Recently I decided our home needed some network attached storage (NAS). This is simply a hard drive or group of hard drives that are visible on a network. I looked on Amazon for cheap WiFi routers that claimed they had a samba service. After trying two from different companies that used the exact same broken firmware, I decided I needed a real operating system. There’s no need to get a Windows box or MAC mini, this is overkill and way too expensive, not to mention a power hog. All you need is a cheap Linux box. And by cheap, I mean CHEAP.
You’ll of course need a USB hard drive. Amazon has plenty, and spinning hard drives from 1-4 TB are really cheap on Amazon.
I recommend installing Ubuntu on your Raspberry PI. I find it more stable and feature complete than the pre-installed Raspbian operating system. If you are not a technical person, you may want to stick with Raspbian. There are plenty of tutorial videos about setting up a NAS, but I will give you the instructions here:
– Install Ubuntu using Ubuntu Mate. This may require you formatting the micro SD card and putting a custom image on it. Google this if you aren’t sure how to do it.
– Once you’ve got Ubuntu installed, you need to plug in your external hard drive into the USB port. Make sure you’ve got an ethernet cable plugged in or have the WiFi connected.
– Next, set up the samba service. Follow this very detailed and well written guide.
– That’s pretty much it!
I like the flexibility of being able to plug in more hard drives to the other USB ports if I desire to in the future. For now, 4 TB is plenty of storage.
Now your MAC and PC can connect to this samba share. The Raspberry PI 3 draws little power. You could even install media sharing software, email server software or other software as the CPU will be bored to tears 🙂