Feburary 16, 2016
With so many devices connected to your home network, I have been using a Network Attached Storage (NAS) for the past 7 years.
Network Attached Storage has many benefits for the home, and can provide a reliable always on private cloud of sorts that can store and routinely backup all your important documents while also acting as a media library.
My first foray into NAS started soon after I bought my first gigabit switch. I bought a LaCie 2big 1TB with two 500 GB discs configured in striped or mirrored mode. This unit was interesting because for the time it had a 1 gigabit NIC. This unit was disappointingly slow with an ARM processor that was barely faster than 100 Mb Ethernet. Eventually the electronics in this unit died.
After being disappointed with integrated ARM units I started looking for something more reliable. At this point I decided that building my own NAS would give me the ability to easily replace broken parts without replacing a whole unit and losing configuration files in the process. As well as giving me the flexibility to run extra services including virtual machines (VMs).
Then in 2013 I got an AMD APU E-450 embedded CPU with a TDP of 18 W which was low powered enough to leave available 24/7 and always have access to my data. To go with this configuration I got two WD Red 3 TB drives which I configured in a ZFS array to protect against bit rot. This configuration provided adequate for half saturating a 1 Gb Ethernet connection.
I loaded the system with a few development virtual machines, Tvheadend, and samba. Later I added Crashplan as an off-site backup to the arrangement to provide me with a backup in addition to my redundancy. I have recently added Plex which is not able to keep up with transcoding any but the lowest resolutions which is not very workable, so it is time to upgrade.
Now it is 2016 and I am looking to squeeze more performance out of my network. Ideally I would like to completely saturate 1 Gb Ethernet and increase my random IO performance. In the next article I will step you through my design process to take my NAS from the slow lane to the fast lane.