Is FreeNAS the right thing for me?

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Apr 12, 2018
Hi party people,

i known im asking in the freenas forum so answers will naturally be a little biased but ill give it a shot.

im currently running a Synology DS214+ as my main storage system for pictures and movies, the movies are streamed within the network currently in native resolution but getting transcoding would not be a bad idea.
From time to time i also stream stuff from my server to the internet so things like a VPN server are also important to me.

now im running out of space and currently i only have one 3TB drive in my system as i couldnt afford more when i started out and im considering different solutions.
First the easiest solution but ill get less for the money is buying the new DS918+ getting some more drives and im done, totally painless but beside a little more power and some drivebays im not gaining much.

this is where FreeNAS comes into consideration i put together this config and it comes out to almost exactly the same price as the Synology system but obviously has much more power under the hood.
My only problem so far is the software, i want something that just works, set it and forget it and it will do everything i want.

Also i would like to combine multiple drives of different sizes to avoid having drives left over that have no use.

i tried installing FreeNAS on an older core i3 system that i used for some small server applications like running a minecraft server but even the installation was a pain in the ass and its still not even booting as it just gets stuck at some point.
This made me question if FreeNAS is stable an versatile enough because i may be able to troubleshoot some stuff but for my fiance everything just needs to work, she will not fiddle around with that stuff.

So is FreeNAS the right thing for me here? especially combining different sized disks seems to be a problem and right now im not that confident about reliability and ease of use.
By the way if i go for the system i posted above i also want to use it for VM´s and get rid of my i3 system so the FreeNAS box would also need to run a Windows VM with a small game server here and there, transcoding 4k videos would also be a big plus.


Hall of Famer
Aug 16, 2011
So is FreeNAS the right thing for me here?
I'd lean toward "no"...
especially combining different sized disks seems to be a problem
...and this is a big part of why. It's certainly possible to combine disks of different sizes into a pool (I'm doing it), but you're likely going to lose some capacity in doing so.
i put together this config
Literally nothing in that build is recommended hardware for a FreeNAS server (or any server, really).


Aug 19, 2017
If you want to reliably store data over time you need hardware that is built for reliability. Gaming kit just isn’t. They are built to last a couple of years and to cream out as many pixels as possible with little regard to loosing some.

Please do the reading. No one can do that for you.

As to “fire-n-forget”; if you set it up correctly once, on decent hardware, you will not have to touch it again until it’s time to start replacing parts. FreeBSD is very stable and perfectly able to have multiple years if uptime. FreeNAS is built as an appliance on top of that platform and thus inherit that stability.

When it comes to mixed bag drive pools you need to (again) do the reading to understand how ZFS pools work. You can have as many pools as you want. You can have as many virtual devices as you want in a pool. You can build your vdevs is a multitude of ways, all with their different strengths. But as a general rule you want to keep the drive specs close to each other, or as I like to put it “keep it simple, stupid”

Keep in mind the agile teachings, “if you are faced with a choise of closely valued options, go for the one that makes it easier to change later”


Dec 3, 2015
I agree with @danb35 and from what you posted, I don't think FreeNAS is for you. Now if you are a tinkerer, or an IT person, or just a hobbyist who enjoys playing with things, you'll like FreeNAS. Synology is expensive because they do all the work for you.

By no means is FreeNAS difficult to setup, there is an incredible community on here and lots of good resources. But its just that, they are resources that you have to do, no one is going to do it for you.

I will also agree that once you get FreeNAS setup, it is incredibly stable. So you won't have to constantly invest time once you get things setup the way you want, but then again where is the fun in that?

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