Installing and Configuring NAS4Free on a Windows Network

Alright, so you’ve read my previous article introducing you to what a network attached storage (NAS) device is and you’ve decided to implement such a device on your home network. Awesome! So what’s next? Well, now comes the hard part. Sort of. You see, I’ve done the initial research for you and here in this article, I’ll walk you step by step on how you can simply get a NAS box up and running before the day’s end. Granted, like I’ve said in my previous article, there are numerous steps you have to perform and each step is equally important. One skipped step and you might have a file server not working how you want it to. As another fair warning, following the steps presented in this article will only get you started with NAS4Free. However, you will at the end of the tutorial have a completely functional NAS box with a couple of files shares that will be accessible from the other computers on your home network. There are many, many features that you can implement on your NAS box such as configuring a RAID setup to disk encryption. If you are completely new to NAS4Free and configuring a NAS box in general, this tutorial is meant for you. Once you’ve gotten the basics down, then I would recommend you to research the many other functions that this free operating system provides to enhance the capabilities of your NAS box.

This article is intended to go into how to configure your NAS box. If you want an introduction to what NAS is and whether or not you should use one, then please read my previous article!

What You’ll Need

  • A dedicated NAS box – This computer will be your NAS server. The computer can be as barebones as possible! You do not need a fancy graphics card nor tons of RAM. If it turns on and boots, you’re good to go! Granted, NAS4Free does have a supported hardware list which you can find here. My advice is to just boot the operating system and see where that gets you rather than spending too much time worrying about whether your hardware is compatible or not. I did notice that NAS4Free needed at least 512MB of RAM. It kept rebooting when it only had 256MB.
  • NAS4Free – The FreeNAS operating system is technically the operating system of choice for NAS builders. However, I find that OS to be buggy when I first embarked on this project (it wouldn’t even let me create a single user as it kept saying I didn’t fill out the required fields even though it doesn’t tell me exactly what those fields are!). I then found out that FreeNAS is now operated by a different group of users hence the changes. NAS4Free is a version that is built on top of FreeNAS 7 series. During my experimentation, NAS4Free works magically and that is why I am using it as the operating system of choice for my NAS box. You can download a free copy of NAs4Free here.
  • Management computer – This is the computer that you use day in and day out. We will use it to do the majority of the configuration tasks once we have NAS4Free up and running.
  • WinSCP – This awesome utility allows us to FTP into our NAS box to perform configuration and maintenance. You can download the free utility from here.
  • Hard disk(s) – You’ll definitely need empty hard disks to use with your NAS box to actually store your data. If you are just starting out, feel free to start with a single disk just to get a hang of how NAS4Free works. Once you are more comfortable with NAS4Free, you can easily add additional hard disks in the future for added storage space. In this tutorial, I am assuming you have just one physical hard disk installed in the NAS box.
  • A working network – You obviously need a connected home network to work with data to and from your NAS box.
  • A client computer – This is just a regular computer connected to your home network to test with NAS4Free. You can just as easily use your own management computer or spin up a virtual machine.

My End Results..

The demo I will be showing here is fairly simple. At the end, I will have a fully functional NAS box on my network. I have two users named Alice and Bob that need to store their data on my file server. Each user needs their own private folder where only they are able to access it and no one else. However, they also need a general public folder to share files between each other when the occasion calls for it. Both Alice and Bob should have read and write access to this public folder. On both Alice’s and Bob’s computer, they will map two network drives corresponding to the two folders I’ve just talked about so that they can have access to them whenever they turn on their computer while on the home network.

NAS4Free Installation

  1. Burn the NAS4Free ISO to a CD or DVD.
  2. Connect a keyboard and monitor to your NAS computer. A mouse is not needed as there is no graphical interface when installing NAS4Free initially on the NAS box itself.
  3. Pop the NAS4Free CD into the computer and boot from it. You can change the device boot order by heading into your computer’s BIOS screen.

The beauty with NAS4Free is that it boots and loads very quickly as the operating system is very lightweight. Eventually, you’ll get booted into the NAS4Free boot option menu. Let the timer run down automatically or press the number 1 on your keyboard. This instructs NAS4Free to start in the default installation mode. Here is where you cross your fingers and pray that everything goes well because here is where NAS4Free will probe and inspect your computer hardware. NAS4Free automatically loads a compatible device driver for your detected hardware. Once you get to the screen where you are once again presented with a menu option and you see that NAS4Free has been assigned an IP address, then congratulations because NAS4Free has been completely loaded! If not, then you’ll have to investigate the problem and try again.

Initial BootBoot MenuLive Loaded

While you can run the NAS4Free operating system from a LiveCD (which is what you have at this very moment), I would recommend you to actually install the OS onto your hard drive directly. Trust me, this saves a lot of headache in the long run. Although NAS4Free needs very little maintenance once you get things started, there will still be times when you need to reboot the server or if the system crashes. By installing the OS onto the hard drive, you can save the networking information on future reboots without you have to reconfigure things. To start the installation, press number 9 on your keyboard and then the Enter key.

On the initial screen, choose option 3 and hit OK. On the next warning screen, read the prompt and hit OK again. This is basically telling you that NAS4Free will install itself on the first partition and it will automatically create another partition for you to use as the “data” partition. In past versions of FreeNAS, I believe it was impossible to use the hard drive you’ve installed the OS on as a data drive as well. This lead many users to install the OS onto a USB thumb drive instead. Next, you select the source to install from. If you’ve booted NAS4Free from a CD, this will be your source. Next, pick the drive to install NAS4Free. This should be on your first hard disk. Next, you get to choose how big a partition to install the OS on. The minimum needed is 380MB.  Finally, you get to choose whether or not to create a Swap partition. This partition space is used to help boost systems with low amounts of memory. I chose to not create this partition. Once the OS is installed, you will get a nice warning prompt about how to use your hard disk when you later use the GUI management utility. Basically it’s warning you against reformatting the drive!

Installation OptionsWarningInstall SourceInstall DestinationInstall SizeSwapInstalled

Now that the OS has been installed locally on the hard disk, test it out by removing the installation CD and rebooting the computer. If all goes well, you should end back up at the console setup screen!

Configuring Static IP Address

Technically you really don’t have to perform this part of the procedure. It’s just that it has always been drilled in my head that for any kind of server, it should always be assigned a static IP address instead of getting one from a DHCP server. With NAS4Free however, I do notice that it always assigned me the same IP address upon each reboot.

As with any server or computer on a network where users rely on it for certain services, it’s imperative that we assign the server a static IP address rather than it getting one from your router. However, from my testing with NAS4Free, I noticed that it always assigned my NAS box with the same IP address of 192.168.1.250. To play it safe, I’m going to assign it a static IP instead. For that we press the number 2 on our keyboard.

- First it will ask us if we want to use DHCP. My answer is no.

- On the next screen, I’ll assign my NAS box with a static IP address of 192.168.1.240. You obviously should use an IP address that sits in the range of your own home network IP address range.

- In the subnet screen, I’ll stick with the default of a /24 notation.

- For the gateway address, I will leave it blank here because my NAS box does not need any outside access to the Internet. Usually your gateway address is the IP address of your home router. However, a user commented that his machines could not find the NAS server on the network until he issued a default gateway address. Since there is no harm in specifying one, feel free to go ahead and do just that here.

- In the DNS screen, I will leave it blank as well. Once again, I am on a home network and therefore a DNS server is not required for my machines to find the NAS box. Feel free to enter in an address here. Usually this will be either your router’s IP address or a specific DNS server of your choosing.

- For the IPv6 configuration screen, I simply skipped it.

Finally, NAS4Free will configure the network adapter with the options I chose and lets me know that my server can now be managed via the static IP address. To make sure it sticks, reboot your server and check if the NAS box is configured with the static IP address.

DHCPStatic IPSubnetGatewayDNSIP6IP Address

Time to Finally Get Started!

Still with me so far? Good because things are about to pick up! As far as your NAS box is concerned at the moment, it is all configured and the next time you need to touch the box again is when you need to add in additional hard disks! The second half of this tutorial deals with getting our hard disk ready, adding users and groups, creating directories and sharing out folders. Right about now, we should try and initiate a connection to the NAS box from our management computer. Simply fire up a web browser and type in the IP address of the NAS box in the address bar. If you get the NAS4Free login screen prompt, you can then safely remove the keyboard and monitor attached to the NAS box. The server is now considered ‘headless’.

Throughout your time following my instructions here, I would advise you to pay attention to some of the other features and settings that you come across in NAS4Free. Remember, there’s just too much to list here and so I definitely will not be going over each setting in detail. If something strikes you as interesting, be sure to follow up on it to see if you should apply it to your NAS box in the future.

Login Prompt

Configuring Our Disk

First things first, we need to prepare our hard disk for use. At the login prompt, type in the username and password for a default installation of NAS4Free which is admin and nas4free, respectively.

If you are only performing a trial run of NAS4Free, you can leave the default password as is. However, you should definitely change the default password once you are confident that you will be using NAS4Free for good on your network. You can change the password by heading into System –> General and clicking on the Password tab.

To prepare our disk, head into Disk –> Management. By default, there shouldn’t be any entry listed here. Click on the blue plus symbol located on the far right side. In my demo, I only have one physical hard disk installed and so that will be the one I import here. Fields that are not bolded are not required to be filled out. Therefore, I only select my one disk and hit the Add button.

Import Disk

At the next screen, notice that the changes have not been committed. We actually have to click on the “Apply Changes” button to commit the change. This is how NAS4Free works. Therefore, for the rest of the tutorial, I will not repeat this part so please remember to hit the Apply Changes button if applicable!

Apply Changes

Once our disk has been imported and online, it’s now time to mount it. Normally, we would need to perform a format of the disk but because we chose to install the NAS4Free OS directly onto the hard disk, it did this for us! Therefore, do not format this disk. If you have other blank hard disks, then you will need to format it first prior to mounting it. You can do so by heading into Disks –> Format. You then select the disk and choose to format it with the UFS file system. Because I only have one disk in this tutorial, I can go straight to mounting it by heading into Disks –> Mount Point. Hit on the blue plus symbol.

Here we need to configure a mount point for our disk. Think of a mount point as the starting place to store our folder directories. Users on your network won’t see this mount point though but only the directories created within it. Here are the settings I’ve configured. Make sure in the Partition Number field box, type in the number 2. Partition 1 is where NAS4Free is installed at so we need to leave that alone. For the Mount Point Name, you can use whatever you want. Under Access Restrictions, you can completely leave that part alone.

