’re a great value if you only plan to use the NAS for storage, don’t need more than 4 drives, and want something that just works. The 4-bay Synology 418j is $299. Hard to beat that rolling your own.

Now if you want more than 4 drives, or you plan to use the NAS to run VMs, or Plex Media Server with transcoding, it will cost more. Sometimes a lot more, depending on your needs. But for storage only, that cheap Synology is a fine choice.

I’ve used a DS413j myself for 5 years and have zero complaints. It serves files over SMB and does a perfectly fine job. When a disk goes bad it sends me an email, I slot in a new disk, it repairs the array, and I go about my business.

If you see the NAS as a project, and figure you’ll have fun building and maintaining it, then absolutely go for it! That’s what this forum and site are all about. That’s a different consideration altogether.


XPEnology 5.5 is a good stable version of the Synology OS that can be installed on your own hardware. Their file system seems quite flexible have a read. I used it for over 2 years no issue. I used a redundant Core 2 Quad mid-tower with 8GB DDR2 and 5 x 2TB HDDs so it was quite modest.

Eventually I wanted a NAS device that sat quietly until required and used minimal power in between so bought a QNAP 453B 4 bay. Synology NAS was the obvious choice from my experience but QNAP tend to have more up-gradable units so I went with a 453B. Not a cheap option but I’ve already upgraded the RAM from SO-DIMMs I already had & will install a 2 x M.2 + 10gbe PCI-E expansion card eventually. Initially I will only connect it directly to my main PC via 10gbe RJ45 for those occasional large backups.

It’s sits beneath my 4K TV and is connected via HDMI to my AV system and so I’m watching .mkv films and streaming from the net almost daily so it’s quite a versatile device.

QNAP QTS is a good file system also. I recently expanded the drives from 3TB (desktop) to 4TB (WD Red NAS) by simply hot swapping each drive individually and then let the OS rebuild the RAID to the new drive. When all 4 were swapped out I was then able to expand the RAID to the new max size. It took time to do but was painless as the NAS did everything in between each HDD swap.

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Yeah, I don’t really see a nas as solely a data storage solution. You definitely brought up a good point.

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Since my main NAS is actually in process of “rebuild” after I overestimated my believe into a power cable when I was changing to better power supply (an Idiot in me wanted to have power
monitoring built into the PSU) as additional power cable to the MB was using completely standard SATA connectors with completely non-standard pin layout on one end.
Do not worry it only affected:

  • MB (embeded Atom C2550, ECC memory- another ticking bomb that I’m glad I no longer have),
  • all five redundant hard drives,
  • MB had 4 SAS SFF-8087 connectors covering 16 drives (thankfully wrongly connected 12V pin cable had not propagated to those drives).

It seems that you want to build NAS for a purpose that is not far from mine (archives + media) and for similar capacity (~20TB +) - so that the reason for this essay-size response :smiley:

My solution right now is following (most of this was true before above happened):

  • main NAS must use ECC (another problem few year back was a memory module that gone bad together with few archives before the issue was detected)
  • in most cases for archiving I use RAR with multi-volume archives (10% redundancy in one file + 2 redundant volumes/files) - funny enough almost every good compression tool have verify that is used after the compression however when you copy those files between NASes such verification is something that you usually do not think to do)
  • there is always second NAS for offline backups, and most critical things are in cloud too - but again ECC memory helps
  • main NAS contains independent CPU, HBA controllers (thats main adaptation for the failure of MB)
  • for now due to the cost, I’m happy with solutions like RAID5/RAID6 (however max 4TB drives only) (remember the most important stuff if in offline secondary NAS anyway)
  • and for Plex I will play tomorow with Geforce 1030 (HEVC support starts with 9xx series)
  • as an NAS OS, I went a little bit independent way - Windows 2016 Essential - mainly for
    a) I know Windows servers since 2003
    b) SMB 3 multipath between workstation and the server (both have two NICs 1G each) - in general 230MB/s is enough for me.
    c) it seems that for now Windows OEM remains still activated despite change of MB and CPU
    d) I would go with the same OS if I would need to start from the beginning, but I do not recommend it (it meets probably only my unique criteria)
  • unfortunately now I will need to look for iKVM module for that MB (it is optional component).
  • I would use 6TB+ drives only for redundancy in form of one/two way mirror/duplication (definitely not parity AKA RAID5/6). I finally stabilized on this decision (I do not have any larger drive than 4T, for now) after reading study/article stating that YES data centers gladly switched to even 8TB drives but almost absolutely exclusively only for redundancy in form of mirroring (not parity)

Additional comment:

