With memory going cheap, almost everyone has a plethora of high-capacity hard disks lying around. Networking them makes it super convenient for use, as you can access files from any computer, even if they are remote. However, this can be an expensive proposition, unless you are using a convenient single board computer such as the Raspberry Pi (RBPi).
The RBPi can be used to create a very cheap NAS setup with a few hard drives connected to a network and accessible from anywhere. Apart from the hard drive itself, you will need an RBPi. Although models 1 and 2 may work just fine, they may not be able to provide enough power to operate some hard disk drives. In this context, the RBPi3 offers better support, but you will still be limited to 100 Mbps via its Ethernet, and USB 2.0. However, using a powered USB hub for powering the external hard drives may be another alternative.
You will need to install the operating system for the RBPi on to an 8 GB micro SD card. Use the OpenMediaVault OS, by downloading it from here. Format the SD card to FAT32, and write the image of the downloaded and extracted OS to the SD card.
Now connect peripherals to the RBPi and its power supply. Initially, you will need a keyboard, a monitor, and a local network connection via Ethernet. Power up the RBPi and allow it to complete the initial boot process.
Once completed, you can use the default web interface credentials to sign in—use admin as the username and openmediavault as the password. The login will give you the IP address of the RBPi, and for subsequent log-ins, you will no longer need the monitor and keyboard connected to the RBPi.
At this stage, you can connect the storage devices to the RBPi. On another computer, on the same network, open a web browser and enter the IP address of the RBPi. Enter the same credentials in the web interface that appears, and you will reach the web interface for the OpenMediaVault. This will bring you to the navigation menu.
To get your NAS online, you first need to mount the external drives. In the navigation menu, clicking on File Systems under Storage will allow you to locate your storage drives under the Devices column. Click on one drive to select it and click Mount. Now click Apply to confirm the action. Repeat the steps to mount additional drives.
You will also need to create a shared folder to allow other devices on the network to access the drives. Finally, to allow an external computer on the network share the folders and drives, you must enable SMB/CIFS from Services in the navigation menu. Next, click on the Shares tab and Add the created folders one by one. For each, click Save.
Now that the NAS is up and running, you can access the drives from another computer by mapping them. To access them, the RBPi will ask for login credentials. By default, these are pi as the username and raspberry for the password.