FreeNAS and HDD Question

Alrighty, I have a new project planned for my Dell Dimension E310. That is to convert it into a FreeNAS box for all my media. I do plan on using 2 500GB hard drives in a raid 0, but with one 500GB hard drive, it is filled with all my media, Is there a way to do like a virtual JBOD with FreeNAS. The motherboard only supports RAID and IDE modes. I don't want to have to copy everything to my main rig which has the biggest hard drive and having to do it over a 10/100 Network. Which can be time consuming. I will be using an IDE hard drive for the boot drive and the raid array for the storage

FreeNAS uses ZFS*. Assuming your hard drive with all the files is NTFS, you have basically two options.

  1. Set up your zpool on the empty disk, mount the NTFS disk, copy the files over, then add the second drive. ZFS dynamically distributes data across all vdevs in a pool (a vdev is a storage unit that can be a single disk, a file, either of those in a zfs software mirror or raidz, any of the above as a spare, or a disk or file as a log or cache device). One downside of this is that only a little new data would get striped, and the bulk would be located on either one disk or the other.
  2. The other option is to do what you are reluctant to do, by copying to your main computer, setting up both drives in the pool, then transferring the data to the pool. Your data will at least be more evenly distributed across drives this way. You could probably also put the physical disks in each machine for the transfers, to make it go faster. Put the 500GB drive in your main computer to make the first copy, then put the drive from your main computer into the NAS to copy the data back.

The main issue is that AFAIK FreeNAS has only read support for NTFS. If your one drive really is as full as it gets, you could potentially just add both disks as-is and only have one be zfs, since you wouldn't be writing any more to the NTFS drive anyway. That seems less than ideal however, if for example down the road you decide you want to delete things to make more space.

Before it's too late, I'd like to take the opportunity to strongly urge you to consider acquiring a third identical drive, so that you can create a raidz1 array. You'll still get 1TB total space, but you'll also have parity to recover with if one drive decides to crap out on you. It's happened to me, and 500GB can be a lot of data to lose when one more drive would have saved everything and only cost $60 or so. Disks are cheap, data is priceless.


* FreeNAS also uses UFS but that's less interesting.