Creating a DIY NAS with Raspberry Pi and TrueNAS



Brief Introduction to Network Attached Storage (NAS)

Network Attached Storage, or NAS, is a dedicated storage solution that allows multiple users and devices to access and store data from a centralized location. Unlike traditional hard drives that are directly connected to a single computer, a NAS is connected to a network, providing more flexible and collaborative data management.

Why Consider Building a DIY NAS?

Building your own NAS comes with several advantages:

  1. Cost-Effectiveness: Commercial NAS units can be expensive. A DIY approach can be a cost-effective alternative, particularly for small-scale personal or business use.
  2. Customization: When you build your own NAS, you have complete control over its hardware and software, allowing you to tailor the system to your specific needs.
  3. Educational Value: The DIY process offers an excellent opportunity to learn more about networking, operating systems, and hardware assembly.
  4. Scalability: A DIY NAS can be easily scaled. You can start small and add more storage or functionalities as your needs grow.

Overview of Raspberry Pi and TrueNAS as the Components for the Project

  • Raspberry Pi: This is a small, affordable, and versatile single-board computer that can be used for a wide range of projects. For this NAS project, it will serve as our primary computing resource. Various models are available with different specs, allowing you to choose one that fits your storage and performance needs.
  • TrueNAS: This is an open-source storage platform based on FreeBSD and supports sharing across Windows, Apple, and UNIX-like systems. It offers a range of features such as multiple file-sharing protocols, ZFS file system, and plug-in support for extending functionalities.

Combining a Raspberry Pi with TrueNAS software makes for a powerful, scalable, and affordable DIY NAS solution that can be customized to suit your specific requirements.

With these points in mind, let's delve into the specifics of how to bring this project to life in the following sections.


Before diving into the actual steps of creating your DIY NAS, it's essential to have all the necessary materials and skills at your disposal. In this section, we'll discuss what you'll need to get started.

List of Materials Needed

  • Raspberry Pi (Model Specifications): A Raspberry Pi board (preferably Raspberry Pi 5 for better performance, but older models should work too).Heat sinks or cooling fan for the Raspberry Pi (optional but recommended)
  • SD Card: A Micro SD card with at least 16GB of storage for the Raspberry Pi OS.
  • Micro SD Card Reader: An SD card reader to flash the Raspberry Pi OS onto the Micro SD card.
  • Power Supply: A 5V/3A USB-C power supply for Raspberry Pi 4 or a 5V/2.5A Micro USB power supply for older models.
  • Ethernet Cable: An Ethernet cable to connect the Raspberry Pi to your network router or switch.
  • USB Drives or HDDs: One or more USB drives or external hard disk drives for data storage. The more drives you have, the more storage you'll be able to offer on your NAS.
  • Enclosure/Casing: A case or enclosure to house the Raspberry Pi and possibly the drives, providing some level of physical protection.

Required Skills

  • Basic Linux Commands: You'll need to be comfortable using the command line, as you'll be interacting with the Raspberry Pi through a terminal for part of this project.
  • Networking Basics: A rudimentary understanding of networking concepts like IP addresses, DHCP, and port forwarding will be helpful.

Estimated Time and Cost

  • Time: Depending on your familiarity with the required skills and assembling hardware, the project could take anywhere from 3 to 8 hours.
  • Cost: The total cost can vary widely depending on the hardware you choose. A basic setup could cost as little as $100, but the cost could go up if you opt for higher-end components.

With these prerequisites in place, you'll be well-prepared to proceed with building your very own DIY NAS using a Raspberry Pi and TrueNAS. In the next section, we will look at setting up your Raspberry Pi.

Setting Up Raspberry Pi

In this section, we'll cover the essential steps for setting up your Raspberry Pi, starting with flashing the SD card with Raspberry Pi OS and then configuring the initial settings.

