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Never used FreeNas lots of questions

Joined
Oct 28, 2019
Messages
3
Hi guys. I'm looking to build a Freenas and I hope I'm in the right spot. If not please let me know. I have a Synology Diskstation from 6 years ago and it's just awful. I need to get rid of it.

I'm a photographer and I have 800 GB of mission critical photography that I currently use Synctoy on my PC to back up between 3 HDDs every night. I hate doing this because it's a manual process and sometimes I forget and sometimes I have to wait 10 minutes while it works.

I also have a spare FX 6300 and 8 GB of DDR3 1600 RAM that I was told can be a great combo for a Freenas. So I got to thinking about building my own. Only problem is that I have no idea how to start. I looked online and the instructions don't answer my questions so I was hoping you guys might. Thanks in advance.

1) If my FX 6300 and 8 GB of DDR3 RAM will do the job, then how much more money would I need to budget? I have a case and PSU too. I need at least 3 HDDs in the thing (1 main drive and 2 backup) and they need to be at least 2 TB each. My budget is $500

2) If I'm just using my NAS to store photography then do I really need ECC RAM? If so do I need dual channel or could I buy a single DIMM? Does RAM speed really matter for my purposes?

3) Would a Freenas automatically synchronize each drive for me like Synctoy does? Or do I need to use a RAID solution to have any sort of redundancy? I really don't understand nor do I trust RAID except for the RAID that clones the drives. I forget the number. Would I need to buy a RAID card and would I need an even number of HDDs? 3 HDDs is my limit.

4) Should I get an SSD for the OS or would a flash drive work fine?

5) What would be the biggest bottleneck for transfer speeds? I run gigabit LAN which I assume is fine for HDDs. I don't need very fast speeds because my photos are only about 50 MB in size and only go up to 200 MB at most.

6) Would I have access to the HDDs in Windows Explorer under the "Network" tab so I can just use the HDDs as if they were a part of my PC or do I need to log into the NAS every time I want to look at files? I ask because if I'm editing a photo in Photoshop, I need a place to save the photo and if I can just drop the photo into the correct folder on the NAS HDD from Windows Explorer then that will be great, and that's kind of a dealbreaker if I can't do that because I want to simplify my workflow. I can't be logging into my NAS every time I need to browse photos like with my Synology.

Thanks a bunch for any and all answers you guys can give me. If you think of anything I'm missing then please let me know.
 
Joined
Oct 28, 2019
Messages
3
I forgot to ask, is there any way to automatically upload my photography to my cloud storage from the NAS? I use 2 cloud storage sites for offsite backups.
 

blanchet

FreeNAS Experienced
Joined
Apr 17, 2018
Messages
122
You should install FreeNAS in a virtual machine (with VirtualBox) to learn how it works before building anything.
There are dozen of tutorials about it on the web.
In such a virtual environment, FreeNAS is obviously slower but you can check if it does that you expect.
Then, if you really like and understand FreeNAS, you can consider install it on a real machine.
 

blueether

FreeNAS Experienced
Joined
Aug 6, 2018
Messages
107
1/ ...
2/ ...
3/ I would go with mirrored drives (You can have 3 drives in the mirror) or raidz2 (you would need 4 drives as min)
With 3 mirrored drives you could lose any 2 of them and still have access to all files, this will only give you storage of the smallest disk
No you will not want a raid card, ZFS is software raid and expects full access to the disks (a HBA can be used)
4/ A small ssd is the best plan for the OS
5/ ...
6/ you can use samba to make a 'windows' network share tat will behave just like what you want
7/ There are several cloud backup solutions built in

As said above, spin a VM up and have a look, but probably you won't want to run production in a VM as there are a few big gotchas
 

Heracles

FreeNAS Guru
Joined
Feb 2, 2018
Messages
417
Hey Thready,

Your offsite cloud storage is offsite copies, not offline copies. Because all of your copies are online, a single logical incident can destroy them all.

Out of only 3 drives, you can not do much. Either low redundancy (single drive) or very low efficiency and storage (if you have 2 redundant drives). Anything below 5 drives is limited.

About ECC RAM, I am one of those who think actual server grade gear is required for actual server grade reliability, capacity, performance and overall, function.

I also recommend you do a lot of tests and learning about server maintenance, operation, architecture, etc. before trying to run your own business critical stuff on your own server.

Good luck with your first setup
 

1kokies

FreeNAS Experienced
Joined
Oct 7, 2017
Messages
131
Hi guys. I'm looking to build a Freenas and I hope I'm in the right spot. If not please let me know. I have a Synology Diskstation from 6 years ago and it's just awful. I need to get rid of it.
this is surprising. Reading your post you are more geared towards a lifestyle NAS, Synology is one of them. But this is a FreeNAS forum........................

