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howbotnik
howbotnik

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Home Network NAS for Cheap

What I did to save money on NAS storage

Problem

My home network is slowly growing and I have had a cheap DLink 2 bay NAS drive for the last few years. The Network Attached Storage has served its purpose for the things I have needed and supports Time Machine backups, media server, and file storage solutions.

I was starting to out-grow the 2-bay drive after wanting to backup the backups of year's worth of files with the ever growing collection of photos and documents. I also found that large transfers were taking far too long and hovering around the ~30mbps range. So I did some shopping around...

Solution

A lot of NAS drives are aimed at workplaces and were way out of the price range of my budget so I looked for other solutions and here's what I did.

  • Purchased a 4 bay USB 3.0 external drive enclosure
  • Filled the enclosure with my old drives (plus one new!)
  • Installed Ubuntu on an old dual core laptop
  • Formatted the drives to ext4 (for better performance)
  • Installed a samba server and configured it to share my drives
  • Installed an AFP server for Apple Time Machine
  • Installed Plex Media Server

Outcome

The old laptop had a very early USB-C port so I managed to get a Gigabit Ethernet adapter to improve transer speeds. Overall, I am very pleased with the outcome. I feel like I have achieved transfer speed and storage space that will keep me satisfied well into the future all for about a 5th of the cost of the commercially available NAS drives. I am currently getting ~115mbps transfer rates and I believe this is due to the restrictions in disk speed.

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