Mount Point

Adding Users and Groups

Once our disk has a mounted volume point, we can then begin to creating our users and groups. Basically, you should create a user account in NAS4Free for every user on your network. So in my example, I will create two: one for Alice and one for Bob. This allows us to grant granular access permissions on shared folders. However, it doesn’t make sense to grant individual users access to the same folder, which in our case is the Public folder. Therefore, we create groups and make users a part of that group. We then grant folder access permissions using those groups. This works very similarly to Microsoft Windows.

First we create our group. Head over to Access –> Users and Groups. Switch over to the Groups tab and click the plus symbol. You just basically need to give the group a name and description. Since this group is used to grant users on my network access to the public folder, I will call this group Public. Please jot down the Group ID number because we will need this information later in the tutorial.

Group Creation

Now we switch over to the Users tab. Once again, click on the blue plus symbol to begin creating users. I will create Alice here but Bob will be created similarly. Here, make sure to set the user’s primary group to ‘nogroup’ and in the Additional Group field, put them in the group we’ve just created above. In my case, it will be ‘Public’. Once again, make note of the User ID number.

User Creation

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Comments

  1. I am about to upgrade nas4free from 9.2.0.1 (943) to 9.2.0.1 (972). Before I do that I’d like to check on the following:
    I upgraded nas4free from .2.0.1 (943) to 9.2.0.1 (972) before on another computer. I backed up the configuration file before the upgrade. At the end of the upgrade there was an error message saying that there was a problem while restoring the configuration file. Nas4free seemed to run OK, but I am worried about that message. Can it be ignored or should something be done? I am not sure why there should have been that message. Also, I am not sure what I should do if that message comes up again when I do this upgrade on another computer. Thanks.

  2. I have a question related to hard disks and the NAS. I was successful in installing the NAS4Free as per these wonderful directions, but in my situation, I have four 1T drives. I allocated 400M on the first drive for the OS, and I went through all the steps. However, it’s not clear if the shares are on the remainder of the 1T disk or on the RAID array that I created with the other three.

    It doesn’t appear to show what is being used for the shares.

    All help appreciated!

    • Since it sounds like you’re just getting started…

      Find a 1gb USB flash drive, setup your computer to boot from CD, then USB, and plug the flash drive in.

      Reinstall NAS4Free, and use the “embedded” option… install to the USB flash drive instead of the harddrive. This will make future upgrades much easier.

      When setting up the drives, use ZFS with a RaidZ (4) 1tb “vdev” and “zpool”.

      This will give you fault tolerance, if a drive fails or has read/write errors the system will continue working without data loss. It will also give you a single 3tb “drive” to share to your workstations.

      If you then setup automatic snapshots, it will protect you from accidentally deleting files and/or recover prior versions of files.

      Experiment and play around… until you put your “life’s data” on the system, it’s a learning tool. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

      • Chad,

        Really appreciate the quick reply… the instructions in your blog are really outstanding and complete. It was very easy to get this far, as I’m certainly new to this!

        One more set of questions if you don’t mind.

        So I originally installed via a 8 gig flash drive. I do have a spare 1 gig, so that part isn’t a problem. Am I correct that I could boot from the 8 gig flash drive as before (a clean boot), then install it to the 1 gig and leave it attached, and then proceed as you indicated? I don’t have a CD drive on the barebones system. Also, since I have 4, 1T drives, would that give me a 4T storage or does ZFS limit me to just 3?

        • Actually, not my blog… I’ve just been answering technical questions here.

          I’m a just a NAS4Free enthusiast, who manages a pair of NAS4Free “45drives dot com” systems at work, and uses it on my home server.

          I’ve never tried the scenario you have, installing from one USB to another, but it should work. Just pick the 1gb flash as the destination target, and you should be fine.

          Technically, you could use the UFS / md setup or ZFS and get the full 4tb of usable drive space as a single drive (as far as the client PCs are concerned). However the loss of a single drive would destroy *ALL* your data. Four independent drives would be safer… you’d only lose 25% of your data if a drive fails.

          The four drive ZFS RaidZ sacrifices the capacity of a single drive to gain the fault-tolerance features. I strongly recommend using fault tolerance.

          You could also do RaidZ2, or RaidZ3 and lose 2 or 3 drives to fault tolerance… sounds bad, but if you have a system with a large number of drives, you can lose a drive during the rebuild process replacing the first failed drive. My home system is (8) 2tb drives in a RaidZ2, so I have 12tb of space.

          Once you have the ZFS pool created, or the drives formatted traditionally, when you create shares in the SMB/CIFS, make sure they’re under /mnt/diskname or /mnt/poolname.

  3. Cliff Evans says:

    How do you go about setting up a Media Server to stream Music & Video using NAS4Free? Can it be done?

    • Yes, you can serve music / videos via NAS4Free.

      There’s two built-in services, “iTunes/DAAP”, and “DLNA/UPnP”… these work okay, but there’s a better option (if you’re brave enough).

      Google “NAS4Free minidlna extention” and follow that discussion on the NAS4Free forums.

      MiniDLNA is what I’m using with BubbleUPnP on my old / retired cellphones for streaming music at home. Use my current phone to connect to the NAS4Free / MiniDLNA server, and one of my old phones as the player. Setup a playlist, and once the stream is started, disconnect my current phone and let the music play.

  4. I hope you can help:
    I have set up users and groups. There are two groups Staff and Volunteers. All users’ primary group is nogroup. Some users belong to both Staff and Volunteer group and some users belong only to Volunteer group – which have been added under Additional group in each user settings.
    I then created the folder directories in File Manager called Staff and Volunteers. Once I have done that I have assigned the appropriate premissions to these folders via WinSCP for groups Staff and Volunteers on a Windows computer.
    Once I have done that I went back to nas4free and created shares in CIFS/SMB. The two shares are called StaffShared and VolunteerShared and are mapped to the folders in nas4free.
    Both shares are visible on Windows network and accessible – the trouble is that the Volunteer group is not supposed to access the Staff folder, but it does. The Staff group users are able to access both shares which is as it should be, but the Volunteer group is accessing both shares as well which should not be happening.
    I checked everything, but can’t find where I went wrong. Would you be able to point me in the right direction?
    Thank you.

    NewUserAlice

    Posts: 7
    Joined: 30 Aug 2013 15:15

    • NAS4Free is Unix, and has a different permissions setup than Windows…

      In Unix, you have “owner”, “group”, and “world” permissions.
      The basic permissions are “read” (r), “write” (w), and “execute” (x).

      I’ve always done it from the command line, using the numbers…
      7 – read,write,execute
      6 – read,write
      5 – read,execute
      4 – read
      3 – write,execute
      2 – write
      1 – execute
      0 – no access

      Using example folder names:
      # chmod -R 770 /mnt/data/staff
      # chmod -R 777 /mnt/data/volunteers
      # chgrp -R root:staff /mnt/data/staff
      # chgrp -R root:volunteers /mnt/data/volunteers
      # ls -l /mnt/data
      drwxrwx— 1 root staff Sep 12 10:00 staff
      drwxrwxrwx 1 root volunteers Sep 12 10:00 volunteers

      Permissions are listed ‘owner’,'group’,'world’, as “rwx” for read/write/execute, and “—” for no access.

      “chmod -R” says to change permissions, recursively on all files / folders
      “chown -R” says to change owner/group, recursively on all files / folders

      Once done, you should be all set. WinSCP may allow this from the GUI, otherwise you can do these command from the console.

      • Thank you very much, Chad. I won’t have a chance to look into this as I was setting this up in the office today. I’ll be going back there in two weeks’ time. The problem is that this setup worked via WinSCP when I was setting this up in Nas4Free 9.1.0.1 revision 943. I am now using Nas4Free version 9.2.0.1 – Shigawire (revision 972). I followed Simon’s instructions (http://www.anotherwindowsblog.com/2012/10/installing-and-configuring-nas4free-on-a-windows-network.html/2) to the letter which worked before, but for some reason it is not doing the job now. I am not sure if I would be able to cope with command lines as I have no experience with it. Going through your list of permissions, it is not clear to me how members of the Staff group can access the folder Volunteers as well. All in all, I am rather at a loss here.

        • “chmod 770″ says “owner and group have full access, world has no access”

          “chmod 777″ says “owner, group, and world all have full access”

          “chmod 750″ says “owner has full access, group has read-only access, world has no access”

          chmod and chgrp are the traditional / simple commands to set permissions.

          *IF* you’re using ZFS, you can get fancy with ZFS / NTFS pass thru permissions, and getfacl / setfacl… that setup allows full Windows NTFS permissions / security settings, which can be managed via the normal Windows “right-click / properties / security”. I rarely use getfacl / setfacl, 99 out of 100 times, the prior commands are sufficient for managing security by groups.

          • Oops!

            chmod – set permissions
            chown – set user/group
            chgrp – set group

            The prior command should be:
            # chmod -R 770 /mnt/data/staff
            # chmod -R 777 /mnt/data/volunteers
            # chown -R root:staff /mnt/data/staff
            # chown -R root:volunteers /mnt/data/volunteers

            chown allows you to specify “user:group”, chgrp does not.

            • Thank you very much, Chad.
              Actually, what is 775 which i took from Simon’s instructions?

            • “chmod 775″ says “owner and group have full access, world has read-only access”

              A Unix quirk is that you need “execute” permission to see the contents of a folder.

              “chmod 664″ would give the owner and group read/write access to files and read-only to world… but would deny all access to everyone if it was a folder instead of a file. Given the circumstances, using “770″ and “777″ is fine.

            • Thanks very much Chad.
              I am replying to your latest comment here (there is no Reply option under your latest comment). It does look that I set the wrong permission. So I have to find the correct permission number which is as follows:
              Members of group Staff can do anything with both folders StaffShared and VolunteersShared. Members of group Volunteers can do anything with folder VolunteersShared, but are not allowed access to folder StaffShared.
              So from what you say 777 should be set for the Volunteer group and 770 for the Staff group. I’ll let you know how I get on. Many thanks.

            • Hello Chad,

              There is another question I’d like to ask: is it always necessary to have nogroup as the primary group for each user and add additional groups for the user? I’m not quite clear what the nogroup stands for – is it for denying access to something?

            • Not sure why the recommendation for “nogroup”.

              Personally, I’d make the primary group either staff or volunteer as appropriate.

            • Thanks, Chad. I’ll let you know how I get on next week.

            • Hello Chad, I had a chance to implement the permissions elsewhere and it all worked. Many thanks for your help.
              I take it that there is no limit to the number of users connecting to the shares? In Windows the PCs are limited to 10 concurrent connections.