Flashing the SD Card

Steps to Flash the SD Card with Raspberry Pi OS

  1. Download Raspberry Pi OS: Visit the official Raspberry Pi website and download the latest version of Raspberry Pi OS. Download SD Card Formatter: To ensure that your SD card is clean and formatted correctly, download and install an SD card formatter tool like SD Memory Card Formatter.
  2. Format SD Card: Open the SD Card Formatter and select the drive that corresponds to your SD card. Click on "Format" to clean the card.
  3. Download and Install Flashing Software: You'll need software to write the Raspberry Pi OS image to the SD card. Raspberry Pi Imager is a popular choice for this task.
  4. Flash the Image: Open Raspberry Pi Imager and click on "Flash from file" to select your downloaded Raspberry Pi OS image. Then click on "Select Target" to choose your SD card, and finally, click on "Flash!" to write the image to the SD card.
  5. Eject the SD Card: Once the flashing process is complete, safely eject the SD card from your computer.

Initial Setup

Configuring Basic Settings like Language, WiFi, SSH

  1. Insert the SD Card and Boot: Place the flashed SD card into the Raspberry Pi's SD card slot and connect the power supply to boot it up.
  2. Initial Configuration Wizard: Upon first boot, a configuration wizard should appear. Follow the prompts to set up the language, timezone, and keyboard settings.
  3. Connect to WiFi: If you’re not using an Ethernet connection, you'll need to connect to WiFi. Navigate to the WiFi icon in the top right corner of the desktop, click on it, and choose your network. Enter the password when prompted.
  4. Enable SSH: To enable SSH, open the Raspberry Pi configuration settings by clicking on the Raspberry icon > Preferences > Raspberry Pi Configuration. Go to the "Interfaces" tab and enable SSH.
  5. Reboot: After making these changes, it's a good idea to reboot the Raspberry Pi to ensure all settings take effect.

Congratulations, you've successfully set up your Raspberry Pi with the basic configurations! You're now ready to install TrueNAS and transform your Raspberry Pi into a fully functional NAS.

Installing TrueNAS

Now that your Raspberry Pi is up and running with the basic settings, it's time to install TrueNAS, the core software that will transform your Raspberry Pi into a NAS. In this section, we'll guide you through downloading the TrueNAS image and installing it on your Raspberry Pi.

Downloading TrueNAS Image

Where to Download and How to Verify the Image

  1. Download Location: Go to the official TrueNAS website to download the latest TrueNAS image. Please note that FreeNAS has been rebranded as TrueNAS, but the core functionalities remain the same.
  2. Choosing the Right Version: Make sure to select the ARM version that is compatible with the Raspberry Pi.
  3. Checksum Verification: After downloading, it's crucial to verify the integrity of the image. You can do this by checking the checksum. The website should provide a checksum string that you can compare with the one generated from your downloaded file.

For example, to check the checksum on a Linux or macOS system, you can use the shasum command in the terminal:

shasum -a 256 path/to/downloaded/file

Installing TrueNAS on Raspberry Pi

Installation Steps, Including Partitioning Drives if Necessary

  1. Prepare a Bootable Drive: Similar to the Raspberry Pi OS, you'll need to flash the TrueNAS image onto a bootable drive. You can use the same Raspberry Pi Imager software for this step.
  2. Insert the Bootable Drive: Once you've prepared the bootable drive, insert it into the Raspberry Pi.
  3. Change Boot Order: Boot up your Raspberry Pi and go into the boot menu to select the drive containing the TrueNAS image.
  4. Initial Configuration: Upon first boot into TrueNAS, you will be prompted to configure some basic settings such as language and network.
  5. Storage Drives: If you're using multiple drives, you'll need to set them up within TrueNAS. This may involve partitioning them and combining them into a storage pool.
  • Partitioning Drives: If you wish to partition your drives, you can do so under the 'Storage' tab in TrueNAS.
  • Creating a Pool: Navigate to the 'Storage' tab and choose 'Pools' to create a new storage pool using your connected drives.
  1. Apply Configuration: After setting up your drives, apply the changes and reboot your Raspberry Pi to finalize the installation.

You've now successfully installed TrueNAS on your Raspberry Pi! With TrueNAS up and running, you can proceed to configure your storage and set up user permissions to get your NAS fully operational. Stay tuned for the next section on configuring your network settings.

Network Configuration

A stable network configuration is crucial for any NAS setup. In this section, we'll discuss setting up a static IP address for your Raspberry Pi-based NAS and delve into the optional step of configuring port forwarding for external access.

