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FREENAS - New Setup Assistance

Hi all.
Only a week ago I had never heard of Freenas.  I now have a working Freenas box,  but some concerns I want to be sure on before it goes to production.  Many of my concerns are related to the raid.

The final plan is:

4 x 2TB Drives in a RAID5 config leaving us with 6TB of usable storage.
File System will be UFS (based on my research)
At least 2 NICS load balancing over GIgabit ethernet.


1.  I understand that software raid CANNOT be expanded?  I have been testing with 4 hotswap bays on the box and cannot simply pull drives and rebuild or expand.  Is this a limitation?

2.  I tested with 3 drives with a complete raid 5 -  pulled one of the drives for a test HOT - reinserted the drive - I had to reboot the NAS to get the rebuild started?  limitation?

3.  I need to initially move 2TB of existing data to the NAS - is there a way to copy sata directly to the storage rather than 2TB over the network?

4.  I have read that rsync will allow us to backup the NAS - Can we have another identical NAS on the LAN and have rsync update that NAS on a daily basis without having to move all the data each time?

5.  I am not so sure about the limitations of the software raid in Freenas.  I have an adaptec 3405 controller - in our windows servers the card would not see over 2TB - Will freenas be able to use the 8TB in drives on this card?  Debating scrapping the software raid and putting in the 3405-  any advice?

Thanks in advance!
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1 Solution
1) You normally swap the drives, providing it is the same size/speed/etc. it will rebuild it.

If this isn't done automatically you then it will need to be done on RAID controller.

2) If the system is not a Hot Swap drive system then you would need to power down first.

3) When the drives are in RAID it is not recommended to remove one to make changes as they are to be written to the other. Why not use a Cross-Over cable or USB cable to complete the transfer

4) Sounds like you mean an incrimential backup which runs daily and backups only changed files

5) Would need model numbers of NAS and what system the SCSI card is in.

j-teksolutionsAuthor Commented:
Thanks 2Cs - thanks for your answers but there may be some confusion- THis is a custom NAS box - your question #5 indicates that you didnt understand perhaps.   I need someone who know FreeNAS.
The 3405 controller has a limitation in that it can only create 2TB volumes. I this case you could use the 4 2TB drives in a Raid5 config and create 3x2TB volumes then use FreeNAS to create a stripe over these 3 volumes. Lots of admin overhead. Much easier to simply use the onboard controllers and use the FreeNAS soft-raid. Your system will have a much faster CPU, and way more RAM available than any RAID card on the market, hence why FreeNAS is so popular.

Freenas uses MDADM under the hood - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mdadm - lots of examples there, including how to grow the raid set from the command line. You can however do the same thing through the web interface once you have swapped out and re-sync'd all the disks.

 I'm running FreeNAS 8.0 alpha for testing, but I know that the v7 base has some ZFS support - the principles behind this is what all the 'modern' storage systems are based on. It supports 'data scrubbing' to ensure integrity, and uses 'copy-on-write' to ensure that data writes are correctly done. ZFS raid also has the benefit of not suffering the write-hole - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Standard_RAID_levels#RAID_5_disk_failure_rate

j-teksolutionsAuthor Commented:
Just an update eabeukes....I have successfully created a FREENAS BOX
P4 ASUS P5LD2-VM Board  2G ram and 4 x 2TB WD Sata Drives in hotswap containers

I had tested with only 3 x 1TB drives for a few weeks using the softraid option and it ran perfectly.  To maximize storage as I know I cannot expand the storage in the future without a FULL backup and reconfig of FREENAS i went with the above to achieve 6TB of total storage.

Now i am having nothing but problems.... I cannot get the raid to initialize properly with the 4 x 2TBS.
Before I go crazy troubleshooting... I should be able to do this right?   A guy in the sourceforge forum told me no problem...??

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