I want to run ZFS on my small office server. The server is on a tight budget and I have to make do with the hardware (drives) I got, meaning they are all of different size and model. What I want is basically a simple JBOD setup with a single storage pool, but I read that losing a single drive means losing the entire pool.

This confuses me, since I understood it that metadata is spread out on different drives.

To be clear: I am not looking for redundancy here. Losing a drive means partial data loss. I am fine with that. What I am not OK with is losing a single drive means losing the entire pool.

Have I understood it correct that this is the case? If so, how do I best solve this? I have considered creating multiple pools, but the problem is the storage requirements will be highly dynamic, meaning I would have to shuffle around files and mountpoints way too often for that to work.

The reason for choosing ZFS is that is reasonably straightforward to use, has snapshotting and CoW support and seems reasonably stable, but I could switch to another filesystem (btrfs?) if it better solves the above.

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    ZFS is not a good solution for your use case.
    – ewwhite
    Jan 27, 2016 at 21:43
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    @ewwhite Could you please elaborate on why I should not choose ZFS and what I should consider instead?
    – Krumelur
    Jan 27, 2016 at 21:45
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    Losing the pool is not catastrophic, but costs a lot of work. This server is for a side project with no budget, and the data can be recreated (slowly and with some manual work). I may have to reconsider though, living with reduced storage space.
    – Krumelur
    Jan 28, 2016 at 7:39

1 Answer 1


ZFS stripes data across top-level devices (vdevs or block targets).

If you expect to be able to tolerate the loss of a top-level devices (in your case a single block target), then ZFS does not meet your needs.

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    You mean ZFS is no good at all for JBOD setups without redundancy, at all or that I should create the pool in a different way? Even if data is striped, I understood it that the metadata was mirrored across all drives, but maybe I was wrong then.
    – Krumelur
    Jan 27, 2016 at 22:00
  • What do you want to do? What's the point of keeping the metadata if all the files are toast?
    – MikeyB
    Jan 28, 2016 at 17:00
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    Ideally, I would want to recover the files that reside on the other drives to limit the recovery effort, but if every file is partially stores on all drives it won't be possible.
    – Krumelur
    Jan 28, 2016 at 17:02

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