How To Build & Use Your Own Network Attached Storage Using A Ubuntu Netbook

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network attached storageIf you live in a multiple computer environment, you will know of the advantages of using NAS (Network-Attached Storage). Instead of storing common files inside a personal computer and synchronizing all those computers on a regular basis, it would be easier to store the files inside NAS and have all the computers within the network access the files there. NAS is perfect for collaboration in a small computer network, or for storing and sharing files.

But getting a NAS means spending more money on hardware. If you are within a personal network, have a computer with Ubuntu and some storage space to spare (either an internal or external drive(s)), you could build your own NAS using all the ingredients you already have.

Installing Samba In Ubuntu

The first thing you need to do before anything else is make sure that your computer is connected to a local network.  A wireless network is OK, but a wired network is highly recommended as it will give you a more stable connection.

network attached storage

The second thing to confirm is that you have a computer with Ubuntu installed. I used a netbook and Ubuntu Netbook Edition for my experiment. If you don’t want to install Ubuntu on your computer, you can install the OS on a USB drive instead.

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To be able to share storage within a local network, you need to add Samba to your Ubuntu. Samba is the most commonly used file server system. It is the open-source implementation of Microsoft’s network protocol which means that it will work with all Windows, OS X and Linux machines on your LAN.

  • Start by opening “Applications” from the side menu and search for “Synaptic Package Manager“. This is the utility to add and remove packages (applications) within Ubuntu.

network storage

  • Open Synaptic Package Manager and search for “samba“.

network storage

  • From the search results, right click on “samba” and choose “Mark for Installation“.

network storage

  • Then click the “Apply” button to install it.

benefits of network attached storage

  • A confirmation window will appear. Click “Apply” to continue.

benefits of network attached storage

  • Ubuntu will download and install the package. The process might take a while depending on the speed of your internet connection.

benefits of network attached storage

  • Another confirmation window will appear after the installation is complete.

03f Apply Changes.jpg

  • Now you are ready to share some storage space within your network.

Create And Share Folder(s)

The next step is configuring the folder(s) to be shared to other users on your network. If you want to use an external drive as the Network Attached Storage, you can attach it to your system. If you don’t want other users to mess up your existing folders, just create new folder(s) to share inside this storage space by right clicking on an empty space and choosing “Create Folder“.

04a Create New Folder.jpg

  • Right-click on any folder that you want to share to access the “Sharing Options“.

04b Sharing Options.jpg

  • Since we are going to use this storage inside a personal network, check all the boxes and fill in the required fields. Please consult the network administrator (or friends who understand networking) if you plan to use your Network Attached Storage inside a public network.

04c Folder Sharing.jpg

  • You need to give permission to your machine before you can share the folder.

04e Add Permission.jpg

After that, your shared folder(s) will appear in the network and everybody within the network can use the folder(s) to store their files. Repeat the process to other folders that you want to share on the network.

Accessing The Shared Folders

To access the shared folders from any computer within the network, point the computer’s file manager to:


  • In Mac, you can do this by going to the “Go – Connect To Server” menu (or by using “Command + K“).

05a Go - Connect Menu.jpg

  • You can write down the address manually and click “Connect“, or you can use the “Browse” button to find the location of the shared folder(s).

05b SMB Ubuntu.jpg

  • The available folder(s) will appear on the list. Click “OK” to mount it.

05bb Mount.jpg

  • After the folder is mounted, you can use it as if it’s a folder inside the local hard drive.

network attached storage

I can’t give an example of accessing the shared folder on NAS from a Windows machine because my Windows is installed on the same machine where I installed Ubuntu. But the process should be similar. You should find the “Connect To Server” menu from “Control Panel – Network“.

I also used a rather unstable wireless network, so my results of building my own NAS are a bit disappointing. If you are able to try this on a stable network and/or also able to try accessing the shared folder(s) from a Windows machine, please share your results in the comments below.

Image credit: animaster

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Comments (14)
  • Kyith

    great suggestion i will try this with my netbook.

  • Ankit Saini

    Thanks @vs8 and @thurana for great reply…
    But can you tell me the minimum requirement to run ubuntu.

  • AnkammaRao

    Thanks for such a cool article. Need to try and make my PC a NAS.

  • Anonymous

    I have a similar setup at home. I connected and external HDD to my router’s USB port. I will try this, just to have fun.

    Thank’s for the article, loved it!

  • thurana

    Ubuntu is much less demanding when it comes to computer specs. You can even use older generation computers without performance issue.

    Adding to vs8 comment, here’s the link to article on how to set Ubuntu up to run from USB drive:

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Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
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