Setting Up a Static IP

How to Set Up a Static IP for the NAS on Your Network

  1. Access TrueNAS Web Interface: Open your web browser and navigate to the IP address of your TrueNAS to access the web interface. The default username and password are usually root and truenas, respectively.
  2. Navigate to Network Settings: Once logged in, go to the Network tab and then Interfaces.
  3. Add Static IP: Here, you can add a new interface or edit an existing one. You'll need to enter the following details:
  • IPv4 Address: The static IP you want to set
  • IPv4 Netmask: Usually for home networks
  1. Save and Apply: Once you've entered these details, save the changes and apply them.
  2. Verify: To ensure the static IP has been set successfully, you can reboot the NAS and check if it’s accessible via the new static IP.

Port Forwarding (Optional)

Configuring Port Forwarding for External Access

Port forwarding allows you to access your NAS from outside your local network. This can be useful if you need to retrieve files while away from home. However, please note that exposing your NAS to the Internet can make it vulnerable to attacks, so proceed with caution and implement security measures.

  1. Log into Your Router: Access your router’s web interface by typing its IP address into a web browser. The default credentials are usually printed on the back of the router or are mentioned in the manual.
  2. Navigate to Port Forwarding Settings: The location of these settings varies between router models. It’s usually found under tabs like Advanced, NAT, or Port Forwarding.
  3. Add a New Rule: Create a new port forwarding rule with the following details:
  • Internal IP: The static IP address of your NAS
  • Internal Port: The port your NAS uses (default is usually 80 for HTTP and 443 for HTTPS)
  • External Port: The port you want to use to access your NAS externally (can be the same as the internal port)
  • Protocol: Usually TCP
  1. Save and Apply: After entering these details, save the rule and apply the changes.
  2. Test: Use a tool like Port Checker to verify if the port forwarding has been set up correctly.

With these network configurations in place, your Raspberry Pi NAS will not only be accessible within your local network but optionally from anywhere on the Internet as well. In the next section, we'll focus on storage configuration and user permissions.

Storage Configuration

Having a solid storage configuration is crucial for maximizing the performance and reliability of your NAS. In this section, we will discuss how to format your drives for optimum compatibility and how to create storage pools to manage multiple drives efficiently.

Formatting Drives

Choosing the Right Filesystem and Formatting

  1. Access Drive Management: Log into the TrueNAS web interface and navigate to the Storage tab and then to Disks.
  2. Select Drives: Choose the drives you wish to format and click on Edit.
  3. Choosing Filesystem: TrueNAS primarily supports the ZFS filesystem, known for its robustness and features like snapshots and data integrity checks. However, you can also opt for UFS if your setup is simpler and doesn't require ZFS features.
  4. Format: After selecting the desired filesystem, click on Format to initiate the process. This will erase all data on the drives, so make sure you've backed up any important files.
  5. Verify: After formatting, verify that the drives are recognized and listed in the TrueNAS interface under Storage > Disks.

Creating Storage Pools

Steps to Combine Multiple Drives into a Single Storage Pool

  1. Navigate to Storage Pools: Log into the TrueNAS web interface, go to the Storage tab and then to Pools.
  2. Create New Pool: Click on Add to create a new storage pool.
  3. Select Drives: A new window will appear listing all the available drives. Select the drives you want to include in the pool.
  4. Pool Type: Choose the type of storage pool you want to create. The options generally include:
  • Stripe: Combines drives to create one large pool but offers no redundancy.
  • Mirror: Creates a mirrored pool that duplicates data across two or more drives.
  • RAID-Z: Offers a balance between storage space and redundancy.
  1. Name the Pool: Provide a name for your storage pool for easier identification.
  2. Confirm and Create: Review your settings, and click on Create to build the storage pool. The process may take some time depending on the number and size of drives.
  3. Verify: Once the pool is created, it should be visible under the Storage > Pools section. Confirm that the pool is active and healthy.

Congratulations, you've successfully formatted your drives and created a storage pool! Your NAS is now ready to store files and share them across your network. In the following section, we will guide you through setting up user permissions and shared folders.

User and Permission Setup

After configuring your storage, the next crucial step is to set up user accounts and define permissions. Proper user management ensures that only authorized users have access to specific folders and files on your NAS, maintaining both security and usability.

