FreeNAS – Turns Computer into Network Attached Storage Device
FreeNAS is a NAS server that supports FTP, NFS protocols, Software RAID. It takes less than 16MB once installed on Compact Flash, hard drive or USB key. A popular project type among open source developers is finding new uses for old hardware. It turns an old, low powered computer into a network storage solution. Plug in a decent sized USB hard drive and you can keep all your media (or business) files in one place. It supports most network file access protocols: CIFS (Windows file sharing, formerly SMB), FTP, NFS, TFTP, Rsync and Unison to mention a few.
The support for rsync and Unison means you can also use your NAS as a backup device, especially useful for a laptop where you need local copies for when you take the laptop out but need copies back at base in case it gets lost, dropped or stolen and you don’t bring it back.
FreeNAS can run from a CD, USB stick or be installed to a hard drive. When run from CD it can store its settings on a USB or floppy drive, making it even more secure because the programs cannot be corrupted by a hacker. Most of the time, you just leave a NAS box alone, it needs no keyboard or monitor.
FreeNAS has several other useful features, such as support for RAID and encryption, both giving improved security to your data in different ways and monitoring of your disks’ health with email alerts.
- Web User Interface: FreeNAS 8 features a ground up redesign of the web user interface. No mess, no fuss – your server is easily controlled from any web-enabled device
- Zettabyte File System: One of FreeNAS 8′s most important features is full support for the ZFS filesystem. ZFS includes data integrity protection, practically unlimited size caps, cloneable snapshots, automatic repair, RAID-Z, and more.
- Command Line Interface: FreeNAS 8 is based on FreeBSD 8.x, and will update and keep current with the FreeBSD project. So if you’re a savvy user, and prefer to use the command line, no problem! ssh in, and control your FreeNAS device from the FreeNAS custom CLI.
- Snapshots: If your data is somehow lost, FreeNAS makes it easy to restore from a previously generated snapshot. With the periodic snapshots feature, you can worry less about data loss, and use your system stress free. It takes far less time than a full backup, but a continuous set of snapshots will provide the same level of protection.
- Backup and Restore: Remote Replication allows you to copy a snapshot to an offsite server, for maximum data security. This provides an excellent disaster recovery service, so even in the worst situations, you’re covered.
- Thin Provisioning: Thin Provisioning is another excellent addition to the FreeNAS features list. Thin Provisioning allows the administrator to allocate users more space than physically exists in the system. When paired with ZFS, it becomes easy to manage your total data pool size, and quickly and effectively grow to meet your users needs as they use more of their allotted space.
- File Sharing: FreeNAS supports many popular networking protocols, and is easy to set up in most home and enterprise environments. You’ll be up and running in no time, and your users can connect with the protocol of your choice, no matter what operating system they run.
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