NAS stands for Network Attached Storage. As Windows became easier to use with networked devices and hardware prices dropped, the term began to be used in the consumer market. Today, there is a wide range of out-of-the-box options that can provide storage for a home or small business network.
The only problem is the price. A decent NAS can cost as much as a PC, which begs the question: why not build your own? This is not a difficult task, but the approach is different from building a PC.
Step 1: Find a case
The decision in the case requires thought. You need to decide what type of NAS you want to build. Will it be small and not get caught far away? Will you need to easily access it and remove or add drives? How much memory do you need and how much space do you want for future upgrades? Finally, how much do you want to spend?
If budget is a priority, you can save money by building a NAS box out of, well, just about anything. Any box made of material that can be drilled through is usable. You also need to make sure it’s possible to install spacers on the motherboard that lift the motherboard off the surface it’s on (otherwise it could cause a short circuit).
This may be more trouble than it’s worth. You can find computer cases everywhere. Garage sales, thrift stores, Craigslist… they seem to be everywhere. Old PCs sometimes sell so little that you end up buying an entire PC just for the occasion.
Readers who need to spend some money should just head over to Newegg and browse the new Mini-ITX and Micro-ATX cases. I’m a fan of the Lian-Li PC-Q07 for a compact NAS, or the Antec NSK3480 for a larger system with multiple drivers. Of course, you can also use a full ATX tower — it will just take up more space.
Step 2: Buy equipment
Powerful hardware is not required for network storage and increased system heat and power generation. This means that you can get rid of old hardware. Now is the time to bring the old dual-core processor back into service. If you’re looking to buy a new one, look at the entry-level Intel Celeron or AMD A4.