Are you running out of space on your computer? Do you want to plan additional storage for your computer? Have you had any old computer in your home? If yes, just wait for buying a new network attached storage drive, and read this article.
You may hear about Network Attached Storage (NAS). NAS is a file storage server computer that can be connected to a network providing data access to a group of client computers. NAS enables a group of users can share and collaborate with data effectively. The NAS helps you to share files between a storage server to other computers through a network. There are several NAS systems available with or without harddisks. Synology, Western Digital, Netgear, QNAP are major players in the NAS market. If you need simple storage to store your files and data an external hard disk is enough. If you want to carry it with you, choose a portable external hard disk. If you want to replicate the files, fearing that any damage in one hard disk may spoil your work, you can buy WD My Book Duo, as it contains two separate hard disks with RAID storage. You can use RAID-1 configuration to mirror data on the two hard drives. But if you want to access the data across various device and among a few users, then go for a NAS device.
Setup NAS Hardware
FreeNAS is an operating system that can be installed on virtually any hardware platform to share data over a network. Before going for a readymade NAS drive you can experiment with FreeNAS and your old PC. Check your old PC to convert it to a NAS storage drive. If your old PC is working, has an Intel 64-bit processor, a LAN port, and the cabinet has enough space to support additional hard disks, you can use it. Add/upgrade 8GB RAM, check the LAN port speed. If you don’t have an old computer you can build a low-cost computer with Atom server grade (8 core) processor, or Intel Pentium G series processor or with an Intel i3 processor. The basic hardware requirements for FreeNAS is here, you can configure a system based on the hardware requirements. The advantage is in a readymade NAS, if any hardware error happens, difficult to get the NAS board to replace. If you are doing by yourself, you can replace it easily if anything bad happens.
FreeNAS Hardware Requirements
- Boot Device: 8 GiB is the absolute minimum. 16 GiB is recommended.
- 64-bit hardware is required for current FreeNAS releases.
- Intel processors are strongly recommended.
- 8 GB of RAM is the absolute minimum requirement. 1 GB per terabyte of storage is a standard starting point for calculating additional RAM needs, although actual needs vary. ECC RAM is strongly recommended.
- SSDs, SATADOMs, or USB sticks can be used for boot devices. SSDs are recommended.
- NAS-specific hard drives like WD Red are recommended.
- Intel 1 GbE or 10 GbE Ethernet cards are recommended.
FreeNAS is the easiest way to create a centralized and easily accessible place for storing your files and data. FreeNAS with Z File System (ZFS) protects your data. ZFS is an enterprise-ready open source file system, RAID controller, and volume manager having the flexibility and data integrity. Almost all major operating system is supported; 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 in FreeNAS.
First, download FreeNAS from freenas.org. The download file is a .iso file. This bootable installer can be written to either a CD or USB flash drive. The FreeNAS installer can run from either a CD or a USB memory stick. You can write the .iso file to a CD, you can use Image writer or Rufus software to write to a USB drive. After that, insert the installation media to the USB port or CD to CD drive, then boot the system from that installation media. FreeNAS boot menu appears.
The FreeNAS installer automatically boots into the default option after ten seconds. You can also choose another boot option by pressing the Spacebar to stop the timer and then enter the number of the desired option. After the installer has finished booting, the installer menu is displayed. Press Enter to select the default option, Install/Upgrade.
The next menu lists all available drives. This includes any inserted USB drives, you can identify by its name, the name beginning with da. Use arrow keys to highlight the destination USB drive, SSD, or virtual disk. Press the spacebar to select it. To mirror the boot device, move to the second device and press spacebar to select it also, then press Enter. If it asks for a password, give a password. Setting a password is mandatory and the password cannot be blank. Remember the password that you have given, it is needed to access the web interface. After the installation reboot and boot from the device driver. You can refer to this FreeNAS installation guide to install.
Advantages of FreeNAS
As I said you are installing the FreeNAS on your own hardware, so you can modify, upgrade or replace it when needed. If you are using your old computer you can save on hardware investments. The FreeNAS Web Interface simplifies administrative tasks. The easy to follow setup Wizard 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 easily. Different kind of file shares supported, SMB/CIFS (Windows File shares), NFS (Unix File shares) and AFP (Apple File Shares), FTP, iSCSI (block sharing), and others. You can save snapshots of the entire filesystem at any time. You can use the replication feature to send Snapshots over the network to another system. FreeNAS also offers third-party plugin installation system. The plugin system isolates third-party software from the core operating system but allows plugins access to user-specified directories and configuration from the main Web User Interface.
Before going to set up and install the FreeNAS server, watch this installation video from the FreeNAS team to familiar with the FreeNAS system. The installation process and log in to the web interface are explained in the video. FreeNAS also offers FreeNAS mini readymade NAS devices.