              This is slightly off topic here, but I hope you won’t mind me asking this question:
              I upgraded nas4free from .2.0.1 (943) to 9.2.0.1 (972) (I don’t use ZFS) – however, at the end of the upgrade there was an error message saying that
              there was a problem while restoring the configuration file.
              Nas4free seems to run OK, but I am worried about that message. Can it be ignored or should something be done?
              Many thanks.

            • Glad to hear it’s working for you.

              Windows workstations are limited in concurrent users (servers you buy the user count you want), I’ve never seen a limit in Samba (which is what NAS4Free uses to share files to Windows PCs).

              Since your NAS seems to be working, I wouldn’t worry about the config file restore error.

              I’d play around with ZFS… even if it’s a single drive system, ZFS snapshots would give you an “el cheapo” backup if someone accidently deletes something. And if it’s a dual-drive (or better), you’re protected from a drive failure.

              Since it sounds like this NAS is not part of your daily routine, you may want to enable the email alerts and SMART reporting for the drives… that way you (may) get advance notice of problems.

            • Many thanks. I’ll play with ZFS (I do have only a single drive system).
              I realized that I may have omitted something: I set up a user called Volunteer for accessing the Volunteer shared drive only. I did not set up any individual permissions for that Volunteer user as per Simon’s instructions as he/she does not have any individual folders. I take it that there is nothing to worry about?

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  6. Hi, I had to resilver a 2TB drive at ada1 that went bad. Seems like all is working and online except when I look in zfs information, one of my 3TB drives in mirror-1 at ada3 is not shown. It shows mirror-1 to be ada2 and 9173243894130997166, not ada2 and ada3.

    Where is ada3 and why does it look like all is ok in disk management but it’s not in zfs information? Any ideas?

    pool: Pool1
    state: ONLINE
    status: One or more devices could not be used because the label is missing or
    invalid. Sufficient replicas exist for the pool to continue
    functioning in a degraded state.
    action: Replace the device using ‘zpool replace’.
    see: http://illumos.org/msg/ZFS-8000-4J scan: resilvered 56.7G in 0h38m with 0 errors on Tue Aug 12 18:50:03 2014
    config:

    NAME STATE READ WRITE CKSUM
    Pool1 ONLINE 0 0 0
    mirror-0 ONLINE 0 0 0
    ada5 ONLINE 0 0 0
    ada4 ONLINE 0 0 0
    mirror-1 ONLINE 0 0 0
    ada2 ONLINE 0 0 0
    9173243894130997166 UNAVAIL 0 0 0 was /dev/gptid/0602577f-2ffa-43d2-befd-c0348f30e1e9
    mirror-2 ONLINE 0 0 0
    ada0 ONLINE 0 0 0
    ada1 ONLINE 0 0 0

    errors: No known data errors

    • Try typing in this command at the console shell:

      dmesg | grep ada3

      Odds are you’ll get some basic info about the drive, a bunch of error messages about read/write failures, then a “device deactivated” message.

      Get another drive ASAP, and plug it in… don’t disconnect the existing drives, just add a seventh drive. You’re not protected from drive failure currently… if ada2 fails, you’ll lose the entire pool.

      Check out Addonics if you need additional SATA ports in your PC, I’ve used their products frequently with FreeBSD / NAS4Free.

      Google “Replacing a Device in a ZFS Storage Pool” to find Oracle’s documentation….

      Once you have the seven drives plugged in, use the “zpool replace” command (verify this!!! I’m guessing at the device names):

      zpool replace pool1 /dev/ada3 /dev/ada6

      Then “zpool export pool1″, disconnect the failed drive, then “zpool import pool1″. The export/import process updates the ZFS meta data to correct the device names.

      Personally, I use “glabel create /dev/adaXX” and create pools using “label/” to avoid the issue.

      To positively identify a drive by device name (doesn’t work on deactivated drives, you may have to find the serial numbers of all the active drives, and use process of elimination):

      camcontrol identify /dev/ada3 | grep -i serial

      • What is weird is that disk information shows ada3 online. I do not have any system/pool degraded messages like I did when ada1 went bad.

        • I do a lot from the command line instead of the web manager.

          If you do a “zpool status” and it shows “degraded”, you have a major problem.

          In the web manager, go to the “Disks”, “ZFS” page, then “Pools”, “Information”.

          NAS4Free creates vdevs and zpools by the device names (“ada#”), and those names can change… which will confuse ZFS (hence the “export/import”). That may be all that’s happening here…

      • Do i get to the console shell by typing 6 and then enter? Then typing dmesg | grep ada3 ?

        • I think “Shell” is number six on the menu, just type in

          “dmesg” is the command to display the system message log, “grep” filters the log to only show lines containing “ada3″, and “more” puts in page breaks ( to advance line by line, to advance page by page)… so here’s a better command:

          dmesg | grep ada3 | more

          • Ooops, the system took part of my comments as tags… note to self, don’t use less than / greater than signs.

            “6″ and “enter” get you to the command prompt

            “enter” advances line by line, “spacebar” advances page by page

            • The last three lines when i typed dmesg

              GEOM: ada3: the primary GPT table is corrupt or invalid.
              GEOM: ada3: using the secondary instead — recovery strongly advised.
              Trying to mount root from ufs:/dev/md0 []…

            • Google “freebsd gpart man page”

              Scroll down to the section on “recovering”

              Before messing around with recovering ada3, do a backup of the system… you are currently NOT fault-tolerant with your setup. If you lose / corrupt the mirrored ada2 drive, you’ll lose everything.

              Safest option would be to simply replace ada3, and let the system resilver.

            • When you say do a backup of the system, you mean back up all the data? Don’t laugh, but the nas with mirror drives IS my back up. I don’t have 9 TB of extra drives to back it up. I will work toward that though. :)

            • I’m not laughing… but you seem to be in a high-risk situation. Be careful. Find someone local who knows FreeBSD.

              I’ve developed a paranoia about backups (20 years of being the I.T. guy), after seeing too many crash-and-burn incidents.

            • So i tried to replace ada3 and I get an error that ada3 does not exest. Tried adding the replacement drive to make it 7 total drives attached but only 6 show up and all the ada labels switched drives. I put everything back the way it was and tried to reboot but I think my psu is on the fritz as i can no longer boot into the bios. Sooooooo, is there a way to replace motherboard and psu but keep my pool together? I think my motherboard is assigning id’s wrong and psu wont let me boot.

            • I hope you’ve made a note of which drive serial number matches up with which ada#. If you’re able to get back in at all, try this command:
              # camcontrol identify /dev/ada## | grep -i serial

              The ada## is assigned at boot time… the OS kernel scans the hardware, and loads drivers for each device it finds… and assigns the ada## sequentially as it detects each drive.

              In theory, you can simply pull the drives out and install them in any PC (with enough hdd ports)… just connect the drives in the “proper order”.

              It sounds like your PC is dead… You may be better off getting a multi-drive external enclosure (USB 3, perhaps?) and putting your drives in that… USB drives come up as “da##” instead of “ada##” devices. Then try importing the pool. The completely different devices names may allow it.

              You’d get better advice at the NAS4Free forums:
              forums dot nas4free dot org

            • I was able to boot the nas one more time. Most likely a faulty psu. Currently backing up all 9TB to other drives around the house. I do not use command’s at all. When you say type command # camcontrol identify /dev/ada## | grep -i serial

              what is “|” ? Is that a return? If you can give me step by step instructions on how to type the command, I’ll give it a try. Yes, I do what what serials go to what ada’s. It’s funny, when I rebooted, the system changed ada3 to ada2 and now shows ada2 missing.

            • The “|” is the pipe symbol. Different keyboards put it in different locations… typically it’s with the “\” symbol, and near the back space key. It’s the symbol that tells just about any Unix/Linux system to take the output from one command, and use it as the input to a second command.

              The camcontrol program is the drive controller… the “identify” option tells camcontrol to display all known info about the physical drive. Send that info to the grep command which filters out everything except the line containing the word “serial” (“-i” is simply case insensitive).

              So:
              camcontrol identify /dev/ada## | grep -i serial

              simply returns the “SERIAL NUMBER ASDF1234″ line.

              Once all of your data is backed up, destroy the ZFS pool (you WILL lose any data not backed up separately):
              zpool destroy -f Pool1

              Then for each ada## in the system:
              gpart recover /dev/ada##
              gpart delete -i 1 /dev/ada##
              gpart destroy /dev/ada##
              camcontrol identify /dev/ada## | grep -i serial
              glabel create serial# /dev/ada##

              Once you’ve labeled all the drives:
              zpool create pool1 raidz2 label/serial0 label/serial1 label/serial2 label/serial3

              List all of the drives by “label/serial#” after the “zpool create pool1 raidz2″… this will create the pool based on the drive labels instead of the ada##

              This way the ada## become irrelevant, and if you continue to have problems with a drive, it’ll tell you which drive it is by serial#

              Then go into the web manager, “Disks / Management”, and select “clear configuration and import disks”

              Then go to the “Drives / ZFS / Configuration / Synchronize” to update the web manager to show the correct ZFS info.

              And be sure to go to “Disks / ZFS / Snapshots / Auto Snapshot” to configure at least one auto snapshot (recursive) to run every day. This is a “poor man’s” backup… and has saved my data several times.

            • Wow! I will try that for sure after all is backed up. Thanks so much for your time!!

              I’ve been getting this when backing up my tv shows:

              errors: Permanent errors have been detected in the following files:
              /mnt/Pool1/TV/Kids TV/The Scooby-Doo Show/The Scooby-Doo Show – 1×04 – Watt A Shocking Ghost.mkv
              /mnt/Pool1/TV/Kids TV/The Scooby-Doo Show/The Scooby-Doo Show – 1×06 – Scared a Lot in Camelot.mkv
              /mnt/Pool1/TV/Kids TV/The Scooby-Doo Show/The Scooby-Doo Show – 1×07 – The Harum-Scarum Sanitarium.mkv
              /mnt/Pool1/TV/Kids TV/The Scooby-Doo Show/The Scooby-Doo Show – 1×08 – The No-Face Zombie Chase Case.mkv

              Not everything but random files.

            • copy and paste the list of files into a text file for future reference… it’ll tell you what files you need to restore via alternate means.

              It looks like the mirror partner drive to the drive that failed also has some read/write errors… otherwise ZFS would be recovering the data on the fly.

              There’s arguments either way, but I prefer RaidZ2 (or Z3) for this reason… with Z2 you have to “lose” two drives (3 for Z3) before you start losing data. Multiple mirror pairs are good for speed, and give some data protection, but you’re immediately at risk if you lose a single drive.

