NAS Killer Build Questions

So I am interested in building a NAS Killer. I love the guides, but still have a few questions after having gone through them.


So here’s what I generally want:

  • 1 NAS setup with ~1-4 TB to start out with
  • Consolidation of data and ease of organization
  • Remote access and management
  • Redundancy
  • Low power consumption
  • Be able to also run simple gaming servers (Minecraft, etc.)
  • A fun time learning while building my own personal networking infrastructure

Here is what I have:

  • 1 Gbps download and upload speed
  • AC1900p ASUS Router
  • Windows Desktop and Laptop
  • Employee Discount for certain electronics, including drives
  • 100 GB of cloud storage thru Google
  • 2 TB of cloud storage thru ASUS Webstorage
  • TEMPORARY student cloud storage thru Microsoft and Google

Here are my questions:

[FreeNAS vs Unraid]

  • Who better handles backup to cloud storage (Google, OneDrive, ASUS Webstorage)
  • Is there a big difference in user friendliness?
  • These days, should I be worried at all with either OS and 64 bit architecture issues? This link has me afraid. Mainly scared that I would have to build a beast in order for FreeNAS to make sense.
  • Would one better handle running gaming server(s) like Minecraft in addition to general storage?

[Cloud Storage]

  • Who has best upload/download speeds?
  • Personal preferences/experiences?

[HDDs vs SSD]

  • Which should I use for an OS Drive?
    -Can I also use the OS drive as a data drive?
    -I’ve heard that flash media fails about every 6 months when used as the OS drive. Is this true?
  • Which should I use for Data Drives?
    -Will choosing SSDs contribute significantly to “future-proofing?”
  • Should I have a drive dedicated as a write cache or for anything else? If so, should I use SSD or HDD?

[Miscellaneous]

  • Do people often perform automatic backups from devices to the NAS drive?
    -If so, is Windows File History commonly used?
  • Should I work on files located on either the NAS or Google Drive, or should they solely be treated at repositories for backups, not workspaces? What should my data flow look like?
  • When using NAS, how easy is file sharing and collaboration? Is collaboration best handled using Google Drive? If so, what is the best way to backup from Google Drive to the NAS after collaboration is complete?

You asking a lot here but I will answer only a few things at the moment. For your nas os look at using unraid. For storage you will want to use HHD. Ssds will be used for vms and cache drives. You cam build a very good nas like NK4.0 and pit it in a rosewell case to have 15 drives and add a das to max out 28 drives for unraid. With out the cost of drives you can build the server for about 250. Just depends on what your doing with it. I just build the inventec board setup for 200. You have lots of options. From your needs nk4.0 should be a good starting place for you.

Sounds like you’re on a tight student’s budget. In which case, I’d recommend NK4 with $25 LSI HBA and a few SAS 3TB drives at $20 each.

Both Unraid and FreeNAS are good options and rock solid, but Unraid is more user-friendly. That article is diplomatic but fluffy, and overlooks the single most important difference: FreeNAS (by default) uses ZFS RAID, and Unraid uses JBOD + file-level parity. Amongst other differences, Unraid allows you easily to add drives of mixed sizes and efficiently expand the array. Hardware requirements (RAM, etc.) are not appreciably different. Both use a USB drive for boot; you can have a few HDDs for data drives and an SSD for cache and/or VMs. Unraid requires you to dedicate your largest drive(s) for parity.

Cloud backup is an orthogonal issue; rclone is your friend. I’ve never used ASUS WebStorage, but lots of folks do the GDrive 5-user thing for essentially unmetered storage. I know GDrive can be quite fast.

Game servers can certainly be run in a VM (Unraid has docker support built-in), but you may need to adjust your hardware requirements (RAM, CPU freq) accordingly.

Any NAS can be used as a target for backups; exports over NFS, SMB, etc. are easily done. Maybe start with Windows Backup. You can have multiple shares; you can work on files on the NAS from your workstation via SMB. I would advise keeping one central location for your files (either on NAS or on workstation), with backups both local and on cloud storage. Test your backups; walk through what you’d do if a hard drive died, or your whole NAS array, or if your cloud provider locked you out, or if your house burned down.

Collaboration is a tricky matter and involves a conversation with your collaborators, depending on what tools they’re comfortable with. For documents, I’ve found Google Docs to be a nice compromise. Some shops are MS-only and require SharePoint or whatnot. If you want to roll your own, maybe NextCloud.

All the best; keep us posted on your progress!

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Wow, that is a lot of great info! Thank you so much for taking the time to make such a detailed reply!

This is not strictly true… you can run Unraid without a parity drive and it functions perfectly well. Doing so just means you’ll have a little bit more work to do in the event of a drive failure.