|Item model number||FREENAS MINI-XL-DISKLESS|
|Operating System||Windows 7 or above, mac OS 10.12.4 or above|
|Item Weight||23.2 pounds|
|Product Dimensions||11 x 8.4 x 15.1 inches|
|Item Dimensions LxWxH||11 x 8.4 x 15.1 inches|
|Is Discontinued By Manufacturer||No|
|Date First Available||March 4, 2016|
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FreeNAS Mini XL (Diskless) - Network Attached Storage
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- Full-featured, compact, and reliable NAS & SAN storage system. Powered by FreeNAS, the #1 Open Source storage OS, and protected by the self-healing ZFS filesystem. Built-in RAID keeps your data safe and available, error-protection keeps it free from corruption, and snapshots protect it from ransomware attacks and human error.
- Performance-Oriented and Quiet Hardware Design: 32GB ECC RAM | 8-Core 2.4GHz Intel Atom CPU | 8x 3.5” Hot-Swap SATA Drive Bays | 2x 2.5” Internal SATA SSD Bays | Dual 1 Gigabit Ethernet (Dual 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports can be added) | Remote Management (IPMI) | 3x USB | Built-in RAID | Speed up workflows by adding SSDs for read and write caching.
- Ideal for file-sharing, backup, multimedia processing and distribution, video surveillance, edge/remote office, development, personal cloud, and other small/home office & SMB applications. Broaden your Mini’s capabilities with VMs and an extensive suite of software plugins.
- FreeNAS supports Windows, MacOS, Linux, and Unix clients and syncs with AWS, Azure, Dropbox and more. Supports NFS, SMB, AFP, iSCSI and S3 file sharing protocols.
- Built, tested, and supported in the U.S. by iXsystems. Proceeds support FreeNAS development.
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Manage Data Like a Pro With FreeNAS
The FreeNAS Mini XL is a powerful Network Attached Storage (NAS) system that allows you to bring enterprise-class data protection and storage capabilities to the home or office.
With 32GB of RAM, 8-core CPU, and 10 drive bays, the FreeNAS Mini is serious storage for those that are serious about keeping their data safe.
WD Red NAS Hard Disk Drives
FreeNAS Minis come standard with WD Red HDDs, the preferred drive of FreeNAS. WD Red HDDs are purpose built, optimized and tested for demanding NAS applications.
- Drive Bays: Ten Total - Eight Hot-Swap (3.5”), Two Internal (2.5”)
- Ultra-Secure ZFS Filesystem w/ RAID
- 8-Core 2.4GHz Intel Processor | 32GB of High-speed ECC Memory
- 2x 1GbE NICs + Remote Management
- Powered by FreeNAS: #1 Open Source Storage OS
- WD Red Hard Disk Drives
Powerful Web Interface
Access and manage your FreeNAS Mini XL from any computer or mobile device on your home or small business network. The full-featured user interface makes it easy to monitor performance, create shares, and set up administrative tasks like periodic snapshots and replication all from a web browser.
To manage multiple FreeNAS Minis, download TrueCommand, a unified management interface for FreeNAS and TrueNAS systems.
The FreeNAS Mini XL delivers impressive performance in a compact form factor, allowing fast transfer of data from multiple clients simultaneously. With 32GB RAM, you can also supercharge your system performance by adding SSDs or 10-gigabit networking.
Self-healing Data Protection
The FreeNAS Mini XL will safeguard your precious data with the safety and security of its self-healing OpenZFS (ZFS) enterprise-class file system. ZFS protects your data from drive failure, data corruption, file deletion, and malware attacks.
Beyond Storage: Plugins and VMs
Use VMs or free Plugins to extend the functionality of your FreeNAS Mini XL. Plugins like Plex Media Server, NextCloud, Crashplan, and Zoneminder, help stream media, share files, automate backup, and even control surveillance cameras.
Flexibility and Power to Serve
Share files, backup desktops and laptops, store and serve high definition video and audio content, and deploy plugins and VMs to further extend the capabilities beyond data storage. No matter what your data needs, the FreeNAS Mini XL offers the power and flexibility to serve.
