Motherboard Swap under ESXI - What to look out for with FreeNAS

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Feb 22, 2013
I have been running FreeNAS 8 under ESXi 5 and the motherboard (Asrock Z77 Extreme 4) appears to have died after five years of great 24/7 service. Whilst I understand that there would be no issues swapping out the motherboard on a standalone FreeNAS system, I'd like to get a heads up on potential issues I might face effectively moving the FreeNAS VM to a new host with the same disk drives, so I can take steps to ensure a trouble free, no data loss migration.

Before anyone says anything, other than maintaining suitable backups, yes, I've ignored a number of warnings such as using RDM, three drives in Raid 5, FreeNAS as a VM etc.

My biggest fear is the RAID with RDM drives no longer working. The other drives are allocated to the VM from the host's datastore as non-raid pools.

I would plan to fresh install ESXi to 5.5 or 6.x on the new host, and then expect to be able to point to the EXSi 5.0 VMs and have them run under 5.5 or 6.x without grief. But with a new install of the host, would the RDM references change and then cause problems with the FreeNAS configuration? I can't take any of the drives offline anymore, since I don't have a host to run the VM.

If I just change out the MB and boot from the original hypervisor, given the MB changes, assuming ESXi boots (would it?), what problems might I face with FreeNAS?

Am I too naive to expect a smooth transition?

What should I watch out for, and should I do something differently to ensure I don't lose my zpools.
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Chris Moore

Hall of Famer
May 2, 2015
I am confused, do you have any backup?
Did you pass a SAS HBA through to the VM so FreeNAS could directly access the disks?

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