Please note, that this is not intended as detailed plan how to do NAS. But you might find useful idea or two when reading my rant.
OK, I admit - it happened to me also. WD Passport which was used as external drive, started to die. Seems it was slow and painful death, since at first it became terribily slow and it took ages for it to be available in operating system. For all, that are not familiar with WD Passport, it is external HDD that connects to computer trough USB. Thing was just out of warranty. After I opened it, there was WD green 1TB HDD in there. I hoped that controller could be used with another hard drive, but it seems that is not so simple for my specific model. I am not completely certain why, since I did not have much time to investigate this further. But I suspect, that there is "special" partition on HDD that make possible to use controller with HDD. So new HDD without this partition won't work with USB controller.
Anyway, as soon as problems were evident, I connected this drive to computer running Fedora operating system and right away OS informed me that S.M.A.R.T. status of device looks bad. Microsoft: why don't you add this functionality in a Windows operating system? I think it would save user or two a lot of time.
Anyway, what is done is done. Next step was copying everything from faulty HDD to another one in order to save data. It took about 3 weeks of day to day copying to save few 100 GB of data, but in the end, everything important is saved! YES!
OK, since this was sort of lesson to me, I decided to get myself NAS to use it as backup for important data. After further price checking and check of computer parts "inventory" at home I decided to built NAS by myself. And that is also good opportunity to defend my collecting of old computer parts at home! ;-)
Also, since data safety is most important I went for mirroring of 2 drives in my NAS.
So, what I had at home?
- 2GBs of RAM
- Athlon 64 X2 5000+
- mini ITX motherboard IEI Kino-690AM2
What I needed?
- Hard drives
- system drive
- power supply
After little investigation I decided to go with WD RED HDDs, which were developed especially for NAS and RAID.
For system I have chosen 4GB USB thumb drive.
Power supply I have chosen FLEX ATX from Seasonic - model SS-250SU.
So, once I had all hardware, I started to think about chassis. Since this was budget project I wanted to spend as little as possible. So in the end I decided to built extremely simple chassis by myself.
|Top view - you can see part of HDD cage here|
I used 3mm sandwich panel, known also as aluminium composite plate. This was lying around and material is very easy to work with and it is strong enough for what I used it for. I simpy cut two panels and screwed motherboard and power supply on one panel. For HDDs I took HDD cage from old computer chassis I had lying around. I had to cut it little bit, but in the end it does its job very good. Both panels are joined together with long screws and I made spacers from alu tube.
|Connections view - you can see tiny USB drive|
I admit that my computer parts are not most power saving and definitely I would chose passively cooled motherboard if I would buy components. But since this is primarily meant as backup storage it does not run all the time. I just turn it on when I need it. Because it is capable of WOL, I can put it in remote location in apartment and as long as there is network connection and power, it will work. So it is not silent and it its power consumption is not greatest. On the other hand it was cheapest solution for me, since I had few components at hand already and I was able to built chassis for peanuts. Good news is also, that motherboard has dual Gb LAN ports, so if I upgrade home network, everything will work faster.
Regarding NAS software, I used FreeNAS. It is quiet easy to set up, even for first time user, as myself. Interesting thing was, that altough I set RAID in BIOS, FreeNAS found 2 hard drives and I had to set both drives as Mirror in FreeNAS settings. I also had some minor problems with user rights, but managed to solve them quickly.
So far I am happy with my solution and hope it will work longer and more reliably as WD passport HDD.