Installing NAS4Free
Posted on April 9, 2013


With so many of our memories and purchases existing only in the digital realm, having a reliable method of storing them is essential. This guide will help you to install NAS4Free - free software which provides several methods of protecting your data by mirroring it across multiple disks.

What does NAS mean?

NAS stands for Network-Attached Storage, or put another way, "Files on your network".

Files become accessible in a number of ways:

  • From a Windows, MAC or Linux PC.
  • From a DNLA client like Smart-TV or Smart-Phone.

Why NAS4Free?

There are several alternatives to NAS4Free. The ones most often refered to are FreeNAS and OpenFiler. These all provide a simple and flexible way to protect your data.

NAS4Free FreeNAS OpenFiler
Based on FreeBSD Based on FreeBSD Based on Linux
Scalable requirements Version 8 requires at least 4GB (preferably at least 6GB) RAM Scalable requirements
UFS, ZFS Filesystems UFS, ZFS Filesystems EXT3, JFS and XFS
Install to disk or USB memory stick Install to disk or USB memory stick Install to disk or RAID set

Currently we consider NAS4Free to be the most straightforward and scalable solution. We're also big fans of ZFS, which isn't going to arrive on OpenFiler any time soon due to licencing issues. Scalability makes NAS4Free a good choice for Mini-ITX systems, which can vary from low power consumption Atoms up to powerful Core i7 and Xeon based systems.

This guide concentrates on the software installation and not the myriad of hardware possibilities - contact the Mini-ITX Online Store if you have specific requirements.

Disk Portability

The main benefit of a software-based storage system are disk portability. Let's say that you have a traditional storage device and it becomes faulty. Your data is still on your disk-drives but you cannot access it because the NAS unit is dead. Perhaps it's been several years since you bought the unit and support is no-longer available. Your data could well remain inaccessible.

With NAS4Free you would re-install the software onto completely different hardware, connect your disks and PRESTO your data is back!

Your disks should also be accessible from any other FreeBSD-based system, including FreeNAS.

Should I choose UFS or ZFS?

NAS4Free supports 2 different data-protecting filesystems, UFS and ZFS. The mimimum requirements for a UFS-based system are extremely low. If you have a more powerful machine you could install a ZFS-based system with data de-duplication and compression.

Features and Requirements of UFS and ZFS

Raid Types
Stripe (RAID0)
Mirror (RAID1)
Stripe (RAID0)
Mirror (RAID1)
RAIDZ1 (RAID5-like)
RAIDZ2 (RAID6-like)
Minimum Hardware Any recent 32-bit or 64-bit processor
A 512MB USB stick or other flash device
Memory Minimum of 512MB of memory 64-bit processor recommended
Minimum of 1GB of memory
At least 4GB if using advanced features like snapshots and compression. At least 8GB and a fast processor for de-duping.

This guide would not have been possible without the hard work of the good people at the NAS4Free project.

Please consider donating to the NAS4Free project!

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