Hardware Requirements and Recommendations

FreeNAS is a free and open source network attached storage software based on FreeBSD. This document presents the absolute minimum requirements for a FreeNAS system, recommended requirements for a FreeNAS home media server, and sample recommendations for a FreeNAS server meant to be used for business.

These recommendations should be considered with regard to your individual use case. For example, if you plan to use your media server for multiple 1080p streams at the same time, you may require a faster processor, more RAM, or an SSD cache.

Hardware RAID should never be used with FreeNAS. If you want to add additional disks beyond what the motherboard supports, Host Bus Adapters (HBAs) are recommended to give FreeNAS and ZFS direct access to the individual storage drives. LSI HBAs are the best choice with FreeNAS. For best results, see the FreeBSD Hardware Compatibility List for supported disk controllers.

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

Management for any version of FreeNAS requires a modern web browser on the same network as the FreeNAS device.

Minimum Hardware Requirements:

These specifications are the minimum requirements to run a small FreeNAS system with moderate performance for 1-4 users.

  • Multicore 64-bit processor (Intel® strongly recommended)
  • Operating System Drive (USB Drive – 8 GB minimum, more recommended)
  • 8 GB RAM
  • At least one direct-attached disk (NOT Hardware RAID)
  • One physical network port

Recommended Minimum Hardware:

These are the specifications for a home media server or small office file share. At this point, your FreeNAS device has the resources to run third party services and provide respectable performance.
The FreeNAS Mini is available from iXsystems as a prebuilt and professionally designed system.

Typical Requirements for Small and Medium Business:

  • One to four Intel 64-bit multicore processors. Intel® Xeon® Processors may be used for enhanced performance.
  • Operating System Drive (32 GB or higher, SSD recommended)
  • 32 GB ECC RAM Minimum
  • NAS drives such as WD Red™ are recommended
  • Enterprise quality SATA/SAS hard drives are recommended.
  • High-endurance Flash/SSD-based write log device (SLOG) for synchronous writes only (Flash drives or SSDs with “Power Loss Protection” recommended).
  • High-performance SSDs for read acceleration if the most-requested data doesn’t fit in RAM and the random read load is high.
  • At least two physical network ports. Intel® recommended for 1GbE. Chelsio recommended for 10 GbE. For best results, see the FreeBSD Hardware Compatibility List for supported ethernet chipsets.

Enterprise Hardware Recommendations:

When using FreeNAS in a business setting, the hardware requirements are much less defined by FreeNAS itself and more defined by capacity, performance, reliability, and support needs.

To remove the guesswork from this process, iXsystems offers FreeNAS Certified Servers, which are pre-configured with FreeNAS using fully qualified hardware configurations.

iXsystems also offers the TrueNAS Storage Appliance, which takes FreeNAS to the next level by adding full enterprise support, High Availability, tuned performance, and a much greater degree of scalability. Regardless of which solution you choose, TrueCommand may be used for complete control over your FreeNAS and TrueNAS fleet.

For a comprehensive guide describing these requirements along with the reasons behind each recommendation, please read the following blog post: FreeNAS Hardware Guide