How to Set Up User Accounts

  1. Navigate to User Settings: Log into the TrueNAS web interface, go to the Accounts tab and then to Users.
  2. Create a New User: Click on the Add button to create a new user account.
  3. User Details: A form will appear where you can enter details like username, full name, and password. Optionally, you can also specify a user group.
  4. Home Directory: You can either let TrueNAS create a default home directory for the user or specify a custom path where the user’s files will be stored.
  5. Apply and Save: Once you've filled in all the necessary details, click Save to create the user.

How to Define Permissions for File Access

  1. Navigate to Storage Pools: Go back to the Storage tab and then to Pools.
  2. Select Dataset/Folder: Find the dataset or folder for which you want to set permissions and click on the Edit Permissions option.
  3. Permission Type: You'll generally have two types of permissions to set:
  • UNIX (POSIX) Permissions: These include Read, Write, and Execute permissions for the Owner, Group, and Others.
  • Windows ACLs: If your NAS will be accessed mainly from Windows machines, you might prefer to set up Access Control Lists (ACLs) for more granular control.
  1. Assign to User/Group: In the permissions window, you can specify which user or group will have access to the selected dataset or folder.
  2. Set Permissions: Assign the permissions by checking the appropriate boxes for Read, Write, or Execute.
  3. Apply and Save: Click Save to apply the new permissions.
  4. Test: It's a good practice to test the new permissions by trying to access the dataset or folder with the user accounts you’ve configured. Make sure everything works as expected.

With user accounts set up and permissions defined, your NAS is now not just functional but also secure. You can now proceed to use your Raspberry Pi-based NAS for file storage, backups, and sharing across your network. In our next section, we'll show you some advanced configurations to get the most out of your new NAS.

Additional Features and Services

One of the best aspects of using TrueNAS is its flexibility in terms of adding additional features and services. From setting up a Plex Media Server to configuring automatic backups, your NAS can be much more than just a simple storage device. In this section, we'll delve into setting up plugins, adding a torrent client, and creating scheduled backups.

Setting up Plugins

  1. Navigate to Plugins Tab: Log into the TrueNAS web interface, and click on the Plugins tab.
  2. Available Plugins: You'll see a list of available plugins that can be easily installed. These range from media servers to cloud sync solutions.
  3. Install Plugins: Simply click on the Install button next to the plugin you wish to add and follow the setup wizard. After installation, most plugins will appear as new tabs in the TrueNAS interface where they can be configured.

Plex Media Server

  1. Find Plex Plugin: Under the Plugins tab, find and install the Plex Media Server.
  2. Initial Setup: After installation, navigate to the Plex tab and complete the initial setup, which includes specifying the directories where your media files are stored.
  3. Access Plex: Once configured, you can access your Plex Media Server from any device on your network by navigating to http://[Your-NAS-IP-Address]:32400/web.

Torrent Client

  1. Find Torrent Plugin: Locate a torrent client like Transmission or qBittorrent in the Plugins list and install it.
  2. Configuration: After installation, go to the plugin’s tab to configure settings like download and upload limits, and specify download folders.
  3. Usage: You can now manage your torrents directly from the TrueNAS interface or by accessing the torrent client's web UI.

Backup Solutions

Scheduled Backups

  1. Navigate to Tasks: Go to the Tasks tab in TrueNAS and choose Rsync Tasks for setting up backups.
  2. Configure Backup Task: Add a new task, selecting the source as a folder on your NAS and the destination as another folder or even another NAS or server.
  3. Schedule: Set the time and frequency of the backup, e.g., daily, weekly, or custom CRON expression.

How to Set Up Automatic Backups for Your Devices

  1. Install Backup Software on Device: To backup devices like your PC or smartphone, install a backup software that supports Rsync or SMB protocols.
  2. Configure Software: In the backup software, set the destination folder to a specific folder on your NAS.
  3. Schedule Backups: Similar to scheduling backups on TrueNAS, you can set the backup software on your device to automatically backup files at specific intervals.
  4. Test Backups: Perform a test backup to make sure everything is set up correctly.

Your Raspberry Pi NAS is now not just a storage device but a versatile, multi-feature server. Whether it's streaming media with Plex, downloading torrents, or automating backups, you've got a powerful little setup. In our final section, we'll wrap up and provide some additional resources for further tweaks and optimizations.

