Return to

FreeNAS on old desktop

I have an almost 5 year old system with the following config:
CPU AMD FX 6300 6 Core
Motherboard ASUS M5A97 R2.0
Graphics Card Sapphire R9 270X

The motherboard specifications indicate that there is an onboard RAID controller.
AMD SB950 controller : 6 x SATA 6Gb/s port(s), gray, Support Raid 0, 1, 5, 10

I am thinking of turning it into a FreeNAS box.
I wish to use this only as a backup solution running at most 1 hour each day.
My data requirements are quite low. I currently have less than 1TB of data that I would like to protect.
The data contains important documents, some personal projects, passwords etc. i.e. mostly small files.
At most I would plan for 2TB of usable disk space.

How many disks and in what configuration should I use for a home FreeNAS server with the above requirements.
Do I need more RAM? Do I need ECC RAM?
Do I need to use the onboard RAID controller? I don’t have any experience setting up RAID.
Would mirroring 2 disks suffice? What RAID configuration do I need i.e. RAID-Z[1-3] etc.? Do I need a separate disk for cache, logs etc.

As I am in India, both price and availability of hardware is a concern.

FreeNAS (or any other NAS distro) doesn’t need hardware raid, in fact, HW raid is often a detriment. Let the distro of your choice guide you through setting up the disk array.

Your machine has better specs than most of the pre-fabricated NAS boxes out there (that run on Celeron / ATOM) processors.

FreeNAS has the option of using ZFS, which is a memory hog, however, for “only” 2tb, 8GB is enough, the OS will use only a few 100mb leaving the rest for cache.

When it comes to storage using system ram for cache, ECC is recommended, but honestly, there’s more home brew configurations out there running standard ram than those with ECC.

RAID is not a backup, mirroring is not a backup, so keep that in mind when storing important stuff on the server.

2 data disks, both 1tb or more. Mirror these.
1 book disk, it could be a USB drive, an ssd, or an HDD. I would suggest a small SSD, 32gb is plenty.

No to both, although if you put a lot more data disks in it then maybe more ram.

FreeNas uses the ZFS filesystem only. ZFS should never be used with disks in a raid, because ZFS itself will make the disk array. Just plug the disks in, no raid from the motherboard.

That SATA controller is going to suck. It has some quirks that prevent some features such as NCQ TRIM.

Use a pair of small SSDs to mirror as the boot disk, it won’t cost much more than USB sticks and it is infinitely better. The FreeNAS installer will set up the mirroring for you.

As mentioned, don’t use onboard RAID. If you use the onboard controllers, set them to AHCI mode.

For an upgrade path you can add an LSI HBA and ECC RAM down the line, but that’s not essential for a home NAS.

1 Like