Turning a Broken Laptop Into a NAS

So you’re about to throw away your laptop…

WAIT! Before you toss that banged up laptop thats missing a few keys, has a broken LCD screen, and has some crusty residue splattered across the track pad why not repurpose it? Specifically why not repurpose into your own NAS server? Yes that’s right you can turn just about any old computer into a fully functional NAS.

To briefly explain what a NAS is for those just getting into the computing world, a NAS is a “Network Attached Storage”. Think of it simply as a physical cloud storage device on your network where you can save and retrieve files from a separate device. A NAS can help free up space on your phone, tablet, or computer by acting as a dedicated location to save your desired files.

Think of it this way : A NAS server is basically a computer. So let’s get started with my HP workbook that has obviously seen better days. I’ve been using this laptop for close to three years and it’s taken a beating as my work laptop. It’s now missing keys, some keys don’t work at all, and to top it off I dropped it from my workbench and broke the LCD screen. But through it all….the laptop itself still powers on so a tip of my hat to HP for making some pretty durable computers. If I plug an HDMI cable, keyboard, and mouse to the laptop I can in theory still use it as a desktop computer. However I already picked up a new workbook so I decided it was best to repurpose it.

NAS project

Getting Started

The tutorial will be broken up into two parts. Part one : getting the computer physically ready, and part two : downloading the software and deploying your NAS in your network.

Materials

You will need:

  • A computer: can be a laptop, desktop, single board computer, etc. The tutorial is for the most part universal. If you are using a computer that’s physically damaged ensure that your device can power on SAFELY
  • Power Supply for your computer
  • A secondary device (prefferably another computer) to later on use to access your NAS. You can skip this if you wish to configure your device directly . Just make sure you can connect a keyboard, mouse, and monitor to it.
  • USB, HDD, SSD, or additional storage devices you would like to add. If you are going to be using the onboard storage that’s fine as well.

Prepping Your Computer

I started out by doing a general overview of my laptop. Checking to see what I needed and what could be removed. Given that I did not need the keys, the mousepad and had no screen I decided to takt he laptop apart and removed the connections for the keyboard and mousepad. Also it was a good idea to remove these connections because I planned to make a new enclosure ad did not want these keys to be pressed by accident.

I also added a secondary 4GB of RAM for a total of 8GB which pairs nicely with the stock 128 GB SSD. Once I begin the software installation I will also add a 2TB of HDD as it’s main storage.

The Enclosure

I wanted a simple inexpensive enclosure that would steer attention away from the obvious eye sore the laptop had become. So I used some spare particle board that was already laminated in black and some scrap metal I had left over after cutting some pieces off my Gaming Rig.

The Result

It’s not the prettiest enclosure but keep in mind NAS storage units are usually kept in closets or areas that cant be easily accessed. Its enough to keep the workbook safe and cool. The only thing I could of done different is probably cut out a hole to power it on……yes I built the enclosure with no way to access the power button so I have to disassemble it to power it on….

Next Step

The next step is to actually get the software and configure the NAS to my home network. So stick around for the final chapter where we create a virtual machine running Rasbian Lite to act as the brains of the operation.

Thoughts? Comments? Let us know below!

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