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My Home Server Build With Freenas 9.3

Freenas Home Server BuildI spent 2 solid weeks combing through Youtube, the FreeNas forum, dozens of blog posts and whatever else I could get my hands on to learn everything I could about building a home NAS (Network Attached Storage). I had an ASUS Home Server running Windows Home Server 2003 (it sucked, but it was better than nothing). It’s a 2-bay internal drives, 6 external USB 2.0 ports, 2 external eSATA type of off-the-shelf solutions. It’s ok, but I am ashamed to say that I had 2 750 GB internal drives and 3 external USB 2.0 drives attached. It’s a total of 6TB’ish, but that scared me. If 1 of those drives failed I would have lost a lot of important data.

So, I immediately started researching for better solutions once decided to invest into my digital library, and saving electricity was a great idea as well. I reduced 4 plugged-in devices down to 1. I like being able to sleep at night so I researched very hard, and I wanted to share my build with you on here as well. I will try to save you some time on your research.

If you don’t know me, then let me give you a quick background. I am a researcher. I don’t impulse buy and it could take 8 hours a day, and months of digging into reviews, talking to people, visiting multiple stores off and online before I commit to a purchase. I mean I push the limits of “seriously dude?”. It’s my money and I want to make sure I am a good caretaker of it. After all, money doesn’t grow on trees. So what did I get? (Note: Links are affiliate links)

Total Spent: $980 for 12TB on FreeNAS using ZFS

I got the good stuff and didn’t bother taking shortcuts. Today, we use more digital data than ever before. All my family pictures, business files, and anything else that is special to me is certainly safe. I loved going to the post office once these parts started coming into the mail too.  

Each piece had awesome reviews and had been running on a FreeNAS system for someone, somewhere. I ensured that I got the ECC RAM that FreeNAS requires to protect your data. If you are going to use FreeNAS then get the ECC RAM! I paid $75 w/FREE shipping off of Amazon so there is no excuses not to have it. My data is super important to me so I splurged. I will be adding another 3 WD Red 4TB drives shortly as well.

I have had this running for about 20 months now and I can tell you that it has been nothing short of amazing. In the end I will have 24TB of raw storage space but will ultimately have 16TB of useable storage as FreeNAS will utilize 8TB for parity and redundancy. That’s some serious stuff. I think I should probably add the reason why I am spending all this cash and learning how to manage all of this. Well some data will be movies, music, and family photos as well as photography my family takes for fun. Camera .RAW files eat space quickly.

I also want to protect all my web development files and graphic design stuff too. I have thousands of files that are irreplaceable. This is how I make part of my living and I want to ensure I keep all my family photos for as long as possible. I also burn all the very important stuff to DVD to make sure there was an additional copy. Never have only 1 copy. In the end I am protecting data that goes back almost 20 years. If it was just some bittorrent server or nothing to serious then I would have built it out of old parts.

My data needs to last and this will eventually becomes my company server one day. So I set it up right the first time. I took video of the build but it was poorly done so I never put it up. Maybe I can figure out something to share it with everyone. I am very excited about sharing this post with everyone. Tell me about your build in the comments! 

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