I built a NAS for my home and ran into many issues

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

I like to build my own computers, and I have been wanting a NAS for solving some local file storage needs so I decided to combine these two things into a little project. I had some leftover parts from when I upgraded from an i5 3570k to a Ryzen 3600 and intended to reuse the motherboard, RAM and CPU.

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, that didn’t quite happen as smoothly as I intended.

Getting started

I was talking with my brother about this and he mentioned how he had a case and power supply he wasn’t using any more and offered them up, since I had been thinking about this for a while but the only things I was missing was the case, power supply and some hard drives I decided to finally commit to it. I ordered a SSD and a storage HDD and once they arrived I got started.

Things started nicely with the computer booting into the BIOS and detecting all of the hardware but as soon as I tried to boot the OS installer it would reboot shortly into loading the Linux kernel. I tried a few different Linux distributions and even tried booting a FreeBSD installer and they all behaved the same. I ran a memcheck and saw no memory issues and could sit in the bios for hours without issue so on a whim I decided to try the latest BIOS available for this motherboard, in the odd case it would resolve my issue. In hindsight this was a bad idea since the motherboard, RAM and CPU had sat unchanged for a year or two and the BIOS should have had nothing to do with it at this point.

Obviously this didn’t do anything to make the situation better, although it did make it much worse as the computer would no longer show any display output and just go into a boot loop.

Starting again

Feeling a bit defeated I shelved the project for a week until picking it back up deciding to get some new hardware. I decided to get an AMD Athlon 3000G CPU and an ASRock B450M Pro4-F and a stick of DDR4 RAM to go with it. After taking another week for these parts to arrive I put them together only for the computer to fail to even POST! It would just turn itself off after a few seconds. Without any RAM installed the fans would stay spinning without powering off but otherwise I would see no activity.

I have a few other computers so I tried the RAM from each of them and saw no difference. Feeling extra defeated and nearly running out of options I decide to put together a disaster of a setup with a power supply from my wife’s computer that I didn’t feel like removing from its case.

a very messy computer setup

This is what peak “I don’t care anymore” troubleshooting looks like. Numerous cables are stretched to their limit.

And then the computer would happily power on properly! It turns out the power supply my brother donated to me was a bit defective and was probably the caused of the initial issues I saw with the original parts. After fully scavenging the power supply (and ordering a new one to replace her stolen one) the computer finally functions and I can start configuring the software side of things!

Closing thoughts

I was curious if the old motherboard worked with a proper power supply, but putting that together showed no difference. I think my BIOS upgrade broke it. That motherboard is an ASRock Z77 Extreme4, which has a swappable BIOS chip so I could buy a replacement BIOS or get a BIOS reprogrammer to try and flash it myself and get another working computer out this maybe. Probably a plan for another day though.

In the end I tried to save myself some money by reusing a motherboard, CPU and memory and ended up replacing all of them. I tried to save some more money by using an old power supply and case from my brother and the power supply ended up needing to be replaced so all I succeeded doing is getting an old case that I don’t even like that much and will probably end up replacing in the near future.

I’m glad its all working now, and now I can go to fighting with software instead of hardware.

Written Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Tagged with hardware.

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