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Amazing DIY Photo Storage Server

Let's face it: as photographers, we are crazy about saving our files. I have terabytes of images and videos spanning multiple hard drives in different arrays in my studio, and it drives me nuts that it's in disarray. Maybe you’re in the same boat, looking for a better way to safely store all your important images in one place.

The problem is that off-the-shelf solutions offer very limited ability to customize, upgrade, or even overhaul, and cloud storage is extremely expensive in large quantities. So, is there a product out there that can achieve these goals while being competitive in price?

In this video by Linus Tech Tips, it seems that they have found the diamond in the rough. Utilizing a small ITX case that has the footprint of a shoebox, they can create a 5-Bay Network Attached Storage (NAS) enclosure at a price point that rivals any similar prebuilt solution from the more established brands. You’ll get to see the components they chose, which are very overkill, as well as a full walkthrough of the entire build itself. The most important part, however, is the section near the end where they show the installation and setup of TrueNAS, the free operating system software. At the end of the project, they have a working 100 TB, fully serviceable, customizable, and upgradable NAS array, again rivaling the price of current similar enclosures.

As a DIYer, I love this video. I currently do not have a NAS array for my storage needs because I could never bring myself to spend money on a pre-built solution. This video has highlighted that it's possible to DIY my own NAS using this unique case. I especially appreciate the section about setting up TrueNAS. As much of a computer geek as I think I am, I don’t know the first thing about setting up the software for a server like this. But the steps they outlined look foolproof, and the LTT forums are full of helpful folks if I were to get stuck along the way. 

Scott Donschikowski's picture

Scott Donschikowski is a professional photographer and educator with over 11 years of experience leading a variety of photo workshops around the world. He specializes mainly in landscape, wildlife, and astrophotography. He is also active on YouTube where he makes tutorials sharing his photographic knowledge.

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Actually the 100 TB number they float is incorrect. When using FreeNAS or TrueNAS (which I do in my home built array) if you set a raidz level of one or higher, it reduces the amount of storage you have to use. In the video they set up a raidz1 which reduces the available storage to around 80 TB. I use raidz2 which uses two drives which means I can lose two drives before I lose any data. In my case since I use 6 TB drives, I lose around 12 TB of space.

To get the 100 TB Linus is talking about means you set up the array as a stripe set which means if a drive fails, you lose it all.

I used to have FreeNas in the past, really nice software, solid and perfect for tinkering of a unique solutions, but why would most people go toward such solution nowadays when products like Synology or QNAP (to name some) offer really amazing solutions for us.

I am a senior UNIX/Linux system administrator and I had spare hardware sitting around so I used it to build my disk array. Doing it yourself has some benefits including the ability to upgrade the hardware as long as the software supports it and as you see fit. For the typical user it is better to buy a prepackaged solution.

Because TrueNAS (the new name for FreeNAS) runs on ZFS which is a far more robust filesystem than anything else that Synology or QNAP provide on their kit.

Linus has been out of touch for a decade, he has no clue what he's doing

Some of the information on Linus Tech Tips is useful. Most of the time I watch LTT to see Linus break stuff!!!

Sounds great. But be aware, a NAS is no guarantee against a malware/ransomeware attack, even if it's running a unique or proprietary OS. Those attacks have happened - I have a blog post about it:


TrueNAS is open source, which IMHO is both more secure, and less. It depends on the strength of the development community.

Jim, it doesn't help if your device regardless of vendor is Internet accessible. Any device that you can access from the Internet that isn't properly secured is "game over". The QNAP issue is also based on connecting the device to the Internet. In short, don't connect your NAS to the Internet without at a minimum having that connection inside a VPN.



IT's not 100TB. Also the way they set this up with just a single parity drive means they are just begging for a total faliure on rebuild. Linus might look good but he seems to have a distressing habit of losing a lot of data, and there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of how to do things here.

You need at least two parity drives, preferably three which would bring your size down to 40TB. Having a single drive of parity when rebuilding at this volume is not recommended.

If storage were easy to do, then I wouldn't be paid a fortune to fix the errors that people make from watching videos like this....

Christopher, this is what happens when you decide that capacity is more important than fault tolerance. This is a common mistake, even in the Enterprise.