I want to use my Pi as a NAS for my iTunes library, Time Machine backups and Home Theatre.

I am planning to use a small SD card to boot and put the OS on another storage medium. But something that I haven’t figured out is what storage medium. I can use an external HD, a USB flash drive, or (don’t know if it’s possible) Ethernet storage. I can either use one, or all of them based on their performance and capacity limits.

So, which storage medium(s) is/are ideal from a capacity as well as performance standpoint?

Keep in mind that it is inevitable that at some point of time, all three would be accessed at the same time.

  • In terms of simplicity and cost effective - Buy an HP Microserver with built in raid. Run Windows, Linux or FreeBSD(FreeNAS) - Whatever your choice. They are fully mature OS's and the hardware is more capable. If you want to use a Raspberry, a device that was intended for educational purposes... well then each thing you do will be educational but never guarantee proper storage solution. USB will be a bit slow and Ethernet- you might as well buy a proper NAS.
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 9:44
  • I’m kind of a DIY guy. I am a student and live alone in a small apartment right now and a HP Microserver is too much for a small apartment. Oh, and my parents have a NAS at their home and I am really bored with it :P
    – duci9y
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 11:49
  • Well then if you have lots of time then try and install FreeBSD onto the PI and use its ZFS driver to build large pools from various hard drives. You can connect a 8 port USB hub to the PI and populate each port with a hard drive. I advice reading up on ZFS BEFORE choosing a strategy. ZFS is also compatible with FreeNAS (but a few versions behind) and not compatible with Windows, Linux or and other hardware chip.
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 12:32
  • Interesting. Pooling. I could buy some used 80GB external HDs (if they exist) off eBay. But the cost can run over my budget.
    – duci9y
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 13:33
  • The way you are trying to save is going to lead to you spending 2 or 3 times more money. Calcualte everything you need with price using RPI- Then look at ebuyer(uk) for hp microserver at £120 + at least 2 1TB / 2TB. Then compare if a £50 saving is worth the low capacity and pretty useless NAS on Pi compared to 1/2TB sotrage on a full PC with the capacity to expand as you get a few more quid together. I ran FreeNAS on my Microserver but now Used Windows because I need to do Windowsy things at home.. But still run a Virtual Server with FreeNAS internlly + Others...
    – Piotr Kula
    Commented Nov 12, 2012 at 14:31

2 Answers 2


Think this will have everything you need:


ITunes server, network shares and external drives, designed to run headless (so you SSH into it), now based on the updated rasbian (now much faster as it uses the hardware acceleration in the GPU to speed up general OS tasks), nice easy text menus to admin. I've used (the non-accelerated) previous build to stream 1080HD MP4s without issue, I'll be moving to the new build tout-sweet.


Since you want to create NAS, you can't use network storage as this would require you to have working NAS already. This leaves you with only USB connected storage. USB is the weakest point of RaspberryPi right now but you should be able to use it.

USB performance is not really big - theoretically, with USB 2.0, you can get 60MB/s max (it's the bus limit so no matter how many devices you connect, you can't get better throughput) . Even with cheap SATA II disk can get about 100MB/s unbuffered read speeds and using RAID technology, you can get much more. Also remember that Ethernet chipset on RaspberryPi is connected by USB so your bus will already be quite busy when transferring files.

That being said, it's perfectly fine if you just want to do your own NAS solution and don't need great performance. But as you can see, storage medium won't be your bottleneck here.

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