1. What is the difference between FreeNAS 9.10 and FreeNAS Corral?

FreeNAS 9.10 is the world’s most popular Open Source software-defined storage product and FreeNAS Corral (formerly known as “FreeNAS 10”) is a new but divergent release of FreeNAS.

You can use either FreeNAS 9.10 or FreeNAS Corral to share data over multiple protocols, including SMB, NFS, AFP, and iSCSI. Both use the OpenZFS file system to store, manage, and protect data. OpenZFS provides advanced features like snapshots to keep old versions of file systems, incremental remote replication to keep your data safe on another device, and intelligent compression.

FreeNAS Corral introduces new features such as Docker container support, virtual machine management, an updated graphical user interface, and a powerful command line interface. FreeNAS Corral can be the core of a hyper-converged solution to share data over file- and block-based protocols, deploy containers, and spin up VMs. The storage services, virtualization, and Docker container management are all separate services that can be used collectively or independently from one another.

Our intention is to ensure that the FreeNAS Corral storage services are compatible with FreeNAS Corral 9.10 storage services. If you find that a FreeNAS 9.10 storage service is not supported by FreeNAS Corral, please open a ticket using these instructions.

2. What’s in store for FreeNAS 9.10?

Many users appreciate the familiarity and reliability of FreeNAS 9.10 and have no reason to migrate to FreeNAS Corral yet. iXsystems will continue to support FreeNAS 9.x for the foreseeable future.

3. Can I order a FreeNAS Certified Server or FreeNAS Mini with FreeNAS Corral installed?

When you purchase your system through iXsystems you can select either version of FreeNAS. If you purchase your systems from Amazon, you will receive it with the latest version of FreeNAS 9.10, which you can upgrade to FreeNAS Corral.

4. How do FreeNAS 9.10 and FreeNAS Corral use the OpenZFS file system?

Both versions of FreeNAS use the OpenZFS file system to ensure the integrity of your data. OpenZFS is a copy-on-write file system, ensuring that new data never overwrites old. The file system is self-healing and protects data from silent corruption like bit rot. It uses snapshots to keep previous versions of file systems, incremental remote backups to keep data safe on other devices, and intelligent data compression to efficiently reduce the size of files and speed up network transfers.

5. Can I upgrade/downgrade between FreeNAS 9.10 and FreeNAS Corral?

Yes, with some minor caveats.

FreeNAS provides a built-in update manager, allowing the user to install a specific release that contains system patches or new features. When the system is updated, a copy of the current system is retained in the boot menu, making it easy to revert to the previous version should the need arise.

To upgrade to FreeNAS Corral from FreeNAS 9.10, select FreeNAS-Corral-STABLE from the trains drop-down menu of the System -> Update screen. The upgrade process will migrate the 9.10 configuration into the FreeNAS Corral configuration format. Once the system has been upgraded, you can revert the system to FreeNAS 9.10 by rebooting and selecting that entry in the boot menu. Note that the FreeNAS Corral configuration file format is different from a FreeNAS 9.10 configuration. This means that you should not attempt to restore a configuration that was saved on FreeNAS 9.10 to FreeNAS Corral, and vice-versa. If you are using an earlier version of FreeNAS, you should either first upgrade to FreeNAS 9.10 and verify the configuration, or do a fresh install of FreeNAS Corral and recreate the configuration.

6. Do you recommend backing up data before upgrading FreeNAS 9.10 to FreeNAS Corral?

Of course! While the upgrade process is non-disruptive to the storage disks that contain data, it is always a best practice to first backup data to another system before applying any update. It is recommended to first replicate your data to another FreeNAS 9.10 system. You can also backup your data with Bacula, Veeam, Veritas NetBackup, Yosemite, NAKIVO, and many other backup solutions.

If you use replication as part of your data backup solution, note that FreeNAS Corral uses a different replication design that only supports replication between FreeNAS Corral systems.

7. What about existing jails or plugins from FreeNAS 9 - what happens with them?

No data from the existing jails or plugins will be lost. FreeNAS Corral supports Docker containers for doing all of its “application hosting”. Existing jail and plugin data will simply continue to live in the jails dataset in the OpenZFS volume but will be inactive, since jails are not used by FreeNAS Corral at this time. Some users have reported good results accessing their jail data in FreeNAS Corral by creating a Docker container with the same user/group IDs and permissions, then manually using Docker volumes to mount the same jail’s location. There may be some who require jails for specific workloads, and for those users the recommendation is to utilize FreeNAS 9.10. Read about jails and FreeNAS Corral here.

8. What do I need to get started with FreeNAS Corral?

FreeNAS Corral uses PC hardware with a 64-bit processor and at least 8GB of RAM. Detailed requirements can be found at FreeNAS Hardware Requirements. If you plan to use FreeNAS Corral’s virtualization or Docker container management, you will need a 64-bit processor that supports Intel VT-x/EPT or AMD-V/RVI. FreeNAS is intended to be installed on a flash device (USB, SATA DOM, SSD, etc), with a recommended minimum size of 8GB. Read the FreeNAS Wiki for some usage how-to’s.

9. Is FreeNAS safe and secure?

FreeNAS is based on the FreeBSD operating system which follows security best practices. However, FreeNAS is not designed as a security solution and needs to be protected from hostile traffic by a properly configured firewall. FreeNAS offers the choice of encrypting the storage drives to prevent them from being read if they are physically removed from the system, but this does not protect against data being read in transit over the network or via compromised user credentials. Like all operating systems, FreeNAS depends on good security practices to keep data safe.

10. Can FreeNAS be used as a media server?

It sure can! FreeNAS 9.10 includes support for a wide variety of third-party software plugins, and FreeNAS Corral supports these using Docker containers. FreeNAS 9.10 and FreeNAS Corral support Plex Media Server, which can be used to stream television shows, movies, and music to a wide variety of devices. If you are concerned about system requirements, the FreeNAS Mini and Mini XL storage devices have enough power to support 1080p HD video and still run normal FreeNAS operations.

11. Where can I get help with FreeNAS?

There are many resources for FreeNAS Corral troubleshooting, including the Community Forums and IRC channel.
For FreeNAS Corral and FreeNAS 9.10 there is a Wiki here.

For FreeNAS 9.10 there is extensive documentation here.

At this time, professional support is only available for iXsystems TrueNAS storage arrays which are built on the FreeNAS 9.10 codebase and have the same familiar UI as FreeNAS 9.10. Learn more about TrueNAS.