Can you do NAS storage on a tiny Budget? You can but it might just cost more in time overall..

in #nas3 months ago


Just look at that shiny, tidy looking NAS box - admit it you are impressed. NAS stands for Network Assisted Storage - basically it houses some proprietary server os and in this case it can control storage on two 3.5" hard drives - and with a wired ethernet connection it make the storage available to any computer on the same network to back up data to it.

For a quick run down on this particular model see

Now for the few people who actually bothered following that link to the cnet review - you might be asking WHY IS THIS A REVIEW OF A 2009 product???? And that would be a very valid question, why am I showing you a shiny little NAS which in 2022 is 13 years old. Now to be fair I actually bought this is January 2022 - when it was just a little over 12 - not even a teen back then! And I would point out despite everything this is still running and doing it's NAS job today - just because a bit of technology is old does not mean it can no longer have a use or purpose - if it runs and works then it has as much right to live right now as it did back in 2009 when it was released.

Like any good story, a little background information helps - so what you the possibly new reader to the crazy mind that is c0ff33a has to understand is that I am getting quite old now (prefer not to pin it down exactly, but the half century is getting dangerously close) and even from a young age I was obsessed with technology - all the way back to being a early teenager when I was lucky enough to receive a Acorn Electron 32bit computer from my parents.

You will note from the image the data storage device was in fact a tape player, which just as famously chewed up the tape reels as the good old Walkmans of the day and in fact anything else that used them. Also during recording of your incredible piece of coding (I recall typing in two whole pages of code from a magazine once - just to make a dance skeleton on the screen!) or loading a saved piece of data it made the most annoying screaching bloopy noise. Those were the days. The source link also mentions Elite space game - which I do remember playing far too much when I was young.

Anyway, my love of computers was founded back then and really has never left me, combined with being one of those people who just will meddle with anything - I just really like taking things apart, putting them together - seeing how they work. If something breaks I just have to take it apart, find out why and try to fix it. Sometimes - when I put things back together I only have a few spare screws or fittings, other times I have loads - but somehow pretty much everything I do mess with comes back to life and works really well - even if it is missing a few bits it needed before hand!


The above very old Hive post (June 29th, 2020) shows just how determined I can be to make something work - and that old PC with a custom modified power supply is still running today - right alongside the 30kg roaster I use it every day to run the Artisan profiles - it's not blazing fast but it works and another piece of technology saved from land fill.

Screenshot 2022-12-19 at 20.15.52.png

So finally back to the NAS, just around a year ago one of the oldest still running PC's I had at work which was basically stuffed with SATA drives being used as a not very effective network storage device finally died - as pc's has evolved they tend to reduce drive space for form factor - so nothing I had left running could fit all these drives in - plus trying to share storage over Windows is pretty hit and miss at the best of times. So I thought why not just replace it with a NAS - purpose built for the job and easy storage back up. That was until I started to look at prices - and while the wistful will go what price is your data - which is very true, this would be a fourth level backup (that is the fourth physical copy of data I had stored somewhere).

In general there are many wise terms about data back up, one of my favourites is “If it's not in three places, it doesn't exist”. If you just have your computer and all your important data stored on it - then if the internal storage device fails one day (which they do - quite frequently) all your important information is gone. In these modern times we like to think that Apple iCloud or Microsoft One Drive has our back - which in theory they do - but you have no physical control of the data they are storing. What happens if the storage you have with them randomly becomes corrupted, or someone hacks your account and wipes it just to be annoying. Cloud services are convenient but can not be considered a safe way to keep your most important data.

As a side note this brings me to one thing I really love about Hive Blockchain - this post, any post, any comment - it's all stored on the Blockchain. And that Block log existing over every active Witness - I have five copies for my Witness and API node servers - there are 143 active Hive Witnesses each with a copy of every single post I have ever made on Hive. If you enjoy writing, write your content on Hive Blockchain and you know it will be safe - it exists on so much hardware backed by so many independent people it has to be the safest way to store written text ever. And you don't have to use your main Hive Account, create an account just for writing - if you do not follow anyone then chances are it will remain quite unseen and you can write posts day in and out that will be stored forever on the Hive Blockchain that you can refer back to whenever you like.