Under the hood is hardware horsepower typically only found in data centers and unmatched by anything in its class: 8-core Intel processor, 16GB of high-speed ECC RAM (upgradeable to 32GB), dual 1-Gigabit Ethernet, full IPMI remote management, and optional flash read & write cache. And last but not least, WD Red HDDs come standard on all FreeNAS Mini's with disks included. WD Red HDDs are the preferred drives of FreeNAS.
|FreeNAS Mini XL (Diskless)||FreeNAS Mini XL (16 TB)||FreeNAS Mini XL (32 TB)||FreeNAS Mini XL (48 TB)|
|Drive Configuration||None||8 x 2 TB||8 x 4 TB||8 x 6 TB|
|Hot-Swap Drive Bays (3.5”)||8||8||8||8|
|Included Storage||16 TB (8x2)||32 TB (8x4)||48 TB (8x6)|
|Processor||8-Core Intel - 2.4 GHz||8-Core Intel - 2.4 GHz||8-Core Intel - 2.4 GHz||8-Core Intel - 2.4 GHz|
|Memory||32 GB||32 GB||32 GB||32 GB|
|Cache Drive Bays (2.5” Internal)||2||2||2||2|
|Ethernet||Dual GbE 10/100/1000||Dual GbE 10/100/1000||Dual GbE 10/100/1000||Dual GbE 10/100/1000|
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|Sold By||—||Amazon Warehouse||TERRAMASTER||Amazon.com||Amazon Warehouse|
|Hardware Interface||Ethernet||USB 3.0, eSATA||Ethernet||USB 3.0, Ethernet, eSATA||USB, eSATA|
|Item Dimensions||11.00 x 8.40 x 15.10 inches||8.78 x 7.83 x 6.54 inches||8.96 x 5.26 x 4.68 inches||17.72 x 13.98 x 6.54 inches||13.39 x 9.17 x 6.18 inches|
|Item Weight||23.15 lbs||5.03 lbs||0.00 ounces||13.23 lbs||11.71 lbs|
Top reviews from the United States
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Setting up the unit takes some time as there is a steep learning curve associated with setting up shares, permissions, and so on. If you haven't used FreeNAS before, expect to spend a few hours figuring out why various shares are not behaving as intended. Eventually, you'll get there, after an AHA! moment or two. Other minor issues include various options being pretty much AWOL unless you hunt for them (i.e. you cannot set up a Z3 volume unless you go to a manual setup), auto-tune - you have to look for that, and so on. As good as the set-up Wizard and GUI is, there is definite improvement potential re: the user interface for first-time users. You will google stuff far more than you ought to.
Why the wizard even suggests the installation of Z1 volumes when Z1 has been widely deprecated is a bit of mystery to me. For long-term storage, Z2 or Z3 is the way to go, if you have the opportunity (the Mini XL has 8 available drive bays). Then there are other one-time issues like configuring this NAS to use a UPS, which is much more painful than it is for Synology/ReadyNAS devices. Those will auto-detect what is attached to them and adjust accordingly. Instead, you have to navigate some pretty obscure drop-down menus in Freenas. So, expect to spend a lot more time getting this thing set up than the consumer-grade stuff sold by Synology, Netgear, or QNAP.
Depending on how many options you explore, you may also have to become friends with the console (which requires the use of a monitor with a VGA connector plus USB keyboard). For example, when I tried to enable failover behavior for the two LAN ports, the server's LAN ports simply vanished. With the help of the console I was able to reset the network interfaces and the server became accessible again. Also note that encrypted volumes do not auto-mount by default. So if you have an encrypted volume, remember to unlock it every time you reboot your server. Otherwise, your share will not mount and the resultant error message may convince you that the array was hosed rather than encrypted.
It would be nice to have two USB ports on the back of the unit - one for a communicating UPS (every NAS should have one) and one for the console keyboard (which you may need). That configuration would make it easier to KVM the server, if that's a feature you need. For now, I'll simply plug and unplug the keyboard into one of the two front USB ports as needed. Those front ports hide behind the door, BTW, so they are inaccessible if the door is locked. Curiously, the Mini XL still ships with USB 2.0 ports when practically the entire industry as switched to 3.0. Hence, backups via a direct-attached USB drive are likely to take longer than if you do the same thing via IP to a computer and from there to a external hard drive.
