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NAS Noobie


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I've decided I need a NAS to store photos, videos, and use as a backup.  I had originially started looking at FreeNAS but was thinking a FreeNAS system might be more time, work, and $$ to get (and keep) running than I want to spend.  In listening to the Home Server Show maybe a more practical solution would be an off the shelf system from Synology, Drobo, etc.


I'm thinking someone here might have an opinion on the subject.  ;-)  Can anyone comment on comment on FreeNAS and/or ZFS?  Seems like the guys at the FeeNAS fourms are IT professionals which is a little out of my league.





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Another thought that I don't see in your post, TAC, is mobile apps. Most of the NAS devices (Synology I know for sure) have apps for smart phones. Are you considering having your files available to you while on the go? This might be a selling point for some people. It is for me. 


Freenas isn't that difficult for some one who's less computer savey. Granted some of the advanced settings you really need to know what to do,  for basic file sharing it's easy. Time sink maybe, money sink not much more than a NAS device.


So I guess the really questions are:

Are mobile apps to look at your files/load files to your drives important?

Are you looking for a "set it and forget it" kind of device?



Hope the hunt goes well for you




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Why not WHS2011 ($50 usually) and StableBit DrivePool ($19.95) or Drive Bender ($24.95, or 17.95, not sure if it's on sale still)? 

Plus the hardware to run them on. Which can be anything between an Atom system, to a Xeon. (or AMD equivalents). 


Disclosure: I work for CoveCube, (aka StableBit).



But I think no matter what NAS device you go, that Canadian_Geek is right. They're all money sinks. Especially the drives for them.


But if you want simple and prebuild, synology is a great way to go. So may be drobo.

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I'll have to agree with the above posters. If I didn't already have a 2011 box I would look at Synology. It seems more full-featured

for media matters. Drobo seems in a state of flux, and is less app rich than Synology.


It won't do bare metal backups, but they matter less for me nowadays. With time I am using fewer apps on my PC and my Smartphone

so a reinstall will require time, but wouldn't be devastating. All of my data on the PC is backed up via CrashPlan to the web and

to an external drive. So if I had to reinstall it wouldn't be the end.  If that still worries you there is always the option of Acronis for 

complete recovery. As  you can see, many ways to approach this.


My 2011 Box is mainly a MyMovies box, with MyMovies now putting all of the "special" server features into Windows, there is one

less reason to have a server. 


But if you have $40 for the OS and existing hardware, 2011 is a no-brainer. I use and recommend DrivePool too.

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I can't talk much about synology or other "NAS Solutions", I personally run a solaris 11.1 box, that uses zfs as its file system, and before that ran WHSv1, both systems are custom built. It is a wonderful filesystem, that has good performance, and easy management. Where zfs and associated OS's might have downsides, are in that one often needs to learn/know a lot about how to setup network sharing. But if you/others are confident that freeNAS makes that part easy, I would jump at zfs. The main features that attract me to zfs are:

  1. Easy drive pool management, through zpools, that consist of vdev's (virtual devices)
  2. Easy file system management through zfs, file systems essentially function as folders with extended attributes.
  3. User configerable drive redundancy, through vdev's
  4. snapshots - Super easy "backup" ie. only protects against user errors not hardware errors. But user errors could include, malware messing with your files, like what crypt locker does.

Then using freeNAS or other *nix based system, you get access to lots of cool command line tools too:)


Of course one should expect to be using a huge amount of time the first month or year, when working with the system, as there is a lot to learn, but I guess that is where freeNAS is supposed to help? But as a NAS solution I love my current setup.

Edited by stalni
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I would not use a server like WHS for general computing such as web surfing, but I can't see anything wrong with Solitaire. Still, caution would be my byword in such situations.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Assume that after 2+ weeks, I'm really late to party and you've already done the deed, whichever that may be.


I'm still building FreeNAS boxes, I THINK you can get more CPU, memory for the $$ than a Synology. HOWEVER, I LOVE my Synology box, wouldn't give it up.


The new "quickconnect.to" looks like it's going to be quite nice. Just updated last night, haven't had the chance to test the feature for my purposes.


FWIW, the Synology box at home is "integral" to the house technology, AND I back it up to a FreeNAS box since "just one copy" even on a NAS as nice as Synology is still "just one copy".



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I haven't pulled the trigger yet, although I am really close to going with a  FreeNAS system.  The thought of learning more about BSD and FreeNAS sounds very appealing.  But then again, the highly polished applications from Synology look very cool! 


What Synology box do you have or would you reccommend? Was looking like I'd drop about $1,000 on a FreeNAS system.

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I ended up w/ the DS414, 4 WD 3T Red Drives. (as I said, I like it; not bathing in the koolaid yet, but like the taste).


My FreeNAS box:

  • 1 x LIAN LI PC-Q25B Black Aluminum Mini-ITX Tower Computer Case
  • 1 x ASUS P8H77-I LGA 1155 Intel H77 HDMI SATA 6Gb/s USB 3.0 Mini ITX Intel Motherboard
  • 1 x Intel Core i3-3220 Ivy Bridge 3.3GHz LGA 1155 55W Dual-Core Desktop Processor Intel HD Graphics 2500 BX80637i33220
  • 1 x CORSAIR Vengeance LP 16GB (2 x 8GB) 240-Pin DDR3 SDRAM DDR3 1600 (PC3 12800) Desktop Memory Model CML16GX3M2A1600C10
  • 1 x Intel EXPI9301CTBLK 10/ 100/ 1000Mbps PCI-Express Network Adapte
  • 1 x SanDisk Cruzer Fit 4GB USB 2.0 Flash Drive Model SDCZ33-004G-B35

All this was just short of $490 to my door; looks like newegg pricing today on most components down $5-10.


Guess I bought 5 2T WD Reds for the one at work, my home machine limping along w/ some old 750G drives from a retired Intel e-4000.


Looks like the mobos I used, both work and home versions now discontinued, but sure research would find you something w/ 6 SATA ports...


Looks like plug-ins keep getting easier and easier w/  FreeNAS, updated work machine today to 9.2.1 and now have "list" kinda like the Synology.


The Lian-Li case is super quiet, (wish it were my HTPC frontend/too big), I went w/ the 16G memory so I could play w/ zfs and snapshots. (still on my todo list, but wouldn't have worked w/o)


IF you've got anything sitting around PC-wise, old hds, even 2G memory plus FreeNAS, it's a nice "learning lab".

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