iXsystems FreeNAS Mini NAS Review

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Thanks for this review! I've been looking at this NAS for a while, ECC ram and ZFS where two strong points.
 

hmarafi

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Thank you, a great review, if you can make a review how these devices can handle transcoding (Plex) Please.
 

colinstu

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$1000 for a diskless system?

How much is the case itself? That I might be interested in, but...
The case is a Supermicro CSE-721TQ-250B which is $160.
A great motherboard would be the X10SDV-F which is $850 (dual GBe Intel nics, Xeon-D 8 core, check Anandtech they did a great review on it). Stronger CPU than the one in this review.

Then for $1017 you can get the X10SDV-TLN4F which includes built in 2x Intel 10GBe as well as 2x Intel GBe.
or for $?? (probably more) the X10SDV-8C-TLN4F which is the same as above but has Hyperthreading (16 threads).
 

Lulzon

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Can someone explain what the market for these are? The form factor and limitations in expansion make it feel consumer level, but the power packed inside and price tag feel more enterprise for small teams or high workloads.
 

ammaross

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utilizes the DRAM as a cache for in-flight data, you'll want to stick with ECC memory to protect that information from corruption.
Just by way of correction, ZFS has memory page checksums in addition to disk block checksums so even a memory bit corruption on non-ECC RAM can be healed on-the-fly.
 

James Mason

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Can someone explain what the market for these are? The form factor and limitations in expansion make it feel consumer level, but the power packed inside and price tag feel more enterprise for small teams or high workloads.
Smaller businesses. I'm thinking law firms and architectural businesses, that just have a ton of documents and pictures to store. Which would fit right in at between 4-24tbs.

The price still seems kinda high, I'd like to see "real world use" as opposed to benchmarks but that's so difficult to actually do.
 

BulkZerker

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All that processor for a nas... Asrock's avaton board still seems like a better choice IMO. Than again, I'm more looking at max storage vs max speed., esp considering how this nas can and will be set up.
 
Price is very reasonable for small business assuming someone with enough tech knowledge to setup properly.

If the price seems high then it's not for you, but as said this is not a consumer product for home users. You want a basic, easy solution then investigate some of the WDMYCLOUD options instead. I bought a 4TB model and added a 4TB WD Elements as backup but that's for video storage and not as reliable nor as fast as a business class solution.

$2000 with drives for business is really not bad considering the cost to run a business, loss of data costs, and the fact you can probably write of some as a business expense.
 

Mike Bethany

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FreeNAS with ZFS is a fantastic combination but the FreeNAS Mini needs one more drive for the RAID.

On a side note, some guy vehemently argued against using ECC memory with ZFS. He admitted it was really stupid to *not* using ECC memory but he just couldn't admit he was wrong so he kept doubling down on dumb. His major argument? I was a few dollars off on the price of ECC memory.

You have to love the Internet.
 

JoeSchmuck

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I have been using FreeNAS since version 8.01 on a dedicated computer and the software has matured heavily and is the same software used on the FreeNAS Mini. iXsystems primary goal seems to have been data integrity and second is data speed. I think they have nailed both.

Speaking about the hardware, ECC RAM is required for data integrity. Running a RAIDZ or RAIDZ2 (better) is also key to ensure data integrity.

Lets talk cost... Building a comparable system from scratch would be roughly the same cost and at least with the FreeNAS Mini, you know the hardware is compatible. Also this system is targeted at small business or home users that value their data. If you think about it, if you are a small business and you lose some data, it could cost you hundreds or several thousands of dollars, if not more recovering the data. Hopefully there is an automated backup routine established for highly valuable data. Of a business dropping $2000 for a quality NAS product is a good investment.

The review here was fair yet limited as it didn't show off all the features of the FreeNAS software. I'm not sure I would have mentioned deduplication in the same sentence with FreeNAS Mini, the platform is underpowered to do a good implementation of this feature, but that is my opinion.

FreeNAS has a great support forum so if there are any doubts, check us out.
 

mlee 2500

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I almost bought one of these iXsystems.....then I decided to build my own FreeNAS micro system instead.

