Direct Attached Storage

Hey folks,

I have a linux laptop that I would like to buy a Direct Attached Storage HDD enclosure (TR-004 | 4 Bay USB Type-C Direct Attached Storage with Hardware RAID | QNAP (UK)) for. The way I figure it, my linux laptop can provide the CPU and RAM that a NAS would otherwise come with. Is there anything that I would be missing over a NAS?

I am very new to this whole thing.

By definition, no, as your Linux laptop can certainly be used as a Network Attached Storage server when paired with said DAS enclosure.

When compared to a proper NAS running, say, TrueNAS, you’re mainly missing

  1. ZFS features, including ZFS snapshot, ARC and its data protection features
  2. convenience. A NAS-specific OS would have a much cleaner UI that is designed specifically for NAS management and many functions dedicated to that, whereas a normal Linux install can certainly achieve the same thing, but only with great effort.
  3. expandability. Your laptop probably doesn’t have faster than 1 Gbps network, and the spec is relatively fixed, whereas a server can add 2.5GbE, 10GbE or SFP±based NICs with ease.

If your mind is made to go down this route, my advice would be to set it to Individual Mode, which if I’m not mistaken means your computer can connect to each HDD individually (should one disk fails other disks would remain unaffected), and create a pool with redundancy in the Linux OS, rather than relying on hardware RAID. By doing this, the server can send notifications to you once it detects a drive failure, whereas with hardware RAID you need to check QNAP software to see the failure notification.

With that said, I personally would still prefer to build a NAS with cheap consumer hardware, rather than doing something like this, especially if you have a decent amount of knowledge about PC building. My biggest concern is on the data protection side - if some key component (e.g. the SATA - USB controller) in your DAS fails, there is a high chance you’ll not be able to recover the data, whereas with a TrueNAS server, even if the motherboard goes dead, you can almost certainly pull out the drives, plug them into a new TrueNAS server and use the pool as before (ZFS for the win). Also, your setup will be much cleaner, as your server won’t be cable - laptop - cable - DAS with multiple power cables.

Thanks for the response! I’m a bit worried about the data recovery aspect. If I have the TR-004 | 4 Bay USB Type-C Direct Attached Storage with Hardware RAID | QNAP (UK), and use hardware RAID, if a drive fails, shouldn’t I be able to replace the drive and carry on with my day? The hardware RAID is there to take care of the rest, right? Restoring the data, etc?

Yes, you can certainly do that, but AFAIK the DAS wouldn’t have any means to notify any user except the one laptop connected to it w/ USB, so if the laptop is used solely as your server, you wouldn’t be able to notified to replace the failed drive in time.

Got it. Thank you for the great explanations and advice!