              RaidZ/Z2/Z3 use data parity and heavy-duty math to distribute and protect data over a bunch of drives, and you only sacrifice the capacity of 1-3 drives (another 1-2 drives if you allow for spares), even if you have 45 drives in the box. With mirrors, you lose 50% of the drives. (Modern CPUs don’t hesitate at RaidZ… a lot of NAS4Free boxes are built around MiniITX / Atom based systems, i.e. low-end CPUs).

  7. Hi, Simon…

    Running NAS4Free 9.2.0.1 – Shigawire (revision 972)

    Great set-up hand-holding advice. Followed your instructions explicitly and it worked like a charm… running without interruption for maybe 6-8 weeks —then a neighborhood power failure a few weeks back and now I’m really lost.

    Think I may be able to access my many previously saved files by importing but haven’t tried as I see the config is going to be overwritten…or something to that effect…was afraid this might prevent me from even getting this far.

    I have a dedicated box where NAS4Free runs. Installed on HD with 4 partitions. Don’t ask me why –or how – but I believe there are 2 NAS4Free installations on this HD. Partition 1/ The installation that currently starts system and works as advertised– but not a sign of any of my numerous files or folders in the MNT directory that I’ve saved previously. Thus, I believe these to be another MNT Directory on Partition 2 – (any NAS4Free as well) / – but not sure I don’t have a clue how to get there from here or to make it my default for start up. btw – partitions 3 & 4 unused.

    Is importing the answer even though config will be changed?

    Tnx

    • It sounds like you did a “full” install instead of an embedded install. A full install leaves you with the FreeBSD base OS installed in partition 1, a “swap” partition, and a “data” partition.

      if you are at the console of your NAS4Free machine, go to a shell prompt.

      type in this command:
      glabel status

      you’ll probably see lines like this:
      Name Status Components
      ufsid/53f3af54b51d11dc N/A ada10p1
      ufsid/535da44e4d1726a4 N/A da0a

      Then type this command:
      df -h

      You’ll probably see this:
      Filesystem Size Used Avail Capacity Mounted on
      /dev/ufsid/53f3ac077ba14e6d 2.7T 12G 2.4T 0% /mnt/raid1
      /dev/ufsid/53f3af54b51d11dc 2.7T 32M 2.4T 0% /mnt/raid0

      Compare the ufsid numbers, and find one listed by “glabel” that’s not listed by “df”…. that’s the UFS filesystem where your data is. Make a note of the ada#p# for that filesystem.

      Under “Disks”, “Mount Points”, click the plus sign in the bottom right.
      Select your drive from the drop down list by the “ada#”
      Most likely it’s a GPT, so try that first.
      The “p#” is your partition number.
      Then make up a mount point name for it.

      Good luck, and read everything on the screen before clicking… if it says “Warning!!”, think twice (maybe three times??) before clicking…

      • Chad, rest assured, you are the Genie of the day and most likely many days. After following your step-by-step instructions, miraculously, my data can both be seen and accessed.

        Thanks for your excellent guidance and for taking the time to give it. Now climb back on that magic carpet of yours and look for another poor soul in the NAS4free abyss. ;-) Great work!

        Kind regards…
        Jack F

  8. Sallie Blinka says:

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  10. After I set up my vdevs and pool and data sets, i had to do a reinstall. How do i get all my data back. I have not reformatted the drives. All data should be ther in zfs format right. Help!

    • I’m assuming your using the curent version of NAS4Free, “9.2.0.1 – Shigawire (revision 972)” and “x64-embedded”…

      Under “Disks”, “Management”, select “Clear Config and Import Disks” then Save / Apply it.

      Then under “Disks”, “ZFS”, go to “Configuration”, “Synchronize”, and click “Synchronize” at the bottom.

      This will tell NAS4Free to read the hardware disk configuration, and then read the existing ZFS configuration from the drives.

      Good Luck!

      • I just tried that and it says; “Nothing to synchronize”

        • Ouch… so much for the easy way. ZFS pools can get “testy” about being imported into a system, without being properly exported from their original system.

          If it’s not time-critical, and you have important data on the drives, you may want to simply wait a few days and try the easy way again.

          ZFS pools keep track of the system they’re mounted on, and the last date/time they were mounted… if you try swapping between systems quickly without exporting, the pool will “know” and “complain” about it.

          Otherwise, I hope you’re comfortable at the FreeBSD command prompt. **BE CAREFUL AND READ THE LINKED PAGE(S) CLOSELY** Note that ZFS was originally developed on Solaris, then ported into FreeBSD. The basic command lines are *ALMOST* identical.

          You can use SSH or the console to do a forced import:

          http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E19253-01/819-5461/gazuf/index.html

          Towards the bottom it says “If the pool was not cleanly exported, ZFS requires the -f flag to prevent users from accidentally importing a pool that is still in use on another system.”

          NAS4Free is based on and uses the FreeBSD operating system, here’s the man page you need.
          http://www.freebsd.org/cgi/man.cgi?zpool%288%29

          NAS4Free is probably ignoring your pool, because you need to use the “-f” flag.

        • Whew! Thanks so much Chad!! I figured it out. Had to force the import. You are a life saver! This all came about when i was adding two more disks to the pool but could not format as nas4free changed the Disk id’s and would not display the new drives to be formated. Any idea if this bug will be fixed soon?

          • Great minds think alike… I had posted info about “forced” imports earlier, but it’s still waiting for moderation:

            Chad says:
            July 14, 2014 at 8:48 am
            Your comment is awaiting moderation.

            Glad you found that okay. For more advanced configuration from the command-line, I typically use the “glabel” command to label each drive with it’s serial number. Then I create the zpool from the command-line using the serial number labels instead of the device names… then import the pool via the web manager. Bypasses the entire issue of changing device names. I wish NAS4Free would do that type of setup automatically.

            • Ok, added another vdev to my pool. All looks good. Original data sets still intact. However, smb shares are gone and when I try to share them again, they do not show up in the the Pool path. I’m a novice at this and not good at command-line so I’m doing everything in the webgui. A buddy of mine got me into nas since he saw my 6 external backup drives laying on my den floor.

            • Smb shares are managed via the “Services” menu under “smb/cifs”. Typically I create the zfs data sets first, then share them under ” smb/cifs”.

              Make sure you enable auto snapshots in the ZFS options… Not a true backup, but can be a real lifesaver, if you accidently change/modify/delete a file.

              You’ll find your “backups” under “//.zfs/snapshots//your files”. From the command line, that is.

            • Ok, when i was trying to add a second vdev to the pool, it would not let me. Read online that i needed to delete the pool and re-create it with the two vdev’s. Did that and now it looks like i for sure lost 2TB of data. How can i get that back? I hate technology! :)

            • If it’s valuable data that you must have, **STOP IMMEDIATELY**, document exactly what just happened / what commands you did, and contact a data recovery professional.

              ZFS is well known enough they may be able to recover it.

            • No, not critical data. Just a ton of time spent transfering to nas. I thought I could just add a second vdev to the pool but when I went into Pools/Management, everything was greyed out and there was no way to add the second vdev. read online that i needed to delete the pool and create it again with the 2 vdev’s. that worked, but now, data gone.

            • Well, turns out, due to the disk id bug, when you add new drives, you will most likely need to go int the config file and change the id’s so you vdev’s are correct. Spent two full days messing with this but I sure learned alot. :)

            • Yes, I must say, thanks for the article. It did help, even though I struggled a bit. Got it working now. Using mostly to backup my movies for xbmc, and music for subsonic. :)

            • The web GUI is nice for basic admin, but if you want to get “fancy” like adding vdevs to existing pools or changing around hard drives, you’re better off at the command line.

              When adding drives to an existing system, the safe bet is to do a “zpool export poolname” first, then add the drives, then “zpool import poolname” after.

              The export command changes the metadata in the ZFS pool, removing the drive-specific information. Then when you import the pool, ZFS puts the new information back on the drives.

              For the hard-core who need mega storage, check out the “www dot 45drives dot com” website, I admin two of their v2 Pods… both running NAS4Free, one in TN, the other in MI, and synced via the internet. Work greate for FTP/NFS/SMB file servers.

  11. Thank you so much for taking the time to prepare and publish these How To’s!
    Thanks to your efforts, I now have nas4free up and running.

  12. Simon,
    Thank you very much for some well written articles. You are the reason I have my NAS4Free running satisfactorily. You sir, rock!

  13. Connor says:

    Hi Simon,

    First of all, thank you very much for writing this, it was extremely helpful.
    When I mapped my network folders, both the private and public one, to Windows, they show as network drives with a size of 223 MB with 7.58 MB free. When I look in the drive, there is nothing stored on it. Do you know why this might be? I have a ZFS pool setup with 5 one Teraybyte disks set in raidz1 for a total of 3.56 TB usable space.

    • Hey Connor. I haven’t tried using ZFS so I apologize, I can’t help you there. It seems like you might be mapping to the wrong partition?

  14. Elmer Dodson says:

    Just wanted to say your blog is a lifesaver. The info on folder permissions allowed me to deploy a NAS for our small aviation company that has been running 20 years with no backup. I realize NAS is not a backup per se, but it provides a central data hub to set one up (after installing a 24 port switch and disposing of the three ‘daisy-chained’ Wal-Mart routers that fed seven PCs- with some cat5 PC and printer re-feeds) so it is a vital step up.
    Thanks to XP’s demise, my boss HAD to replace 3 XP PC’s in which I scavanged for a NAS.
    My input- don’t edit with IE. I used IE7 on an XP box to setup and editing shares was impossible- it’d lock up IE everytime. I’d just delete the share and recreate it. Later, I attempted an edit with Chrome and it worked fine. (After the grief of resetting wireless routers to become WAPs, I’d discovered some older routers only worked with IE9 in ‘compatability’ mode, so I’d became rather IE centric, prefer Mint myself.)
    A great article overall, (best my Google-fu found) and thank you!

    • Your welcome Elmer! I’m stoked that you found the article and the info on NAS4Free so helpful in your situation. NAS4Free can definitely do a lot more so do more research if you really want to get the most out of it! Good luck!

  15. Ajay Kumar Gupta says:

    Hello Simon,
    I am totally new to NAS4free and after reading your article I am confident that I can do it, for long I had in mind building a network storage but finally I did it and has been struggling to create and access the folders, after going through your article will be doing it ASAP.
    Will be needing your help and support to setup everything I need.
    Basically what I am looking for is to stream songs n videos on my iPad and Sony Bravia telly.