Then I thought "Do I really need my NAS server, sitting in a large ventilated closet under the staircase, to be a micro form factor? Or would a larger and cooler standard form factor, with larger, quieter fans, be better? Turns out a 3U server chassis build from newegg is all of those things, plus allot cheaper. And ALLOT easier to assemble. Not that I have sausage fingers, but home building a micro system will test your dexterity.

Anyway, FreeNAS combines two of the best things ever....FreeBSD and ZFS. I run the commercial grade variant of ZFS from Oracle at work (Fishworks)...and having practically all the same value add on a commodity self-built PC platform at home is niffty.
 

Mike Bethany

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If this "allot" of which you speak is a lot cheaper and a lot easier to assemble I'm all in.
 

mlee 2500

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If you do, just make certain you use ECC memory!

Other then that, most hardware is supported but an Intel based NIC (either as an add on card or integrated on the motherboard) is probably best. For that matter, an Intel SATA controller (even the old ones) are also a safe bet.

What I did was buy an old USED 1U Xeon based Supermicro server for a couple hundred bucks (they're all over EBAY and sold by some pretty reputable guys...again, make sure it's ECC me mory). Then I cannibalized it for the motherboard/Processor/12GB ECC RAM (that's a bargain) and put it into a new 3U server that better supports a bunch of disks (those old supermicro chassis are LOUD and don't accomodate drive expansion). Added a new low end heat sink (nothing special, but the one that comes with the supermicro assumes special airflow characteristics).

So,
~$200 for MB/CPU/ECC RAM
~$200 for 3U Chassis
~$35 heatsink
~$25 for some SilenX fans (the ones that come with allot of chassi are just fine)

.....plus the cost of drives.

Also, bonus....most of the Supermicro MB that come out of server chassis have network console, so you don't need to attach a monitor and drive to it. Just add a second network cable and then point your web browser from any PC or laptop and you can install/power cycle/configure BIOS/watch boot messages/check temperature etc).

Best of luck!


 

mlee 2500

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Thought I would post how I built an awesome FreeNAS server that supports allot more storage expansion for ~$500 (not including the cost of disks):

What I did was buy an old USED 1U Xeon based Supermicro server for a couple hundred bucks (they're all over EBAY and sold by some pretty reputable guys...again, make sure it's ECC me mory). Then I cannibalized it for the motherboard/Processor/12GB ECC RAM (that's a bargain) and put it into a new 3U server that better supports a bunch of disks (those old supermicro chassis are LOUD and don't accomodate drive expansion). Added a new low end heat sink (nothing special, but the one that comes with the supermicro assumes special airflow characteristics).

So,
~$200 for MB/CPU/ECC RAM
~$200 for 3U Chassis
~$35 heatsink
~$25 for some SilenX fans (the ones that come with allot of chassi are just fine)

.....plus the cost of drives.

Also, bonus....most of the Supermicro MB that come out of server chassis have network console, so you don't need to attach a monitor and drive to it. Just add a second network cable and then point your web browser from any PC or laptop and you can install/power cycle/configure BIOS/watch boot messages/check temperature etc).
 

Justin Vare

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I've been using FreeNAS For mission critical Data Storage for 8 years, and I refuse to try another product since 8 years without data loss is essentially unheard of. I have FreeNAS Servers that have not been rebooted in the last 3 years and still perform as they did on day one.
For File servers I use supermicro cases
ASUS Server Motherboards with Core I7's, ECC RAM, and Areca RAID controllers.
Seeing this kind of performance with only 4 drives is amazing. I'll definitely have to try one of these FreeNas Minis
 

Justin Vare

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Case / Chassis is manufactured by Ablecom

http://www.ablecom.de/Products/chassis/CS-M50/

So that's $550.00 on just the motherboard and case alone not counting ECC memory and hard drives and the sata flash module so they might make $150 per unit if the sticker on the front of the case said DELL then the unit would cost 4 to 5 times that amount. Here's what sets FreeNAS apart fron the reest i.e. they do not prevent anyone from building the system themselves and still freely hand out the system software with support from the forum. I think they deserve every penny of the money they earn !!!
 

Codeguy007

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Anyone who tells you that 4 drives is not enough to do RAID does not know what they are talking about. RAID 1 only requires a minimum of 2 drives. RAID 5 requires minimum of 3 drives though is more cost effective with 4. RAID 10 requires 4 drives. How the mini not able to do raid?
 
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