Monday, February 27, 2012

Looking at home Storage Systems - FreeNAS

As I mentioned in a previous entry I wasn't exactly impressed with open filer and I have since found out that many of the openfiler issues are down to a particually nasty bug.

As at the time of writing i have no idea if there is an official fix for the bug or if it is working 'as designed' and don't much care because freenas has become a firm favourite of mine.

Freenas not only just works but it has obviously been designed with storage in mind as it works fine on small scale systems and just as fine on larger systems.

My own setup of freenas currently consists a hp micro server and 4 x 2tb hard drives with freenas booting from a verbatim 8gb USB stick.
 The USB stick allows for the full content of the hard drives to be available for storage rather than having to have the os installed onto part of the hard drive.
Boot times for freenas 8 are less than a minute. With 4 x 2TB hard drives I'm seeing a little over 7TB in a RAID 5 array.

In terms of protocol support freenas offers all the good stuff such as CIFS, NFS and iSCSI although I have yet to get iSCSI working for me but that probably has more to do with being used to iscsi in a NetApp environment which in terms of setup hides a lot of the process in tools like snap drive and web utilities like OnCommand.

FreeNas Protocol support is quite extensive


Freenas also allows for some older but still useful protocols like TFTP and it allows for CIFS shares to be added to NFS exports which, for admin reasons, can be very handy for those of us more used to windows clients!

Because one of the options is to set up a ZFS partition Freenas also allows for all the niceites that are in ZFS such as snapshots.

This technology allows for an area to have a snapshot taking before having a potentially dangerous operation enacted on it.

One area that does let freenas down though is a lack of media support. Whilst its absolutely fine for streaming movies and music direct from the drive it will not replace media servers like plex although there is nothing wrong with presenting plex as the front end with FreeNas as the back end and the more I use FreeNAS the more I get the feeling that it really is an ideal back end storage platform where more expensive storage really doesn't fit or is just too expensive to be considered.

For that reason it really is perfect for us folk with our own home networks and who might need a bit more storage for scenario testing, photo manipulation, NFS or iSCSI areas for other servers, etc but it will also work quite happily in a corporate environment.
Now, I am not suggesting it replace more high end San or NAS solutions but it still works well as the aforementioned dumping ground for other, and I hesitate to the use the phrase 'less important', data but it'll certainly cope with things like veeam backups and as general second/third tier storage. Personally I will be sticking with FreeNAS as a home storage solution for the foreseeable future.

1 comment:

Tristan said...

When I move out, I will certainly look into this as an option for my mass storage.

I guess hardware will be my main issue. I think I will have enough around to set something up.