FreeNAS vs TrueNAS

Written by Brett Davis on .

Join us for a free webinar with iXsystems Co-Founder, Matt Olander to learn more about why businesses everywhere are replacing their legacy storage with TrueNAS.

“What’s the difference between TrueNAS and FreeNAS? Is TrueNAS just FreeNAS installed on a server?” If you look at the software feature list, there aren’t a ton of differences. So really….what’s the difference?

  1. The first difference is the software delivery method: TrueNAS is a purpose-built storage appliance while FreeNAS is freely-downloadable software that requires the user to understand storage well enough to select the correct hardware that is appropriate for their application.
  2. TrueNAS is commercially-supported, while FreeNAS is community-supported.
  3. There are performance and usability optimizations in TrueNAS that are specific to the hardware we use and therefore aren’t included with FreeNAS.
  4. High-Availability (failover) is hardware-dependent and only available in TrueNAS.

But, perhaps more critical to understand than the “what” is the “why”:


We make FreeNAS for when storage is non-critical.

There are certainly many storage applications that don’t require professional support. Applications like home storage, simple office file servers, tertiary backups, home streaming media servers, scratch space, storage experimentation, or any other application where data is fungible; FreeNAS can be the perfect solution for all of them.

We make TrueNAS for when storage is critical.

Storage downtime can equal an instant loss of revenue, making reliable storage a painstaking process — a process that requires careful consideration, deep hardware and storage knowledge, and countless hours of testing — certainly eons more difficult than the Software Defined Storage crowd would want you to believe. It took us nearly two years to select, design, test, and qualify the myriad hardware components that go into TrueNAS, which is a purpose-built appliance — meaning software coupled with custom hardware — designed for its one specific application: critical storage. Compared to a user-built system that your software vendor knows nothing about, the appliance platform is inherently easier to support when things don’t go your way, because your software vendor is your hardware vendor as well. And, when storage is this important to your business, it’s imperative to have a Support Team at arm’s length who can resolve any issue that may arise without having to first wrap their heads around the hardware platform you’ve built.

We make FreeNAS for Open Source flexibility.

For those that have the expertise and the spare time to build and support their own solutions, or for those that want to tinker and learn about storage, FreeNAS is freely-available and unencumbered by license restrictions. The FreeNAS Project has a mature community and a team of developers dedicated to providing the best (open-source) software defined network file storage solution in the world. All we ask in return is that you enjoy the software and contribute when and where you can, which can be as simple as providing feedback, filing bugs, and making feature requests, or as involved as helping us write code.

We make TrueNAS for enterprise stability.

Where FreeNAS is the bleeding edge, TrueNAS is the stable handle. FreeNAS is where technologies are tested and refined; therefore the software undergoes an often rapid and frequent release cycle. TrueNAS, by contrast, contains only the most stable and vetted code, keeping software updates to a minimum and the release cycle methodical.

We make FreeNAS for people who want to “DIY”

Some folks like to do it themselves. Some folks only get satisfaction when building things on their own. Some folks don’t mind downtime when there’s an issue and enjoy perusing the FreeNAS forums for help. Some folks have limited budgets yet still want powerful storage software. And, some folks are storage experts themselves. You’re welcome, guys :)

We make TrueNAS because businesses don’t want to “DIY”

Instead of buying a fleet of delivery trucks, I suppose we could purchase all the components separately, build the trucks ourselves, and fix them when things break. But, we’re not a car dealership, we’re a storage company. We’d probably save money up front on the cost of the bare parts but would certainly come out way behind with the time spent figuring out how to put them all together and build a functioning car, let alone the costs to maintain it! Most businesses don’t have the time, available hardware, or internal support expertise for a do-it- yourself storage solution — they’re busy focused on their own missions and business models. But, with a 100% software solution, you must build the server yourself. If there is a problem with the server hardware, you can’t look to the software vendor for support, and vice-versa if you have hardware problems. With TrueNAS, you get one throat to choke….ours :)

We make FreeNAS because many are turning to virtualization.

FreeNAS is known to work well with all major virtualization platforms, but due to the nature of the decoupled hardware, we aren’t able to officially certify the software with the virtualization vendors. Therefore, if something goes haywire, the user cannot turn to the virtualization vendor for assistance and instead must rely on the FreeNAS community.

We make TrueNAS because many are turning to virtualization…and need Support.

With a software-only solution you must verify that every component is on the virtualization vendors’ compatibility list and when your configuration changes (such as upgrading to a new network card) you need to validate the configuration again. Most businesses can’t afford the risk, so TrueNAS is officially certified to support Citrix XenServer, VMware ESXi, and Microsoft Hyper-V.

FreeNAS and TrueNAS both have their rightful places.

