[CentOS] OT: Replacing Venerable NAS

Wed Nov 18 19:01:51 UTC 2015
Warren Young <wyml at etr-usa.com>

On Nov 18, 2015, at 11:04 AM, Gordon Messmer <gordon.messmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> On 11/18/2015 07:31 AM, Tim Evans wrote:
>> Would like to hear recommendations here.
> https://www.ixsystems.com/freenas-mini/

For those who don’t know why you’d pay $1000 for a diskless 4-bay NAS box when there are $300-500 boxes that are superficially similar from QNAP, Synology, and others:

- ZFS.  Modern cheap NAS boxes have gained some ZFS-like features (online expansion and such) but they’re still not ZFS.

- FreeNAS.  Many low-end NASes use proprietary or rebadged ODM management software that barely scrapes by in terms of features and support, whereas FreeNAS has a long-standing open source developer community behind it.

- Much bigger CPU than is typical for the low-end NAS boxes.  Many low-end NAS boxes have gigabit Ethernet ports, but if you don’t put enough CPU grunt behind that port, you can’t fill it.  As a rule, you need at least 1 GHz of CPU to fill a gigabit pipe.

- Much more RAM than in low-end NAS boxes.  Partly this is because ZFS (the storage subsystem for FreeNAS) is a RAM-hungry pig, but the benefit you get from that is that more of your data is in RAM, so even if your spindles aren’t fast enough to fill the gigabit pipe, data from cache can fill it.

- L2ARC and ZIL upgrade options, which are intermediary caches between RAM and disk.  Again, this helps you to keep that gigabit pipe full.

- They’re serious server-grade machines, not borderline flimsy boxes competing largely on price.  Built in and supported from Silicon Valley, not China. :)

- iXsystems sponsors FreeNAS and FreeBSD (via PC-BSD) developers.  Does your alternative choice of NAS provider sponsor open source developers?

- Those latter two points mean you can actually call them and get someone on the phone who knows what they’re talking about.  The last time my Lacie NAS choked, I had to just nuke it and re-mirror all the data.

I don’t have a FreeNAS mini, and I have never used one.  But, I’ve been lusting after them for some time now.  Next time one of my NASes dies, one of these is going to be high on the list of choices for replacement.