How to turn an old PC into NAS file server with FreeNAS

How to turn an old PC into NAS file server with FreeNAS

Have you an older PC at home and do not want to throw it away? Then we teach to give him new life with one of the best ways to use an old computer: turn it into a server to store the files.
Its operation is simple: basically you leave your PC on and without monitor, connected to your home network (not necessarily to the Internet), so that works as a unit of backup and storage of files and photos.
To achieve this function does not have to spend a single dollar! What you need to do is only a short and fast software configuration, 2 GB of RAM and the availability of one or two hard drives, even old, but with at least 100 GB installed inside.

To achieve our goal we must use a software that can create a file server as a NAS (Network Attached Storage). We chose FreeNas, a free operating system and open source by which we can convert old PCs in networked storage devices.

The features offered by FreeNAS is very interesting, in fact, supporting the plug-in also, we could run over it a media server or a BitTorrent client also. FreeNas works on older computers because they do not require high performance. You can find the list of supported computers and minimum requirements on the FreeBSD site on which Free NAS is based. If we want to find a contraindication in this project we can locate it in the fact that the computer is always on, producing a rather high consumption of energy. So if we want to reduce energy consumption the best solution would be to use a mini computer Raspberry properly configured or a light NAS.

Although PCs equipped with 64-bit CPUs are ideal, FreeNAS works on computers with Intel or AMD 32-bit and 64-bit. Regarding the memory, in order to ensure good stability of the ZFS file system, 8 GB of RAM would be the best solution for FreeNAS, but you can use less RAM (at least 2 GB, better 4), installing a UFS file system. So, if you want to turn your old computer into a powerful file server, you can choose to spend a few dollars to increase the RAM, given that the cost of these old RAM is derisory and maybe some friend might give you a present also. The operation of FreeNAS improves greatly when it is installed on a flash memory card or a USB drive that can be inserted into the computer. In this manner we can dedicate disks inside the computer entirely archiving and storage of data.

How to turn an old PC into NAS file server with FreeNAS: begin operations!

Download and Installation

  • Download of the operating system from the site FreeNas
  • Burn the ISO file to a disc and start the disk on your computer

How to turn an old PC into NAS file server with FreeNAS install

If your PC does not have the CD player no problem, you can download the image IMG to USB drives to be installed on a USB stick.
To copy the system FreeNas on USB stick, extract the IMG files with 7-Zip and then copy the extracted file on the USB stick using the program Win32DiskImager.

  • Connect your old computer to the LAN of the house with an Ethernet cable
  • Now to start the FreeNAS installation program through the wizard, start the PC you want to use as a file server from the CD or USB stick
  • To install FreeNas ton a USB flash drive or a flash card insert the removable device into the computer
  • Then select Install / Update to choice the unit. The installer will write the operating system files on the hard FreeNAS chosen.
  • After the installation process, remove the USB stick or the installation CD and restart the computer

How to turn an old PC into NAS file server with FreeNAS volumes

After starting the computer, you will see the setup screen where you can change some settings.
What interests us is to find the URL at the bottom of the screen and write it in a web browser on another computer on the same network to access the web graphics FreeNAS.
Now, we have to access the web graphics FreeNAS and to do that we must find the URL shown in the bottom of the screen and write it in a web browser on another computer on the same network. From now on, you can unplug the monitor from your old PC as FreeNas will be configured from another PC.
FreeNAS immediately ask you to immediately set a root password (administrator) to access the web interface. The configuration interface of Free-Nas is the same as you would have buying a dedicated NAS.

Basic settings
To set the basic settings:

  • Click on the storage on the toolbar to use the ZFS Volume Manager and create a partition ZFS. If you want to create a partition click on UFS UFS Volume Manager. Note: ZFS prefers to 8 GB of RAM and 2 GB are enough for UFS.
  • On the Sharing panel, you can make the new storage volume accessible over the network from a Windows PC, Linux / Unix or Apple.
  • The shared folder will be accessible like any other shared folder on the network then, on Windows, you will find in Windows Explorer as a network folder.

As FreeNAS offers many configuration options, we suggest you read specific guides. You will also notice a section on Plugins, to install software on FreeNas such as Transmission BitTorrent to download torrent files or Plex Media Server to use the FreeNas computer as a media server to view streaming movies. For example, you can use the BitTorrent client to download and Plex Media to see the movie, and manage everything from a different computer.

How to turn an old PC into NAS file server with FreeNAS plugins

For any questions or information concerning the installation depth of FreeNas and its use, you can visit the official website and the support forum. More you can find many videos here.
Now you know how to turn an old PC into NAS file server with FreeNASW but we want to conclude with two clarifications:

  1. You can use the NAS created in the home network, but not from the Internet unless you configure the network and the router, but that’s another article.
  2. If you can not operate the old PC even as NAS as too old or missing requirements, do not throw it away but try to resurrect it by using it as a normal PC with a Linux distribution light.