NAS to see you!

| May 23, 2022 min read

After too many years, I’m finally building myself a NAS: network-attached storage, a device for backing up files, photos, and all the data that is otherwise in the cloud. Say goodbye, FANGs, I’m going self-hosted.

It starts with the case: a Bitfenix Phenom that I bought secondhand a couple of years ago (but didn’t get around to building until now). This case is solid, mini-ITX, with seven hot-swap drive bays and an extra where the DVD-ROM would be. To this I added an Aigo 550W 80PLUS Bronze PSU, mostly because it was the cheapest I could find on Aliexpress, and an ASRock QC5000-ITX “system on chip” motherboard combo which combines an AMD FT3 Kabini A4-5000 CPU with integrated Radeon HD8330 … which I’m not likely to use at all.

A couple of sticks of RAM (secondhand Kingston 8GB x2, non-ECC) and I had a system that would launch – from USB stick, anyway. After running an old version of memtest86 for a few days, I finally installed OMV6 (Debian-based) to a USB drive and started it up. Once I could see it was relatively stable (doing nothing) I added two Seagate Ironwolf 4GB NAS HDDs and configured them as a mirrored btrfs. And we were away!

I’ve ordered an SSD to replace the OS USB, but so far this thing is great! Added as Timemachine (MacOS) and DejaDup (Linux) backup destinations, switched on mDNS so I can find it under http://memory.local/ and it has basically paid for itself. Oh, but the things I can do next! As soon as I started digging I realized there were quite a few ways to get out of the cloud:

  1. Photos (Google & Apple): I’m using Mylio and storing a lot on Google Drive, but a self-hosted PhotoPrism (and judicious offsite backups) will give me face-detection and automatic upload, which are about the only things I use Google Photos for.

  2. Email (Google): This is the second biggest use of Google Drive that we have. I have a huge email archive which I think I’ve managed to combine into a single Gmail account, but I’m also still paying for GSuite for a custom domain. Once I’m sure I’ve got my mail backed up, I’ll be happier to switch that off and see what happens.

  3. Plex: We have a ridiculous number of streaming services at the moment, but we also have a number of legitimate series downloaded and ready to be served up to our televisions sans subscription. I’ve already cancelled AppleTV and Stan; perhaps Binge will be next? We can probably do with Prime Video as well.

  4. Vikunja (Todoist): I love Todoist and wish them well, but I’ve paid for the last couple of years and I’m willing to try a self-hosted option. If I can get Dee to use it too – which I never could with Todoist – then even better.

  5. StoreDown (Home Inventory): I’ve installed this one already, and so far have catalogued around 500 personal items: from desk drawers to my clothing, project boxes to camping gear. The hope is that by being able to find where anything is we avoid buying things we don’t need AND can hopefully minimize (minimalize?) in the next 6 months – in case we have to move again!

  6. OwnCloud (Google Docs): There’s a couple of self-hosted options here, but ultimately it’s about getting out of Drive so we can stop paying for storage and reclaim some privacy from the big cloud providers.

  7. Music (Spotify): This is a stretch, but we do have a lot of music files on old backup CD-ROMs somewhere. Do we really need an ongoing subscription? How much of that money actually makes it to the artists?

  8. Mobile phone backups: Not really any good option here at the moment, but it would be nice to know that even if we lose a mobile we don’t lose the data.

  9. Git projects, 3D printer files, eBooks, ISOs and installers, project logs, datastores, etc.

So that’s me and my NAS! Plenty left to do with it but building out slowly and learning and experimenting along the way. I’ve added Docker, the “new” way to install stuff according to OMV, and performance didn’t seem to suffer at all.

I may want to build a little LCD display panel for it.