The Future of my DIY NAS Builds

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Following nearly every DIY NAS build, I reflect on what went well, what didn’t go so well, and what I think the future holds. Almost nearly every year, I make some decisions on the kinds of changes I’d like to see in the future. Most of the time, a bunch of those brainstorms are forgotten as quickly as they’re created. But every now and then, a pretty decent idea will stick with me. The EconoNAS build is an example of one of the better ideas that came from these brainstorming sessions. I’d published the DIY NAS: 2019 Edition for all of about 30 minutes before I started brainstorming about what I’d do differently the remainder of this year.

As a result of this year’s brainstorming, I’ve got a few ideas that I’m going to begin to implement:

  1. I’m not buying hard drives anymore.
  2. Resume building the EconoNAS each year
  3. Grow the FreeNASGiveaway

I’m not buying hard drives anymore

You might be exclaiming to yourself, “Hold on a second, Brian. You do realize that the S in NAS stands for storage, right?!” You’re absolutely correct, but I’m still not going to buy hard drives any longer. With each and every NAS build, I routinely get feedback with regards to the amount of storage; that I spent too much money on storage, that I wasted money having so many drives, that I didn’t have enough redundancy by having too few drives, that the drives weren’t big enough, and other reasons. Ultimately, all of the comments are equally correct and incorrect. The amount of storage that winds up in your DIY NAS build is ultimately a very personal decision comprised of all sort of different opinions on value.

I’d always hoped that people would read my blogs, become inspired, and build their own custom DIY NAS to suit their own needs. But, enough people seem to take what I’ve picked out as some sort of assertion that the parts that I’ve picked out are somehow at the pinnacle of DIY NAS building when they aren’t and I certainly don’t think that. I value the parts that I picked and try to explain how I arrive at that valuation.

Moving forward, I’m going to stop buying hard drives for my DIY NAS builds. Instead, what I’ll do is build a little collection of hard drives that I use for the purpose of filling out the DIY NAS builds and testing what I’ve built. In the blogs, I hope to build a little section on hard drives and build a table of a few different hard drive sizes, array configuration, net storage, and cost. This’ll cover way more options and hopefully cater a bit to people who might have problems reconciling that their opinion and my opinion can coexist.

As an added benefit DIY NAS builds’ prices will compare much more directly to the off-the-shelf NAS offerings you see at your favorite retailers and websites. It doesn’t frequently come up, but from time to time I have been asked why my NAS builds cost so much more than these other NAS. And almost always, the answer has been because mine has hard drives and the other doesn’t.

However, the primary benefit is cost. In the DIY NAS: 2019 Edition nearly a third of the cost was hard drives alone and in the last EconoNAS build nearly half of the cost went towards storage. Somewhere along the line in 2018, Google made a change to their search algorithm and took a huge bite out of the traffic that my blog sees. Similarly, a big chunk of the revenue that I was seeing from the affiliate links in my blogs also disappeared. Saving up to a few hundred dollars on each NAS build will go a long way towards taking the sting off that bite!

Resume building the EconoNAS each year

In a post-EconoNAS brainstorm a couple years ago, I was discouraged that the DIY NAS:2017 EconoNAS and DIY NAS: 2016 EconoNAS were more alike than they were different, at the time it didn’t seem like there was a ton of wisdom to be putting together an EconoNAS on a yearly basis. However, what I neglected to factor together is that the inexpensive equipment needed to build these NAS machines is no longer being produced by the time I’m picking them out to put into NAS builds, their assembly lines have already been reprogrammed to churn out other newer components.

Ultimately, what happens is that the EconoNAS winds up having a much shorter shelf life than my other NAS builds. This year’s EconoNAS might not be all the differen than the following year’s EconoNAS, but it’s going to be more difficult to put together and find the parts. As a result, I’m calling a do-over on that particular brainstorm and moving forward I’m setting a goal to make sure there’s an EconoNAS build on a yearly basis.

Grow the FreeNASGiveaway

The first FreeNASGiveaway was terrifying, I spent a ton of money out of my own pocket back when my blog was barely generating enough revenue to cover my hosting expenses. I calculated at the time that it’d be a much better investment to give away one of my NAS builds rather than try and spend money on advertisements. For the most part, this gamble has paid off extremely well. And as a result I want to grow the giveaway. I had the giveaway partially in mind when I purchased my first set of the USB Drives with my Face on Them. I absolutely want there to be more than one prize in the FreeNASGiveaway, I’d really like to be giving away more than one of my NAS builds.

Ultimately, building an EconoNAS every year and not buying hard drives for future NAS builds are going to compliment this goal very well. For starters, I’ll be back to giving away two different NAS builds every year, restoring the FreeNASGiveaway to the largest its ever been. Additionally, I’ll have an extra few hundred dollars that I saved on hard drives that can immediately go towards growing the FreeNASGiveaway. How would you grow the FreeNASGiveaway? Would you focus on giving away a second DIY NAS and EconoNAS first? Or would you giveaway something different? I’ve got a few ideas of my own, but I’d love to see some of your ideas in the comments below!

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