FreeNAS: The Free NAS Server – About

I’m using FreeNAS again, after a brief 6 month flirtation with Windows Home Server. I’ll go into why I switched back in a future post.

But as much as I like FreeNAS it could be MUCH easier for Windows users to install. FreeNAS should have a separate configuration tab for Windows users that turns on NFS, CIFS/SMB and allows setting up sharing all in one place. And heck yes – make it look like Windows there. Make the Windows user comfortable by giving them a simple interface that does things in a fashion they are accustomed to.

I do realize this is open source, and nobody is getting paid to work on it, and that I should not complain – or at least I should give back to the project. I don’t have the skills to write the code I want, so in exchange for my lack of skills, I’ll offer the following to contribute:

  • I will give any Windows User one hour of my time to help them install and configure FreeNAS – no charge.
  • First ten users only. If there is more demand then that I’ll just do a training video.
  • If you want to take advantage of this offer send me an email (contact info upper left). PLEASE DO NOT just call me – I have a life. Email me and we’ll set up a time, normally on the same day.

And in another upcoming post I’ll show you how to set of SyncToy 2.0 to keep all of your data backed up to FreeNAS, and all of your folders in sync – even across multiple machines. Currently I have four machines that all have the same things on the desktop – change one, they all change.

Total cost of this, beyond the machine to run FreeNAS is zero dollars. Very cool!

FreeNAS is a free NAS (Network-Attached Storage) server, supporting: CIFS (samba), FTP, NFS, AFP, RSYNC, iSCSI protocols, S.M.A.R.T., local user authentication, Software RAID (0,1,5) with a Full WEB configuration interface. FreeNAS takes less than 32MB once installed on Compact Flash, hard drive or USB key. The minimal FreeBSD distribution, Web interface, PHP scripts and documentation are based on M0n0wall.

FreeNAS: The Free NAS Server – About


  1. I really appreciate the FreeNAS/Windows tutorials. It helped me get the system up and running.

    I hope you continue it. I’d be interested in a tutorial on how to secure it.

  2. ” Make the Windows user comfortable by giving them a simple interface that does things in a fashion they are accustomed to. ”

    So by this you mean they should also make FreeNas crash randomely, stop responding and add a blue screen XD

    im sorry but i couldnt resist 🙂

  3. I want to build a NAS for a mixed Windows XP / Ubuntu network. I have tried Samba, though have run into limitations regarding file attributes and file timestamps.

    I am interested in freeNAS though I have a question on its capabilities: Will I be able to preserve my Windows XP file attributes and file creation dates?

  4. I use a custom made WHS and would like to shift to FreeNAS.
    I had done the default installation for WHS and it has the OS partition(C:\)
    and data storage partition (D:\). Its a 1.5 TB disk and i have alot of data on it.
    Is it possible to install FreeNAS on C:\ formated to whatever file system it uses and continue to use the storage pool(D:\) in NTFS without formatting it?

  5. Paul Russell says:

    I have been using freenas on a dedicated machine for about a year now. Recently for no obvious reason, the Archive drive a Segate 750 gig HD indicated that it had been dismounted improperly. Then tonight, freenas would not load beyond this warning. After several hours of using Windows logic, I give up. Any machine I attach this drive or the WD 1tb drive to will not advance beyond BIOS. These machines being a Linux Xubuntu, a Windows 2000 and a Windows Xp machine. All go dead as soon as you plug in either drive. Both drives are SATA. I am sure there is a really simple solution but I have no idea what it is or even how to reformat my drives.

    Thanks to anyone that can help me.

  6. Also, give NexentaStor a shot – Its Developer Edition is free and offers great storage features as FreeNAS and OpenFiler.

    • Nexenta is based on OpenSolaris, which is more or less discontinued and no longer supported by Oracle. I wouldn’t count on Nexenta being able to stay in business for long. In addition the HCL of OpenSolaris is really short, compared to FreeBSD (freeNAS is based on this), and chances are that if you have an old PC lying around to convert into a NAS, OpenSolaris will not run on it.

  7. hi John

    768 Megabytes Installed Memory
    Slot ‘A0′ has 512 MB
    Slot ‘A1′ has 256 MB
    Slot ‘A2′ is Empty

    try to use only Slot ‘A0′ with 512MB or 256MB

  8. I threw in the towel and tried OpenFiler which installed without a hitch on the first try. If anyone is having trouble installing FreeNas because of hardware issues, I would recommend that they give it a try. It appears to be a fairly robust program.

