Tuesday, April 23, 2013

1.1 Intro - To Build or to Buy?

Posted by at Tuesday, April 23, 2013 Read our previous post

I have a circle of close friends for regular kopi sessions. We are all IT professions in various domains - managers, engineers (network , security) , entrepreneurs. The subject of NAS was discussed and argued over many kopi sessions. Majority of the votes goes to buying an off shelve NAS. Well, you guessed it, I'm the only freak that prefers building one myself. =)

Most home consumers would buy an off shelve NAS solution. There are so many makes to select from; notably the most popular Synology to QNAPS, ASUSTOR, Drobo, WD etc. Ask yourself, why would you build one than buy one? 

$$$$$$    Cost    $$$$$$

This is the main driving factor. All off shelve NAS are expensive and I personally feel it's a ripped off. For the same amount of dollars spent on off shelve solutions, you can build one that is way specifically superior. However if you have a fat wallet, go grab one now. Don't bother about building it.

Requirement to start building your own NAS
If you are at this cross road dilemma of buying one or building it, I have listed these crucial factors which you must consider before committing yourself:

1. Time - Yes! you need time, lots of it. If you are firm on building one by now, there are a lot to consider:
  • What hardware components are you gonna pick? 
  • What operating system will you use?
  • How many hard disks will your DIY NAS gonna house? 
  • What RAID will you use?  
  • Does your NAS needs scalability?

2. Passion - If you don't have the passion in building one, why are you here reading my blog. Go watch your 'prawn' or play with your willy.

3. Technical fundamentals - If you have built a PC before, that's enough. You will be able to build a NAS with some reading and research.

Reasons NOT to build your own NAS
1. Go ahead and grab one Synology during one of those gimmick IT shows if you don't own / have the above criteria.

2. A 2 bay NAS is not worth the effort to build it. In fact, I discourage building a 2 bay NAS. It's simply a waste of time and you are better off buying one. You will also be spoilt for choice with the abundance of vendors offering 2 bay NAS.

3. You shouldn't be thinking about building it if you just want to use it and prefers not to maintain or understand how the system works.  Just like my mum who buys an oven - she uses it but does not need to maintain or know how it works. 

Reasons to build your own NAS
To sum it up, these will be the distinct advantages you will gain by building one.

1. Economical - save some money; in Singapore, nothing is free and everything is costly.

2. Hardware independancy - you no longer need to rely on a particular vendor if your NAS has a hardware issue. I came across an experience related by a Synology owner. 2 years back he bought a top of the range Synology costing him $1000++. 2 years later after the warranty has expired, he was pretty unfortunate to be struck with a hardware issue. Brought it back to the shop which he bought from and they recommended him to buy a new one instead of fixing the fault. Mainly because the servicing cost wouldn't come cheap. This is a fucking joke! But who can you blame? Since you made the decision to purchase a customized appliance from a specific vendor, you will be at their mercy / chopper board if your hardware has a problem. In contrast, if you are building one, every hardware component will be replaceable.

3. Learning curve - this is related to passion. If you have the attitude to keep learning, growing and enjoy stuff which you built with a certain degree of success,  why not? I view building my own NAS as a project. Exactly just like how I implemented solutions for my customers. In every project, you learn something - be it technical or cultural.

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