Updated26 Jul 2022
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"World’s #1 NAS Operating System"
FreeNAS is an operating system which can be installed on most hardware platforms. The software can be used to share computer storage between different systems on a local area network. FreeNAS is essentially a network-attached data storage solution which is both open-source and free.
The FreeNAS project was developed originally in 2005 in order to provide a free way to access network storage without needing expensive commercial software solution. There is a community of users and backed up by a development team who continue to focus on this goal.
ZFS Snapshots can create backups to a remote ZFS file system which creates a duplicate copy of data. New snapshots can be sent remotely on a regular, scheduled basis in order to protect systems via incremental backups. It is also possible to send backups to more than one ZFS file system to protect against hard drive failure.
Data is protected via single, double or triple parity protection that uses RAID 5 but builds increased protection above it (RAID-Z2 and RAID-Z3 deliver the double and triple parity). A mirror for the software can also be setup. There is a FreeNAS Volumes screen which shows all parity plans setup and which disks they are linked to.
The compatible backup services include Apple Time Machine, Rsync, Windows Backup and PC-BSD Life Preserver.
FreeNAS provides encryption across NFS volumes. Encrytion can be configured when the volume is first created. Volumes can either be initialized with random data or have a passphrase added for security. Encrypted volumes do have the restriction that only FreeBSD and FreeNAS can import encrypted volumes.
Complete snapshots of an entire drive can be made. These snapshots can be accessed at any time. Files scan be seen within the snapshot and accessed when needed. A cron job can be setup using a convenient web interface to regularly take a system snapshot or a snapshot can be created as a one-off process. The web interface includes visibility to see what existing snapshots exist, how much space they are taking up, roll back Windows to a snapshot, clone or delete a snapshot too.
The installation of FreeNAS went fine. There was no spyware or malware installed with the package.
There are some recommendations from the developers at FreeNAS for what hardware is appropriate to use with FreeNAS.
FreeNAS runs on a number of different Windows versions.
The interface for FreeNAS includes some easy to read toolbar buttons, a menu system down the left side of the interface and a central information pane that changes depending on what toolbar or menu item was selected. There are often menus added in the main pane that provide various choices to drill deeper into the options presented in the left-side menu.
The interface is no problem to understand and work with for anyone familiar with storage management and communication between storage, servers and workstations.
- Open-source and free network-installed storage software management
- Developed since 2005
- Backup services compatible with Apple Time Machine, Rsync, Windows Backup and PC-BSD Life Preserver.
- Create NFS Snapshots on a regular basis; incremental snapshots can also be created
- Volumes screen can provide single, double or triple parity protection with RAID 5, RAID-Z2 and RAID-Z3 configurations
- Volume random data encryption or passphrase protection options
- Full drive snapshot via cron job or irregular action
- Roll back a Windows system based on a drive snapshot
- Clone, delete or access drive snapshot
- High-specification hardware needed for good performance of a NAS system.
FreeNAS comes with helpful NFS Snapshots for parts of a system or a whole drive snapshot. Full rollback facilities to restore Windows when System Restore fails to recover a system successfully is also present.
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