I had an old Dell Optiplex 9020 lying around, but did not know what to do with it. Instead of throwing it away, I repurposed it into a TrueNAS server that can store and manage my data. In this blog post, I will go through the process of turning an old Dell Optiplex 9020 into a TrueNAS server that can accommodate two 2.5-inch hard drives using a 3D printed caddy. I will also cover how to optimize performance by using an NVMe drive and an NVMe to PCIe adapter. Additionally, I will show you how to set up a virtual machine in TrueNAS to run Portainer and Docker.
Step 1: Gather the required components
To turn your old Dell Optiplex 9020 into a high-performance TrueNAS server, you will need the following components:
- Dell Optiplex 9020 or 7020 (Look on eBay)
- 2 Hard Drives
- 32GB USB Drive
- PCIe NVMe drive
- NVMe to PCIe adapter
- TrueNAS Core software
- HDD Caddy
Step 2: Reflash the BIOS to include NVMe driver
Before installing the TrueNAS Core software, you will need to reflash the BIOS of your Dell Optiplex 9020 to include an NVMe driver. This is necessary for the computer to recognize the NVMe drive as bootable from the bios.
Step 3: Install TrueNAS Core on a PCIe drive
To optimize the performance of your TrueNAS server, it’s recommended to install the TrueNAS Core software on a PCIe drive instead of a traditional hard drive. This will significantly improve the read and write speeds of your server. You can use a spare PCIe SSD or purchase one specifically for this purpose.
I recommend that you use a spare USB drive you have lying around and using a tool like Rufus to flash the ISO to make it bootable.
Step 4: Install the NVMe drive and NVMe to PCIe adapter
Now that you have installed TrueNAS on a PCIe drive, it’s time to install the NVMe drive and NVMe to PCIe adapter. First, install the NVMe drive onto the adapter. Then, plug the adapter into a PCIe slot on the Dell Optiplex 9020.
Step 5: 3D print the caddy
The next step is to 3D print the caddy that will hold the NVMe to PCIe adapter and the two 2.5-inch hard drives. You can find a 3D model of the caddy that fits the Dell Optiplex 9020 online or create your own. Once you have the 3D model, use your 3D printer to print the caddy.
Step 6: Modify the caddy and case
As the case is very thin you will need to modify it so you can fit the two drives in there, I did it by cutting off the metal that attaches the disc drive so they can safely fit in with no problems. You will also very carefully need to drill holes higher so you can fit two 2.5 inch drives in this caddy.
Step 7: Install the hard drives and attach the caddy to the Dell Optiplex 9020
Once you have modified the case, you can install the two 2.5-inch hard drives in it, along with the NVMe to PCIe adapter. Make sure that the hard drives and adapter are securely installed in the caddy. Then, attach the caddy to the Dell Optiplex 9020’s drive bay. You can use screws to secure the caddy in place.
Step 8: Configuring TrueNAS
Now that you have installed the hard drives and attached the caddy to the Dell Optiplex 9020, it’s time to configure TrueNAS. You can use the TrueNAS web interface to configure the server and set up storage pools, datasets, and shares. You can also configure other settings such as network and security.
Step 9: Setting up a virtual machine in TrueNAS to run Portainer and Docker
In order to run Portainer and Docker on your TrueNAS server, you can set up a virtual machine. This will allow you to run these applications without compromising the stability and security of your TrueNAS installation. To do this, you can use the built-in virtualization features of TrueNAS to create a virtual machine. Then, install a Linux distribution such as Ubuntu on the virtual machine. Finally, you can install Portainer and Docker on the virtual machine and start using them to manage your containers.
Step 10: All additional modifications.
Additionally, I made some more modifications to my new NAS server. I added a 4-port gigabit NIC above the PCIe adapter and I also changed the fans out for Arctic P8 80mm as the default fans can make a bit of noise. Lastly, I made sure the CPU had fresh thermal paste applied.
In the future, I might change over to a Xeon processor and ECC RAM as ZFS massively benefits from ECC memory and to unsure no issues with inconsistencies.
Turning an old Dell Optiplex 9020 into a high-performance TrueNAS server is a great way to repurpose your old hardware and give it new life. With the help of a few additional components and some 3D printing, you can create a custom storage solution that meets your needs. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can set up your own TrueNAS server and start storing and managing your data with ease.