Make Your Own DIY Hardware Storage Frame From Scrap Wood

RAM

DIY NAS: 2019 EditionVery little expense was spared in the building of the DIY NAS: 2019 Edition, but in building it I intentionally saved a few dollars by going with the bare minimum in recommended RAM. In fact, had I experienced any difficulty in the benchmarking of the NAS, I was ready to buy more RAM and talk about both of those decisions.

In making sure this year’s DIY NAS was more bananas than the prior year’s significantly upgrading the RAM was a no-brainer for me. I picked two 16GB DIMMs of DDR4 2666MHz PC4-21300 Unbuffered ECC RAM (specs) for the DIY NAS: 2020 Edition. A total of 32 GB of RAM would be sufficient for the needs of this year’s DIY NAS build, although I would advise the virtual machine enthusiast to consider more, depending on the number and workload of virtual machines they plan to run.

In this year’s DIY NAS, I’d also think that RAM would be one of the places where you’d see some opportunity to find savings. With my prior builds, especially the EconoNAS builds, I’ve been routinely pleased with how everything performs when using RAM that’s at the minimum side of the hardware recommendations.

Video

Magnetic mini storage

Use a magnetic strip, glue and washers

Use a magnetic strip, glue and washers

Want a handy storage roost for all the little screws, earplugs, nuts and washers in your shop? Pick up a package of Glad 4-oz. cups, a magnetic strip, several 7/16-in. washers and a tube of E6000 glue ($4 at craft and hobby stores). Apply glue to the cup's concave bottom, press in a washer flush with the bottom rim and let the glue set for 24 hours.

Mount the magnetic strip on the wall Mount the magnet, load the cups, snap on the lids and all your itty-bitties are easy to spot, nab and put away. Magnetic strips are available from Rockler (800-279-4441, rockler.com) and Magnaproducts (800-338-0527). The magnetic strip provides more than enough magnet power to hold a cup crammed with screws.

What do you need for your DIY personal cloud storage project?

There are several ways you can set up personal cloud storage. Some of your options depend on personal preference and your budget plays an important factor. The more you spend, the better quality gear you can buy, as well as allowing for more storage.

I have a rule when it comes to anything in the computer or technology world: Don’t go cheap when it comes to your hard drives, power supplies, or cooling. These things are paramount for safe data, longer-lasting components, and stability.

Let’s look at some of the hardware options to set up your storage system:

  • Use an older computer: This is great if you have recently upgraded one of your computers in the house. The computer you have replaced will be an excellent way to set up a server for yourself. It will be more complicated to set up, but in terms of flexibility, will be one of the best setups to have. NAS storage devices (as mentioned next) can be very picky about how drives are set up. So in some cases, you cannot just replace a hard drive quickly. The other problem with NAS is the limit you have on the number of drives you can run. With a computer, you have plenty of storage bays and SATA connections to hook up your hard drives. Although good quality NAS devices do have a good design to look after your drives, with a computer you can modify cooling to a far greater degree. Cooler drives mean longer life.  The PC option is more of a challenge to set up, but worthwhile in the long run. I wouldn’t use a computer that is too old either. This will avoid needing extra peripherals like SATA cards and network cards capable of Gigabit Ethernet.
  • NAS Storage deviceNAS (Network Attached Storage) devices can allow you to install several hard drives into one unit. This provides excellent safety against data loss. Most of these units have multiple drive bays, so if one drive fails, it automatically has your data backed up on another drive. Some features can be a bit limited, but nonetheless, a great way to keep your data safe. This is the way I would tend to go if you are limited on space, or if you cannot get your hands on a computer. This works in a very similar way as the ZFS (Zettabyte File System) file system for the computer option.
  • Hard drive connected to your router: This is the budget option. Not very good features around data access and video files. Also, the safety of your data will only be as good as the backups you make elsewhere. This router option works better in a local network situation.
  • Use a subscription cloud service: This is another way you can store your data. Upload all your files onto a server owned by a company. This has its advantages. One major advantage is the fact that you don’t have to set up any hardware, and maintenance is their problem. For me personally, the cons are too great to choose this option. Two things bother me. Firstly, how many people can access my data. Secondly, I hate paying unnecessary monthly subscriptions. If there are any good services that provide a lifetime of service for a one-off payment, I might reconsider. There will be maintenance costs if you do not go with a service like this. I like to replace a hard drive at least six months before the end of the warranty period. This is usually between 3 to 5 years, depending on the hard drive you purchase. So it’s fairly low-cost maintenance.

