How To Create NAS from Old PC

Many computer users feel that they need to upgrade their computers at least every few years.  The stress of upgrading a PC can often be quite high, especially when considering all the costs associated with it. However, even if you decide to go for an upgrade, an old computer can make an excellent storage server (NAS).

All you need is enough space in your home or office to store an old computer and easy access to it.  Once everything is set up, you will have a device that acts like another hard drive on your network and allows anyone who logs into it access to shared files without needing any additional software or dedicated hardware. For example, if you store personal documents on the NAS, your family will be able to access everything without needing additional passwords or difficult-to-remember names.

Why not make use of your old computer?

The old computer you use for the network storage drive provides an affordable option that requires little maintenance but still offers many advantages.  However, by adding a few accessories and tweaking settings when you set up the computer, you can enhance its performance when it is in use as a server.  In particular, upgrading RAM and video memory can add speed and allow more users to access files at once without slowing down performance.

Since you have an old computer, it should require only a DDR3 RAM. We recommend an affordable option:

Upgrading the storage of an old computer is also recommended if you wish to create NAS from old PC.

How to create NAS from old PC ?

Find room in your home or office to store the computer where it will not be in people’s way and where it can stay plugged in at all times.

Make sure that the hardware of this machine is powerful enough to support being a NAS device, but also that the components are reliable enough for you not to mind having them run constantly.

Purchase any additional hardware or software that your machine will need to have in order to incorporate it into your home or office network.  Most notably, if this machine was not originally intended to be on a network, then there may be no built-in wireless card or wired Ethernet connection with which to access it remotely.

Install an operating system onto your new NAS so that it has its own personalized computing environment.  Many operating systems will support the installation of software intended for networking, such as Network Attached Storage (NAS).  Some examples include TrueNas or unRAID.

I already had a working desktop computer that was about 5 years old and never used anymore so I decided to turn it into a NAS. I did some research and found out that one of the best OS’s for this is unRaid. unRaid has plugins which allow you access to services like Spotify , stream films from torrents and even play video games. The only problem with unRaid is having RAM issues if you want to get creative with your NAS.


What do I need?

To create a NAS from an old desktop computer , here are the things you need:

  1. PC with at least one free sata port
  2. Operating system (unRaid OS)
  3. 3.8GB USB flash drive
  4. Harddisk (optional)

Harddisks in your PC can fail, so I would advise to buy a USB flash drive with the unRaid OS. You can use it to boot up your pc when you need to add more harddisks or when you want to reset your NAS.

What is unRaid?

unRaid is an operating system that boots itself straight into a web GUI. It has no desktop or any other standard features like that. All configurations are made through this GUI which makes it very easy and quick to configure. Since there’s no desktop, all files will stay on your NAS and not get lost by messing around in the gui because you pressed the wrong button etc.. The only thing you should copy from the gui is a backup of your NAS from time to time, but you can do that from anywhere on your network.

unRaid will automatically turn off when there’s no need for it (there is an option for this in the Web GUI), which saves electricity and reduces heat.


What should I look for before buying hardware?

You want to buy hardware that runs cool so keep this in mind before buying your components.

Here are some things you should look at: Decide if you want NAS or SAN (I recommend NAS, SAN needs special configuration). Find out if the motherboard has enough SATA slots (if not just buy one extra controller) or would you prefer to buy a motherboard with extra SATA ports. Will you need 10Gbe or not?

Part list


AMD Opteron 3122 (dual core) OR Intel Xeon E3-1230v2 (quad core)

Motherboard: Supermicro X9SCM-F

Memory: NEMIX 64GB RAM Unbuffered (see notes below)

Power supply: Seasonic PRIME 1000 Gold SSR-1000GD 1000W

Solid State Drive: two Samsung 840 Evo SSD 1TB

HDD: four x WD Red


Choosing memory for the unRaid OS there is only one thing we care about and that is error checking and correcting (parity checking). We want to make sure that there is no data loss. You can choose more memory but then you will have less drive bays on the NAS . 16 GB is plenty for 32 drives. That having been said, some people will tell you to get ECC unbuffered memory, and others that it doesn’t matter; we took a conservative approach and went with supported ECC buffered RAM because we figure if we need capacity we’ll just buy more drives and run them in RAID 0 (which requires non-ECC RAM); it’s not like our server is going anywhere and we’ve had good luck running servers with cheap unbuffered ECC RAM in the past.

Memory speed

1600 MHz or faster. It really doesn’t matter what speed the memory is, but there are diminishing returns for each step you go beyond 1333 MHz, so we got some 1600 MHz sticks of unbuffered ECC RAM.

Usage: 4GB is enough memory to run our server; this will let us run VMs if we ever need to (we haven’t yet) and also it gives more margin on the 32-drive RAID – i.e., if one drive dies, there’s less of a chance that another will die soon thereafter (bad things happen in clusters). Even at 4 GB of RAM , the swap file starts right around 10 GB (so 10 gigs free plus whatever is needed for any apps you’ll be running). If you figure that’s okay for your use case, then you can save $70 with the 4GB kit.


The motherboard has two PCI slots (PCIe x1), which is enough room to add an extra NIC, if we ever need it (we’ve never needed more than one). When this server does die – hopefully not anytime soon! – we’ll probably give this box to my mom; it might make a decent home NAS .

Be sure to get the right type of RAM (buffered vs unbuffered, ECC vs non-ECC) and verify that it will indeed fit in your computer. Before putting the RAM in your computer, check that each stick matches both voltage and capacity with what’s printed on its sticker; make sure it’s inserted the right way! The easiest (and fastest) place to get RAM for cheap is eBay; if you’re buying in bulk, buy ECC unbuffered .

Also note that newer motherboards use bigger CPUs, but modern cases are designed for these – if your motherboard comes with a new enough CPU and you want to put this in an old computer case anyway, be prepared to do some disassembly.

Finally, I’d recommend going with a more affordable SSD vs a faster one – we had trouble getting data of off our Samsung 850 Evo before eventually just pulling out the whole system and installing on a slower 750GB Crucial MX300 . For operating systems & applications specifically, get Linux Mint instead of Ubuntu. It’s free, supports more modern hardware better with less updates, and so far has worked flawlessly for us.

Why is it worth it to build your own NAS ?

First of all you can save some money. You can buy an old pc on ebay for about $100 – $150 and create your own NAS . This is cheaper than buying a pre-build NAS like the Synology NAS which have a very high price tag if you want to have a lot of space. not only that, but it provides more storage potential. Instead of having a maximum amount of 4TB in the Synology, you could have 20TB or even 40 TB in your old pc!

The benefits of building your own NAS

There are numerous, but a few of them would be:

  1. Plex Media Server
  2. Music Server
  3. File Storage Server
  4. Your own Cloud Server
  5. FTP Server

If you are still having issues setting up one yourself, get hold of a local technician in Melbourne to help you with this project.

I am a computer engineer holding a bachelor's degree in Computer Science, complemented by a Master's in Business Administration from University of Strathclyde, Scotland. I currently work as a Senior IT Consultant in Melbourne, Australia. With over 15 years of...