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CONVERT YOUR OLD LAPTOP INTO NAS SERVER

Network Attached Storage (NAS) is a type of storage device that is designed to be connected to a network and provide file-level data access to multiple users or clients. NAS devices are specialized computers that are optimized for data storage, management, and access.


NAS devices typically consist of one or more hard drives that are arranged in a RAID configuration to provide redundancy and data protection. They are equipped with network interfaces such as Ethernet ports, which allow them to be connected to a local area network (LAN) or a wide area network (WAN). Once connected to the network, the NAS device can be accessed by multiple clients or users, who can then use it to store, retrieve, and share files.

NAS devices are popular in both home and business environments, where they are used to store a wide range of data, including documents, photos, videos, music, and other multimedia files. They are often used as a central repository for shared files, and can be accessed by multiple users or devices simultaneously.

Some of the key advantages of using a NAS device include its ease of use, scalability, and flexibility. NAS devices can be easily installed and configured, and can be expanded to accommodate additional storage capacity as needed. They also offer a wide range of features and functionalities, such as backup and recovery, remote access, and media streaming, which make them a versatile and cost-effective storage solution.

Prerequisites:

1. Your old laptop or desktop (Should support x64 architecture).

2. Two USB flash drives, One for installation and other for operating system storage. At least 16gb is recommended for both the drives.

3. Your home Wi-Fi router.

4. One RJ45 ethernet cable.

5. Monitor with HDMI cable, required only for 1st setup. (Only in case of display broken).

Software Required:

1. Rufus to make bootable drive. Download from here.

2. TrueNAS, a program to convert your old device into NAS. Download ISO from here.

Let's begin the process. Follow below steps.

Steps:

1. Insert one of your USB flash drive.

2. Run Rufus program in another system and select your USB drive in drive section and ISO file in boot selection.

3. Tick "USB hard drives" and MBR along with BIOS should appear in Partition Scheme and Target System sections respectively.

4. Finally click Start and after process completion, remove your USB flash drive.

5. Insert both the USB flash drives in your old laptop or desktop in which you want to install the NAS system.

6. Connect it to your monitor using HDMI cable in case laptop's display is broken or not working.

7. Connect one end of RJ45 ethernet cable in your router and other in your old system.

8. Turn on your old system and open BIOS Settings, in most cases it can be opened by continuously pressing ESC key on your keyboard. You have to change two settings there:

Search for Legacy Support and turn it ON.

In Legacy Boot Order, give the maximum priority to the USB flash drive. So that whenever you turn on your old system, it will boot from your USB flash drive. and save your bios settings and then your old system will boot from your USB flash drive.

9. After booting, press enter to Boot TrueNAS installer.

10. After completion of some process you will see screen mentioning Install/Upgrade, hit enter on the same.

Note: TrueNAS require 8gb of recommended RAM. However, if your system has less than that, no issue will happen as I used 4gb of RAM for my system. Click Yes for Continue anyway

11. After that you will see screen showing all of your attached storage devices, In my case, 2 devices are appearing. One is my internal laptop's hard drive and another is 2nd USB flash drive.

12. Install TrueNAS in your 2nd USB flash drive attached.

Note: Data present in storage devices need to be backed up before performing this tutorial as all drives need to be formatted.

13. Enter a password of your choice and confirm it as this password will be required to login to our NAS. Then select Boot via BIOS.

14. After this process wait for some time for the installation.

15. After that restart your system and now you can remove your first USB drive which we used to install TrueNAS,

16. Next time system will boot from your 2nd USB drive and TrueNAS will boot from it. It should always be attached to the system as Our TrueNAS operating system will run from this drive.

17. After restart, choose option Boot TrueNAS [Enter].

18. Now our server is ready to go live on our Local Network. Note down the IP address shown on the screen and open browser on any other device like desktop/laptop/mobile etc. and enter this IP Address in the Address field of the browser.

19. Now you can detach the HDMI cable along with Monitor and place the old system somewhere at secure place, it is suggested to place the system in proper ventilated area.

20. Congratulations, Our NAS is ready to be accessed over the network. Enter the username "root" and password which we have generated earlier.

21. Now, we have to do some chances in our server to access its storage from any device like smart tv, mobile phones, etc.

22. Go to System > General > Choose Country for time zone.> Save.

23. Go to Network > Interface > Edit. Untick DHCP and put IP address of your choice. We did this because DHCP switches IP Addresses, we have to give static IP, as we do not want to change IP address. Then Click Apply. Test the changes and save and then visit our new IP address.

24. Now go to Storage > Pools > Click Add > Create Pool > Click name of the Pool > Suggest Layout > Tick Force and then click Create.

Note: In above step, we have formatted our internal hard drive to create the storage for our NAS,

25. Now, in the same Pool section, click 3 dots > Add Datasheet > Enter name of your choice > Enter any comment and finally press submit.

26. Go to accounts > Users > Add > Enter Name, Username, Password of your choice. In directories and permissions, select location of your created datasheet (created earlier) > Submit.

27. Again go to Storage > Pools > 3 Dots > Edit Permissions > Use ACL Manager > Select Restricted > Then select user (created earlier in step 26) in both fields i.e., User & group. In Access Control List > 2nd Section > Choose user in Who field > then finally select User (created earlier in step 26) in next field, give full permission in Permissions field > Tick Apply Permission Recursively > Save.

28. Now go to Sharing > Windows Shares > Add > Select Datasheet (created earlier in step 25) in Path section Location > Submit > Enable Service.

Ok now our server storage is ready to be accessed from our local network devices.

Let's access our server drive from another windows computer.

Note: The device on which you want to access our DIY server should always be connected to the same router's Wi-Fi or LAN network.

Setup on Windows:

Double Click This PC > In Address Bar enter:

\\Your IP address (E.g.,192.168.0.115) and hit enter. Choose different user (created in step 26) and password for it.

From Top Tabs Select Computer > Map Network Drive and enter:

\\your IP address\Datasheet Name (created in step 25) > Finish.

Now Network Drive is ready to be use in our computer. You can store anything there.

Setup on Android / iOS:

Download CX File Explorer or any other network drive file manager from Application Store.

Go to Network > Add Location > Remote > SMB > Enter IP Address, Username and Password created in steps 23 & 26 respectively.

Ok, now we have created our own network server using our old useless laptop desktop. There are too many options available in TrueNAS and you can also install apps like NextCloud, etc. in it.

Now its your turn to improve your NAS experience. In case you require more help on this topic you can also watch my youtube video here:
I hope you enjoyed the article. Don't forget to comment your queries here. 

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