FreeNAS is the world’s most popular software defined storage OS, with more downloads and installs than any other storage software on the planet. The sheer magnitude of interest speaks volumes about its myriad applications. And, as its enterprise counterpart, TrueNAS has the performance, high-availability, functionality, and professional software support that mission-critical storage applications require.

Brett Davis
iXsystems Executive Vice President

Find Out Why TrueNAS Is Replacing NetApp & EMC Every Day

Written by Annie Zhang on .

Hello FreeNAS Users,

It’s a new year, so let’s hit the ground running. This month, we are rolling out a series of TrueNAS webinars. We also feature an updated video tutorial for 9.3, a user-submitted FreeNAS build, and focus on a feature of FreeNAS: VAAI support.

The FreeNAS Team
5 Reasons Why TrueNAS is replacing NetApp and EMC – Free Webinar
What’s the difference between FreeNAS and TrueNAS? For the answer, we invite you to join Matt Olander, Co-Founder of iXsystems, in a free webinar about TrueNAS. Find out why people are making the switch from big-name, legacy storage vendors to TrueNAS.  Read more >>
FreeNAS 9.3 Shares Overview (includes WebDAV)
We have an updated tutorial video for setting up shares in FreeNAS 9.3 including the new WebDAV protocol. Check it out here.

FreeBSD Journal


DIY NAS: 2015 Edition by Brian Moses
Brian Moses is back with another great, in-depth DIY NAS build. This particular system focuses on performance and has more features than his previous builds. We highly recommend giving this (and his other builds) a read. As a bonus, he’s giving the system away to one lucky person!
VMware VAAI Support in FreeNAS 9.3
iXsystems worked with FreeBSD developers to add additional VMware VAAI primitives to the iSCSI protocol in FreeBSD. This feature was included in FreeNAS 9.3, which now supports all 7 VAAI Block primitives, allowing FreeNAS to integrate better with VMware deployments. Read more >>
FreeNAS Certification Classes
We now 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 >>
Upcoming Live Events

  • January 31 – February 1, 2015FOSDEM in Brussels, Belgium
  • February 16-19FAST ’15 in Santa Clara, California
  • February 19-22SCaLE 13x in LA, California
  • March 12-15AsiaBSDCon in Tokyo, Japan
TechTip #13
You can use the FreeNAS 9.3 boot environment clone feature to try out experimental updates without risking your main configuration.
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

Insane 48TB FreeNAS Build | FreeNAS Failover Demo | Other Goodies…

Written by Annie Zhang on .

Hello FreeNAS Users,

FreeNAS 9.3 is here and it sports a ton of great new features including a redesigned UI, a new configuration wizard, and an update manager. In addition, we’ve got a bunch of new videos for you—some instructional, some just for fun. Thanks to everyone who helped us make 2014 a success. Here’s to bigger and better things in 2015!

Happy Holidays,
The FreeNAS Team
Announcing the Release of FreeNAS 9.3
FreeNAS 9.3 is available for download! We highly encourage everyone to upgrade to take advantage of the new features. Read more ›
Download Now
How to Install and Upgrade FreeNAS 9.3
If you need help installing FreeNAS 9.3, check out this tutorial. We also have a video demonstrating how to use the new update manager.
Changes in FreeNAS 9.3 by Linda Kateley
Check out this video from FreeNAS instructor, Linda Kateley, for an in-depth overview of the new features in FreeNAS 9.3.

FreeBSD Journal
FreeNAS Failover Demo by Josh Paetzel
At this year’s MeetBSD, Joshua Paetzel, a core member of the FreeNAS Development Team, demonstrated the failover capabilities of FreeNAS…by removing the drives from two Minis and completely destroying them. How long did it take for the system to stop working? Read on to find out.
FreeNAS Powers Digital Library in Africa
In November, Nzega’s digital library came online. Two FreeNAS Minis power the heart of the program—one operates as a central file server for about 5TB of content and the other is used for backups. We’re proud to be a part of this great cause! Read more ›
Insane 48TB FreeNAS Build from LinusTechTips
Linus Sebastian of the popular LinusTechTips YouTube channel built a powerful yet incredibly compact 48TB FreeNAS system with 64GB ECC RAM. Watch the video here.
FreeNAS Certification Classes
We now offer free Intro to FreeNAS classes that run every day. For those of you interested in learning more about advanced topics, we also offer paid, fully interactive classes. Read more ›
Upcoming Live Events

  • January 31 – February 1, 2015FOSDEM in Brussels, Belgium
  • February 19-22SCaLE 13x in LA, California
  • March 12-15AsiaBSDCon in Tokyo, Japan


TechTip #12
The Wizard in FreeNAS 9.3 doesn’t make its changes until you confirm at the end. This lets you edit your choices, but also means that if you exit the wizard early, none of your changes are made.
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