Installing FreeNAS on Vultr


Based on FreeBSD 6, FreeNAS is an operating system that can be installed and used as a platform to store and share data over a network. FreeNAS uses ZFS to protect, store, and backup all the data stored on it.


  • An 8 GB Vultr Instance
  • A minimum of 4 Block Storage Volumes with equivalent size.
  • The FreeNAS ISO uploaded to your Vultr account.

Before we begin

  • This tutorial was written on March 20th 2016. The link to the FreeNAS ISO references the latest version as of that date, 9.3-STABLE. You may need to make sure you are uploading the latest version of FreeNAS by obtaining the ISO from the FreeNAS Download Page.
  • FreeNAS requires at least 8 GB of RAM. While it might run on smaller instances, it is strongly recommended that you install it on an 8 GB or 16 GB Instance.
  • You will be able to achieve better performance if you use a Vultr Dedicated Instance. However, SSD-based compute instances are tested and known to work without issues.
  • FreeNAS uses the main disk volume for the Operating System. A storage volume is required as it will be formatted into ZFS and a Software RAID will be created. As such, it will not work with SATA-Based instances.
  • FreeNAS is dropping support for Hardware RAID in favor of ZFS and Software RAID.
  • An even number of Block Storage volumes will allow creating a RAID10 Setup with ZFS. RAID10 is recommended.
  • All your volumes should be the same exact size, otherwise disk space will be wasted.

The process

Uploading the ISO
  1. Browse the ISO section section in the Vultr control panel and click Add ISO”.
  2. Enter the URL for the FreeNAS ISO. and click Upload.
Create Block Storage Volumes
  1. Browse the Block Storage section in the Vultr control panel.
  2. Add an even number of block storage volumes with equivalent sizes.
Creating the instance
  1. Create a Vultr instance of the recommended and choose Custom ISO in the Server Type section.
  2. Select the FreeNAS ISO.
  3. Enable Private Networking (optional).
  4. Proceed with the deployment.
  5. Browse the Block Storage section in the Vultr control panel.
  6. Attach your volumes to the FreeNAS instance one by one. Please note that the instance will be rebooted each time you attach a volume. As such, you do not want to begin the installation proceed until you have attached all your volumes.
  7. Navigate back to your instance and open the VNC console to proceed with the installation.

Note: While enabling Private Networking is completely optional, it is recommended that you enable it in case you wish to use FreeNAS with instances within the same Vultr location, which allows you to securely transmit data over the private network without consuming your public network’s bandwidth.

Installing FreeNAS

As the instance boots up, the ISO will load all the necessary files for the installation process to begin in the same manner any other OS installer does. The GRUB window will load a screen with the following options:

  • Install/Upgrade
  • Shell
  • Reboot System
  • Shutdown System

Option #1 is selected by default. The next step is to hit Enter.

The next screen will ask you to select the volume on which FreeNAS should be installed. The options should be:
* vtbd0 Unknown Device — 150.0 GiB
* vtbd1 Unknown Device — 50.0 GiB
* vtbd2 Unknown Device — 50.0 GiB
* vtbd3 Unknown Device — 50.0 GiB
* vtbd4 Unknown Device — 50.0 GiB
Note: The above options would display if you are using an 8 GB Vultr Compute instance and 4 50 GiB Block Storage Volumes.

You will need to select vtbd0 as it is always the first Volume. The instructions on the screen advises that you select the volume with the spacebar. Next, make sure that OK is highlighted, then hit Enter.

The next screen will show a warning that all data on vtbd0 will be erased. There is also a note that installing on a flash media is preferred. However, in a virtual environment, installing on a hard drive is perfectly Okay.

As you hit Enter to proceed with the installation, you will be asked to enter the root password for your server. Please note that the root password will be used to login to the FreeNAS Web Interface and can be changed at any time after the installation is completed.

Next, FreeNAS will detect DHCP networking automatically and will determine the IP Address to use. At this point, all you need to do is allow the installer some time to finish.

Once the process is completed, and it usually takes 2 to 5 minutes, you will see a screen stating the following:
The FreeNAS installation on vtbd0 succeeded!
Please reboot an remove the installation media.

Before you hit Enter, find your instance in the Vultr control panel, click on Settings, then click Change OS, and then click Remove ISO. Removing the ISO will reboot the instance, thus allowing the FreeNAS installation to finalize.

The next step would be to monitor FreeNAS initializes in your instances VNC console. This process will take approximately 5 minutes. Once completed, you will see a screen presenting the following options:

  1. Configure Network Interface
  2. Configure Link Aggregation
  3. Configure VLAN Interace
  4. Configure Static Routes
  5. Configure DNS
  6. Configure DNS
  7. Reset Root Password
  8. Reset to factory defaults
  9. Shell
  10. System Update
  11. Create backup
  12. Restore form a backup
  13. Reboot
  14. Shutdown

This is when you know that FreeNAS is ready to use. You will also be presented with the URL to use to login to FreeNAS.

_Note: All these options are accessible from the FreeNAS interface. You can learn more about all these options from the FreeNAS Documentation.

Logging in to FreeNAS
  • In your browser window, go to http://Your.Instance.IP
  • Login using the username root and the password you entered during the installation process.
Creating your storage volume
  • Login to the FreeNAS web interface.
  • Click Storage.
  • Select Volumes.
  • Click Volume Manager.
  • Type in a name for your volume.
  • Select to whether or not use Encryption.
  • In the Volume Layout section, use the the draggable slider to select the number of drives to use.
  • Select RaidZfor RAID5 or RaidZ2 for RAID10.
  • Click Add Volume.

The volume creation process will take a few minutes to complete depending on the number of drives and the total size of the volume.


You now have a fully functional FreeNAS Server that is ready to use.

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