I'm a photographer and I have 800 GB of mission critical photography that I currently use Synctoy on my PC to back up between 3 HDDs every night. I hate doing this because it's a manual process and sometimes I forget and sometimes I have to wait 10 minutes while it works.
ok your data is not that big

I also have a spare FX 6300 and 8 GB of DDR3 1600 RAM that I was told can be a great combo for a Freenas. So I got to thinking about building my own. Only problem is that I have no idea how to start. I looked online and the instructions don't answer my questions so I was hoping you guys might. Thanks in advance.

1) If my FX 6300 and 8 GB of DDR3 RAM will do the job, then how much more money would I need to budget? I have a case and PSU too. I need at least 3 HDDs in the thing (1 main drive and 2 backup) and they need to be at least 2 TB each. My budget is $500
Installing is easy, set up gets a bit complicated in terms of folder permissions and services like SMB, AFS, NFS, but it is just a matter of understanding what it does. It's all available online but getting our hands is another matter.

For the hardware part, FreeNAS can run on most but it does maximize the hardware and if it is not sufficient it will bottle neck.

If I'm just using my NAS to store photography then do I really need ECC RAM? If so do I need dual channel or could I buy a single DIMM? Does RAM speed really matter for my purposes?
much debated here, i have tried both, both will work fine, it's just what you want. Better to read this up. i personally use ECC but then again i store lots of other stuff other than photos.

Would a Freenas automatically synchronize each drive for me like Synctoy does? Or do I need to use a RAID solution to have any sort of redundancy? I really don't understand nor do I trust RAID except for the RAID that clones the drives. I forget the number. Would I need to buy a RAID card and would I need an even number of HDDs? 3 HDDs is my limit.
i use Rsync to back up into FreeNAS all the time but not FreeNAS back up to FreeNAS in different pools. Example if my FreeNAS mobo crashes i still have access in another box. Data back up 321 principle.

Should I get an SSD for the OS or would a flash drive work fine?
in my opinion USB would suffice, the files are very small. Both USB and SSD would fail without warning, so it makes no difference to me. FreeNAS keeps the config in the USB and the data in the pool, so as long as you have the config and the pool healthy i think the boot media is not relevant.

What would be the biggest bottleneck for transfer speeds? I run gigabit LAN which I assume is fine for HDDs. I don't need very fast speeds because my photos are only about 50 MB in size and only go up to 200 MB at most.
then just use the on board LAN and standby an Intel LAN card in the future.

Would I have access to the HDDs in Windows Explorer under the "Network" tab so I can just use the HDDs as if they were a part of my PC or do I need to log into the NAS every time I want to look at files? I ask because if I'm editing a photo in Photoshop, I need a place to save the photo and if I can just drop the photo into the correct folder on the NAS HDD from Windows Explorer then that will be great, and that's kind of a dealbreaker if I can't do that because I want to simplify my workflow. I can't be logging into my NAS every time I need to browse photos like with my Synology.
i have not tried all the NAS on the globe but i think most of them can enable Windows to mount a remote folder and it will be as if it was your local PC. FreeNAS can, Synology too. You don't need a browser to do this.

Important read:
Honestly you will need some skills and experience in building your own NAS. To be encouraging here is good but you are responsible for your own data, sometimes mywrong info gives you wrong impressions. Example if you are not even familiar with raids you might deploy the wrong raid strategy and risk your data.

if i may suggest, interpreting from your questions-if you are more familiar with Windows keep a copy there and do a back up at FreeNAS. In your journey if you ever stumble in FreeNAS you still have copies at Windows. After a while when you are more comfortable then migrate all to FreeNAS.
1. Windows raid=Storage Spaces in mirror(please don't use parity) or just use single drive and install a hard disk software monitor ie crystal disk info. When it gives warning on bad sectors, immediately transfer data and replace the drive.
2. Build a FreeNAS and use x2 hdd as mirror raid, then from Windows install a back up software to auto sync to FreeNAS remote folder. i think Robocopy, Aomei, etc i am not sure but some comes free (even Veeam back up has free editions)

It's not wise to put mission critical data on some thing new, let alone unfamiliar territory.
 

