Sunday Nov 30, 2008

Time for a Home NAS!

Over the years I have accumulated quite a bit of digital content (music, pictures, videos, archived tax returns, etc) and have used external drives, CDs/DVDs, and even USB sticks to backup the data. After a while, it has become increasing inconvenience to locate the content let alone share it with multiple computers, so I decided to shop for a home NAS. But which one? There are quite a few of them on the market with varying prices ($200 to $2000+) and features. I liked the Netgear's ReadyNAS, but it was quite pricy. With 2TB of storage, it was around $1,500 at the time. This costed more than a PC with the same amount of storage, so I thought to myself, "Why not use a PC with ZFS."

After some Googling, I found a number of people had already done exactly this, and Simon's blog was particularly helpful , especially for the system config that worked well for him. So, I decided to build a similar system. I ordered the components from Newegg.com, and the total price was less than $900 for a pretty powerful system (2.6 Ghz AMD Athlon, 2GB ECC RAM, 4x500GB WD drives). It took me a couple of days to put the system together, install OpenSolaris 2008.05, setup ZFS pools, and CIFS server/client, and voila, I have a system that can be used as a NAS as well as a general purpose server. Now, I have all my data in one place and be able to get to it from all the computers on the network, and be assured that if a drive fails, I won't lose data thanks to the RAID support in ZFS.

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