Benchmarks

When I started building DIY NAS systems, I was particular interested in the throughput and power consumption of my DIY NAS machines. As time has gone by over the years, I’ve learned a couple things:

  1. Network is your first bottleneck: Year after year, nearly every single DIY NAS I’ve built has easily saturated the Gigabit network interface that the overwhelming majority of our computers are connected with.
  2. Power consumption depends on usage: The biggest single power-consuming component the DIY NAS has is the CPU (about 105W), but it’s important to consider that a typical 7200 RPM hard drive uses up to 25 watts. I put a lot of effort into trying to test and gather the same data from every DIY NAS build that I build and blog about, but those tests don’t really reflect how I use my own DIY NAS, and, more importantly, probably don’t reflect how you’ll wind up using your own DIY NAS.

Nevertheless, it’s still fun to grab all of the video I’ve recorded for the DIY NAS: 2020 Edition, copy it over to the NAS, and see it saturate the gigabit network interface on the NAS! Mission accomplished!

How to install a NAS storage device

This type of installation is really simple. Install your new hard drives, if the unit doesn’t come with the drives installed already. Follow your specific installation instructions.

Normally it’s a case of powering the unit up and waiting for a ready light of some kind. Then a software package needs to be installed on your computer. If you are using a smartphone, there will be an app to install. 

The software should give you information about what the device is up to. It may prompt you to take other actions of some kind, like setting up the new hard drives.

If you are using a computer, you should also have access to your storage through your network. It should appear like another computer on your network. 

Once you click on it, you should see a default folder(s). Here you are able to create new folders or copy any files over, for later use.

You can use apps on your phone or tablet to access your stored data remotely. You can also log onto your NAS device using a browser from any other device. 

These devices are designed with ease of use in mind, so figuring out how to access your files should be relatively easy. In saying that, I’m sure you will always find an exception to the rule.

This is where it has an advantage over the computer option. Remote access from all devices should be easier if you have chosen the correct product.

You also get single-volume NAS storage products, however, I’d vote against it. These products become a bit annoying if you have to replace a hard drive. 

Also, being a single drive, your rebuild capability is out the window. So if the drive fails, it’s up to your regular backups to keep your data safe.

Preferably, a NAS storage unit that allows you to hot-swap your drives is very convenient. You won’t have to power the unit off every time you want to change a drive.

Recommended NAS Storage Device

This is a perfect NAS storage unit for most home users. It comes with excellent security features and allows you to access your data remotely and stream media across your network. It is very easy to set up and to get it working for you in no time at all. There are many apps that you can install to make facilitate solutions for your requirements.

Step 3: Assemble the main storage frame

With the main parts now more or less complete, we can begin to assemble the piece. Take the sides you’ve just made and the shelves you made before. 

Line up the slots of the shelves and the walls, and push them together to form a tight fit. If needed, use a rubber or wooden mallet to fully fit the tongue and groove joints together. 

Keep adding each of the shelves to the piece as needed. 

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Muffin tin hardware bins

Install muffin tins under shelves

Install muffin tins under shelves

Work surface cluttered with miscellaneous nails, screws, hardware, whatever? Clean it up and still keep that stuff at your fingertips. Attach a muffin tin under a shelf with a single 1/4-in. x 1-1/2-in. flat head machine screw. The tin pivots out from beneath work surfaces to organize and serve up any little doodad you frequently use. And you store all that little stuff without using up a single square inch of workspace.

Tins slide out but remain attached to shelves For best results when installing your muffin bins: Use muffin tins made from heavier gauge metal. Drill and countersink a 1/4-in. hole in the shelf top, so the top of the screw is flush with the shelf. Place 1/4-in. fender washers above and below the rim of the muffin tin. Tighten two nuts against each other on the underside so the threads won't loosen.

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