Storage advice - Drobo, FreeNAS, externals?

Started May 23, 2012 | Discussions thread
MathieuR New Member • Posts: 2
Re: Storage advice - Drobo, FreeNAS, externals?

The three main advantages of using a NAS from my perspective are:

Sharing of files across multiple protocols. For instance FreeNAS supports AFP for MacOSX shares, SMB for Windows shares and NFS for Linux shares. Also, FreeNAS has a feature that allows you to configure it as a TimeMachine backup target. Combined with the expandable storage feature it allows you unlimited TimeMachine growth just by throwing in disks as required.

The other really nice feature that got me to switch to FreeNAS two years ago is the possibility to install a spare hard drive that will not be part of the pool, but that will instead only be used if another drive gets corrupted. ZFS being tolerant to a single (or two depending on the config) drive fault, your system will never go offline. I also run the OS from a memory stick and create configs dumps everytime I change a setting so if anything fails I can just reimage the USB drive and re-upload my backed up configs.

FreeNAS is a software implementation of drive redundancy which means that even if your main board ever dies you will be able to re-create a system with a totally different set of hardware and add your storage drive to the new machine without a hassle. FreeNAS will recognize them as ZFS storage and will add them to the pool. Hardware RAID implementation do not allow for this as the algorithms are implemented in the card firmware and are in most case vendor dependant. Vendor built NAS (i.e. Drobo and such) are also not as flexible as you would have to buy the same hardware again in hope of bringin your RAID array online.

As previously mentionned I have been using FeeeNAS for two years now. I had to live through a one drive failure but I managed to remain online thanks to the ZFS and the "hot swap" spare drive.

The only cons I found against FreeNAS are poor SMB performance and the fact that you remain vulnerable to changes made to propritary protocols like the one behind TimeMachine (it tool a patch to have FreeNAS TimeMachine feature working again after the release of OSX 10.7... but the community was quick to fix the issue).

Hope this helps.


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