Raspberry Pi 2

There are some awesome Network Attached Storage (NAS) solutions out there that can be bought, setup and accessed within an hour. The downside to these devices is the cost, which can be upwards of $1,000 depending on what you need from connected storage. Luckily, if you haven't quite got enough cash to spare, or wish to build one yourself, it's easy to do with a Raspberry Pi.

We're big fans of the Raspberry Pi. They're excellent pieces of kit that offer everyone the opportunity to purchase a ready-to-go micro PC that can do almost anything — within reason. One such use of the newest Raspberry Pi 3 (which can be purchased for around $43) is to run a home or office-based NAS.

Pros and cons of Raspberry Pi NAS

Raspberry Pi 2

There's no true "best" option for everyone when it comes to a NAS. There are many factors to consider, including price, storage capacity, features, noise, and power consumption. Solutions by Synology and other companies are sound choices if you wish to simply plug and play but they come with a few limitations. A Raspberry Pi is vastly more affordable, allows you to fine-tune how it's all set up, is ideal for those who wish to not rely on company support, and it lets you master a NAS OS.

But there are some downsides. The Ethernet port is rather slow on older models, though the latest 3 Model B+ sports Gigabit and can, therefore, match pricier NAS units. There's also the lack of space within enclosures. When you install the small PC into a case, you don't have any space for a hard-disk drive (HDD), which means you'll need an external enclosure. Finally, there's a steeper learning curve.

What you'll need for your Pi NAS

Raspberry Pi 3

Here's everything you will need to get your Raspberry Pi-powered NAS up and running:

Getting started with OpenMediaVault

OpenMediaVault

While you can choose any OS that can work with a Raspberry Pi, we're going with OpenMediaVault. Here's how:

  1. Download OMV for Raspberry Pi onto a PC.
  2. Create a bootable USB drive with the ISO image.
  3. Connect the external hard drives to the Raspberry Pi.
  4. Plug the drive into the Raspberry Pi and switch it on.
  5. Select Install from the menu.
  6. Carefully follow the install wizard (each step is well explained).
  7. After updates have been installed, the server will reboot.
  8. Wait for OMV to finish booting.
  9. Login on the NAS, using the command line (type "root" and hit enter):
    • User: root.
    • Password: What you set during install.
  10. Run the command ifconfig to view the set IP address.
  11. Access the web interface by using the IP address in a browser on a PC.
  12. Log in to the web interface:
    • User: admin
    • Password: openmediavault

You will now have full access to OMV on the Raspberry Pi and can configure it how you see fit, much like any NAS unit you can purchase.

OpenMedia Vault

There are also some things you should do after that:

  • Change the web password.
  • Activate various protocols, including SSH, SMB, FTP.
  • Create file systems for each drive or partition you wish to use.
  • Add users for friends and family.
  • Create shared folders.
  • Install plug-ins (like the excellent Plex Media Server).

See Raspberry Pi at Amazon

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Updated on August 01, 2018: I checked over this guide to ensure it offers the correct steps and recommendations in building your very own Raspberry Pi NAS.