The Wall Street Journal recently ran a story called “Building Your Own Cloud” by Joanna Stern. It’s a fun, well written piece. I would link to it but it is behind their pay-wall unfortunately. It talks about purchasing commercial Network Attached Storage (NAS) servers called Personal Cloud systems and using them on your home network. The author reviews offerings from Western Digital and Seagate and discusses her experience with these off-the-shelf solutions. The systems she reviewed run about $300.
Joanna’s story reminded me of a fun project we did one afternoon at Black Brook Design — building our own NAS for the lab. We had some Raspberry Pi single board computers lying around along with a couple of portable USB hard drives. The question was how hard would it be to make our own redundant NAS. After rooting around in the lab for some parts and doing a bit of searching on the Internet it turns out it is fairly simple and cheap to build a redundant NAS device for yourself. We found some excellent instructions online here:
We found two things we particularly liked about the above instructions. First, the use of NTFS formatted disks so we can always unplug one of the USB hard drives from the Linux based Raspberry Pi and plug it into a Windows computer. This was very handy in initially transferring files to our NAS. Second, we have to share files between both Linux and Windows machines so Samba was a good choice for our network share software.
We decided to build 1 TB of redundant storage into our NAS. We used two Seagate Backup Plus Slim 1TB portable hard drives ($64 each), a powered USB hub ($8 – $12), and a Raspberry Pi ($35) running the Raspbian operating system. We recommend using a powered USB hub to connect the USB hard drives to the Raspberry PI as the drives drew a bit too much current for our Pi to source via its USB ports. So we built a 1 TB redundant NAS device for about $175 in a couple of hours. We attached our NAS to our network using a Fast Ethernet connection on a nearby Ethernet switch.