FreeNAS Team Build

Hey All,

We’re taking the plunge and building a FreeNAS box for our primary storage at our church. I’m super excited about the project, and hope that by sharing the build that it will bring together some ideas from those who have been there, those who are there, and those who are going there.

We contracted a local vendor (ContigoIT) who uses FreeNAS as his primary storage for businesses he manages throughout the US. Here’s why he’s a FreeNAS guy through and through.

  1. Cost - FreeNAS is free, and pretty.
  2. Flexibility
  3. Features are robust- Backup, Volume Snapshots, you can now run VM’s directly on it (I think).
  4. Fast - He runs SQL servers, VMs, etc on his FreeNAS boxes through 10g connections to his hosts.

We’re going to throw a lot at our FreeNAS server, with the option to always go back and separate services onto a different host if we want to later.

  1. Video Editing Storage (This is the primary storage purpose. We want a shared repo for our teams to edit video on directly).
  2. TimeMachine Backups
  3. Video Surveillance with Ubiquiti Unifi Video (Lowest Priority)
  4. Photography and Design Video

Raw Hardware

QuantaGrid RackMount Server - It’s got great specs for the price… 12 bays, 12g SAS backbone, Added 2 10g SFP’s for $150. We went with the Dual 12c / 128gb configuration bringing the unit to around $3300 total.

Drives: I found a deal on new HGST 12TB, 12G SAS drives on eBay. 12 drives to fill this unit will cost around $4300.

I’ll post some more info soon on m;y thoughts on 10g Network and Backup, but I hope to make this a little bit of a community project and throw in some of the gear that you guys use / recommend.

Lemme know if you’ve got FreeNAS experience and we’ll be friends.


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Sound great. The 12-core processor is overkill unless you are going to be running lots of VMs. The memory is about right.

FreeNAS can run VMs, but bhyve is less capable than KVM on Linux so it isn’t as fast and is harder to setup Windows or OSX VMs.

Assuming dual 6-drive raidz2 arrays you will have about 96TB of disk space. Remember you still need to be able to do backups of the data that is important. Often that means a second lower end machine with less redundant drives that you stick in the basement somewhere. Sometimes hardware in a church just walks off and you don’t want your entire sermon archive to only have one copy.

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I’ve run a few FOSS NAS solutions over the last 12 years including FreeNAS and Openfiler as storage for Linux directories (mostly /home) and as storage for VMs. I wouldn’t mix up my storage and compute unless it’s for hyperconvergence, and in that event we would be talking about hypervisors having storage rather than NAS running VMs. I’d also be inclined to split up between a fast SSD video editing NAS and one that stores backup/video archives/etc and have the media team move projects and clips between the two as needed.

All that being said, I don’t run FreeNAS any longer as I find it easier to roll my own Linux storage servers and BSD isn’t all that fun to work with as it’s finicky about hardware and can be tricky to troubleshoot.

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