Since entering college, my file management has gone from tolerable to disgusting. My hard disks were littered with folders upon folders of “sort_me” as well as many duplicates due to the fact that I didn’t know which version of a file was the latest and didn’t want to lose any information. Not only that, but I just started using Google Drive desktop sync which made a mess of things. In short, I had outgrown my storage capability and needed something better.
I had received my first current-century laptop upon being accepted to college (my old one was a discard from my dad’s work when I was 10 years old. It didn’t even have a CD-drive. I first messed around with Linux and BSD on that thing as a kid) and still had my gaming PC which acted more like a file server for my laptop. Actually, it was more like an external hard drive that also played Skyrim. I did almost everything else on my laptop. All of my files were stored in “My Documents” or on my desktop waiting to be put into properly labelled folders. Eventually, school had taken over 140% of my life and I have no time to game let alone anything else. Later I converted my desktop along with 2 other computers we built into our first Litecoin mining farm. By this time I had finished school and started working with my dad in software. We have a FreeNAS at work that provides an iSCSI volume to our ESXi hosts, so I have some experience with enterprise storage. We opted to use FreeNAS at work ever since our IBM DS-3200 failed on us. Some of the coolest things about the FreeNAS are things that I have never used. There’s a really good video of people destroying hard drives that are in ZFS volumes and watching the recovery was amazing! Now I had to have it.
Due to winter ending and the garage that we stored our miners no longer available, our 3 miners were turned off leaving me with 2 high-end motherboards. I used one of them to start my FreeNAS construction. First, I needed to meet minimum requirement. According to the FreeNAS User Guide, the rule-of-thumb is that you will need 1GB of RAM per 1TB of hard disk basic drive storage. I bought 16GB of RAM, which should be fine as I wanted to buy 4 x 4TB Western Digital RED NAS drives. That left me with 12TB of actual space (you always lose a drive’s amount of space in the volume due to array checksum). I placed my RAM and hard drive order along with a 16GB USB stick for the FreeNAS OS. I also went to the computer store and grabbed a Fractal Design DEFINE R5 case with a window. I highly recommend you check them out as they have absolutely stunning cases! After about a week, I got my packages in the mail. I put everything together in the case (PC building is one of my favourite things to do) and made sure to adjust the case so that I had the maximum storage possible and tons of fans blowing air over the disks as they get really hot.
Jails for Everything!
Once I finally finished the cable management, I installed FreeNAS. The installer is extremely easy. I just made my USB the target and it installed in no time. I booted into FreeNAS and quickly setup the networking. I was also creating my new internal network at the same time so I have it a fixed IP address of 192.168.0.5. I also forced HTTPS for the web interface. After all of the settings were to my liking, I created my first ZFS volume! I kept close to the user guide and allocated my entire disk array. After creating the volume, I also created a few datasets in the volume: movies, tv_shows, programs, games, backups, logs, and storage. While some are obvious, ‘logs’ is going to be used for storing rsyslogs from all my future servers. My user’s home directory is in ‘storage’ as well as the torrent’s download directory. Some miscellaneous to-be-sorted things are also in ‘storage’. I then exposed my datasets using Samba for the data transfer. The copy took ages, but once it was finished I had the enjoyable process of sorting everything to the way I liked it. Seeing as I would be keeping this FreeNAS a while, I decided not to get sloppy and really organize things well. I built this back in May 2016 and I am still sorting my files to this day. As I stated before, I am not using any of the real cool features of FreeNAS, but I am taking advantage of the jails. I use those things for everything! I have a jail for Plex, OpenVPN, IRC proxy, XMPP server, ownCloud,transmission daemon, and some various other servers. I will make posts about each server jail as well as the other servers I have. I will also make some posts about my cryptocurrency mining adventures.
My new FreeNAS server has been created and I have been using it without error since! Shout out goes to the FreeNAS team as they have great forums with lots of information. Again, I was not being very technical on purpose as I wanted to give an overview of the FreeNAS as a whole, but if you want me to add some of the more technical things I did then let me know in the comments and I’ll put some stuff up.