But learning to set up a server is a one-time task and after that, it's the performance that matters most. Performance-wise, this unit is simply awesome. While my old Synology DS1512+ also features an gigabit LAN interface, the transfer speeds I am getting with a steady stream of mixed media (i.e. simultaneous transfers of iTunes, images, sparsebundles, documents, etc) is consistently 3x using the Mini XL. Thus, while the Synology wasn't pokey by any stretch of the imagination (30MB/s), the mini XL can maintain 92+MB/s for hours at a time. Add in ZFS, Z3 three-disk failure protection, etc. and you have yourself an amazing file server. Could one build one for less? Probably... but I like supporting FreeNAS and their ZFS efforts.
My only ongoing criticism is the fan noise, which is considerable. This is definitely a device designed for a server room. Curiously, neither the IPMI interface nor the GUI let you know what the disk drive temperatures are. This is important if you want to ensure that the drives are cool enough (i.e. stay below 40*C). Worse, the main OEM 120mm case fan is not up to snuff to keep the drives cool as set up by iXsystems. The smart fan control may keep the CPU happy (and ramp up and down as the CPU needs desire) but the fan controller doesn't seem to care about the drives. The higher-up bays get hot easily, especially if you use HGST and similar 7200RPM drives that like to run warm anyway.
My HGST's in the top bays were recording 50*C under sustained workloads (ambient ~21*C) before I replaced the main fan with a Noctua model that is now permanently set at 80% output. The Noctua fan keeps the hard drives cool enough not to trigger temperature alarms but I scratch my head why iXsystems chose this enclosure with its limited air flow over the hard drives. Tip of the hat to the Freenas forums where someone far smarter than I noticed the same issue and suggested the Noctua fix! Replacing the fan was no fun, BTW, it required the removal of the PCIe card, multiple SATA cables, etc.
Since this device will easily max out a gigabit LAN connection, a viable upgrade path includes a faster NIC, i.e. the FreeNAS Mini 10Gb Dual-Port Upgrade , a twinax cable , and a Mikrotik switch to distribute it all. Or, just connect the twinax cable directly to your computer via a 10GB NIC with a SFP+ port. Whether or not your setup will benefit from a ZIL/SLOG or L2ARC will depend largely on your work environment, I'd read up on it, it's complicated.
Upgrading the RAM of the Mini XL is possible (up to 64GB) but very expensive. The ASRock motherboard requires unbuffered ECC DDR3 RAM and there is currently only one source for the stuff, Intelligent Memory. Apparently, a lot of engineering had to go into making this RAM possible, so the cost of upgrading this NAS to 64GB approaches 50% of the initial cost of the NAS. See here for the non-ECC version of the sticks in question: Intelligent Memory IMM2G64D3LDUD8AG-B15E - the ECC version doesn't seem to be sold on Amazon. Hence, if 64GB of memory is a must, building a DIY "pro" FreeNAS (see FreeNAS forums for suggestions) may end up saving you money in aggregate.
Installing anything into the case is somewhat hampered by the ITX form factor. A lot of stuff was crammed into the enclosure. While the OEM did a great job in general securing power lines, SATA connectors, and so on, it does make installing a SSD a little more involved - remove tray, install the SSD, remove some zip ties, re-arrange the cable loom and re-install zip ties, install the SSD. It would have been nice for the connectors to be arranged such that they would plug right in after the SSD was installed (QNAP/Synology do this). Just remember, if you fit a ZIL/SLOG or L2ARC, you likely will have to reconfigure the BIOS, as SSDs for some reason take automatic precedence re: boot order over the built in flash drive. Did I mention the learning curve?