  9. I’m about to give up on this. I’ve removed every device, except for he video card and the hard drive and reverted back to the original BIOS. Nothing seems to make any difference. I have not received any feedback from the FreeNas community, despite several postings at I made one last posting today. It seemed like a good idea, but given the amount of time I’ve spent on this, it’s less expensive to buy a pre-configured server.

  10. Jesper H. says:

    I don’t have the option in my bios sadly enough.

    I’ve found out from surfing the last 1-2 hours, that the boot problem and the ACPI error is a common problem when installing Freenas and several Linux OS.

    Here’s on of many links that show the code to disable acpi when loading Freenas on boot-up.

    Search for acpi, then you will find a command with the text: -a Disable ACPI
    you can type in the boot loader, that Freenas loads it’s configuration from.

    I will keep on working for a solution for mine and I will keep you posted.
    I’ll will try test an idea tomorrow.

    Kind regards

  11. John R says:

    Jesper, I’ve tried the second option, but FreeNas would not boot up. I started a thread at the FreeNas help forum with the same information that you may want to track: So far, no one has offered any solutions.


  12. @Jesper H – can you shut off ACPI in your BIOS and see if it boots then?


  13. Jesper H. says:

    Hi John,

    I don’t know the reason for your problem either, I will just let you know that you’re not the only one having the problem, mine seems very similar.

    I’m trying to install on a HP Thin Client T5510

    But i have come a bit further, I have installed freenas on a usb stick, but every time i have to reboot, then i have 2 choose option 2. from the load menu
    Option 2 = Boot with ACPI disabled.

    Then it starts up perfect, therefore my system is running, it’s just pretty irritating because I need a monitor to be plug to it.

    I hope the solution will be posted soon 🙂

    Kind regards

  14. John R says:

    Don’t know much about Linux, but I have the sense that you’re right. I paused the scrolling text before the machine rebooted and noted an error message: ACPI: table load failed: AE_NO_ACPO_Tables. Perhaps there is someone out there that know what that means.

  15. John – this seems to be a pure *nix issue at this point – I don’t know why it won’t boot. And *nix experts out there want to jump in here? Linux/Unix, etc aren’t exactly my cup of tea!

  16. John R says:

    Downloaded on older version, burned it and tried in again, but with the same results.

  17. John – OK, the only thing I can think of now is that you have a bad install CD – try downloading an older version and build a new CD.

  18. John R says:

    All the drives but one were disconnected and it was set as master drive. It was also the first drive listed in the BIOS. Disconnected the floppy drive as well. Same result. I never get to the splash or install screen.

  19. Try this – disconnect all but one drive – make sure it is set as the master drive and that it is the first drive listed in the BIOS. Then reinstall FreeNAS on just the single drive, reboot without the CD and see what happens.

  20. John R says:

    I also disconnected the second drive (which was attached to the motherboard controller). It made no difference.

  21. John R says:

    Here’s an update. I removed a hard drive that was attached to a controller card. Upon boot-up it reported an error, something to the effect that it could not determine what drive to install the software. I then removed the controller card, but still received the 6 choice menu screen.

  22. John R says:


    Thanks for the input.

    The C (OS) Drive in this computer is an ATA Drive. I believe all the drives are ATA.


  23. John R – I have had a similar problem before – the problem was that FreeNAS couldn’t boot on the system I was using unless FreeNAS was installed on an ATA hard drive – installing it onto a SATA drive wouldn’t work, and I got the same thing you are getting. I installed FreeNAS on the ATA drive and it booted fine, and I used the SATA drives for data. Some time later a BIOS update to the machine resolved the initial problem with booting from SATA drives.

    What drive type did you install the OS to? And can you check for a BIOS update and/or install to a different drive type?


  24. John R says:

    I burned the CD and booted from it. It appears to load without any errors and I get the following screen:

    1. Boot [Default]
    2. Boot with ACPI disabled
    3. Boot in Safe Mode
    4. Boot with verbose logging
    5. Escape to loader prompt
    6. Reboot

    I can make selections from this screen, but eventually the only thing that happens is that it reboots.

