I found my way to FreeNAS long after I should have and would have liked.
I follow tech news enough that I knew about ZFS, understood its benefits, and held some minor resentment that Apple had stopped pursuing it as a filesystem. Requirement number one: reliable data storage. ZFS had it locked up.
I was lucky to next come across FreeNAS. Luckier further to find it right as the provided ZFS was getting a major update. I realized that I didn’t need another system running a workstation focused OS. I just needed a NAS. Something to store and serve files. FreeNAS has turned out to be even more.
So I assembled my components, with some help from the FreeNAS forums to select parts, and built the system. I had one minor hiccup where my first USB drive wasn’t recognized, but re-flashing it got everything working. Copying data from the Drobo to spare drives, checksumming, installing the Drobo drives to the new FreeNAS box, copying data back, and checksumming again took almost a week, but it felt so good to be free.
These days “tardis” still serves data and takes on more and more data. I have an automatic scrub every other week, tasks that backup and synchronize data on a reliable schedule, and even jailed plugins serving media handling a reverse proxy for a variety of web interfaces running on my home network. I’ve upgraded the capacity in the pool and even though each disk took around eight hours, dual disk redundancy left me not worrying one bit about my data. I use this FreeNAS box as the backup destination for TimeMachine on two Macs and each backup completes faster than ever. I’ve had a backup go corrupt (a Mac problem, not due to FreeNAS) twice and all I had to do was roll back the snapshot of the backup to the last good version and TimeMachine started right backup up again like normal. I enabled higher compression on just the datasets that would see benefit and I have one with a ratio over five. I am staying as far from dedup as I can. The discussion board is helpful, interesting, and represents a huge wealth of knowledge.
The power, flexibility, and simplicity of FreeNAS is at once exciting and also provides peace of mind. I feel like my data is safe while I’m free to experiment with new features and tasks to make the rest of my life easier. There isn’t much that would make me happier with using FreeNAS and it just keeps getting better.
In the grand free and open source tradition, I get the very best feature set I could hope for (everything) at the best possible price (nothing) 🙂
I’m a sysadmin by trade and have two FreeNAS boxes at home – one for general storage, one for permanent backups. Both just run day in and day out, never give issues and never need handholding. I’ve tried various solutions over the years, usually some combination of a customized Linux install with NFS and Samba; now this works OK, but it gets to be labour-intensive. With FreeNAS, I can stop doing the following:
* Eternally fiddling with the system, running apt-get/emerge or whatever
* Trying to figure out almost daily what update broke things today
* Worrying about reaching the limits of the filesystem
* Dealing with the complexity of disk storage and all the layers that make it up (thanks to ZFS)
* FreeNAS is an appliance, I treat it like my DSL router and media player, and that’s exactly the way I want it. It’s trouble free, it just works, it does what it says on the box and does it well.
The cherry on the cake has got to be ZFS. For too long I’ve had to deal with disks, disk system drivers, partitions, volume managers, assembling RAID arrays, mkfs and finally mount. Let’s rather not talk about resizing an fs and what that entails. With ZFS, all that complexity goes away and becomes a non-issue. Storage is now just storage – I added 12TB of disks a chassis and told ZFS to just deal with it properly and give me a mount point. And that’s exactly what it did. And it did it in about 5 minutes!
How I ever managed before ZFS is a bit of a mystery to me now – all that unnecessary complexity just goes away.
Great job guys!
Technology Integration Engineer
I have been using FreeNAS for over four years now and have had nothing but love for it. I started off using it as a way to have a 24/7 box to host all my music video and pictures. Then built out larger boxes with multiple drives to raid as a backup for all my PCs. I even built one such box for my parents which has run faithfully for 3 years now. I have recently expanded into using it at work both the FreeNAS and TrueNAS versions to host user data and virtual machines for our development network. Now I’m building a virtualized test environment at home and used 10g and ZFS L2ARC on a ssd to create a powerful and fast home test bed. The flexibility of FreeNAS is incredible and allows for a wide array of personal and professional use.
Keep up the great work!
System Admin and Instrumentation Engineer
I find FreeNAS easy to implement, easy to manage with its beautiful web interface, and an overall feature-set that cannot be beat by an off-the-shelf unit. Ease of expansion in DIY projects is a must and I don’t know if I have seen the limit to what FreeNAS can provide thus far. The team has provided extensive documentation and any questions beyond the documentation have probably already been answered by the community in the forums. ZFS is integral and you are hard-pressed to find another product that can perform like FreeNAS given its featureset. I have tried all the options available out there for a home-built NAS device and to me, FreeNAS is the most polished and easy to use system available. It will take a lot to get me to look at anything else ever again.
Cloud Computing and Backup Administrator
FreeNAS is the best thing to happen to my house since linux. Creating NFS/CIFS mounts – done. Uploading my music, pictures, videos, and documents – done. Sharing my uploads with my PS3, smart TV, and tablet – done. And that’s just with my 32 bit box. Using deduplication to reduce the required space for my files – done. Using ZFS to snapshot, dedupe, and provide software RAID – done. I have barely scratched the surface of what FreeNAS can do because it has been doing everything I want it to do.