Some things are just best run on the LAN level and not as something we have attached to a desktop somewhere. Network attached storage, or NAS, is one of those those things. Offering itself as a standalone storage device, the typical NAS device allows for plenty of onsite storage and data access without the need to worry about leaving your regular PC turned on. A convenience for some, a must have for others.

Now the real question for most folks is: which is best? Building or buying an NAS device? Clearly there are advantages to each approach, but I think we can all agree that there is no one perfect approach that is going to meet with everybody’s needs.

Building Or Buying A NAS

[Photo above by VIA Gallery / CC BY-ND 2.0]

Advantages of buying an NAS

1) It’s generally ready to go, out of the box. When buying an NAS preconfigured and ready to go, there is no need to concern yourself with any hardware or software setup. Just follow the provided directions and load up the device with the desired files.

2) If something goes wrong hardware-wise, you can generally lean on the existing warranty for the single device without too much trouble.

Downside to buying an NAS

1) Oftentimes, it comes with a hefty price tag. Clearly, the pricing scheme is attached to the storage ability and provided features. But in the end, buying one ready to go will make the cost something to really give a second thought to.

2) Little to no customization. With out of the box NAS solutions, any option to customize to fit are limited. So if you don’t like the provided features and abilities provided, tough luck.

Building an NAS

Not for someone not comfortable with BSD or Linux in my opinion, I think that there are enough great NAS self-build options floating around out there that someone interested in such things would be able to find what they’re looking for. One my favorite software solutions here has to be using FreeNAS. BSD based, this NAS release is best suited for those who have a good working understanding of how BSD works. A Live CD alternative running on Linux is called CryptoNAS. Easier in the sense that it makes keeping things encrypted simpler, CryptoNAS provides its users with a no nonsense approach to getting a NAS box up and running quickly.

Advantages of building an NAS

The advantages don’t really fit into a numbered list, but come down to the control you have with how the NAS box runs, the hardware selected to run it, and the option to expand on it at any time.

Disadvantages of building an NAS

Not as simple to make work quickly. With a little time it’s doable, but those who have little patience for reading help files or learning from forums may want to avoid building an NAS of their own and instead opt for something ready to go out of the box.