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Thread: NAS - self build or buy premade?

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    NAS - self build or buy premade?

    Should I build my own and use freeNAS or get off-the-shelf QNAP/another?

    If self build what should I go for? Should I get x570 to load it up with nvme (and expand in future) or would b550 for nvme caching and a mix of sata SSD and HDD be good enough?

    The specs of off-the-shelf seem a bit crappy to me.

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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    Depends how you're accessing the data, NVME isn't always required, often spinning rust will do. What's the use case?

    Even if you do need NVME if you have pcie slots you can add adaptors.

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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    Quote Originally Posted by spacein_vader View Post
    Depends how you're accessing the data, NVME isn't always required, often spinning rust will do. What's the use case?

    Even if you do need NVME if you have pcie slots you can add adaptors.
    use: file store, backup (so some kind of RAID not just JBOD)
    • I want to set up a central store for music, photos and files which we can access across the house and maybe even upload photos to while out and about.
    • It needs to stream FLAC files to music players and i imagine store films/downloaded TV shows etc.
    • The NVMe is more for small size and quieter running than speed, but a bank of SSDs will hopefully also be ok, but have to be careful with lifespan
    • hopefully backups also become easier, from reading various sites yesterday some of the NAS systems allow built-in auto backups etc.

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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    I'm quite happy with my DIY unRAID box
    Based on an old 3rd gen i5, pair of 256GB SSDs and 3x2TB disks
    This was an old tower that I wasn't using very often so I added another SSD and disk to and now run windows as a VM with GPU pass through.
    It now runs various applications installed form the communithy applications library (very useful!) including Nextcloud which handles photo and video backup from our phones
    Worth a look, there's some good youtube install/config videos of various must have apps too

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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    To my mind, a couple of good questions are :-

    - how tight is the budget, and
    - how much time do you want to spend?

    Pre-made has the advantage of being pretty much turnkey. And remember, you tend to get what you pay for. Entry-level boxes will be exactly that. But they require less time investment to get up and running. Higher end units are better spec, but can be significantly more expensive. But less work than built-it-yourself.

    However ... if you spent a lot of time getting it working, you'll certainly understand better how to sort issues/problems if/when they arise. The learning urve can be a good investment.

    Years ago, I wouldn't have considered pre-made for that reason. But I was interested. Now, it's, well, like a power drill, it's a tool. I want it to drill holes, not understand how to build one. Similarly a NAS - I want it to do much what you want, but I just want it to work, not to have to waste my time fassing with it.

    Question is .... where are you coming from?
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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    If you've already spare parts, configuring a PC with FreeNAS or UnRAID etc.. is straightforward enough. However, if you're buying new parts, consider their required use and spec accordingly - it's surprising how easy it can be to buy components piece-meal and end up spending more than a decently specced Synology or QNAP box.

    Also - keep and eye on the future - if you're buying pre-built you really shouldn't be looking at a box that has GbE ports and no way to expand. Also consider CPU power, if you plan to stream media from it.

    If you're building your own and plan on using a dedicated NAS OS like UnRAID, OMV, FreeNAS or Amahi (others are available) consider your components e.g. FreeNAS and Amahi (I think it was Amahi, I could be wrong) have been slow to support Aquantia based NICs - so you fancy new 10gig card doesn't work and you have to swap to OMV or UnRAID.

    Safe caching requires a pair of SSDs in RAID1 and, if you're moving a lot of data watch out for the write hole in QLC SSDs especially - you fill that buffer and they slow to a crawl!

    I've run my own home built boxes and run Synology, QNAP, Zyxel, WD and Thecus pre-builts. On balance I prefer pre-built, if their software is up to it - which, in my opinion, ruled out WD, Thecus and Zyxel. Both SYnology and QNAP have great software, support and choice of apps. Synology is little ahead on the software front and QNAP edges it on the hardware front.

    Oh and that thing with QLC NAND? Be careful with that on the Synology boxes that support NVME caching - I had all manner of fun with that. Not.

    In the interest of balance, the QNAP QM2 expansion cards that support m.2 caching typically run at PCIE 2.0 x 2 or 2.0 x 4 and cannot make use of the full performance on offer from fast m.2 SSDs.