Similarly, securing the PCIe-based 10GB NIC is complicated by the placement of the case screw - right next to a fan and covered with SATA wires. Not easy to tighten based on the angle of the screwdriver. Various board level USB connectors are also very close to the PCIe card when it is installed. Once that card is in place, it blocks all access to the motherboard from that side of the case. The 10GB NIC is a private-labeled 520-SO-CR from Chelsio and curiously, IXSystems includes ZERO documentation with it. IXSystems did send me an email for their online ticket system, however. The NIC started up fine but had to be configured to activate. It now seems to work.
Last but not least, the current OS doesn't yet officially support the Apple's migration to SMB/CIFS from Apple File Protocol (AFP). The mini XL insists on hosting a share only via AFP when you want to set up Time Machine backup destinations. FWIW, Time Machine still seems to work via AFP as of macOS Sierra (OSX 10.12). Hopefully, by the time Apple fully deprecates AFP, FreeNAS will support TimeMachine over SMB. Time will tell!
Oh, did I mention ZFS? Yea. Geek-out-mode God-level filesystem,
If you don't know what ZFS is, you really should read up on it. Basically, if you're using your NAS to store critical files, then ZFS is the filesystem of choice, and it really isn't widely offered within the realm of home storage solutions (as it tends to be a resource hog to operate. It's a good thing that iX had the forethought to pair the best hardware that they could source with the best filesystem that they could source!).
Ok, so more about the hardware.
Both the Free NAS mini and the mini XL rock this motherboard:
ASRock Intel Avoton C2750 2.4GHz/DDR3/SATA3/V&2GbE/Mini-ITX Motherboard and CPU Combo C2750D4I COLOR BOX
As you can see in the photograph, this board does not have a fan on the CPU. Although, this case does have a nice quiet fan that cools the CPU. And, if you run this thing like I do, you really can't expect to use this board without a fan. Well thought out aspect on the part of IX.
Wait is that an Atom CPU? "Yuck!" is what you may be thinking. But, hold on there! This isn't your average Atom. This is the server class Atom that Intel produced. 8 cores, ECC, and a who slew of additional instructions that the other chips aren't afforded.
More accurately stated, the CPU on this motherboard is the most powerful Atom chip that Intel has ever produced (and ever will produce, as Intel is now throwing their weight behind the more power hungry and less capable, but cheaper to produce Celeron line of processors in an attempt to fill this specific niche of the marketplace.) So, while the chip powering this box was released in 2013, it's just not going to get any better than this anytime in the road-mapped-future over at Intel for quite some time to come.
More details concerning the processor powering this beast:
Intel® Atom™ Processor C2750
4M Cache, 2.40 GHz
Suggested retail: $171.00
20 W TDP.
Max Memory Size (dependent on memory type) 64 GB
Memory Types DDR3/DDR3L 1600
Max Memory Bandwidth 25.6 GB/s
Intel® Turbo Boost Technology ‡ 2.0
Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology ‡ No
Intel® Virtualization Technology (VT-x) ‡ Yes
Intel® VT-x with Extended Page Tables (EPT) ‡ Yes
Instruction Set 64-bit
Intel® Data Protection Technology
Intel® AES New Instructions Yes
Annual home energy cost 4.82 $/year
8 SATA connections for the font-accessible RAID, 2 empty internal SSD sleds, a slim cdrom slot which pair to 3 empty sata sockets shows that a quite a bit of engineering and thought went into making this product as flexible as possible.
What more to say? The Support that I have received from IX has been stellar. They really went WAY OUT of their way to ensure that I was taken care of when I had a question.
You should also know that your purchase of this unit helps to support what they do with the open source Free NAS OS distro that they produce (and powers this product)!
All that said: This is FreeBSD. If you're at home in the Windowsphere and just want to share files and download things, this probably isn't really for you. But if you're a power user that's comfortable with UNIXspeak and wants to learn BSD, and/or you like native ZFS or high security control over services and software you manage and implement yourself, this does the job very well. Configuring basic services and jails is a breeze. Just remember, this is BSD. It's different from Linux in important ways and it's not as widely supported as Linux (although I've had no problems finding any answers I needed).
Top reviews from other countries
This should not happen on an almost 2000$ purchase. Do not buy from him, search for other place. The Mini are excellent server when bought at the right place...