FreeNAS is an operating system that can be installed on virtually any hardware platform to share data over a network. The app is the simplest way to create a centralized and easily accessible place for your data. Use this Free Operating System with ZFS to protect, store, and back up all of your data. It is used everywhere, for the home, small business, and the enterprise.
This is a practical and comprehensive NAS server that supports CIFS, FTP and NFS protocols and enables users to build network-attached-storage on any hardware platform of their choosing.
ZFS is an enterprise-ready open source file system, RAID controller, and volume manager with unprecedented flexibility and an uncompromising commitment to data integrity. It eliminates most, if not all of the shortcomings found in legacy file systems and hardware RAID devices. Once you go ZFS, you will never want to go back.
The Web Interface simplifies administrative tasks. Every aspect of this Free Operating System can be managed from a Web Interface. SMB/CIFS (Windows File shares), NFS (Unix File shares) and AFP (Apple File Shares), FTP, iSCSI (block sharing), and more. Snapshots of the entire filesystem can be made and saved at any time. Access files as they were when the snapshot was made. Employ the Replication feature to send Snapshots over the network to another system for true offsite disaster recovery.
Before actually installing the server, it is important to know that the FreeNAS OS must be installed on a separate device from the drive that will hold all your stored data. Otherwise, you will be able to use its graphical interface but won’t be able to store any data, which is the whole point of a NAS system.
The feature that makes FreeNAS stand out is the ‘Encryption’ option, being the only open-source project that provides you with the possibility of using encryption settings on ZFS volumes. Thanks to these ZFS file systems, screenshots can be made and saved at any time so you can easily access files as they were when the snapshot was made.
FreeNAS Free Operating System Main Key Features
File sharing is what the app does best. Every major operating system is supported with SMB/CIFS (Windows file shares), NFS (Unix file shares), and AFP (Apple File Shares) as well as FTP, iSCSI (block sharing), WebDAV and other methods of sharing data over the network are available. iSCSI also supports VMware VAAI, Microsoft ODX, and Microsoft Windows Server 2008 and 2012 R2 Clustering.
If Free NAS has one goal, it’s simplifying complex administrative tasks for as wide a user base as possible. Every aspect of the system can be managed from a Web User Interface. A setup Wizard further simplifies configuration at installation time or later in the setup process. Volume creation, or the setting of permissions on individual shares or performing software updates, can be done without missing a critical step or encountering a silent failure.
ZFS is designed for data integrity from top to bottom. RAID-Z, the software RAID that is part of ZFS, offers single parity protection like RAID 5, but without the “write hole” vulnerability thanks to the copy-on-write architecture of ZFS. The additional levels RAID-Z2 and RAID-Z3 offer double and triple parity protection, respectively. A software mirror option is also available. The FreeNAS Volumes screen lists each possible parity arrangement based on the number of disks you select when creating a new volume.
Snapshots can be made on a one-off basis or scheduled as a cron job from the web interface. At any time, the entire filesystem can be rolled back to the most recent snapshot. Older snapshots can be cloned and accessed to recover data from that version of the filesystem. From the web interface, users can see how much space a particular snapshot is occupying on the volume and delete, clone, or roll back to individual snapshots as needed.
ZFS Snapshots are more than just local backups – they can be used to create remote backups as well. Replicating snapshots of the filesystem to a remote ZFS filesystem creates a complete duplicate there. Furthermore, additional snapshots of the same filesystem can be sent incrementally, reducing the size of each backup to the changes that were made between snapshots. In case of catastrophic damage to a local ZFS filesystem (such as disk failure in excess of parity protection or irrecoverable log device failure), any backed-up snapshot can be sent to a new ZFS filesystem, recovering all data up to that backup.
It is the first and only open source project to offer encryption on ZFS volumes! A full-volume encryption option is available during volume creation, providing industry-standard AES-XTS encryption which can be hardware-accelerated (when the processor has AES-NI capability).
It supports the core features of a NAS appliance out of the box. However, many users like to enhance their NAS appliance with third party software for media streaming, alternative protocols, or web applications.
Another important feature that FreeNAS comes with is file-sharing support. Although most operating systems including Windows can connect using SMB shares with small configurations needed on the client-side, It also provides support for Time Machine backups.
Even though the installation process is quite difficult and an average user might get stuck because of the advanced configurations that need to be made, FreeNAS comes with a practical and intuitive interface and provides you with useful options and well-organized menus.
System Requirements of the Free Operating System
These specifications are the bare minimum requirements to run a small FreeNAS system with baseline performance for 1-4 users.
|USB Drive||One Operating System Drive (8GB minimum; USB Drive)|
8 GB RAM (ECC recommended but not required) will support up to 8 hard drives and an additional 1 GB of RAM is suggested for each additional drive
|SATA Drive||A SATA or SAS drive controller with any hardware RAID functionality disabled|
|Additional requirements||One physical network port|
|Processor||Multicore 64-bit processor|
|Operating System||At least one operating System Drive (16 GB or larger recommended, SATA DOM, M.2, or SSD recommended)|
|Memory||16 GB or more RAM (ECC recommended)|
|SATA Drive||At least two SATA or SAS disks (mirrored) attached to a dedicated storage controller. LSI HBAs are recommended and check the FreeBSD Hardware Compatibility List for a full list of supported disk controllers and HBAs|
|Additional Information||At least one physical network port (Intel® recommended). For best results, see the FreeBSD Hardware Compatibility List for supported Ethernet chipsets|
|OS Name||FreeNAS Operating System V 11.3-U2.1|
|File Size||749 MB|
|Languages||English, Italian, French, Spanish, Polish, Chinese, German, Japanese|
Out of the box, this Free Operating System provides you with a lot of useful and stunning features including snapshots, replication, monitoring or remote Syslog, not to mention that with its simple management interface, It is a perfect solution for a business which is looking to build a custom storage solution.
Whether you need to stream music and movies, backup your entire system, or simply synchronize files through the web, It comes with the right tools and options in order to help you build a file storage appliance for your home or business.