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FreeNas vs Windows

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Oct 4, 2011

I have just bought a HP ProLiant MicroServer bundle, loaded with 2 x 2TB drives, 4GB RAM and Raid 1.

I was just going to stick Windows Server 2008 on it and install a FTP Server, but have since noticed it comes with a FreeNas 8 bootable pen stick.

Prior to this I have never even heard of FreeNas, but reading bits here and there I am wondering if that may be suitable or even better than what I can acheive with Windows.

So, my intended use.

I will be using it primarily to store client's disk image backups. I will be using Acronis to backup their servers to this box via FTP. Very simple, no frills. At this particular time no need for AD Integration or anything like that.

I may end up using it to also store some stuff on for my VMWare ESXi environment, as this seems to support iSCSI, and also possibly CIFS for plain old Windows shares.

My questions are:

What is ZFS, and why is it better than NTFS?
What is Raid-Z? I plan on setting this box up with Raid 1, how does Raid-Z tiein with that?

I have a Microsoft Action Pack subscription and was going to use Windows Storage Server.

So, Pro's and Con's for Windows VS FreeNas?


Jul 1, 2011
Welcome Hongman,

You should really google ZFS or look it up in Wikipedia, there are too many details for me to get into here.

What is ZFS, and why is it better than NTFS?

ZFS is a software type of raid, NTFS is just a non-redundant single disk filesystem. The advantage of software raid is that it is not reliant on specific hardware, whereas using hardware raid with a raid controller can be a problem if the card dies because if you can't find an exact replacement you will loose access to your data. There are also several operating systems that support ZFS, so if you create your array on one it is possible to 'import' it later on a different OS. Please do a search on ZFS because I can't do it the justice it deserves.

ZFS has 3 levels, raidz, raidz2, raidz3 (not available on FreeNAS). Raid-z1, means you can lose any single disk in the array and still access your data, raidz2 allows you to lose any 2 disks.

Since you're new to the forums, here's link to the documentation, FAQs, and Official Videos etc.:



Sep 3, 2011
Hello Hongman,

I am using FreeNAS for very similar tasks, backups, serving up music and movies, plus allowing my ESXi5 system to run VM's on the FreeNAS box if I want to. I have not used iSCSI, however I have used NFS (to FreeNAS and to a CentOS/Linux server as well) with great success. I moved from CentOS/Linux to FreeNAS purely because of the stuff I had read about ZFS, how flexible it is, not requiring specialist hardware for RAID (CentOS/Linux can do this as well but is not quite as flexible as FreeNAS) and the low install footprint (two name a few amongst many positives for ZFS)

I ended up buying new hardware for the FreeNAS setup, however, I did have a play round with it on ESXi before I took the plunge.

The choice between Windows and FreeNAS (or Linux for that matter) is really (for me anyways) a balance between functionality and usability. It's great to have the bells and whistles but if you can't use them ???


Sep 2, 2011
Just as an aside, your usage of Windows 2008 server in the above scenario breaks the MAPS licensing rules. I also have MAPS. If M$ found out, you could be in for a world of pain.
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