FreeNAS in Production

Written by Annie Zhang on .

I work as a Network Administrator in a shop where we deploy 60+ ESXi VMs on a half dozen host servers.  We heard about FreeNAS from my predecessor who implemented it where he is now employed.  My boss asked me to evaluate FreeNAS as it is time to replace one of our existing SANs.  I installed FreeNAS 9.3 on an old IBM server and took the four 3-hour FreeNAS classes from Linda Kateley. I then dove in head first with a new 4U SuperMicro SAN with dual Intel CPUs, 128GB EEC RAM, twenty 4TB SAS HDDs and a handful of consumer grade SSDs.  The important lessons learned are:

  1. Buy big RAM chips so you have available slots if you need more RAM.
  2. eMLC SSDs cost more but they are definitely better than off the shelf SSDs.
  3. There is a 4X & 5X FreeNAS rule that states you want 4 or 5 times as many gigabytes of SSD capacity for cache as you have gigabytes of RAM.  I always go big so we deployed the 8X rule.
  4. Download FreeNAS and install it on a test platform and then take Linda Kateley’s four paid and one free interactive online class to get started.  The FreeNAS forum is wonderful as long as you research your questions before posting.
  5. RAID cards are not needed but if you want an LSI RAID card make sure you flash it to IT (pass through mode).  LSI support & the FreeNAS forum were great in guiding me to the correct utilities I needed for my LSI SAS 9211-8i Host Bus Adapter.
  6. If you want the lights to work correctly on the front of a SuperMicro SAN use only SAS HDDs.

A very knowledgeable admin on the FreeNAS forum sent me a quote that is quite appropriate:  “It’s like a learning cliff.  We know.”  That said, Linda’s class made it much more like a steep hill and very manageable.
Currently I have the fastest SAN I have ever had the pleasure of working with and all the hard work pays off when you see you have maxed out your state of the art fiber gigabit network.

Dale Josephson
Network Administrator
Karuk Tribe

FreeNAS Team Expansion | 1stAveMachine Chooses iXsystems | Issue #22

Written by Annie Zhang on .

Hello FreeNAS users,
Have you heard the big news? The FreeNAS Team has a new home! Additionally, we’ve got several user-submitted content and a customer testimonial to share this month so let’s get to it.
The FreeNAS Team

We’re Expanding!
With all the growth we’ve seen at our company, we’ve started to run out of space for our employees. We’re happy to announce the FreeNAS Team has a new home…next door. Read more>>

1stAveMachine Chooses iXsystems TrueNAS
1stAveMachine is a film and media production studio in NY and LA that supports an impressive and growing list of customers including Samsung, Google, Apple, Nike, IBM, and Facebook. When they needed to replace their primary production storage, the engineers at 1stAveMachine selected iXsystems’ TrueNAS Unified Storage Arrays for the job. Here’s why.

FreeBSD Journal

My FreeNAS Lab by David L.
David L, a FreeNAS community member, sent us a write up to show off the FreeNAS/VMware test lab he set up at work. The lab features two FreeNAS systems, one to host VMware datastores and the other to receive backups for the first system. Check it out>>

DIY EconoNAS 2015
Every couple of months, Brian Moses builds a new economically priced NAS using up to date market prices and gives it away to a lucky reader. This year, his DIY EconoNAS build can be created for about $600. Check it out>>

FreeNAS Certification Classes
We offer a free Intro to FreeNAS class that runs every day. For those of you interested in learning more about advanced topics, we also offer paid, fully interactive classes. Read more >>

Live Events

TechTip #18
FreeNAS 9.2.x is the last version of FreeNAS to support 32-bit processors. 9.3 and all future versions of FreeNAS will be 64-bit, ZFS only, and only support ZFS.

Join the Team
iXsystems, the company that sponsors FreeNAS, is looking for a few good people to join our team. Interested? The full list of available positions can be found on our website.

Links of the Month

If you have a cool build you’d like to show off, a tutorial you’ve written, or a TechTip you’d like to share, we’d love to hear from you at

FB       youtube      twittter     gplus

My FreeNAS Lab

Written by Casey on .

My FreeNAS Lab

I started using FreeNAS a couple of years ago at work when we started looking into backup storage solutions for our various (pricey) production arrays. I first experimented with 5-6 year old spare desktop computers of the Intel Core 2 CPU/DDR2 memory vintage and whatever hard drives that we had laying around. We were so impressed with FreeNAS’s versatility (CIFS, AFP, iSCSI) and performance that we decided to purchase enterprise class hardware for a custom built production backup storage solution using FreeNAS. It ended up costing about $10K for 40 TB initially and we have since added another 40 TB shelf to the same server as our storage needs have grown.

I have also been able to upgrade the hardware I use for my FreeNAS/VMware test lab and it is about this that I will give a more detailed account. I have two FreeNAS boxes, 1 to host VMware datastores over iSCSI and the other to receive backups for the first system and for CIFS and AFP (time machine) shares.

System 1

System 1

Motherboard – Asus P8Z68-V LE

CPU – Intel Core i5 2500K 3.30 GHz quad core

Memory – 32 GB G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series DDR3 1600 PC3 12800 (4 x 8GB)

Hard Drives – 6 x 600GB WD VelociRaptor

iSCSI NIC – 4-port gigabit Intel E1G44HT PCI-Express 2.0 I340-T4

OS drive – SanDisk Cruzer Fit 8 GB

Build – FreeNAS-9.3-STABLE-201412312006

Volume – RAIDZ2 2.2 TB available

System 2

system 2

Motherboard – Asus P7P55D-E LX

CPU – Intel Core i5 760 2.80 GHz quad core

Memory – 16 GB G.SKILL Ripjaws X Series DDR3 1600 PC3 12800 (2 x 8GB)

Hard Drives – 8 x 2 TB Hitachi Deskstar

OS drive – SanDisk Cruzer Fit 8 GB

Build – FreeNAS-9.3-STABLE-201412312006

Volume – RAIDZ2 10 TB available


I know that iXsystems doesn’t like to post performance numbers of their TrueNAS systems, but I’m going to post my numbers.  I do it mainly as a point of comparison because I recently swapped out the 4-port gigabit NIC for a 10 Gbps Intel X540-T1. Here are the CrystalDiskMark numbers inside a Windows guest on an ESXi 5.1 iSCSI datastore:

(MB/s – IOPS) 4 x 1 Gbps 10 Gbps
Read Seq 103 538
Write Seq 100 864
Read 512K 94 576
Write 512K 92 760
Read 4K 10 – 2,352 14 – 3,340
Write 4K 14 – 2,683 30 –7,226
Read 4K QD32 111 – 27,184 282 – 68,823
Write 4K QD32 88 – 21.678 394 – 96,097

There’s a 1 Gbps bottleneck and it must be because the ESXi free license doesn’t have MPIO support. Going to 10 Gbps simplifies networking and has a huge performance increase; I highly recommend it.



FreeNAS is awesome!!! The more I use it, the more confident I am in its stability, performance, and ability to meet all my needs. I’m looking forward to FreeNAS 10 and you can be sure I’ll upgrade.

Thanks FreeNAS community and iXsystems.

     -David L. DevOps Engineer

     Imagine Learning Provo, UT