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NAS4Free is an embedded Open Source NAS (Network-Attached Storage) distribution based on FreeBSD.
It supports sharing across multiple operating systems, including Windows, Apple, and UNIX-like systems. NAS4Free is easy to set up in most home and enterprise environments and will allow you to manage and share large amounts of data easily across your network. NAS4Free also incorporates many different streaming features for sharing your multimedia with other devices on your network.
NAS4Free includes ZFS v5000 (Feature Flags) (RAID-Z, RAIDZ-2 & RAIDZ-3) Software RAID (0,1,5), JBOD, Disk Encryption, S.M.A.R.T. / Email Reports, includes the following protocols: CIFS/SMB (Samba), Active Directory Domain Controller (Samba), FTP, NFS, TFTP, AFP, RSYNC, Unison, iSCSI (initiator and target), HAST, CARP, Bridge, UPnP, and Bittorent, which are all highly configurable by using NAS4Free's great web user interface.
NAS4Free can be installed on an extremely wide range of hardware. Anything from an actual server to an old repurposed computer you may have laying around. Please check the hardware compatibility wiki as well for more details.
NAS4Free offers you 2 different installation methods. In addition a LiveCD and a LiveUSB option for testing or for live running mode is available.
The LiveCD/LiveUSB mode allows you to install NAS4Free for the first time or perform upgrades. Also potential the very old way to run a NAS4Free server using your LiveCD/LiveUSB via cd-rom/usbstick and floppy drive/usbstick for it's configuration storage.
What this means is that every time you boot from the LiveCD/LiveUSB, NAS4Free will load the required config.xml file that stores all your server settings. To update to newer revisions of NAS4Free you will have to download a new LiveCD iso or prepare a usbstick with the LiveUSB. The LiveCD/USB main task is for the NAS4Free initial installation!
You just boot from it and press 9 to go into the installation menu.
The better option here is to perform an install of the embedded version into a separate usb key or SSD drive. The system will load the OS into the system memory and operates from there with very minimal wear to the usbstick or SSD drive for a very long life cycle.
Embedded Installation (preferred method):
The embedded installation method is truly what NAS4Free was designed for. With an embedded install you would install the system onto a USB key, SSD drive or a compact flash card (CF). You do still have the option of installing embedded onto a HDD/SSD, but again you lose a valuable IDE/SATA port that could be used for additional storage drives and defeats a key advantage of having an embedded system.
The other advantages to using the embedded installation are that by use of flash/ssd devices those are more energy efficient and the software will load into system memory eliminating unnecessary system writes to the install device and will maximize it's life cycle without wearing out so fast.
The updating process with an embedded install is also much easier. With an embedded system update you download a special firmware that is in an .img.xz format which is much smaller than the LiveCD/LiveUSB iso/image. Once you download the firmware, updating is a breeze. All you do is open the webgui in your browser of choice, select firmware from the system navigation menu, enable firmware updates, browse to the downloaded image file, click update, and let the system do the rest.
The system will load the file, update the system, reboot, and you're done!
The full install allows you to install NAS4Free to a internal hard drive (HDD) with a system, data, and swap partition. With this method, you do use a valuable IDE/SATA port that could be used to have an additional storage drive. Full installs have no benefit over embedded installations!
To update the system you would have to download the latest full LiveCD/LiveUSB iso/image file again, boot from it and select the upgrade option. Full can't upgraded over WebGUI.
Whichever method you choose is your choice in the end, but hopefully after reading this you will have a good idea of how you want to run NAS4Free on your hardware.
Check out some of the screenshots of NAS4Free and be sure to look at the extensive documentation and how-to's on getting started with NAS4Free. If you have any questions or need support please come visit us on our IRC channel or ask a question in the NAS4Free forums.
TIP! The IRC channel is also a nice hang out with enthusiastic users!
The NAS4Free team hopes you enjoy your experience with our software and that it is your perfect NAS solution for your home or business!