Video Editing with the FreeNAS Mini Using the ATTO ThunderLink NT 2102T

Think you need more than a FreeNAS Mini for post-production video workflows? Guess again. Add a 10Gb network card to your Mini and a Thunderbolt-to-10 GbE converter like the ATTO ThunderLink NT 2102, and you now have a high speed, high capacity storage solution fast enough for all but the most rigorous workflow demands. In addition to speed,  the FreeNAS Mini delivers the safest storage on your desktop with the OpenZFS file system, which provides data snapshots and integrated replication to protect your valuable videos, audio, and other media.

Video editors, whether they use Macs or other workstations,  are always looking for fast, safe, high-capacity storage. You want to keep your work-in-progress close at hand to have the flexibility and speed to edit, color correct, render, and manage all workflow activities for large video project files. It can be tough to edit directly off a shared SAN due to contention from other projects vying for resources. Now you can use the speed of your Mac’s Thunderbolt connection to access the most reliable personal storage system that provides terabytes of reliable, high-speed storage.

Using the video storage test utility, Blackmagic Disk Speed Test v3.0, (, iXsystems tested the following configuration:

  • Apple Mac Book Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015)
    • MacOS Sierra v10.12.2
    • 3.1 GHz Intel Core 7
    • 16 GB DDR3 RAM
    • 1 TB internal SSD       Apple Mac Book Pro (Retina, 13-inch, Early 2015)
    • SMB protocol
  • iXsystems FreeNAS Mini (
    • FreeNAS 9.10.2
    • 16 GB DDR3 RAM
    • Intel X540 Dual Port 10 GbE Adapter
    • 4 x 3 TB WD Red SATA drives (5400 RPM)
  • ATTO ThunderLink NT 2102 (

The results were as follows:

At 451 MB/s writes and 600 MB/s reads using the SMB file protocol, the FreeNAS Mini fits the bill for any video editing need. Edit using 8K Apple ProRes or CinemaDNG codec with the FreeNAS Mini in conjunction with the ATTO ThunderLink adapter. With up to 18 TB usable storage using 6 TB drives with a RAIDZ1 configuration, you have the speed and  reliable capacity as well.  The FreeNAS Mini XL provides up to 42 TB usable using 6 TB drives in a RAIDZ1 configuration.

The FreeNAS Mini delivers high reliability in many ways. First, it uses the OpenZFS file system which was specifically designed to maintain the integrity of stored data. With per-block checksums, OpenZFS guarantees the data you use is the same data you wrote. All hard drives are susceptible to a condition called “bit-rot.” OpenZFS checksums provide a mechanism to recover from bit-rot.

OpenZFS provides several options for providing data redundancy. Although different configurations did not show statistically significant performance variations in this test, they do provide differing levels of reliability. RAIDZ1, which was used in the performance results shown above, provides protection against a single HDD failure. If one drive fails, your data is still online and available. Hot swap the failed drive with a new disk and the system automatically rebuilds the missing data quickly and efficiently. If a 6TB disk has only 500 GB of data, OpenZFS only rebuilds that 500 GB. Other competitive systems not based on OpenZFS will blindly rebuild the entire 6 TB just in case data exists somewhere on the disk, dramatically increasing rebuild times.

RAID-Z2 provides protection against the simultaneous failure of 2 disks in the system. RAID-Z Mirroring also provides protection against two disk failures.

The FreeNAS Mini also protects data by using its built-in snapshot feature to keep multiple, online versions of  data. Snapshots  happen instantly and initially take up no storage space. With snapshots, you can keep multiple versions of your work stored on the FreeNAS Mini and can access previously stored versions as needed Since snapshots track file versions on a scheduled basis, only the changes take up additional space on the storage system. Keep as many snapshots as you want and delete the snapshots you no longer need to recover space if needed. Automated snapshot scheduling provides a “set-it-and-forget-it” data protection environment.

Snapshots store on the local network are great for most data backup and recovery uses. However, they do not protect against environmental issues like fires, floods, or theft. The FreeNAS Mini supports data replication to quickly and efficiently send snapshots elsewhere. For example, you can use another FreeNAS or TrueNAS system in another office as a replication target. The FreeNAS Mini provides a tremendous amount of flexibility and the ability to share files seamlessly on the network. Most workstations will use the SMB file protocol to access files on the FreeNAS Mini, allowing you to easily share files with other editors, producers, and your IT folks. FreeNAS also supports AFP, NFS, and iSCSI, making it one of the most versatile storage systems on the market.

So, if you are looking for the fastest, most reliable, flexible, and highest capacity desktop storage system for video editing workstations, look no further than the FreeNAS Mini from iXsystems.


  1. J

    OR, just add Thunderbolt, since Thunderbolt 3 is around four times faster!!

    • Jay


      If they are doing TB3 AND 10GB options at Qnap, then this should not be an issue.

      Can’t run it through FreeBSD? Fine… Switch to an OS/Commission an OS which provides your consumers competitive, updated transfer options!


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