  • EVO drives as cache - if we are talking about read cache, then OK, But write-through-cache then I would say definitely NO.
  • I would sell that x79 modo/CPU/GFX, and
  • go for Xeon E3 (even the old one- V3 - with DDR3, but ECC), A four/three PCIE slot server board - mine choice was P9D-M) in simplification:
    – E3 v3 1231 (4 cores 8 threads) , but you can buy even lower E3 (for pure NAS it is overkill) however there is not so much difference in price between them).
    – max 32GB memory support, ECC, unbuffered (ECC UDIMM) DDR3
    – 4 PCIe slots (when all are populated x4 3.0 + x4 3.0 + x4 3.0 + x4 2.0 ) The last one is from the MB chipset. However the physical size of slots is that one has 16x and rest 8x (ideal size for HBA controller). All my HBA controllers use PCIe 2.0 anyway, and SATA non-ssd drives do not need all 8x lines).
    – but in the beggining you can use 6 SATA ports on MB (4 sata3 and 2 sata2)
    – resonable USB connectivity (not that obvious for semi-server motherboards).
  • of course look into the prices first, before making decisions.
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My QNAP is just a SFF PC in a drive enclosure with a web GUI to access the NAS functions. I’ve also installed Ubuntu which runs concurrently with the web service so I can use that via a wireless keyboard/track ball to run normal Linux apps on my TV. I was considering a HP Gen10 micro server but they aren’t quite the bargain the Gen 8 was with no hot swap for the HDDs but more expansion options.

There are many other apps that can run via the QTS OS and stuff keeps being released all the time.

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I just migrated my FreeNAS server over to Ubuntu 16.04. If you are up to it, I would highly recommend it.

It is more work to set up shares and import or create a zfs pool, but it is not bad. I am a linux noob and my struggles were minimal.

I am currently running a 2 TB zpool that is used for file shares and Plex media, in addition to other software. It works well.

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“If you see the NAS as a project, and figure you’ll have fun building and maintaining it, then absolutely go for it! That’s what this forum and site are all about. That’s a different consideration altogether.”

XD everything in my life i take it as project and have fun with it also learn in the same time.
if am buying a ready nas I was thinking of this

it have 5 bays + it got 2 gigabit Ethernet support link aggregation Also sfp+ 10GBE so i can start on budget on 2gigabit by using any router setup :wink: . then later upgrade to 10GBE :confused: . also it have pcie and can upgrade to 16GB ram if needed .

but most likely will go with making my own old PC as NAS :smiley: .

wt u think the synology 4 bay or this Qnap ? ( if i decided to go and buy a nas instead )

that sounds awesome XD I loved it when I used ubuntu for a while . and i mainly was trying to repair disks and recover data.
me 2 am bigger noob but i didn’t think of it , that is good a point

wow XD thanks for the essay . where were u , when i was in college ?
ok main concern before was ECC for nas or not
so u think i will need ECC for this personal project ?
:confused: i got mixed understanding of ur comment .

That QNAP is almost twice as expensive but still has a ARM SoC. If I was going to spend a lot more on a NAS, I would go for one with an Intel CPU to get Quicksync hardware offloading in Plex Media Server-- even recently Atom Intel CPUs can do that. It does have 10Gbe which is pretty expensive on its own, though. All depends on what you actually want to do do with your NAS.

Like I said, all I use my NAS for is serving files over SMB so the cheap model served me fine for many years. I rely on my NAS every day so I want it to “just work”. I run VMs and various services off a separate linux box, and Plex Media Server on a Nvidia Shield TV with hardware offloading.

Im going to preface my comment by saying I have never used freenas or its alternatives. I like the idea of using ZFS but the RAM requirements ultimately kept me from utilizing it.

At home I have a DS216j. Its a great little machine. Fully featured for what it is. If what you want is reliable storage Synology is a great way to go. Its flexible and not too shabby on performance.

At work I repurposed an old server, put Ubuntu on it and installed nextcloud. It serves the same purpose as my diskstation but with more drive bays and more horsepower. I use btrfs on it and find it to be a pretty nice experience. We only have about 6tb in it now but its nice to know that with btrfs I can just add a single disk whenever I feel like it without issue. As a roll your own solution I couldnt be happier.

For your use case building a machine is likely going to be cheaper than any of the premade options out there. Theres a ton of ways to skin this cat but in the end I tend to lean towards something I know how to work on if its going to be something I have to rely on to be stable. I chose ubuntu at work because I know it works and works well, and I know how to work on it enough to be effective at administrating it. I think that last sentence in @Ruffalo’s first post in the thread is a fantastic way of putting it.

I think you should consider it. ECC RAM means that you need to have also MB and CPU that supports it (and that usually means higher cost). It is hard to draw the line but I would say with more than 10TB of storage it is starting to be gradually important. Not because every piece of data is critical, more because getting that data back together means time.

You can start with your current hardware and plan for the upgrade latter as the capacity is growing (but that might mean reinstall of OS).

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