Back to NAS storage again, so looking around prices are really quite expensive new - especially for what would be a final stage back up device so least priority. So I headed to my favourite tech recycling centre eBay to see just how low I could go - and still for a running NAS the prices were very high well into hundreds of UK pounds.

Finally with enough hunting I found this iOmega StorCenter listing - at just £19.95 a bargain. BUT if it could never work just twenty pounds down the drain. The listing made clear it had no drives, no caddies, no power supply and it posts (ie they plugged in a power supply and some lights came on) but that is it. So before wasting twenty of my finest British pounds on a piece of techno tat, I looked up potential issues on Google. It turned out these NAS devices were very reliable when they worked, but had one major issue - iOmega to save production costs did not include on the system board any storage for the device operating system. Why pay for flash storage on the device board - when you ship the device with two massive hard drives, which the os would take a tiny little amount up on. So they installed the NAS operating system on the drives it was shipped with, and in a very clever piece of redundancy coding actually had the OS backed up to both drives - so if one drive failed the system could boot from the other one.


Now where the issues start is when people started replacing both drives - because then they had no OS and the system just got stuck in a boot loop of a flashing white light. iOmega for whatever reason did not supply a downloadable USB flash to recover from this, but reading through many different forums people had managed to overcome the issue and get a working system. So I took the plunge hoping to save this box from becoming the next piece of landfill.

When it arrived there were two pieces of good news, it actually did have the Drive caddies so no problem there. And the PSU it needed was just a 12v supply I had a load of for external drive caddies so I could just use one of those. I had a 1tb drive from the now dead old PC, and I ordered a 2tb drive off ebay to go in the second slot.

Screenshot 2022-12-19 at 22.30.46.png

So I am now looking at £43 for a 3tb NAS device if I can make it work, great value but can we get the OS installed. This is where the time cost of meddling with things kicks in, because even when I found the recovery USB data and the process to go to so that the NAS box uses it when it boots - it took four different USB drives and ten attempts before I finally managed to get it to read the recovery data off the USB and write the OS to the hard drive. You also have to consider part of the process of getting it to read the USB recovery is pressing a button on the front WHILE pushing a paper clip opened up in the reset hole at the back at the same time - there might have been some cursing and nashing of teeth - but finally it lived!

Screenshot 2022-12-19 at 22.54.09.png

And it still does, nearly a year after I got it running it is still running fine with daily back ups being made from my work computers - automatically. I am not using so much of the storage because what it is backing up is mostly text equivalent - account software back ups, payroll back ups, general essential information off various work computers. They are business critical data, losing that data would take months of work recovering it - which is why it is stored in four locations - this being the fourth. If a meteor destroys everything in the business premises I have cloud back up, if cloud back up is lost there are physical copies in the business premises. Back up, back up the back ups - just keep data everywhere.

For reference these are some of the guides I found that helped finally recover the StorCentre

Once I finally made a usb that restored it - that is now marked and saved just in case I need to replace both drives and have to go through the process again.

I know many people would say why not save your time and hassle and just buy a ready out of the box 4tb NAS like this

Asustor NIMBUSTOR 4 bay NAS Enclosure

And they would be right, even at £600 compared to £43 having something reliable and ready to run out of the box would indeed be more cost effective if you value your time. But I like meddling with things, and you really can not beat that satisfaction when you take something totally broken and coax it back to life.

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You can’t go wrong with a synology NAS.

You are speaking terms that I have zero clue of. I don’t even have a computer and haven’t in several years. It’s all on my phone, my spreadsheets and bookkeeping. I do have a wireless printer though.

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My first ever computer - a Commodore Vic 20 (I wanted it in large part because of the name) - had a tape drive for storage. It took forever to load anything, particularly if the program was at the end of the tape. Ugh.

thats why i don't rely myself to build this type of thing for my employer...I am completely mature and i guess there are people more specialized capable of doing that, so money that we save in the beginning could be more costly in the future... good hardware planning is important!


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