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    LiveCD 0.686.4
    1.80 gigahertz AMD Athlon XP
    128 kilobyte primary memory cache
    256 kilobyte secondary memory cache
    Bus Clock: 133 megahertz
    BIOS: Award Software International, Inc. 6.00 PG 06/24/2002
    768 Megabytes Installed Memory
    Slot ‘A0’ has 512 MB
    Slot ‘A1’ has 256 MB
    Slot ‘A2’ is Empty
    Maxtor 5 T040H4 SCSI Disk Device (40.98 GB) — drive 0
    MAXTOR 6L080J4 [Hard drive] (80.05 GB) — drive 1, s/n 664217350539, rev A93.0500, SMART Status: Healthy
    Maxtor 6Y160P0 [Hard drive] (163.93 GB) — drive 2, s/n Y41QD2LE, rev YAR41BW0, SMART Status: Healthy
    243.96 Gigabytes Usable Hard Drive Capacity
    195.57 Gigabytes Hard Drive Free Space

    DVDRW IDE 16X [CD-ROM drive]
    3.5″ format removeable media [Floppy drive]

    NVIDIA GeForce4 Ti 4600 [Display adapter]
    Default Monitor

    Silicon Image SiI 0680 Ultra-133 Medley ATA Raid Controller
    NEC PCI to USB Open Host Controller (2x)
    Standard Enhanced PCI to USB Host Controller
    Standard OpenHCD USB Host Controller (2x)

    1394 Net Adapter
    NVIDIA nForce MCP Networking Adapter
    primary Auto IP Address: / 24
    Dhcp Server:
    Physical Address: 00:10:DC:47:72:B1

    Texas Instruments OHCI Compliant IEEE 1394 Host Controller
    USB Human Interface Device
    Standard 101/102-Key or Microsoft Natural PS/2 Keyboard
    HID-compliant mouse
    USB Root Hub (5x)
    MTP Device

  25. @Michael – VERY COOL! Glad the tutorial helped, and I am glad we saved another functional computer from ending up in the landfills!

    I really appreciate you letting me know.


  26. Michael says:

    I recently installed Freenas on an very old PC that it would barely boot win 98. I just added a new hard drive ( I agree the interface for windows idiots like me is a bit difficult) but with the help of this tutorial it was a breeze. I just want to say thanks. That old PC is a Cyrix 550 with 256 MB of Ram and Freenas flies on it. Try that with any windows operating system and let me know. I just saved 400-500$ on buying a NAS device and happy about it. PS. My xbox 360 loves it as well as it serves movies to it, and to 2 other PC’s at the same time on my Home network.

  27. @DC – Thanks! Those numbers look pretty good to me 🙂 I haven’t really measured my transfer speeds – as long as my HD video is watchable via my XBOX 360 (it is), then I am happy!

  28. Hi Rob,

    Ok, got some preliminary figures for you.. Transfer of a 1.29 Gb file over CAT5 using:

    1) Netgear RangeMax Wireless Router / model: WPN824 v2 – avg 4.5 MB/sec (peaks around 75 Mbps)

    2) D-link Xtreme N Gigabit Router / model: DIR-655 – avg 20 MB/sec (peaks just over 200 Mbps)

    So definitely an improvement, but I still think there is more room to improve. I’m going to pick up some CAT6 cable to see how much that helps.

    What kind of transfer speeds are you getting?

    btw – Have you tried setting up a NAS with one of these (or similar): ?

    Thanks again for the tutorial! This is fun stuff! 😉

  29. @DC – That’s great! I’m glad my series helped you. I have never used the DIR-655, so I can’t comment specifically on it. But in general, D-Link products have worked well for me. The 802.11n protocol is mature enough now that I think it is a good choice. Good luck – and let us know how it works for you!

  30. Many thanks Rob! I managed to build my very first NAS using FreeNAS and your instructions. If you can believe it took me less time to build the machine from scratch, install everything, and configure it than it took me to install VISTA64….. yeah! Long story, but I was doing both at the same time..

    In the process I realized that my wireless router is only a 10/100, so I was looking for a new one. What do you think about the D-Link “DIR-655”?

  31. @DC – either system should run FreeNAS fine. I would use the first one and save the second for something more taxing. As far as the drives – if I were you I would find one drive that had no data on it that you needed and install FreeNAS on it, and play with it – learn how it works, etc. Then I would attach a second derive (one of those formatted with NTFS) and add it to the system – as long as you do not tell FreeNAS to format the drive you should be able to see the data fine after you mount it. If that all works fine, add another drive, and another. Basically step into it.

