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FreeNAS For first NAS


Hi everyone. I am ready to get a NAS after only using an external hard drive to back up files the last few years.

My concern is whether or not a freeNAS build would be too involved for an average user. I have built gaming PCs but am only just now developing an interest in open source software, data security, and privacy.

Do you see a FreeNAS build as a good starting point for someone to learn more about computers and the systems available on them? If it is easy to get in over your head with setup and upkeep I may go with Synology while learning more elsewhere.

Thanks for the help everyone.


I learned a lot when I decided to build my first FreeNAS box a few years ago. I decided to take on the project for the purposes of learning a bit about FreeNAS specifically, and networking.

I certainly struggled with the setup when I built my first box, this was mostly due to my lack of decent networking knowledge.

Now to answer your question. If you want to learn something new, and like a bit of a challenge, i would say go for it.

The upside is FreeNAS is designed to be installed and ran from a flash drive. Up until the point you commit storage to the system, you really have nothing to lose.


FreeNAS is as set and forget as possible without buying a commercial product.

Just make sure to read the doc before randomly changing stuff in the cli


Agreed. Once you are through the install, you can throw it in the closet and forget about it.


Thanks guys. Glad to hear it is worth it once you get it up and running. It would be great to use it as an opportunity to learn more about networking among other things. As long as I can manage to get raid setup, a plex plugin, and perhaps a virtual machine I think it would be a good project for a weekend.


don’t use hardware raid with freenas

defeats all the safety features of zfs.

just throw a bunch of drives in there JBOD and freenas will let you do a softraid.


Does the latest freenas stable setup snapshotting each dataset and scrubs of the the disk automatically now or did I dream that?
Edit: I am running freenas but haven’t looked at it in a bit because life and work been hectic the past year.


All configurable from the GUI. I don’t think snapshots are on by default, but there is a sane default schedule that you can easily enable (per dataset).

Scrubs also I think not on by default, but a sane config is a checkbox away.

That said, Synology is more user-friendly, but you won’t learn much from it beyond how to use a Synology.


And Synology has that proprieatary deal on top of Linux raid that requires you to get another Synology to attempt to import the array.


FreeNAS is a great platform for your NAS.

I’d suggest to keep things simple:

  • ignore comments about how insane memory requirements are. they aren’t.
  • if its a home scenario you will be working with a small number of drives. consider either a 2 drive mirror, a 4 drive dual mirror or 4 drive RAIDZ

If you can install Windows, FreeNAS really isn’t that harder.

It can do a lot of stuff, but the documentation is pretty good.

The plugin setup is pretty easy, if you were to start on a saturday barring hardware or network issues you’d be up and running by saturday afternoon.

Do you have basic networking experience or is this also going to be a thing you’re figuring out?


The thing is, it works with 4GB of memory.
But transfer speeds can get quite slow.

Step it up to 8GB for a very noticeable speed bump and above that you’ll get diminishing returns.


My network experience is hooking up a router and modem then going to the correct IP address to change the default password. After that it drops off fast. I would like to know more so I can eventually set up my network in an intelligent way.


It is a wonderfull tool. With amazing documentation and tons of guides on how to implement a safe and secure NAS

It’s honestly not that bad. The gui is not as easy as Synology, nor are the menus as condensed. But all in all, if you understand some basic concepts it’s not that hard.


If you understand IP addresses, Subnet masks, default gateways, DNS, DHCP, and static IPs, you should have no trouble with the setup. Even if you do not, none of these concepts are terribly difficult to learn, especially in the scope of setting up a FreeNAS box.


Depends on whether you want to mess around with your filestore. FreeNAS is no big deal, but it isn’t fire and forget like a Synology.


I ran freenas with 2 GB of memory for over a year (back in 2012), and it worked well enough for home usage.

Sure, more memory is better, but don’t be put off by thinking you need 18 bajillion gigabytes of memory because someone on the internet keeps repeating the consumption figures based on enabling de-duplication, like they’re some sort of hard requirement.

Just like ECC.


god the linux community can be charming with their “conventional wisdom” sometimes

remember the scrub of death fud?


Yeah… (re: scrub of death).

I’ll also add to the above - that NAS that i built in 2012 is still running. The pool has had all its disks replaced twice (capacity upgrades, one instigated due to a no-data-loss drive failure in a 7 year old disk last year :D), upgraded to 10 GB RAM (because an 8 GB stick of ECC was cheap and performance not critical, yes it would be nicer with 16 :D) .

Its an old HP N45L micro-server. It also runs plex, transmission, etc. But the CPU is way too weak for live transcoding. Not a big deal though as most of my media can be played by my end devices just fine.

I’m going to stick my old Xeon 1231v3 in as a replacement some time, just need a crap video card for it as the 1231v3 has no onboard GPU…


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