How to build a NAS from scratch using UnRAID OS


How to build a NAS from scratch using UnRAID OS

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How to build a NAS from scratch using UnRAID OS

Network attached storage systems can be expensive to purchase depending on how much storage you would like to utilise and some companies have been implementing new policies that perhaps don’t align with your wishes. If you would like to build a NAS from scratch using the UnRAID operating system specifically designed for network attached storage systems, this guide by the fantastic NASCompares YouTube channel will take you through the process step-by-step. So, if you’re seeking some homelab inspiration, you’ve come to the right place!

The UnRAID NAS operating system is more than just a place to dump your files; it’s a comprehensive DIY NAS platform designed to meet a multitude of needs, from data storage to running virtual machines and Docker applications. One of the most striking features of UnRAID is its hardware-agnostic approach to storage. Traditional RAID configurations often require identical drive sizes for optimal performance. UnRAID, however, is far less rigid.

It allows you to mix and match drives of various sizes without wasting space. You can start with as few as two drives and scale up by adding one or more at your convenience. If data protection is your concern, rest easy knowing you can use one or two parity drives to safeguard your data.

For those concerned about speed, UnRAID offers a clever workaround. You can set up a cache pool using Solid State Drives (SSDs) to expedite write operations. This feature proves invaluable for Virtual Machines (VMs) and various applications that require high-speed data transactions.

Build a NAS from scratch

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NAS Docker management

Docker has become an integral part of many tech ecosystems. If you’re someone who uses Docker applications, UnRAID’s user interface simplifies the entire management process. You can choose from hundreds of templates from Community Applications or import your own Docker images. The system even supports built-in Docker VPN networking and hardware pass-through, offering you a high level of customization without the hassle.

Running NAS virtual machines

UnRAID doesn’t stop at just being a storage solution; it also serves as a competent virtualization host. With its built-in hypervisor, you can create VMs running Windows, Linux, or any other operating system of your choice. This flexibility enables a wide array of applications, from gaming to video editing. If you need to transfer files at high speeds between VMs, you can mount shares directly, eliminating the need for network-based transfers.

  • Designers, Animators, and Developers: For those who deal with large files and need rapid access, UnRAID serves as a local storage solution that seamlessly integrates with backup services like Apple Time Machine and Windows Backup.
  • Gamers: If you’re a gamer who also runs a media server or enjoys building custom systems, UnRAID lets you have the best of both worlds without compromising performance.
  • Content Creators: Video producers and media editors can start with minimal initial investment and scale up as needed, making it a cost-effective choice.
  • Software Professionals: From testing on multiple platforms to multi-user access, UnRAID proves to be a reliable partner for software engineers, game development studios, and even academic research labs.


UnRAID offers different licensing options based on the number of attached storage devices. For up to 6 devices, the Basic license is priced at $59. If you need more, the Plus license allows up to 12 devices for $89. The good news is that you can try either of these options free for 30 days to see if it suits your needs. It’s also worth noting that non-storage devices like GPUs are not counted against these limits, offering further flexibility.

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If you’re looking for a storage solution that doesn’t lock you into a one-size-fits-all model and provides a rich feature set, UnRAID could be the answer to your needs. From local file storage and gaming to content creation and multi-platform testing, the use-cases for UnRAID are nearly limitless.

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