Building a NAS with the hardware below. I've been reading through the IXSystems forums as i'm thinking about using FreeNAS or Unraid for the OS. I see that ZFS requires HBA cards rather than raid cards and i have both. I'm trying to see what is the best possible implementation i can get with the hardware specified for hosting IIS directory data.

I have a virtualized environment and i'd like to offload the IIS root files from the host machine onto the NAS. I'm mainly running .net applications and would like to centralize the root files so that i can build redundancy using ARR and NLB where two instances of IIS point to the NAS for the files and use a cache provider.

Hardware: Supermicro 4U 24 Bay X10QBi 4x E7-4820 V2 2Ghz 32-Cores 128GB 4x PSU

2x LSI 9361-8i Raid Card 12g (Raid cards if i go Raid6 or Raid10)

2x LSI 9300-8i HBA Card 12g (HBA Cards if i go the ZFS Route)

10x 4TB WD Red HDD's

8x 2TB WD Red SDD's

I was hoping to setup Hot and Cold tiered storage so on-demand files to be hosted on the faster SSD's and the less used files on cold in the HDD's

From my research it seems FreeNas dosen't offer that as a native feature so i was hoping for some guidance for this implementation


1 Answer 1


There are very few situations where I would prefer a RAID card over a plain HBA and software driven storage, and a NAS is not one of them.

FreeNAS is an easy choice on which to get started, but today I would seriously consider running a plain Linux server with ZFS on Linux or some other choice of file system. If you intend to run ZFS in a production system I would strongly recommend that you use enterprise grade SSDs with power failure protection at the very least for your SLOG device(s) but if possible also for your entire SSD pool (which doesn't require a SLOG unless your project can afford cache disks that are even faster than the SSDs you've chosen).

If you will do a lot of random writes I would strongly suggest RAID10/striped mirrors rather than parity RAID, at least for your spinning drives. If you will mainly read, this is less of an issue.

When it comes to tiered storage I should defer the answer to someone who is more experienced in this particular area. ZFS does tier storage to some extent in the form of a good cache algorithm, but not at all to the degree you intend to use it based on your hardware list. Linux has kernel-level support for tiered storage, but I have never used it so I don't know its particulars or any gotchas involved in using it.

  • Hi Mikael thank you for your post, if i were install Linux which distro would you recommend for something like this? Also do you know if there would be any issues binding the drive pools onto a windows box ? All my webservers are running windows 2k19.
    – UserSN
    Jul 31, 2020 at 20:54
  • 2
    ZFS on Linux is best handled (and almost exclusively handled) in Ubuntu.
    – Spooler
    Jul 31, 2020 at 21:57
  • 1
    Ubuntu is the Linux server that's most serious about official ZFS support. If after considering your options you choose another file system the choice of distribution is a lot less important. When it comes to presenting storage to Windows servers I would consider ISCSI over (at least) 10GbE network - preferably a separate storage network if your budget allows for it. This may not be a good choice if multiple servers are to see the same volume/files simultaneously though. In that case you may have to create a regular SMB share (which still may use 10GbE for performance reasons).
    – Mikael H
    Jul 31, 2020 at 21:57
  • 10GbE a necessity?
    – UserSN
    Aug 1, 2020 at 14:30
  • Regular gigabit ethernet tends to become a bottleneck nowadays, especially with SSD storage. It might not be with your use case; the best you can do is to perform a load test, preferably as realistic as possible, to evaluate whether you'll be fine.
    – Mikael H
    Aug 1, 2020 at 16:05

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