    I'm currently running a QNAP TS-453D with a QM2 10GbE Dual m.2 expansion with a pair of 1TB SSDs for caching. I'm pretty happy with it but ain't a cheap setup.
    Last edited by Spreadie; 02-12-2020 at 12:30 AM.
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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    Quote Originally Posted by ik9000 View Post
    use: file store, backup (so some kind of RAID not just JBOD)
    • I want to set up a central store for music, photos and files which we can access across the house and maybe even upload photos to while out and about.
    • It needs to stream FLAC files to music players and i imagine store films/downloaded TV shows etc.
    • The NVMe is more for small size and quieter running than speed, but a bank of SSDs will hopefully also be ok, but have to be careful with lifespan
    • hopefully backups also become easier, from reading various sites yesterday some of the NAS systems allow built-in auto backups etc.
    If small size is a prime concern then a pre-built is usually the better option. For file storage and backup you generally won't need NVME or even SSD performance, the same is true for audio unless you're using big (500mb plus) individual files.

    Films and TV can be different depending on what you want it to do. If it's purely storing the files and serving them to a client device that can either play them in the stored format or transcode them itself then your requirements don't really change. If you want the NAS to transcode them for the client then you need to be looking more closely at the NAS horsepower, memory and things like caching.

    My home made machine is a media server with a dual core celeron and 8gb of ram. All data is stored on HDDs but transcoding is done on an SSD. As long as I stick to formats accelerates by the celeron GPU it's got enough grunt.

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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    SSDs in a domestic NAS are a complete waste of money IMO.

    I bought a Lenovo TS140 when they had cash back ages ago (but anything similar to that would do) and installed FreeNAS on a USB stick I plugged in the front. After that it's _really_ simple. I'd argue probably as simple as a turnkey dedicated box, but you can expand etc if you want to.

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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    Quote Originally Posted by b0redom View Post
    SSDs in a domestic NAS are a complete waste of money IMO.
    Why is that? Wouldn't they improve speed? Would that also apply to server stuff? (sorry OP do forgive the thread hijack)

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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    I'd go down the self-built route personally, having gone from an every expanding PC to fit drives in, I went down the NAS route, then Gen7 and 8 Microservers to a self-built Node 804 server and now shrank to a Node 402 server, so much more flexible, but as with all of these things your usage might be a world apart from mine.

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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    Quote Originally Posted by atemporal View Post
    Why is that? Wouldn't they improve speed? Would that also apply to server stuff? (sorry OP do forgive the thread hijack)
    They do improve speed, if your network speed is sufficient. There's little point is SSD caching if you're limited to 1 GbE LAN, and upping the speed can be expensive - 2.5 GbE is only now becoming commonplace on new mid to high end motherboards, but you need a capable NAS or server, so you can expect to cough for a new NIC. Also, unless it's basically running as a DAS unit, you'll need a switch capable of supporting 2.5GbE or Nbase-T to benefit from the improved bandwidth.

    I have a 10gbps network so I can see the benefits of SSDs in a NAS or server - spinning disks wouldn't trouble a 2.5GbE connection, but fast SSDs can saturate a 10gig link - I move a lot of data around and can justify the outlay (to myself, at least), but I'm impatient and watching a few hundred gigs of files crawling along at ~110 MBytes/s drives me up the wall.
    Last edited by Spreadie; 02-12-2020 at 10:08 PM.
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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    Single board computers (Rpi, odroid HC2, etc) have a lot to offer for NAS. Lower idle power consumption but still plenty of performance for NAS duties, low cost, and they do all the useful things that prebuilt ones do if you prod the software right (openmediavault UI is less polished than commercial ones, but I figured it out and my computer skills end at plugging equations into python. It does let you automatically backup over USB without much fuss). Even an athlon 3000G is a seriously heavyweight NAS - unless you have some demanding VMs in mind I doubt you need AM4

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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xlucine View Post
    Even an athlon 3000G is a seriously heavyweight NAS - unless you have some demanding VMs in mind I doubt you need AM4
    That is true for serving video over 1GbE, heck I'm running a server on an old socket FM2 board.

    Things like the RPi lack the SATA ports you want, and lack the grunt to serve 2.5GbE or higher if you could plug such a port in. Specific use case it really important.

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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    Quote Originally Posted by Spreadie View Post

    I have a 10gbps network so I can see the benefits of SSDs in a NAS or server -
    This basically @atemporal. Almost no one currently has a 10GigE network at home, and even those who do are unlikely to be shifting data at such volumes, so regularly that it's worth the hefty premium over spinning rust.

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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    Quote Originally Posted by DanceswithUnix View Post
    That is true for serving video over 1GbE, heck I'm running a server on an old socket FM2 board.

    Things like the RPi lack the SATA ports you want, and lack the grunt to serve 2.5GbE or higher if you could plug such a port in. Specific use case it really important.
    Plus if you're using RAID and reasonably big datasets, the rebuild/resilver time could become an issue. Again - depends on use case.

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    Re: NAS - self build or buy premade?

    SSDs are nice and quiet though. If you don't have big storage requirements, that could be a huge plus.

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