anaNAS - a guide for an enterprise-grade NAS

Storing large amounts of electronic data is becoming a great challenge for everyone as more and more digital media files (storing for example music, photo or video data) are created by consumers. Generally a single external hard drive will not fit the needs of normal households and most users don't have a backup-strategy or even know what consequence they have to face, if their storage fails (like an external USB drive).

More and more manufactures provide home-use or SOHO-grade network-attached storage devices (NAS) with poor to very good performance, depending on the amount of money one is willing to pay for such a solution.

As my digital footprint grew considerably over the last years and all files are spread to several external hard drives with different file systems - some files are stored exclusively on optical and DVD-RAM disks as well - so I had to develop a solid concept to solve my storage problems with the inclusion of a good backup strategy which can be adapted to increasingly lager amounts of data.

Buying a pre-built system didn't fit all my needs or would have been too expensive. So I chose to build a custom solution - with the project name "anaNAS" - using the zettabyte file system (ZFS) myself.

It took me some time to finish my concept so I decided to write an detailed series of essays covering many aspects of my custom storage solution which can be helpful for everyone to analyze his requirements and to find a solution for his needs. Other conclusions may apply for different use-cases but maybe this series of articles can be used as a general blueprint.

After giving a short summary of my motivation I will continue with the decision process in the next essay covering the "anaNAS". Each essay will start with a short table of contents where direct access to every finished article is provided for site visitors.

This series of essays will cover these topics:

  • motivation
  • decision process
  • storage concept
  • backup strategy
  • software
  • excursion: ZFS 1x1
  • hardware
  • future-proofing