    My NTFS drives mounted fine – but I do recommend you take the slow and steady approach!


  32. Thanks for all the tutorials! These are awesome!

    I do a lot of video editing so I have a bunch of IDE and SATA drives that have been moved out of my main machine to make room for the larger 750GB drives. However I would still like to be able to access these old drives and FreeNAS sounds like the solution.

    My only concern is mounting the drives. Did you run into any problem bringing over your NTFS drive to FreeNAS? I know the new version supports (I saw that on their website), but it’s always good to hear it first hand from someone who’s actually done before diving in and getting wet.

    Also, to build my NAS I have 2 old systems that I can choose from (listed below.) Would SYSTEM II be an overkill and perhaps used for another project?

    — SYSTEM I —
    Asus P4PE
    P4 2.66 Ghz
    1GB RAM

    — SYSTEM II —
    Asus A8N-SLI
    AMD X2 4800
    4 GB RAM

    Thanks in advance!

  33. @Charles Bone – I honestly cannot answer this question. But you can easily answer it yourself, I think, by just running the LiveCD and seeing if it detects your drives correctly. Unless I am not understanding your question…


  34. Charles Bone says:

    I have been reading your FreeNAS columns – I had been considering NASlite because of its claim to allow modern large HD’s on older machines since it does not use the BIOS of the machine it runs on. I’ve tried to research this topic in regard to FreeNAS and I think it does use the BIOS of its host but maybe not on the second drive if so installed. Any ideas on this?

  35. @Drew – is there only one hard drive in the system? What kind of hard drive is it? SATA, IDE, EIDE, etc?

    I’ve seen this error with some SATA controllers, and when I have a mix of SATA/IDE drives.

    Let me know, and I’ll try an help.


  36. Installation & use overview was great, but I’ve hit a problem I can’t figure out: I was able to go through the installation (exactly as you described) but when I rebooted the new freenas server I got an error message that it “could not load kernel” and dumped me out to some sort of system prompt.
    The system, incl harddisk, was fine as an old winxp home system and never had problems with booting.
    Any help?

  37. Philippe says:

    Hi Robs and thank you for your answer. I discover this new world of collaboration (non windows) and it smells good ;—)

    I’ve been using Freeans for jsut a week and without any particular knowledge I discovered this nice product you seems to use till a long time.

    As soon as you publish your tuto I will test it and if you accept, translate it in french for french users.

    Best regards once again from Paris


  38. @Philippe – Regards from San Antonio, TX – USA!

    I have not done the SyncToy post yet. Check back with me – I’ll try and get it done this week. It works on XP, and it keeps all of my folders in Sync – even my desktops on four machines. It runs while I sleep, and it works very well.

    Check back. It will probably be late in the week.

    Thanks for the visit, and the comment.


    • Leonard Hewitt says:

      Hi Rob

      I would like to thank you for your effort in writing the tutorials. Although I am a reasonably knowledgable person having been involved in computers for 55 years and have been building and repairing PC’s since 1985 I have done very little with Unix or BSD . Your guide got me up and running with Windows. I need to learn more about syncing but now I am started I will now build a low power system. Thank you.I have responsibility for running the oldest working computer in the world . It is a Ferranti Pegasus in the Science Museum in London and it is 50 years sinceit was built in December 1959. I first worked on a Ferranti Pegasus way back in1956 and before that a Ferranti Mark 1* in 1955.

      Once again thank you.

      Len Hewitt MBCS CITP

      • Thanks! Sounds like an interesting career you have there! Glad I could help. Also – look for a direct email from me.


  39. Philippe says:


    Did you already realized a tutorial to know how to set of SyncToy 2.0 to keep all of your data backed up to FreeNAS, and all folders in sync – even across multiple machines. Does it wotk with winxp ?

    Best regards from Paris – France


  40. @Jon – I used it for a long time as well.  Only stopped when the machine I had it on died.  Since I recently freed up another machine I’ve reinstalled it.

    My two-part tutorial is being published now.  You can check me for errors 🙂

  41. Rob, I’ve been using FreeNAS for a few years now…

    Rock solid and no babysitting involved…

    I have one FreeNAS server that has an uptime of almost 500 days without reboot and still running strong.

    Try to get that kind of mileage out of Windows!


  1. […] FreeNAS – switching back. About my decision to move back to FreeNAS from Windows Home Server. […]