    • Hello Ajay,

      I’m glad you have interest in the NAS4Free project. However, I want to let you know ahead of time that I am by no means an expert! I can try to help you get a basic and functioning NAS4Free server running but for more advanced scenarios and/or configurations, you’ll need to conduct your own research or consult with a much broader audience in this topic such as the NAS4Free forum found here: http://forums.nas4free.org/

      If you will be doing a lot of streaming, I just came across a streaming software called Plex that is gaining a lot of momentum for home uses. Take a look here if you are interested: https://plex.tv/

  16. Simon,

    I really appreciate your NAS4Free tutorial, but for the life of me, I cannot recreate your folder hierarchy example (in Advanced: File Manager) containing the .mnt folder.

    All I can see is Directory: Home >> Storage

    Can you comment on this?

    • Hello Rusty. I have followed my own tutorial and rebuilt a simple NAS4Free virtual machine. Everything works as expected. After creating my mount point, I headed over to Advanced — File Manager. In the root of this folder, I see folder names such as .snap, bin, boot, cf, conf, etc. When I head into the mnt folder, I see the mount point I have just created.

      • Hi Simon, and many thanks for responding so quickly!

        For what it’s worth, I am using the embedded install (option 2) on a 16GB USB flash drive (for learning purposes). I have no trouble with the first page of your tutorial, but after creating a Group (public), and a User (me), I head over to Advanced: File Manager, enter my user ID, and all I see is a folder called Storage.

        • Success!

          I solved my folder tree problem by signing out of NAS4Free, and signing in again *twice*. Once at the initial sign-in box, and again at Advanced: File Manager – both times with the same administrator credentials.

          I thought I was supposed to sign-in to the folder tree with my User name – which you can, but if you do, you will only see the Storage folder instead of the administrator’s folder tree.

          I hope this post will help others to avoid my elementary mistake.

  17. Thank you so much! it help me alot! :)

  18. Bob Reddy says:

    Dear Simon, You have done a FANTASTIC job. I am a Medical Imaging Electronics architect/designer and can see a great document when I see one (due to the nature of my work). Though I am far removed from Linux, I was able to follow your instructions as if I had written them myself. Congratulations! And Thank You!
    Happy New Year.
    Bob.
    PS: If you’d like to acknowledge use [hibabuji@coolgoose.com]

  19. Thank you thank ever so moutch!

  20. Thank-you for your tutorial, it more or less worked perfectly for me. I now have a central backup server for all 5 family computers via SyncBack Free. My question is in regards to the user permissions. I have successfully set up individual permissions so that each user can only access his/her own files and a public folder (such as you demonstrated in the tutorial). However, I would also like to have a “super-user” (myself) who has access to all of the shares. I have played around with the permissions and the groups but just can’t seem to get it to work. Any ideas?

    • After much fooling around with the permissions I managed to answer my own question. Instead of making individual shares have user permissions (i.e. Alice and Bob from the tutorial), I instead made each of the shares “owned” by a different group. So the “DT-OFFICE” (Desktop-Office) share is owned by the “DT-OFFICE” group as opposed to the user. I then made the user of “DT-OFFICE” a member of the “DT-OFFICE” group, so that the office computer could still access its own share. At the end I had my “super-user” (me) and I just added myself to each of the groups, (i.e. DT-OFFICE; DT-UPSTAIRS, etc.), so now I can access all of the shares. This makes it easier for the offsite back-up solution that I am in the process of implementing. In retrospect, this is just taking the “public folder” share as explained in the tutorial and taking it to the next level. I hope that this explanation is clear enough that it can actually help instead of confusing people even more.

  21. Why do set the primary group to Nogroup and the additional group to Public? Shouldn’t be the other way around? If you SCP in and look at the properties of the folders, the owners will be Bob and Alice but the group will be Nogroup.

  22. I have NAS4Free up and running. I set up NFS for my Linux box and CIFS/SMB for Windows shares. I added a 2TB external drive and copied my complete media library (videos, music, photos) to it. All is good. So my next step is dlna setup so that I can stream my media library to my wireless Sony blu-ray/internet server. I used the default Fuppes server and managed to see the server on my Sony box, and I can see the Videos, Pictures, and Music folders, but I can’t select any videos. I just get a message that the server can’t find a playable file. Most of my files are in mpeg2 format, and I don’t have transcoding turned on, and I have been able to view an .mpg video that I streamed to the Sony from a Windows box.

    I have not been able to locate the miniDLNA files that you mentioned in your post. See below

    nas4free: /mnt # pkg_add -R -r ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/amd64/packages-9-stable/All/minidlna-1.0.24_2,1.tbz
    Error: Unable to get ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/amd64/packages-9-stable/All/minidlna-1.0.24_2,1.tbz: File unavailable (e.g., file not found, no access)
    pkg_add: unable to fetch ‘ftp://ftp.freebsd.org/pub/FreeBSD/ports/amd64/packages-9-stable/All/minidlna-1.0.24_2,1.tbz’ by URL
    nas4free: /mnt #

    Where can I go from here?

  23. Simon,
    great tutorial, I have managed to set up NAS4FREE using your tutorial. I originally a set it up on a USB NAS device with 1 500GB drive as this has now become full I need to add a 2nd hard drive, I have imported it, created shares, etc, it is seen on the NAS BOX but cannot be accessed from Windows, as only the original 3 shares are displayed.
    Can you please point me in the right direction.

  24. I am interested on mapping of Windows usernames to autoconnect to mapped shares automatically. For instance, I have a Windows user with the login name of John Smith. On the N4F server, I have created a login of jsmith with a home directory of /mnt/pool1/WO/home/jsmith. I would like for when John Smith logs in to his window machine, automagically, his shares will be mounted, etc. I guess part of me would like to allow for eventually setting up roaming profiles in the not too distant future.
    Also, if I run backup software I want to be able to again automagically point the software to the shared backup directory, but limited the path to only be the share backup for that user. For instance, /mnt/pool1/WO/share/backups/jsmith. Although in restrospect, maybe I should just create the directory in the respective home directories. That would allow me to setup the %u in the path and call it is a day…

  25. u can use DHCP to send ip to your server
    You just need to configure your dhcp server (net box generally) to give allways the same IP to a particular MAC ADDR.

  26. Hello Simon,

    Your post is very useful. I set up Nas4Free and I am very happy with it.
    I would very much like to find a good solution for the backup of files residing on Nas4Free itself. I know that PCs etc can be backed up to Nas4Free – but this is not what I am looking for. The scenario is that users can access shared files on the Nas4Free box – but I would need to back them up – ideally to the cloud. Can this be done without using rsync? It seems that there is no way to install backup software on the Nas4Free itself. Would you be able to suggest a solution?

    • Hey Alice. I’m glad you are interested in Nas4Free. However, I do not actively keep up with Nas4Free nor do I know anything about Nas4Free beyond what I wrote here! I would definitely recommend you check out the Nas4Free forums instead to get more help:

      http://forums.nas4free.org/

      After looking for a bit though, what you are asking for seems like it can be done but some of the solutions I saw involved using rsync. For example, one service allowed you to use rsync to sync your data to Amazon’s S3 storage. If this is too much for you to handle, a better option would probably be going with a full GUI OS such as Ubuntu to present your users with the folder shares. You’ll obviously get way more options to where and how to back up your data over the cloud this way. Heck, even if you have an old but unused Windows box, you can use that as your storage server. Of course, you’ll lose the benefits of Nas4Free so there’s always going to be advantages and disadvantages.

  27. New2this says:

    Oh yeah, will this work for streaming to xbmcbuntu as this is my main reason for setting up nas4free?

    • I have no idea but after a quick search, my guess is a no. Xbmcbuntu is an actual operating system similar to NAS4Free. Because it’s not a plugin/extension/addon, I’m believing that it will be quite difficult to get that piece working under NAS4Free. Even if it’s possible, your support will be limited. If you are interested in Xbmcbuntu, you might as well give up NAS4Free and just install it onto your computer instead. Because it’s based on Ubuntu, you install it the same way like downloading the ISO, burning it to a DVD, booting up from it, etc etc.

      • Actually NAS4Free works smoothly with XBMCbuntu, I use it myself.

        Simply setup NAS4Free as a Windows file server, or an NFS file server… then configure XBMCbuntu (on a different machine) to access the file shares.

        My NAS4Free is in my basement, with a low-profile XBMC in my living room.

        Advanced topic: DLNA/Upnp & iTunes/DAAP… I did manage to get them to work, but it was unstable. Just setup as a file server via SMB/NFS

        • Crap. I actually misread the OP’s comment. I thought he wanted to install XBMCbuntu ‘onto’ a NAS4Free box! When I read your comment, only then did I re-read the original comment and noticed my error. Thanks for the clarification. Hopefully the user didn’t abandon using NAS4Free because of my original answer!

  28. New2this says:

    I want to set it up so that anyone can access the folders, but i got as for as being able to see my nasbox on the network but now i cant access it (after removing the password i couldnt copy files to it so i added the password again and now i dont have “permission” to access it, this has definitely helped alot so far, thank you :) by the way, what do the groups have to do with the set up?

    • If you are new to NAS4Free, then my advice if you’re stuck on a certain problem is to simply destroy and rebuild the server from scratch. I’m also confused about which “password” you are referring to. Your NAS4Free box? The user account you’ve created within NAS4Free? Anyways, it’s always a good practice to create groups and use them to assign permissions instead of granting them directly to user accounts. Because you assign permissions to user groups, then any time in the future you wish to grant a different user with the same access permissions on the folder, you can simply make that user a part of that group. This immediately allow the user to inherit the access permissions of that group.

      If I granted my Public user group full access to a folder, then it doesn’t matter if I have 2 or 200 users. All I need to do is make all those “users” a member of the Public “group” and they will immediately have access to that folder.

  29. Thank you for this post! It was a huge help to me while going through the setup process as I was an absolute rookie with my dealings with servers. I am actually about to go through this setup for the second time as I screwed up my initial setup beyond what I can repair by trying to setup a VPN. I ended up losing all ability to access my server, so attempt number two is about to commence! Thanks again!

  30. After I’ve moved to another apartment (with a new router) my NAS didn’t seem to function properly anymore. So I decided to do a fresh installation of N4F and also update it to the newest version.

    But after following your tutorial again somehow my NAS still isn’t visible in my network. The disks are mounted and when I use the filemanager all my files are visible on the disks. When I looked further into the problem I noticed some strange things. When I go to diskmanagement the filesystem of all my disks apparently is ‘unknown or unformatted’. I can’t simply choose to format the disks because they’re full with my data.

    The second thing I’ve noticed is that the things I change with WinSCP aren’t saved. When I reboot the nas and then start WinSCP again the owner of the shares is set back to ‘root’ again.

    Are the things I mention the cause of my problems? Or am I doing something else wrong?

