Storage

Configuring FreeNAS for CIFS storage connectivity

FreeNAS storage solution

Organizations are always on the prowl for cost-effective storage solutions. In a number of previous posts, whenever a free storage product is mentioned, TechRepublic members frequently suggest FreeNAS as an alternative to StarWind, Openfiler and other software storage solutions. By its name, FreeNAS is a free solution. In this gallery, FreeNAS will be installed as a virtual machine and provisioned as a Windows file resource using the common internet file system (CIFS) storage protocol.

About

Rick Vanover is a software strategy specialist for Veeam Software, based in Columbus, Ohio. Rick has years of IT experience and focuses on virtualization, Windows-based server administration, and system hardware.

18 comments
gechurch
gechurch

So what are people using FreeNAS (and similar solutions) for? Are these replacing Windows file servers, or stand-alone NAS boxes? I take it we are talking primarily in the small business space here, or are larger organisations using this for less important storage, like an additional backup target?

ptheys
ptheys

We choose NexentaCore, it's a true ZFS with all features of FreeNAS and OpenFiler, and it's free too.

slow43
slow43

I ran with FreeNas last year on 6 machines which rotated through receiving a 90G backup file from BackupNt 2003 for a server 2003 box. I found the file system would become corrupt after about 2 months of daily use with 90G coming down a gig network connection. It occurred on more than one of the backup machines. The filesystem collapsed, not the filecopy. The drives needed rebuilding. I could never work out what was killing them

nospamplease03031
nospamplease03031

I'm sure Open Filer is nice, but it is not free like freeNAS--an important consideration.

gechurch
gechurch

Thanks to those of you that replied to my question. I'm looking to centralise storage at my house at the moment and was looking at buying a NAS box (I will just RAID1 a pair of 2TB drives). I've got an old PC running as a print server, I wouls like an iSCSI target to play around with as storage for ESXi for my test server, I have previously RAIDed a few drives in a Windows box, but want to move away from that to something that was made for the job, and takes less space and power. Ideally I would like the drives to be formatted as NTFS so I can plug them into a Windows PC if needed. This is only a slight preference though. I'm strongly leaning to a NAS box for the job. It can replace my print server, I'll get something that can be an iSCSI target, it will take up less space and I'm expecting it to be a hassle-free setup. Am I right in thinking this will be a better setup for my needs than FreeNAS? It sounds to me as if FreeNAS is used for jobs where a dedicated NAS box could also be used - FreeNAS sounds as though it has more options at the cost of more complexity.

smpcompdude
smpcompdude

I'm using 4 old Dell 2450's as network storage for Disk to Disk backups and storage for a couple of ESX Servers. Two are running FreeNAS and 2 are using OpenFiler. Setup is similar and I have no preference of one over the other. I have a 5th server as a large network storage partition for SMB users on an old Powervault 750N. That one is running Ubuntu Server 9.04 setup as a simple ISCSI target. Windows Servers see the partition and use is as a hard drive. Works very well.

T0nz
T0nz

I am using FreeNAS at home as a storage and backup device. I have the original 60 GB drive with the install, a 1.5 TB drive that is holding all of my movies, music, pictures, etc, and a 2 TB drive that I am using for backup. I can stream music and movies from this device to my media center with no problem. For the backups, I am using Cobian backup on my windows boxes to backup files to the FreeNAS server. I am also using Microsoft's free Outlook backup utility to back up Outlook email. On my Linux boxes, I am using rsync to backup files to FreeNAS. I find FreeNAS easy to implement and it does exactly what it is supposed to. After 30 minutes of inactivity, I am spinning the data drives down to save electricity. All-in-all, I like it.

TigerMark
TigerMark

erm.... Solaris has a "true" Zetabyte File System - Nexenta have taken the open source ZFS software and integrated it with their own Linux based distro. Having said that - thanks for the info! I will definately give this a try out. Does this OS have a decent gooey for non-techies to help them set up filesystems/sharing/ownerships/etc?

kmdennis
kmdennis

Try ZFS. Easy to set up using the web interface. Though I don't pound my box daily, so I cannot comment on the corruption which ZFS is designed to eliminate.

wizardb
wizardb

Pre version 8 has a problem with corrupting hardrive formatted in other then UFS,if you use NTFS or really any other system corruption is almost a sure thing.

b4real
b4real

Support for openfiler is not - nor is the manual.

smpcompdude
smpcompdude

As in my previous post you can utilize older hardware that might not cut the muster in your rack anymore.

mwclarke1
mwclarke1

as long as got good power (UPS) and temp control, leave those drives spinning unless a very long time between uses. Will take a chance doing more damage with every drive startup.

shaz
shaz

I too use FreeNAS for a home file server for my music, photos and videos as well as maintaining backups for all the computers on the network. I was able to use an old PC and purchase a new 1GB drive to build a NAS rather than spend north of $600 for a turnkey solution. However, I found FreeNAS to be a bit difficult to configure until I ran across this tutorial http://www.lagesse.org/freenas-tutorial-for-windows-users-part-two-configuration/. My FreeNAS has been running without issue for over a year. However, I've never been able to get the UPnP/DLNA media server working, though the problem could be with my media player clients. I would also like to be able to use it as an iTunes server but haven't found enough information to make it work.

SvalenciaTech
SvalenciaTech

How would ZFS compare to NAS? They are two complete different technologies.

b4real
b4real

Consequence of openness...

shortonjr
shortonjr

All right guys. All you FreeNas haters can stay with those expensive solutions while this is free. It has many options and uses many protocols. My setup has been running for 562 days without any attention. It's only a 345mhz with 128m memory and runs four 500mB drives without a problem. it works great in my business network. Guys, don't hate FreeNas is great!