Security Measures

Your NAS contains sensitive and important data; therefore, security shouldn't be an afterthought. In this section, we will focus on essential security measures you can take to protect your Raspberry Pi NAS. Specifically, we'll discuss configuring firewall settings, implementing SSL certificates for secure access, and setting up two-factor authentication.

Firewall Settings

  1. Navigate to Firewall: Log into the TrueNAS web interface and go to the Network tab, then click on Firewall.
  2. Create Rules: Set up rules that dictate the kind of traffic that's allowed or disallowed. For instance, you can limit access to only specific IP addresses or block all incoming connections except for those on specific ports.
  3. Test Firewall: After saving the new rules, it’s prudent to test them to ensure they are functioning as expected.

SSL Certificate for Secure Access

  1. Navigate to Certificates: In the TrueNAS web interface, go to the System tab, then Certificates.
  2. Create or Import Certificate: You can either create a new self-signed certificate or import an existing SSL certificate.
  3. Apply to Web Interface: Once the certificate is created or imported, navigate to HTTP settings within the System tab and select the SSL certificate for HTTPS access.
  4. Verify SSL: Open a new web browser tab and navigate to https://[Your-NAS-IP-Address]. You should see a padlock in the address bar, indicating that the connection is secure.

Two-Factor Authentication

  1. Install 2FA Plugin: Some third-party plugins available in the TrueNAS plugin repository offer two-factor authentication features. Install the plugin suitable for your setup.
  2. Configure 2FA: Navigate to the plugin’s settings to configure two-factor authentication. You'll usually need to scan a QR code with a mobile authentication app like Google Authenticator or Authy.
  3. Test 2FA: Log out and log back into the TrueNAS web interface to ensure that two-factor authentication is working as expected.

By following these security measures, you are adding multiple layers of security to your NAS, making it robust against unauthorized access and potential threats. In our concluding section, we will wrap up and provide some resources for those who wish to delve deeper into the capabilities of a Raspberry Pi NAS.

Maintenance and Monitoring

A NAS is a long-term investment and, like any other server or storage device, it requires regular maintenance and monitoring to ensure it runs efficiently and securely. In this section, we'll go through some essential tools and tips for keeping your Raspberry Pi NAS healthy. We'll also discuss logs and how to interpret them for effective monitoring.

Tools and Tips for Keeping Your NAS Healthy

  1. Regular Updates: Keep your TrueNAS and any installed plugins updated to the latest versions for performance improvements and security patches.
  2. Drive Health Checks: Use built-in TrueNAS tools like SMART tests to routinely check the health of your hard drives.
  3. Backup Configuration: Periodically back up your TrueNAS configuration settings. This will be a lifesaver in case of hardware failure or data corruption.
  4. Reboot and Test: After significant updates or changes in configuration, reboot the NAS to ensure everything is working as expected.
  5. Clean Hardware: Physically clean the Raspberry Pi and drives from time to time to ensure they are free from dust which can cause overheating.

Logs and How to Interpret Them

  1. Access Logs: Navigate to the Reports tab in the TrueNAS web interface where you'll find various logs like System, Hardware, and Network logs.
  2. Important Logs to Monitor:
  • System Logs: Look for any errors or warnings that may indicate system issues.
  • Network Logs: Monitor network activity for unauthorized access or unusual bandwidth usage.
  • Hardware Logs: Check for hardware-related warnings, especially for your drives, that might indicate a pending failure.
  1. Understanding Logs:
  • Timestamp: The exact date and time when the log entry was created.
  • Severity Level: Informational, Warning, Error, or Critical.
  • Message: The actual log message describing the event or issue.
  1. Export Logs: You can usually export logs to a text file for deeper analysis or for troubleshooting with external help.
  2. Notification Alerts: Set up alert notifications in TrueNAS to be informed of key events or issues via email or other communication channels.

Maintenance and monitoring may seem like chores, but they're essential for the long-term health and security of your NAS. Regular checks and understanding what's happening behind the scenes can go a long way in preventing major issues. In the next section, we'll provide resources for those who wish to learn more and take their Raspberry Pi NAS to the next level.


