FreeNAS, Why you need it!

Black FreeNAS Logo

For those of you that remember I wrote This article last year about setting up a Linux based backup server, I did and it worked for a long time, spot on! but for some reason (probably my fault) I got locked out of the whole box and since my Linux skills are what I call below beginner level I did what I always do when something acts up, Format and re-install, after installing Ubuntu Server i started setting things up and a thought hit me “there has to be an easier way to get what I want without all the headache of setting up everything from scratch” and at this point my RAID (still software based unfortunately) had gone complete apeshit on me (excuse my french) and had to be distroyed and rebuildt, again most likely my fault for not having basic skills in Linux.

I headed over to my friend in need, Google, and after extensive…well after some searching I came to the conclusion that FreeNAS from IX Systems was the best choice for me and my needs. The only problem was that it had a recommended minimum of 8 GB RAM and my trusty old backup machine only has 4 GB but I figured, what the heck I’ll give it a go and if it’s to slow and laggy I’ll find something else.

I am happy to report that running FreeNAS on 4 GB of ram with a 2 TB RAID 10 (2 x 2 TB disks mirrored) is not all that bad, the user interface isn’t super quick and some times takes a few seconds to complete a task but seriously, how often are you planning on messing with the settings in there… When I have to expand my RAID I’ll have to build a new machine with newer hardware and more RAM, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it!

The software can be downloaded Here and Instructions on installing Here

Once up and running I set up the RAID the way I wanted it and with the web based interface of FreeNAS it was up and running in no time, then I set up the different users that i needed and created data sets and shares for the users.

FreeNAS supports Windows, UNIX, MAC and also Webdab shares which is used for on the go sharing with mobile devices such as your phone if you need that. Keep in mind that this requires you to open ports in your router to allow traffic in to your NAS machine.

As I were only using it for backup on my local network and I don’t have any Mac/iOS devices I just set up samba shares which is the protocol that windows machines use to share over network.

And as before I set up SyncToy on my computer to handle backup of the files and folders that i need backup of

I am a rather heavy user of Google products and seeing the photos on my phone automatically be uploaded to Google Photos when I connect to my home network I got to thinking maybe this can be done to my FreeNAS aswell and what do you know Google had the answer to that too, a nifty little app called Sweet Home!

The app is in Beta testing at the moment and is free right now, something I hope it will stay for ever but you never know.

Sweet Home let’s me set up what network is my home network and what IP Address my NAS is at, then it asks for login details for the NAS and where I’s like to store the files, then i can select what folders on my phone to backup and how i want them sorted on my NAS and also if I would like it to backup my files when I connect to my home WI-FI or wait until the phone is in the charger. Brilliant!

FreeNAS is based on FreeBSD so it’s about as stable as a rock and runs quick on low resources! perfect for my needs!

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