I found my way to FreeNAS long after I should have and would have liked.
I follow tech news enough that I knew about ZFS, understood its benefits, and held some minor resentment that Apple had stopped pursuing it as a filesystem. Requirement number one: reliable data storage. ZFS had it locked up.
I was lucky to next come across FreeNAS. Luckier further to find it right as the provided ZFS was getting a major update. I realized that I didn’t need another system running a workstation focused OS. I just needed a NAS. Something to store and serve files. FreeNAS has turned out to be even more.
So I assembled my components, with some help from the FreeNAS forums to select parts, and built the system. I had one minor hiccup where my first USB drive wasn’t recognized, but re-flashing it got everything working. Copying data from the Drobo to spare drives, checksumming, installing the Drobo drives to the new FreeNAS box, copying data back, and checksumming again took almost a week, but it felt so good to be free.
These days “tardis” still serves data and takes on more and more data. I have an automatic scrub every other week, tasks that backup and synchronize data on a reliable schedule, and even jailed plugins serving media handling a reverse proxy for a variety of web interfaces running on my home network. I’ve upgraded the capacity in the pool and even though each disk took around eight hours, dual disk redundancy left me not worrying one bit about my data. I use this FreeNAS box as the backup destination for TimeMachine on two Macs and each backup completes faster than ever. I’ve had a backup go corrupt (a Mac problem, not due to FreeNAS) twice and all I had to do was roll back the snapshot of the backup to the last good version and TimeMachine started right backup up again like normal. I enabled higher compression on just the datasets that would see benefit and I have one with a ratio over five. I am staying as far from dedup as I can. The discussion board is helpful, interesting, and represents a huge wealth of knowledge.
The power, flexibility, and simplicity of FreeNAS is at once exciting and also provides peace of mind. I feel like my data is safe while I’m free to experiment with new features and tasks to make the rest of my life easier. There isn’t much that would make me happier with using FreeNAS and it just keeps getting better.