How to Make your own Network Attached Storage server, and keep your computers backed up

How to Make your own Network Attached Storage server, and keep your computers backed up

Backing up our documents. It’s something we all know we need to do, but surprisingly few people actually do. We’ll take a look at one of the best solutions for backing up on a home network using a NAS, or Network Attached Storage device. We’ll show you how to build your own using a spare PC, a $10 adapter board, a Compact Flash card, FreeNAS, an open source BSD distribution. And then we’ll put it all together with a simple script that automates the backup job for you.

First we’ll need a spare PC, so grab that old clunker out of the closet and lets put it to work. It will need at least the following system requirements:

  • A PC with at least 96 MB RAM
  • Bootable CD Rom Drive
  • A USB or CF drive (In our example we’ll use an IDE to CF adapter)
  • A Bootable Hard Drive (Preferable something with a large capacity)

Next we’ll need to download the latest version of the FreeNAS image from Write the image to CD using a CD-R/RW drive.

Now we need to boot our NAS Computer from the CD we just made. We will be presented with a FreeNAS console setup menu. From here we can configure our network and install FreeNAS to disk. In our example we will press 7 to install to HD/CF/USB Key. Then we will select 1 to install to HD, CF, or USB Key creating 1 UFS partition. By following the on screen instructions the FreeNAS software will be installed to our CF card. When complete we should be back to the FreeNAS console setup menu. From here we will configure out network by selecting option 1. Enter the name of the Ethernet Interface and press enter. At the Optional 1 Interface prompt, select Y and reboot.

Once rebooted we should be back at the FreeNAS console setup menu. This time we need to select option 2 and enter an IP address for the computer. In our example we used, however this may change depending on your network configuration.

After configuring our network IP address we should once again be at the FreeNAS console setup menu. From here we can select option 6 to ping another computer on the network and verify that the network settings are configured properly. If you run into problems at this step I advise consulting the troubleshooting section of the FreeNAS documentation at

From here we can remove the CD and boot from the CF card. Now from another computer on the network we can configure the drives. To do this open your preferred web browser and head to the IP address we configured in the steps above. In our example this is

We should be prompted for a user name and password. By default the username is admin and the password is freenas. It is advised that this is changed when setup is complete.

So now that we have FreeNAS installed we need to configure the drives. In our example we are configuring one hard drive. Select Management from the Disks menu and click the plus (+) icon to the right of the table. Select the hard drive from the list and keep the default settings. Click Add and the drive should appear in the Disk Management menu.

Next we need to format the hard drive. By doing this we will be completely removing all data from the drive. Be sure that there is no important information on the drive before performing this step. The data will not be recoverable. Once you are sure it is safe to proceed, select the hard drive from the list and click Format. This process should take about 5 to 10 minutes depending on the size of the disk.

Once the drive has been formatted we need to mount it. From the Disks menu select Mount Point and click the plus (+) icon to the right of the table. Then select the drive you wish to mount and click save.

Now the final in configuring the NAS is to setup CIFS (Samba), which will allow the computers on our network to use the drive. To do this simply click the CIFS link from the Services menu, check Enable, and click Save.

If you are feeling adventurous you may want to look into the other services such as FTP and NFS.

Now to verify that we can use the NAS, click Start, then Run, and enter \<IP ADDRESS OF NAS>. In our example this is \ Now click OK and you should see a window with your new network drive.

Categories: NASBookmark

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