1kokies

FreeNAS Experienced
Joined
Oct 7, 2017
Messages
131
I forgot to ask, is there any way to automatically upload my photography to my cloud storage from the NAS? I use 2 cloud storage sites for offsite backups.
forgot this.......your NAS is your cloud, if you know how to port forward for your router then FreeNAS has Nextcloud which you can access even out from your home network and there is a phone app as well. But this needs configuring. Or do a VPN. These are things that you can do in the future
 

PhiloEpisteme

FreeNAS Guru
Joined
Oct 18, 2018
Messages
692
Hi @Thready welcome to the forums. From what you've written above I think I agree with @1kokies that a synology type solution might fit your needs better. But then again, if you're looking to learn a LOT about hardware and zfs and you really like building machines than perhaps FreeNAS will fit the bill. I added my thoughts below in the event you are interested in continuing to explore FreeNAS. In general I think your 3 HDDs limit is going to be a bit difficult to work around.

1) If my FX 6300 and 8 GB of DDR3 RAM will do the job, then how much more money would I need to budget? I have a case and PSU too. I need at least 3 HDDs in the thing (1 main drive and 2 backup) and they need to be at least 2 TB each. My budget is $500
What is your planned vdev structure? I'm not 100% sure what you mean by 1 main drive and 2 backup. To really make the most of FreeNAS you're going to want to build pools out of vdevs with some redundancy; you need disks for that.

2) If I'm just using my NAS to store photography then do I really need ECC RAM? If so do I need dual channel or could I buy a single DIMM? Does RAM speed really matter for my purposes?
Ram speed isn't really important. Regarding single vs dual channel, I recommend you go with the largest modules your board supports. This way you can add more ram later and max out the board if you want to without having to toss old sticks.

Regarding ECC memory; I don't believe you are a fool if you don't have it. I do think you should do enough research to understand the choice you're making before you choose to go this route. I think one of the reason many folks are so likely to encourage ECC ram is because FreeNAS is about more than just making data available over your LAN. FreeNAS is also about data integrity and data availability. Using ECC memory helps minimize sources of data corruption.

3) Would a Freenas automatically synchronize each drive for me like Synctoy does? Or do I need to use a RAID solution to have any sort of redundancy? I really don't understand nor do I trust RAID except for the RAID that clones the drives. I forget the number. Would I need to buy a RAID card and would I need an even number of HDDs? 3 HDDs is my limit.
This is a great set of questions and I think suggests you have some useful learning about FreeNAS to do before you make a firm choice. Check out this slideshow for example. FreeNAS uses zfs as the filesystem. ZFS stores data in pools which are made of 1 or more vdevs which are made of 1 or more disks. If you lose a single vdev in a pool you lose the entire pool. You should understand the implications of this before you purchase parts and put together a build.

Also note, using hardware RAID with FreeNAS is strongly discouraged.

4) Should I get an SSD for the OS or would a flash drive work fine?
I recommend two SSDs in a mirror; but 1 SSD will certainly suffice.

5) What would be the biggest bottleneck for transfer speeds? I run gigabit LAN which I assume is fine for HDDs. I don't need very fast speeds because my photos are only about 50 MB in size and only go up to 200 MB at most.
Ideally your bottleneck will be your LAN. if you're running a lot of sync writes without a SLOG it will be your write speed on the pool.

6) Would I have access to the HDDs in Windows Explorer under the "Network" tab so I can just use the HDDs as if they were a part of my PC or do I need to log into the NAS every time I want to look at files? I ask because if I'm editing a photo in Photoshop, I need a place to save the photo and if I can just drop the photo into the correct folder on the NAS HDD from Windows Explorer then that will be great, and that's kind of a dealbreaker if I can't do that because I want to simplify my workflow. I can't be logging into my NAS every time I need to browse photos like with my Synology.
Check out the share options available within FreeNAS to help figure out if any of them suite your needs.
 

1kokies

FreeNAS Experienced
Joined
Oct 7, 2017
Messages
131
Joined
Oct 28, 2019
Messages
3
Thanks everybody for the help! I'm going to be taking this into consideration and spending this winter learning more.
 

1kokies

FreeNAS Experienced
Joined
Oct 7, 2017
Messages
131
Thanks everybody for the help! I'm going to be taking this into consideration and spending this winter learning more
great ! it would be good to include 'solved' in the title thread so that others may refer in future
 

sabi-tech

Newbie
Joined
Jan 19, 2012
Messages
22
Hi there, I would be happy to discuss your plans going forward. This is pretty much my usecase. I am a freelance, semi-pro photograhper with approx 1.8TB of images and videos etc. I built a freenas as part of my backup strategy and it was surprisingly cheap compared to other options. I have a solid backup procedure in place and have tested the restore function on occasion (more for piece of mind rather than out of nessecity)
Pop me a PM if you want to chat.
 
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