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I’m planning to deploy a file server in one of our company’s departments in the near future. Preferably it should support file-level access via SMB and NFS, also, an iSCSI support will be a plus. In-built backup / replication features would be a great plus as well.

I have a single physical server currently in my homelab, which will be later used in the production, so I’ve built a test lab around that. Also, I can borrow one more server from my company if necessary. I’ve done a brief research on this topic already and choosed between FreeNAS and Windows File Server on top of Storage Spaces as a possible candidates.

I’ve already tested FreeNAS, but the performance is no good. There are only maximum 250 MBps I can make out of it for some reason. I have Intel 10GbE NIC in the server, as well as 2x E5-2603 v3 and 96GB of RAM. Zpool is RAIDZ2 – 9 drives with LSI MegaRAID 2208 and JBOD mode. Maybe there’s some mistakes I’ve done in the configuration, cause I’m not a specialist with Linux, so I’ll try to test Storage Spaces there.

Is there any other feasible free / low cost file server solutions? My goal is to build the most cost-efficient solution to test and then roll it into production. Are there any misconfigurations with the hardware with my previous FreeNAS setup?

Many thanks!

  • If you have very reliable backups elsewhere, you might want to consider setting up RAID-Z1 vdevs rather than RAID-Z2. Performance with RAID-Z1 will be better, but it is certainly riskier. – user260467 Jun 12 '17 at 17:37
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One server = single point of failure. I'd consider getting two of those and cluster them into HA file server.

1) Windows Server. You can use Standard or even free Hyper-V Server, and bring in free StarWind vSAN for shared storage.

https://www.starwindsoftware.com/blog/part-2-smb-3-0-file-server-on-free-microsoft-hyper-v-server-2012-r2-clustered

At the end of the day you'll get iSCSI/SMB3 HA file server with the best of breed iSCSI and SMB3 stacks for free :)

Storage Spaces Direct is another option, but it requires Datacenter license all-around which means unlimited VMs and has no sense on SoFS, you basically will be leaving money on the table :( + S2D has HUGE resiliency issues in a two and three node configs (no local reconstruction codes).

2) FreeNAS. I'd use FreeBSD which is what iX team used to fork-out FreeNAS from or Linux. ZFS of course! There are numerous options to make it HA.

https://github.com/ewwhite/zfs-ha/wiki

  • Yeah, datacenter is not an option to us. I've tested SMB file server with hyper-v, and got nice results. Thanks for the info. – Tackled Archon Jun 6 '17 at 9:35
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What is your total capacity? Also, how much RAM is used by ZFS?

In RAIDZ2 configuration your performance is limited by the slowest drive. It can be one or two drives with few bad sectors that slow down the performance.

CPU is definitely not a bottleneck in your case..

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