Congratulations, you've successfully built a functional, secure, and feature-rich Network Attached Storage (NAS) using a Raspberry Pi and TrueNAS! By now, you should have a solid understanding of each component, from the hardware assembly to storage configurations, user permissions, and security measures.

Recap of Steps and What You've Achieved

  1. Prerequisites: Gathered all required hardware and outlined the necessary skills.
  2. Raspberry Pi Setup: Flashed the Raspberry Pi OS, configured initial settings, and got it up and running.
  3. TrueNAS Installation: Downloaded and installed TrueNAS, partitioning drives when necessary.
  4. Network Configuration: Set up a static IP for your NAS and optionally configured port forwarding.
  5. Storage Configuration: Formatted drives and created storage pools.
  6. User and Permissions: Set up user accounts and permissions for secure file access.
  7. Additional Features: Installed various plugins to extend functionalities like Plex Media Server, Torrent Client, and backup solutions.
  8. Security Measures: Strengthened security through firewall settings, SSL certificates, and two-factor authentication.
  9. Maintenance and Monitoring: Outlined key best practices and tools for long-term NAS health.

Additional Resources for Extending Functionalities

  1. TrueNAS Documentation: Comprehensive guide covering advanced features and troubleshooting.
  2. Raspberry Pi Forum: A community-driven forum for Raspberry Pi enthusiasts.
  3. NAS-related Subreddits: Reddit communities are excellent for getting quick answers to specific questions and keeping up with new features and updates.
  4. Youtube Tutorials:Numerous in-depth video guides exist to show you more advanced setups and troubleshooting techniques.

Building a Raspberry Pi NAS is not just a rewarding project; it provides a secure and centralized location for all your digital assets. By extending its functionalities, you can turn it into a multipurpose server, serving you in more ways than one. Thank you for following this guide, and we hope it has equipped you to take full advantage of what a Raspberry Pi NAS can offer.


This section aims to serve as a quick reference guide for troubleshooting common issues you may encounter with your Raspberry Pi NAS and a glossary of terms to help clarify some of the jargon used throughout this guide.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

  1. NAS Not Accessible Over Network:
  • Check Network Configuration: Ensure the Raspberry Pi is connected to the network and has a valid IP address.
  • Check Firewall Settings: Your firewall may block incoming connections. Double-check your rules.
  1. Unable to Write to Storage Pools:
  • Check Permissions: Ensure you've set up the correct permissions for the storage pools.
  • Check Disk Health: Use SMART tools to check if the drives are in good health.
  1. Plugin Installation Failures:
  • Check Disk Space: Ensure sufficient disk space is available for installing new plugins.
  • Check Internet Connectivity: Some plugins require internet access for installation.
  1. Web Interface Unresponsive:
  • Clear Cache: Try clearing your web browser's cache.
  • Restart Service: Access the Raspberry Pi terminal and restart the web service.
  1. Security Certificate Warnings:
  • Check Certificate Installation: Ensure the SSL certificate is properly installed.
  • Check Date and Time: A mismatch in system date and time could cause certificate errors.

Glossary of Terms

  • NAS (Network Attached Storage): A server devoted to saving and retrieving data, accessible over a network.
  • TrueNAS: An open-source network-attached storage software based on FreeBSD, which turns your hardware into a full-featured NAS.
  • Raspberry Pi: A series of small single-board computers developed to promote teaching basic computer science.
  • Storage Pool: A collection of disks grouped together to increase storage capacity and to provide redundancy, if needed.
  • SMART (Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology): A monitoring system included in hard drives to detect and report on various reliability indicators.
  • SSH (Secure Shell): A cryptographic network protocol used for secure data communication.
  • SSL Certificate: A digital certificate that provides authentication for a website and enables an encrypted connection.
  • Static IP: An IP address that doesn't change, as opposed to a dynamic IP which can change.
  • Two-Factor Authentication (2FA): An additional layer of security that requires not only a password but also a second factor, usually a mobile device.
  • CRON Expression: A string representing a schedule in the Unix Cron syntax.

The appendix should help you in times of need and serve as a handy reference. For more in-depth troubleshooting and discussions, always remember that the community and forums are great places to seek help. Thank you for reading, and enjoy your Raspberry Pi NAS!