    • As for the issues of the server not showing up, can you simply browse to the shares by specifying an IP address instead? Also, what operating system are you using? For example, try typing in \\192.168.1.250 into the Run command prompt or in the Windows Explorer window. Obviously, substitute the IP address with the address of your server.

      I’m not sure what is going on as far as the format issue goes.

      Have you made sure to actually install Nas4Free onto your hard hard? If not, the settings you make will not stick around if you reboot the server. If you’ve followed my tutorial, then I’m assuming that you have indeed installed the operating system onto your hard drive. In that case, I’ll have to kindly redirect you to the NAS4Free forums for more help because I simply lack the knowledge to continue further. It would have helped if I also experienced the same issues as you did here but I did not for the most part except for the server not appearing in Windows.

      http://forums.nas4free.org/

      • Thank you for your reaction. It seems I found the problem.

        First off all I had to import the disks instead of adding them. After I did that it said that the filesystem was UFS, just like before.

        The second (little bit stupid ;-) ) thing was that I didn’t enable CIFS/SMB service. I did add the shares but without enabling it of course nothing is visible. I was about to throw something out of the window when I accidentally noticed there were no green check marks in the services/status page.

        • I’m glad you solved the problem and reporting back on what you’ve did. I’m sure this will help others in the future who experiences similar issues.

          You know what’s the funny thing? Immediately after submitting my earlier comment, I was just browsing around the NAS4Free forum I’ve linked to and came across a thread mentioning SMB. It occurred to me that you could have the service disabled, hence you’re not seeing the shares. However, I immediately dismissed that idea because I specifically went over enabling the SMB service in my tutorial and since you followed the tutorial, there was no way that you could have missed that part! Anyways, thanks again for reporting back, especially on the disks issue.

  31. Great article – clean and concise.

    SO here’s the problem I have – how to install to a headless unit?

    I have an ASUS TS Mini Home Server that came with original WHS – the OS is now not doing what I wan to with a mix of Android, Win8 and Apple unit connecting to the server.

    I really like to look of NAS4Free (played with FreeNAS a few years back), but stumped on how to do an install. Only option I see is to put HDD into a standalone unit, install, reinsert HDD to ASUS headless, and then use RDC (or equivalent) to connect to the ASUS to finish off any setup (eg new drivers).

    Thoughts/advice/comments really appreciated :)

    Regards

    Ron

    • Hey Ron. Thanks for stopping by and providing feedback on my article.

      Your situation does present a problem, especially with the server you have. A quick look on Newegg shows that your home server does not have a CD-ROM drive. The good news is that you can definitely install and run NAS4Free off of a USB stick. Some users choose to use a simple 1GB USB stick, load NAS4Free onto the stick and run the OS from it. If you can somehow boot the server from USB, we might have a chance.

      By default, NAS4Free will configure itself to use the IP address of 192.168.1.250 /24. If your home network is configured for a different subnet, then what you’ll have to do is boot from the USB stick on a different computer. Once loaded, you can reconfigure the network settings and the settings should be saved back to the USB stick. When you then boot back from your server, you should then be able to configure the NAS4Free server via the browser. Driver wise, I’m not exactly sure how that works with NAS4Free. I am assuming that due to the limited environment of the OS, you shouldn’t have to configure any new drivers on your own as the built-in generic drivers should work.

      If you can’t boot from a USB stick, then yes, I can’t think of another method besides doing what you have suggested in first transferring the HDD to another unit, install/configure and then transferring it back. Hopefully someone will also chime in on this issue and help out!

      • Simon – I can either boot from USB or I have a USB CD which I can connect – I’m guessing that the CD would be the better option (?)

        Either way – I’m guessing best option is to boo the unit and then do a remote connection to the box (thanks for the headsup re the default IP) – can I then install from the CD/USB to the HDD – assuming I have all of this correct, what software would you suggest for the remote connection – can I just use the Windows default RDC software.

        Worst case – I can go for the move the HDD option :)

        Cheers

        Ron

        • Wait a minute…You’re able to do a remote boot of the server via CD? From what I saw, your server did come with a CD that you use to detect the server over your network and for configuration purposes. However, I don’t think you can use the NAS4Free install CD and do a remote boot to your server. At least that’s what I’m thinking.

          Also, the Windows built in remote desktop client connects to other systems via the RDC protocol, which is specific to Windows. Therefore, I don’t think you can remote into your server with that client without some configuration on the server side first. That or use another remote client/server software like VNC. However, you don’t normally remote in to the NAS4Free server because there is nothing to configure besides the network configuration! Once that is done, you manage the server remotely via your browser from then on. You’re best option is still to just simply boot via USB or detach the HDD.

          I hope this makes sense to you. If not, please let me know and we can continue our conversation via email instead.

    • I use NAS4Free / FreeBSD both for home and work.

      Typically when I install NAS4Free, I install it entirely to a USB Flash drive (the install process will see the flash drive as if it’s a hard drive). This works for both “full” (described above) and “embedded” (the developer’s preferred) installations. Setup the NAS box to boot and run entirely from the USB drive, and dedicate the attached hard drives to data only (read up on ZFS, it’s a real life saver).

      Once the drive is setup, you can use on any computer (pay attention to the x86 vs x64 versions, not all older machines will boot x64).

  32. raka_supernoob says:

    Thanks dude!!
    this tutor helped me a lot….^^

    • Your welcome! Glad you found it useful.

    • Of all the NAS4Free forums and tutorials I’ve seen, this post has helped me the most. THANK YOU, you’re FREAKING AWESOME. Aaaaaand blog bookmarked.

      Having said that, I was wondering if you had some ideas about getting it available over the internet- i.e. remote access. I’d like to use OwnCloud on it, but don’t know how to get started with that part. The goal is to have a secure, personal dropbox-like cloud, and a secure local (got that part) and remote backup for multiple family computers. My parent’s computers are always time-bombs of data loss… I’m sure everyone can relate.

      Again… This article is fantastic. I hope you have some more ideas!

      • Thanks for the positive feedback Austin! Much appreciated and I am glad that you enjoyed the article.

        Getting access to your NAS4Free box at home from the Internet should not be that difficult. All you’ll need to do is configure SSH on both your NAS4Free box and home router. Then you can just use a simple utility such as Winscp to remote in to upload and download files from your box. I am considering doing an article to show just that. If you are in a hurry to get it set up, I’m sure you can find a ton of different articles around the web showing you how this can be accomplished.

        It’s interesting that you mentioned OwnCloud. I’ve first heard of it via LifeHacker and it is there where I will point you to because they have an excellent tutorial showing you how to configure everything. However, I have no idea how you would intermix both NAS4Free and OwnCloud together. Is that your goal or are you planning on each being separate? Anyways, I will see if I can write a quick tutorial on getting remote access to a NAS4Free device. Since the server will most likely be powered on 24/7 anyways, I’m sure many users will benefit from having some type of remote access to it.

        Below is the OwnCloud tutorial on LifeHacker:
        http://lifehacker.com/5993596/how-to-set-up-your-own-private-cloud-storage-service-in-five-minutes-with-owncloud

        Let me know if you have any more questions. =)

        • Here is a useful link that discusses OwnCloud on NAS4Free’s Webserver utility (I think thats how it works).

          http://forums.nas4free.org/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=32&start=0

          That link references a second link for new 5.x versions of OC.

          I’m piecing it together I think. Dynamic DNS still confuses me- I’ve kind of come across that I will need that service to reference my router’s WAN IP “via an easy to remember name”- sound right? I read pages 1 and 2 of your DNS explanation. That helped too. I just don’t know how to go about getting a free dynamic DNS that supports unlimited bandwidth/data transmission/anything else I need.

          • I am actually in the process of writing my article on how to configure a NAS4Free server for Internet access. I’ll take a look at the OwnCloud thing and to the link you’ve pointed me to but for the most part, I really don’t think I’ll be doing anything to that extreme anytime soon.

            For the most part, yes, you’ve got the part about the dynamic dns name part correct. I’ll explain it a little better in the article. But as to you being confused, don’t be. The DNS name thing has nothing to do with unlimited bandwidth or data transmission. It is only there to help you reach your NAs4Free server back at your home no matter where you physically are in the world. You could physically be in Antarctica and your NAS4Free server back at New York. The name resolution service is there to just help you (in Antarctica) to “contact” your server in New York. That’s all there is to it. The bandwidth and data transmission depends on your actual Internet connection speeds via your Internet service provider and whatnot.

            Stay tune for the next article and hopefully things will be more clear.

        • I’ve setup OwnCloud on my NAS4Free for personal use, not production… it works fine with the SQLite database, but NAS4Free doesn’t include the MySQL/MariaDB PHP drivers to allow OwnCloud to use SQL… and OwnCloud recommends SQLite for single-user systems only.

          http://forums.nas4free.org/viewtopic.php?f=48&t=1606
          http://forum.owncloud.org/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=13467

          Other web-based apps that work well on NAS4Free:
          https://www.dokuwiki.org/dokuwiki
          http://www.squirrelmail.org/

          With a “full” install of NAS4Free, you can install the Dovecot v1.x (haven’t gotten Dovecot v2.x to work) and GetMail FreeBSD packages… then have the NAS4Free automatically retrieve your email from POP3/IMAP servers, and store it locally… then use Dovecot to serve it up to your IMAP desktop client or SquirrelMail web-based IMAP.

          You can also setup NAS4Free as an OpenVPN server / client using the FreeBSD openvpn packages. Then setup a VPN from your laptop to your house…

          • Thanks for chiming in Chad! I think that setting up my own cloud thing is just too much hassle. It obviously has its own attractions and I’m sure many users want to build up their own cloud network at home not just for security reasons but for others as well. I’m sure this topic will be much more interesting in the years to come.

  33. Caleb Newville says:

    Simon,

    Thanks for a great article and simple write up. Here is one thing I’m doing to keep my shares simple and a little cleaner. Instead of creating one share for each user (Bob, Alice), you can force them directly into only their folder based on their login credentials.

    On the SMB Shares page, I have a share called “Home”, in the Path, just add the variable %u where the username should go. For example, “Path” could be “/mnt/storage/homes/%u/”. When Bob connects to the server, he will then see two shares “Public” and “Home”, when he goes into home he only sees the contents of the /mnt/storage/homes/Bob/ folder.

    This saves you the two steps of manually setting the permissions when you create the folders, and of manually creating a share for each user.

    -Caleb Newville

    • Awesome tip Caleb! This is very similar to using the environment variable of %username% when configuring folder redirection within the Windows operating system. I will definitely link to your comment here in the article as your tip can potentially save a lot of time when a lot of user folders needs to be created! Thanks!

