I'm planning on using FreeNAS (was considering openfiler but freenas seems simpler) for my home NAS box running off ESXI. I have managed to get local sata drives to mount in ESXI (ESXi add datastore without partitioning).

I've had one of the drives fail on my before and I was able to retrieve most of the data off it using windows tools (I'm not much of a linux guy I know enough to be dangerous!).

If I go the freenas route in the event that something goes bad what would be the best file system to use so that I could pop the drive out of the freenas box (vm) and put it in another pc running windows so I could try and run various recovery tools to get the data back.

All in all its not a major problem if I lose the data just would be a bit annoying, so I'm not looking for suggestions around backing up etc.

I was considering using NTFS that the drives are already formatted as but it appears that while freenas does support NTFS that its a bit buggy and not 100% reliable, anyone know if this is still true? Read that on a forum somewhere.


Windows recovery tools understand exactly two formats: NTFS and FAT. Unfortunately for you, neither are good choices for FreeNAS. FAT is too old to be useful, and NTFS is not as reliable as the other filesystems available for FreeNAS; not only does it not journal, the code-path isn't as robust as NTFS-on-Windows or EXT2/EXT3/XFS-on-Linux so there be bugs lurking.

NTFS can work on FreeNAS, it's just not a good idea.

  • Which of the Freenas supported filesystems would play the nicest with windows then? Even if I have to run some custom app to actually access/mount the drive in windows. – Daniel Powell Dec 29 '10 at 15:23
  • @Daniel I know there are filesystem drivers for EXT2/3 out there on SourceForge somewhere. The 'colinux' project may be useful for this as well. – sysadmin1138 Dec 29 '10 at 16:03
  • Do you really need a bare-metal hypervisor for this box? Why not load your favorite distro, and use Samba for file sharing, and then run your other VM's inside virtual box or insert-vm-software-here? – SpacemanSpiff Dec 31 '10 at 23:35

FreeNAS is based on FreeBSD, not Linux, and NTFS support on FreeBSD is not reliable. If you want to be able to read the data in Windows, set up a Windows fileshare on an NTFS-formatted volume and use that instead of FreeNAS.

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