Despite the importance of keeping our personal data safe, many forego setting themselves up with a solid solution that can come to the rescue in the event of a disaster. NAS boxes can be a bit pricy, however, and not to mention restrictive. That problem is solved with FreeNAS, a perfect start to your DIY storage solution.
Setting up FreeNAS is simple but does require a basic understanding of networks. The FreeNAS team has made the process as simple as possible but with any system setup, user interaction is required. Another benefit of FreeNAS is its low system requirements. Almost any x86 or x64 CPU will work and according to the FreeNAS team, but a builders primary focus should be on maximizing system memory. If a user decides that they want to use the ZFS file system, it is recommended that they have at least 6GB of usable memory. When FreeNAS boots up, it loads the operating system into system memory, using up 2GB. Because of this, 8GB of total RAM is recommended.
Data redundancy is an important feature to account for when building a FreeNAS box. With this in mind, FreeNAS supports the following RAID configurations:
Most home users will who are using ZFS will want to consider using RAIDZ1 or RAIDZ2. With any build, this option must be considered. The only downside that I see to using RAIDZ1 and 2 is that a volume cannot be expanded. Drives can be added and new volumes can be created but a 4TB volume cannot be expanded to a 6TB volume by adding an additional disk or two.
The easiest method of installation is to burn a CD using the .iso file downloaded from the FreeNAS site. From there, itâ€™s as simple as booting from the CD and following the installation procedures. One thing to note is that whatever drive you install 8.0.x onto, you lose the remainder of that driveâ€™s available space. The boot drive cannot be used when creating a volume. Because of this, it is recommended to install FreeNAS onto a Compact Flash drive or USB stick.
Once installed, administration of FreeNAS is straight forward and shouldnâ€™t present too many issues. Volume creation is simple with the help of a baked-in wizard and can be done in 4 simple steps. Once the drives are added to the machine, something that most users will do when they are building their FreeNAS, they will need to be formatted. After this, a mount point will need to be created and then the volume can be created. From there itâ€™s simple to setup the volume to be shared. FreeNAS supports the following protocols for sharing, offering a significant amount of options for home and business users alike. The following was obtained from the FreeNAS administration guide for 8.0.3.
Once you decide which protocol you want to use – this again takes planning – you can begin sharing your volume(s) and accessing your data across the network. Itâ€™s as simple as that. With shares setup, you are free to roam around your network and use your new FreeNAS box as you see fit.
I know this wasnâ€™t much of an in-depth look at FreeNAS. It wasnâ€™t much of anything really. This of this more as an introduction to FreeNAS and its intent is to plant the seed of inquiry. We want to make everyone aware that there are valuable open source solutions available in the world of shared storage.
However; we are currently in the middle of a FreeNAS build and are working on a write up, from beginning to end. I am confident that we will address most any questions that one might have after reading this introduction. With that said, if there are any questions that you might have concerning what you would like to see covered, please post in our forums. This is a new kind of project for me here at Techgage and one that I would like to see grow organically with feedback from our readers. I am excited to continue work on this and look forward to hearing your ideas and questions.
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