    • I tried this method and cant seem to get it to work. Im putting this in the users home path?

  34. Hi

    Nice tutorial just wondering is it possible to change the amount of space a user has assigned

    cheers tony

    • Hey Tony. I apologize but could you please explain your question more thoroughly? What space are you referring to? Are you talking about expanding the disks in your NAS4Free server? Or are you referring to the shares for a user?

      • Hi Simon
        Referring to the shares for a user
        Cheers Tony

        • One way to restrict user drive space is via ZFS datasets, create a dataset with a max size setting and share the dataset:

          http://forums.nas4free.org/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2882

          ZFS is a very advanced setup, and not for the faint of heart… I usually configure ZFS via command line, and import the final setup into the web manager. (ZFS allows not only fault-tolerance, and restores without first having a backup (i.e. snapshots), but also does compression and deduplication if you have enough RAM minimum 2gb of RAM for each 1tb of disk).

          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ZFS

          • ZFS is the only thing that is SAFE, and what does that have with fainting and heart health to do? Please do not try to recommend UFS. I myself would “faint” and get a “heart disease” when I discover corrupt files like un-replacable photos from a wedding for example, on a UFS based SAN. UFS is an old UNIX type file system and we all know how old UNIX is. And I am sure ZFS is far more userfriendly than some tries to get the impression of! But as NAS for Free is free software, I gather there are those who want to scare people from using this wonderful system! Only “excuse” to use UFS would be low RAM.

  35. Great link… thanks.
    After loading winscp, i can’t login it keeps giving me a access denided… should I be using the pw that i setup in nas4free?

    • Just answered my own ?….

      • Hey Rutro. Glad you found the answer. If not, re-read the section “Assigning Permissions to Directories” on the second page. You basically need to enable the SSH service along with enabling superuser (root) access. The username is root and the password is the password you’ve set for NAS4Free login. If you’ve changed it and it doesn’t work, then try to use the default password of nas4free.

  36. Just a quick followup.

    Before I sussed how to re configure the IP addresses (with the help of your excellent article) *none* of my 10 NAS partitions were accessible from either my Win 7 desktop or my flatmate’s Win 8 box.

    Now, even though I don’t have access to the management functions of the NAS server, all the partitions can be seen and accessed from our desktops so at least we can get on with our work.

    • Hi Noel,
      I think this may be a subnetting issue?
      Have you made sure the subnet mask of the NAS box matches that of your new router?

      You should be able to set this through the console.

      Your old router with ip 192.168.x.y probably used 255.255.255.0 which is /24 notation when configuring the router with a new IP.

      Check the netmask of your router and make sure you use the appropriate /?? when configuring NAS4Free.

      For info see here: http://www.techrepublic.com/article/ip-subnetting-made-easy/6089187

      Hope that helps.

      • Gary, thanks. That article helped a bit but I’m still having trouble finding out the netmask of the new router. However, as I wrote before, all the NAS partitions are visible and usable from our desktops and the laptop, so something must have gone right.

    • @Gary Thanks again for helping out!

      @Noel At first, I was a bit confused at the problem you were experiencing concerning the missing configuration options when you logged into the WebGUI management interface. Then it soon occurred to me that the most simplest of explanation is that the user account you used to log in to the management interface does not have the required access/permissions! I did a simple test and indeed, when logging on using just a standard user account, I only got the System, Advanced and Help menu options.

      With Nas4Free, there is a built in administrator account that you should use to manage the NAS box. By default, the username for this super account is ‘admin’ with a password of ‘nas4free’. Try using that to log in to the WebGUI interface. If unsuccessful, then your nephew most likely have either changed the username and/or password for this account. The good news is that you can easily reset the password for this account as long as you have console access to the NAS server itself. Follow the instructions in the article below to reset the password back to its default. If the username itself has also changed, then you will need to do extra work. However, the easiest solution is to just ask your nephew for the username. Once you have both pieces of information, you can easily change it back to something of your choosing within the WebGUI interface.

      http://wiki.nas4free.org/doku.php?id=faq:0040

      As for your new router, you can actually configure it to use back your old address scheme of 192.168.1.x instead of 10.0.0.x. These are considered private IP addresses and in most cases, it shouldn’t matter which addressing scheme you use. Like Gary said, you need to make sure your subnet information (among other pieces of information) is correctly configured. But my advice is to fix one issue at a time and I would definitely start off with getting back root access to your NAS box. In fact, since it seems as if you’ve gotten your new router to work with your NAS box and the computers on your network can actually see it just fine. Therefore, we’ll focus on getting you back admin access. Let us know your outcome!

      • Simon, spot on! As I wrote, I haven’t had to do anything with the NAS box for quite a while and I’d forgotten that there was an admin account!

        As soon as I logged in to that account, all the menu options appeared as well as heaps of information about all the NAS partitions.

        I’m particularly pleased that, even after all the messing around I had to do, NAS4Free maintained all the details of the disks, the users and the permissions that had been set up 15 weeks ago!

        Thanks again for your help *and* your article.

    • Hi folks,
      I have searched for a couple of days for a solution to my problem. It appears to be common to an extent but none of the solutions have worked so far (about to give up). I have followed the above guide to a T, hopefully (thanks for it). I can access my NAS ip no problem. I can even see my NAS in the Network folder on Windows 7 HP, Windows 7 Pro, and Windows XP. I cannot access my shares. I receive “Windows cannot access” “Error code 0×80070035 The network path was not found” in Windows 7. Windows XP is same message different wording. Again I have tried half dozen or more tweaks on the windows side found online and none have worked. I am using an old IBM 512MB memory P4 2.66 running NAS4free off of 4GB usb. shares created according to the above on a 2TB internal hard drive. Any more ideas. Thanks.

      • Additionally, I can access files on all my other compters (3 laptops). I can also see and access the media server I setup on my NAS on all the compters. No files yet because I cannot access the folders/shares.

        Thanks

        • Also discovered that when I enable “yes” Local Master Browser in CIFS Nas4Free computer disappears from Windows machines Network folder. When disabled “No” Nas4Free reappears in the Network folders for Windows Machines.

          • Hey Brett. From my recollection, I had this very same problem when I first mucked around with NAS4Free while writing this article. It turns out that I hadn’t configured the shares correctly. I remember having to create a folder within my /mnt/Storage directory and then creating a share that maps back to this folder. Is this what you did as well? At the moment, I don’t have the time to rebuild my NAS setup but I will be able to do so later on in the day. In the mean time, here are some things you can perform to see if it helps solve the problem:

            - Temporarily disabling your firewall and antivirus solution
            - Try to access your NAS server via IP address instead of its host name. Open a run command box and type two backslashes (\\) followed by the IP address of your NAS server.
            - Try to give your shares Anonymous access.

            It would also help to know of the solutions you have tried so far so that we don’t waste each other’s time in repeating the same information. Also, I would recommend to leave the Local Master Browser setting to its default.

            • Hi Simon, Thanks for the ideas and guide. I tried all the ideas you mentioned and then some, mostly dealing with Windows 7 Networking issues. Nothing worked. What did work was a reset of the NAS to “factory defaults” in the webgui. After that I started with only trying to be able to access an unsecured hard drive. It worked. then I began adding users, directories, permission, etc. It is up and running. I have copied 1.5 TB of data to the drive and have been streaming music, pictures, and video to all my devices, including my Dish Network Hopper. Thanks again for your guide and time. I’m not sure what went wrong on the first try.

            • I’m glad you solved the issue Brett. I had a chance the other day to rebuild the simple NAS4Free setup as described in the article. At first, I also had some issues as you being not able to access the shares within NAS4Free although the server was visible on the network. What did work however was specifying the IP address of the NAS4Free server rather than host name, which is what accessing the server within File Explorer will do. This immediately lets me know that something is wrong with name resolution. Usually, this doesn’t happen often as computers located on the same local area network can find each other via broadcast. In very weird scenarios, this doesn’t happen.

              If you find that the other computers on your network still cannot access the NAS4Free server over the network within File Explorer, I urge you to read up on how NetBIOS name resolution works and manually placing an entry within the LMHOST file for your server. This is something new to learn (and read) but I figured since you’ve already dedicated a huge amount of time and effort into making NAS4Free work, then reading up on something new shouldn’t present too much of a problem.

              http://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-netbios-name-resolution-really-works/5034239

            • Excellent advice Simon. I will read up on NetBIOS name resolution. I always felt like I was a click or two away from having this thing running. I really appreciate your guide and advice. It is great to re-use really, really old computer parts for something as cool as a NAS.

  37. Simon, I hope you might be able to help me or perhaps some of your other readers. Last November my nephew set up a NAS4Free server for me, grafting it into my home network so that it allowed me and my flatmate access to a selection of hard drives. Everything went happily until a couple of days ago when our router died and had to be replaced – with an entirely different router (that might sound silly, but the old one used IP addresses like 192.168.x.y, whereas the new one uses 10.0.0.x.

    As someone else had done the initial setup for me and then I hadn’t had to touch anything for months, I was completely at sea trying to add the NAS box to the “new” network created by installing the new router.

    Finally I got to the stage where I could access the NAS GUI from my desktop browser, but when I login, the menu bar at the top of the screen shows only:

    System Advanced Help

    instead of:

    System Network Disks Services Access Status Diagnostics Advanced Help

    Have you any idea why I’m missing those options, what I might have done wrong when I reconfigured the IP address info and what I can do to get it all back to normal?

  38. First of al thank you for the great article. I was struggling with the instructions given on the Nas4Free wiki but following the steps in your article made it very easy. My desktop is very busy copying files to it at te moment.

    Unfortunatly I’m having some issues mounting the second disk that’s in my NAS. I’ve setup the first disk that’s in my NAS which is the same disk as where N4F is installed. So when I mounted the disk I choose partition 2 (just like in your example). When I want to mount the second disk I’m getting the following error:

    *Wrong partition type or partition number.
    */dev/ada1s3: Can’t get UFS ID.
    dumpfs: /dev/ada1s3: could not find special device

    I’ve tried to number the partition 0, 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 but I always get the same error. Can someone tell me what it is that I’m doing wrong?

    • Edit:

      I was able to mount it by changing ‘Partition Type’ to ‘GPT partition. So far it seems to be working fine and I’ve managed to add a new share to my network.

      Although I was wondering whether changing it from USF to GPT will cause any problems in the future?

      • Hey Tinus. Glad you found the article helpful. I’m also glad you found a solution to the problem because honestly, I’m not an expert at all when it comes to NAS4free. From my recollection, UFS is a file system, not GPT. GPT is a partition style and defines how partitions and volumes are created on the hard disk. The file system on the other hand is how a disk actually manages your data within those partitions.

