Looking for alternative to Windows 2019, thinking FreeNAS


New Member
Jul 13, 2019
Current hardware:

SuperMicro 846E
2x Intel E5-2630L V2
HP H220 IT Mode or LSI 9201-8i
Intel X550T2 Ethernet Converged Network Adapter
1 x 500GB Samsung SSD for OS
9 x Seagate IronWolf 6TB
2 x 10TB WD White label
5 x 8TB WD White label
4 x 250GB Samsung SSD
4 x 500GB Samsung SSD
2 x 1TB Intel 660p on PCIE adapter cards
1 x StarTech USB 3.1 x 2 card

Currently, I have a little over 30TB of data stored on a storage pool comprised of 14 x 6TB drives in a mirrored array. The NVMe drives are a mirrored array that I run the VM's off of and the 4 x 500GB SSDs + 6 WD White label drives make up a tiered storage pool, but aren't really utilized.

My main goal is to have an environment that is:

1. Storage of media (UHD movies, 4k video clips, photos, music, tv shows), documents, local desktop backups and games (Steam, Origin, etc).
2. Host 6 Windows VMs which are roughly 600GB total. Active Directory Domain Controllers, Web Servers, App Server and SQL Server.
3. Host Plex for streaming of files, no transcoding necessary, 3 streams at the most.
4. Fully utilize the 10Gbe interface with desktops on local network. Should be able to pull/push video for editing, UHD backups, pull down games, quick backups, etc.
5. Can sync with Google Drive.

Is there anything in the current hardware configuration that I should swap out?

What is the recommended drive usage? I know I have more drives than slots, but it's what I have available to leverage.


Well-Known Member
Dec 29, 2010
I think your hardware is fine for FreeNAS BUT...

With what you're describing and if you're going to Windows clients, I'd actually stay Windows. It's a lot of work to move.
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Reactions: ari2asem


Well-Known Member
Mar 25, 2016
Stamford, CT
I think you have excellent hardware for FreeNAS. Just remember, once you setup Freenas and copy over all your data to a pool, it is now under the ZFS file system. So its not really interchangable with Windows. What I mean by this is that the drives, once formatted in Freenas and ZFS, you won't be able to place those drives back in Windows again without formatting them and losing your data. You would have to transfer everything over to somewhere else, then copy back the data once you change your OS again. You do have quite a bit of Data though.

I recently redid my servers and transferred over 21TB of data. It took roughly a day and a half. I was being careful. So with 30TB, it could take a day or so. Which is fine.

Freenas/ZFS is excellent for data, especially since you already have ECC ram.

Freenas/Xigmanas also have PLEX addons and Cloud addons that sync with cloud storage providers. So you can't really go wrong.

I personally use ZFS for all my storage.


Well-Known Member
Mar 6, 2014
Just be aware that you will need a slog if you want to run VMs on a FreeNas based datastore (unless you go for sync=disabled with the risk of data loss). You might want to read up on that.

To clarify - its not needed to actually run the VMs but its needed to speed them up from a crawl to anything that is usable.
Last edited:
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Well-Known Member
Dec 31, 2010
I see that you want to virtualise several Windows or Linux VMs with your setup. You can do this with Bhyve on FreeNAS but I would not. One problem is that FreeNAS is the ZFS storage server with propably the highes RAM needs for itself, the other problem is that it is overloaded with features. If you need a stable and secure base for VMs you must care of security and stability of a full featured server Unix together with lots of add-ons.

Even with a most minimalized ZFS storage server OS like OmniOS where you have a long term stable, security fixes every few weeks and Bhyve I would not use it a base for virtualisation with higher demands on uptime outside a home setup.

My preferred setup is ESXi, a type-1 virtualiser below all VMs, does not matter if a storage VM, Windows or Linux.It also has the best of all support for Windows guests with the lowest footprint of all virtualisation options for itself (count less than 2GB for ESXi, the rest is for VMs).

For a storage VM, FreeNAS is a good possibility. I prefer OmniOS, a free Solaris fork with Open-ZFS (or Solaris with native ZFS) due the best of all integration of ZFS into the OS, the lowest RAM needs, the faster SMB server compared to SAMBA (multithreaded inkernel/in ZFS and Solarish integrated) with best of all compatibility to Windows ntfs alike ACL and out of the box working ZFS snaps as Windows previous versions. See my setup manual https://napp-it.org/doc/downloads/napp-in-one.pdf

If you decide to use FreeNAS, setup is the same, see FreeNAS 9.10 on VMware ESXi 6.0 Guide | b3n.org
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Active Member
Jul 11, 2017
And be aware that the bootmedium Freenas boots off, isn't available for the system to do stuff on.
Even if you get it to be available, jails and plugins can't be placed on it.

I don't share the concern with the Ram usage, yes it reserves everything it can get, doesn't mean it uses it and you should be able to configure that.
Don't agree with it being overloaded either. Some Things are still missing though.

And in terms of stability, i don't have any concern there but in terms of security, its sandybridge so smack right in all the Hardware issues.

OmniOs has me intrigued but what SMB versions does it support? Couldn't safely figure that out in my 5min of searching.
Samba now does actually do 3_11 on freenas, and experimental Direct / Multichannel support is also available for a while now.

I think freenas should be able to do everything OP wants rather easily.

Except Beehyve failed to run UEFI VMs last time i tried. Could be my config, but i don't know.
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Reactions: Sleyk


Well-Known Member
Dec 31, 2010
The free Solaris fork Illumos is currently on SMB 3.02, OmniOS stable on 2.11 with 3,02 in the bloody. Solaris is on SMB 3.1.1. This is related to the inkernel Solaris SMB server. You can use SAMBA as well.
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Reactions: RageBone


Well-Known Member
Jul 15, 2015
What's the reason for moving away from windows server? What you're describing for your use case really sounds ideal for a windows server with hyper-v and storage roles enabled on the base