Setup a Raspberry Pi based NAS using Samba. The below instructions were based on this article. The solution presented below is the easiest way I’ve found to set up network attached storage using a Raspberry Pi; however, if your primary purpose of your Pi is a NAS, you’re probably be better off installing OpenMediaVault or something similar as those solutions will be more resiliant.

Prepare the hard drive

You can format any USB drive to act as your network accessible storage location (you could also use drives connected via SATA if you had a Raspberry Pi hat that provided that connector)

Format the drive

Connect the drive to your pi and run the following command to figure out its identifier

sudo fdisk -l

Note the identifier, ex /dev/sda1

Now use the following commands to format the drive with the ext4 filesystem. You could format to another filesystem (like fat for example), but ext4 is native to Linux and will be faster than non-native filesystems.

umount /dev/sda1
sudo mkfs -t ext4 /dev/sda1

You’ll notice that a freshly formatted ext4 drive will contain a folder called “lost+found” this is used by the OS for ext4 filesystem and cannot be removed.

Mount the drive

Configure the drive to automatically mount when it is plugged into the Pi.

1. Create a mount directory

The mount directory is where the files from the drive will show up when it mounts. Name the mount directory whatever you want, and create it whereever you want. Ex:

mkdir /media/MY_DRIVE

2. Get the UUID of the drive

sudo blkid

Your UUID might be something like this: d2283f17-8870-490e-8412-db7af4419999

3. Edit the fstab config file

Open the config file

sudo nano /etc/fstab

Add an entry to fstab to tell the system to automatically mount the drive to our chosen mount path when the system boots

UUID=MYUUID MOUNTPOINT FSTYPE defaults,auto,users,rw,nofail 0 0
  • Replace MYUUID with the UUID found in step 2 (ex. d2283f17-8870-490e-8412-db7af4419999)
  • Replace MOUNTPOINT with a location where you want the drive to be accessible from step 1 (ex. /media/MY_DRIVE)
  • Replace FSTYPE with the filesystem type of the drive found in step 2 (ex. ext4). To have the system automatically assign the filesystem enter auto

Additional details about fstab here

4. Mount the drive

To mount the drive either reboot the system (sudo reboot), or manually mount the drive by it’s identifier (in the above example: /dev/sda1)

mount /dev/sda1

You can also mount all drives using the mount -a (this is what the Pi runs at startup)

5. Verify

You can now go to the mount location of your drive (cd /media/MY_DRIVE) and see files that are stored on the drive

Give users access to the NAS

To make things easier for permissions purposes, I recommend creating a unix group which has ownership, and read/write permissions over the mounted drive. When you want to give a person access to the NAS, you simply create a unix user on the Raspberry Pi, and add that user to the NAS users unix group. With this workflow permissions for reading/writing the NAS don’t get tangled up, or used for any other purposes.

Create a unix usergroup for NAS users

This step is optional, if you want to just have one username/password for the NAS that you share with others instead of making everyone their own username/password, then you can skip to the next section on creating users.

Create a group (for example nas_users)

sudo groupadd nas_users

Give our group ownership of the mounted location and give our group read, write and execute permissions to the mount location

sudo chown root:nas_users /media/MY_DRIVE
sudo chmod g+wrx /media/MY_DRIVE

Create a user

Follow these steps anytime you’d like to allow a new user access to the NAS.

Create a new user (ex: jack), and give that new user a password

sudo adduser jack
sudo passwd jacklot

Optional: If you’re using the group idea from above, add the new user to the group we just created

sudo usermod -a -G nas_users jack

Verify, by typing groups, what groups the current user is in. Type the username of any user, ie. groups username, to check a specific user. If you don’t see the new group in the lists, then you may have to reload by logging in as that user su username

Give your user a Samba password

Next we have to create a password for the user we just created so they can see the share from other machines on the network. Note that this password is Samba specific and different from the user’s unix password (though you could make both those passwords the same if you’d like).

sudo smbpasswd -a jack

How to install Samba

Samba is an open-source implementation of Windows’ SMB/CIFS file sharing protocol which is widely used and compatible with the vast majority of systems that may want to interact with the NAS.

sudo apt-get install samba samba-common-bin

The installer will ask you if you want to modify smb.conf to use WINS settings from DHCP. Choose Yes.

Configure Samba

Add a new share

Open the Samba config file

sudo nano /etc/samba/smb.conf

Add the following lines to the end of the file to share the drive across the network

# My personal shares
path = /media/MY_DRIVE/
valid users = +nas_users
force group = nas_users
available = yes
writeable = yes
browsable = yes
public = no
create mask = 0660
directory mask = 0770
  • The first line, [PiNAS], specifies the name of your share. In this case I choose to name my share PiNas, but you can name it whatever you want.
  • path: should be set to the mount location of the drive
  • valid users: space-separated list of users allowed to login to the service OR a unix groupname with the + to indicate any member of that unix group has access
  • force group: specifies the group of your choosing as the group owner of files created on the share
  • available: whether this share is available for use
  • browsable: whether the share is seen in the list of available shares on the network
  • writeable: ensures users can write to the files
  • public: if set to yes, no password is required to connect to the share
  • create mask: the chmod permissions code for writing files (0660 means the user and group can read/write, but not execute) documentation here
  • directory mask: the chmod permissions code for writing folders (0770 means the user and group can read/write and delete directories, but not execute) documentation here

Additional documentation on Samba config options

Additional information about group/user access to Samba shares

Note: You can create smb.conf entries for any path you want to share. These paths will be made available across your network when you restart Samba.

Verify the config file

Run the following to test the Samba configuration file. If you don’t see Loaded services file OK, go back and check that you’ve completed the previous step correctly


Start (or restart) Samba

After making changes to the config file, restart the Samba daemon. You’ll want to do this after making any changes to the config file.

sudo service smbd restart

Connect to the new share

Connect to a Samba share on MacOs

  • Go to Finder
  • Dropdown the Go menu and select Connect to a server (or simply command+k)
  • Type smb://pi1 (where pi1 is the hostname, or IP address, of your raspberry pi. Optionally specify the share to connect to using smb://pi1/myshare)
  • Click Connect
  • Login with the appropriate credentials
  • Optional but recommended: Add the shared drive to your Finder sidebar. If you don’t see the drive, open up Finder > Preferences, then check the box Show these items on teh desktop: Connected servers. Now you can grab the drive from the desktop into the Finder sidebar

Note: When you connect to your raspberry pi, you’ll always see an additional shared folder named after the username you provided.