        Try checking the configuration for your second disk again. The file system should be UFS and not GPT. If you wish, you can back up all important data on your second disk and completely reformat it to start from scratch. You can use the article below to help you out:

        http://wiki.nas4free.org/doku.php?id=documentation:setup_and_user_guide:setup_drives

        • Had to re-install yesterday because I miscalculated on the number of drives I have. My Nas4Free install is now on the 750 GB drive and I bought two new WD Red disks for all my data. After formatting those disks, I wanted to mount them but again I got the same error. Because this were new disks that were never formatted NTFS or anything else I wanted to look further into the problem.

          You’re right about UFS and GPT. Apparently when you format a disk with UFS file system it automatically chooses GPT as the partition system. That’s probably why GPT is the default partition type @ Disks/Mount Point/Add/Partition Type.

          Also when you format a disk the file system option says:
          ‘UFS (GPT + Soft updates).

  39. To the writer, a gateway address is needed, it not advisable to skip it, as mentioned in this thread I started:
    http://forums.nas4free.org/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=2533&p=13353#p13353
    The problem was that the nas server wasnt visible on windows 8 file explorer, but with the gateway address specified, it works.

    • Thanks for the heads up Gio. Technically, a gateway address routes packets between different networks. Because my NAS4Free server was located on the same network segment as my PS3 and home computers, no default gateway was needed. However, there is definitely no harm in adding one and seeing that it solves a problem you’ve been having, I’ll revise the article to reflect your findings.

  40. Simon,
    I just built a NAS server using the following hardware:
    ASUS C60m1-1 MB with AMD APU C-80 CPU, Coolermaster Glite 120 case w Coolermaster Glite 400w PS 8 GB Kingston Hyperx Blue of DDR3 RAM,
    8MB memory stick and a 1TB Seagate 7200 HD. I didn’t know which OS I should use, I found NAS4Free, installed it on a USB memory stick and go it up and running without any problems. The problem I had was, I needed a better step by step tutorial to set up my users, groups and CIFS/SMB shares for my home network. I searched around and found your blog. I found your tutorial to be easy amazing, it was easy to follow and I got my NAS shares up and running the way I wanted them in no time at all. This setup is a test until I get my new hard drives. The 1 TB drive will be replaced by 3 x 3 TB Wester Digital Red drives in the next few months. I wanted to thank you for making by NAS softwware build succesful. I will also be installing PHP, MySQL and a few other packages once I get my new drives. I will let you know how those projects turn out. Thanks again! Keep up the great tutorials.

    • Hi,
      I have almost exactly the same setup as yours! Same mb, same case, 16 gb ram, and a bunch of odd HDs. For me the deal breaker for N4F was the media streaming. Try as I might, I could not make streaming work smoothly with my PS3. The other thing – not so much a problem but annoyance – is RAID. I wanted to utilize the odd sized HDs that I already had. NAS4Free does not have the ability to pull odd sized HDs into one storage pool. Not only they have to be identical but they also have to be empty or re-formatted, plus adding new disks to the RAID is a pain in the #%*. With regret, I had to abandon N4F in favour of ubuntu – happily running PS3mediaserver and SnapRaid.

    • Thanks for the feedback Thel and your welcome! I look forward to hearing about your future project with NAS4Free. Although I personally don’t use it at home, I love to hear how other users can benefit from it.

      @Ella
      I’m glad you found something that works for you!

  41. teriffic. just what i was looking for keep it up..

    • Sounds to me like you are booting it up straight from the LiveCD.
      Can you confirm you have installed the OS to a harddrive(if installing the full version) or a Compact Flash card connected through an IDE converter (if installing the embedded)?

  42. I like how easy nas4free is. However after 2 days of using it I’ve restarted 3 times for various reasons only to have it boot back up and lose all my settings/disks/users etc. Is there any reason it won’t retain any of that?

    • Sorry ason, I have no idea why that is happening! That certainly has not happened to me during my testing phase with NAS4Free. Please check out this forum page as it was the only one that resembled a situation such as the one you have described. You can also consider starting a thread in that forum and see if the users there can help you solve the problem.

      http://forums.nas4free.org/viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1018

    • Ason,
      at the very begenning you have to decide where the nas4free will be installed. If you run live(CD/USB), your configuration is not stored/saved anywhere. If you reboot, your configuration go to the hell.
      I am using USB for the nas4free OS (not for data nor swap etc). I was going this way:
      - start from the liveCD/USB
      - wait till the Console setup apears
      - configure network IP address to DHPC or to the fixed IP (option 2)
      - start “the installation” (option 9)
      http://dl.dropbox.com/u/16029746/251-300/282%20Installoptions.png
      - plug the USB flasy memory to the one of the USB ports on you NAS
      - wait few seconds to see the USB flash was recognized
      - then the option 1
      - remove the liveCD/USB and reboot

      HTH
      Petr

  43. The nas4free was a pain from the start. UNable to dlete files from external login such as windows or linux even though non read only and not on /mnt above /mnt every time. 41tb of data nearly lost taking this advice. Luckily zfs though diificult and non user friendly in any way….is transferable to good free source software such as http://WWW.NAPP-IT.COM….if you aren’t a PHD and dont want to spend weeks configuring things out……stay away form nas4free…or freenas……as NAPP-it nips it all in the bud with no pain in the rear.

    • Why would you risk 41TB of your precious data on a hardware/software product that you have no experience on? I agree that both NAS4Free and FreeNAS can be a pain. I remember struggling during the writing of this article. I was halfway done and it didn’t make sense to quit there and so I stubbornly stumbled on until I found the solution. However, I’m sure NAS4Free is very popular and many people are looking for an easy way to implement it on their Windows network as this article is getting hundreds of hits each day and that doesn’t happen too often for my articles!

      • I really wanted to love nas4free but after trying it for my media server – see the comments below – I gave up, and ended up with ubuntu 12.04 server. Very happy.

    • Simon says: “Luckily zfs though diificult and non user friendly in any way”
      Not sure what ZFS you’ve been using but to call it non-user friendly in anyway? Can’t be the one I’m using…

      “.if you aren’t a PHD and dont want to spend weeks configuring things out……stay away form nas4free…or freenas”
      Smacks of “a poor workman blaming his tools”, – it’s a poor effort to just flame a product which you didn’t understand and blame it for your own short comings…my recommendation would be to start with the basics…spelling and grammar.
      This alone may get you much further with your next product and it’s consequent review.

  44. This is a great article. I was looking for something like this all over the internet. Your setup is exactly what I’m hoping to do with my NAS/media server box – no RAID of any kind, just plain bunch of disks on an extremely light weight box, running 24/7 mainy for streaming media and downloading torrents.

    Now, if you could do a tutorial on how to setup bittorrent client and how to stream media to PS3/Xbox etc, it would be wonderful.

    • Thanks for the feedback Ella. At the moment, I got the Bittorrent client configured within Nas4Free but I’m struggling a bit with the UPnP service to work with my PS3. I’m still trying to get it worked out so if I do, I will gladly write up the full article! If you really want a quick tutorial on how to configure Bittorrent with Nas4Free, please let me know and I’ll write about that part first while I try and resolve the streaming issue.

      In the meantime, there are other ways to easily stream media from a computer onto your PS3. I wrote an article talking about this subject in details which you can find below. It’s not a NAS solution obviously so I’m not sure if it’s going to be of any help in your situation. I don’t have an Xbox anymore (both suffered from the red ring of death) so I can’t test it on that system.

      http://www.anotherwindowsblog.com/2009/06/stream-media-to-tv-with-ps3.html

      • It would be great if you can publish article about setting up the BitTorrent.

        I’ve been using PS3 Media Server on Windows 7 x64 for years. It works exceptionally well. The problems with this solution are 1) I have 5 external HD – no room in the chassis – the mess and the power consumption are staggering 2) I’d like to run headless, low power system 24/7 without breaking the bank to pay the electricity bills, have a centralized access to my TBs of media, and tidy up my desk at the same time.

        My options are 1) to build new Windows box with new motherboard (old does not have enough SATA ports or expansion slots) and much larger case or 2) to build small NAS/Media Server running lightweight OS. No. 1 is out of the question – too expensive and a resource hog, and too large to fit in my small space. So, no. 2 it is. Now, I need to decide which OS. I’ve looked at FreeNas, OpenMediaVault and NAS4Free. All would fit my specs except the media streaming. It seems that neither has an easy way to do that. If worse comes to worst, I’ll install Ubuntu server. At least Ubuntu supports natively PS3 Media Server, XMBC and the likes, and is a bit less resource hungry than Windows.

        • I just published the tutorial on how to get BitTorrent configured within NAS4Free! You can read it from the link below.

          The good news is that I have finally found a way to stream media from my NAS4Free box to my PS3. The bad news is that after having read your comment above, the solution I used doesn’t allow for NAS4Free to transcode media to your PS3, which I assume you might need since you already am aware of the PS3 Media Server software which does excellent transcoding on the fly. If the media sitting on your NAS4Free box isn’t already compatible with your PS3 or Xbox 360, then I’m afraid it won’t be playable. Nonetheless, I will still write up the article so hope you’ll read it as well. Enjoy.

          http://www.anotherwindowsblog.com/2012/11/configuring-bittorrent-support-in-nas4free.html

  45. Hi
    Great post, was looking for it since long.
    thanks and kindly keep it up

  46. aha…now you point it out, it’s as clear as day.
    Problem was I was skimming…alot of text to take in when you know something on the subject.

    Only thin I could recommend is to have the pagination next to your url rather than under the comments.

    Not sure as that would help the likes of me with attention span of nano secs.

    2nd page is also great write up.

    • Thanks for the suggestion and feedback. Unfortunately, I’m not an expert at WordPress customization so while I have tried to move the pagination numbers to show right at the end of my articles, one of my other plugin actually has priority and bumped the numbers below it making it harder to see. That is why I manually created the hyperlink to the next page. Anyways, I understand your situation about the attention span as I can be like that as well when visiting new websites.

  47. Great post, very well laid out and comprehensive except for the part, suggested by your title, where it connects to a windows network.
    You’ll need to setup a CIFS/SMB share for this drive to become available to a windows machine.

    • Hey Gary:

      The part where I talked about setting up a SMB share is on the next page of the article! I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong because this is not the first time it has happened where a reader thought my article was at an end even though I have clearly placed a link at the end of the post signaling that the article continues on the next page! If you or anyone else is reading this, do you have a suggestion on how to make this more clear? What would cause you to miss the next page link at the bottom? Too small text size? The text not standing out from the rest the article? No page numbers?

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