FreeNAS versus TrueNAS: What’s the Difference?




TrueNAS Core for when storage is non-critical.

There are certainly many storage applications that don’t require professional support. Applications like home storage, simple office file servers, tertiary backups, home streaming media servers, scratch space, storage experimentation, or any other application where data is fungible; TrueNAS Core can be the perfect solution for all of them.

TrueNAS for when storage is critical.

Storage downtime can equal an instant loss of revenue, making reliable storage a painstaking process — a process that requires careful consideration, deep hardware and storage knowledge, and countless hours of testing — certainly eons more difficult than the Software Defined Storage crowd would want you to believe. It took us nearly two years to select, design, test, and qualify the myriad hardware components that go into TrueNAS, which is a purpose-built appliance — meaning software coupled with custom hardware — designed for its one specific application: critical storage. Compared to a user-built system that your software vendor knows nothing about, the appliance platform is inherently easier to support when things don’t go your way, because your software vendor is your hardware vendor as well. And, when storage is this important to your business, it’s imperative to have a Support Team at arm’s length who can resolve any issue that may arise without having to first wrap their heads around the hardware platform you’ve built.

TrueNAS Core for Open Source flexibility.

For those that have the expertise and the spare time to build and support their own solutions, or for those that want to tinker and learn about storage, TrueNAS Core is freely-available and unencumbered by license restrictions. The TrueNAS Core Project has a mature community and a team of developers dedicated to providing the best (open-source) software defined network file storage solution in the world. All we ask in return is that you enjoy the software and contribute when and where you can, which can be as simple as providing feedback, filing bugs, and making feature requests, or as involved as helping us write code.

TrueNAS for enterprise stability.

Where TrueNAS Core is the bleeding edge, TrueNAS is the stable handle. TrueNAS Core is where technologies are tested and refined; therefore the software undergoes an often rapid and frequent release cycle. TrueNAS, by contrast, contains only the most stable and vetted code, keeping software updates to a minimum and the release cycle methodical.

TrueNAS Core for people who want to “DIY”

Some folks like to do it themselves. Some folks only get satisfaction when building things on their own. Some folks don’t mind downtime when there’s an issue and enjoy perusing the TrueNAS Core forums for help. Some folks have limited budgets yet still want powerful storage software. And, some folks are storage experts themselves.

TrueNAS because businesses don’t want to “DIY”

Instead of buying a fleet of delivery trucks, I suppose we could purchase all the components separately, build the trucks ourselves, and fix them when things break. But, we’re not a car dealership, we’re a storage company. We’d probably save money up front on the cost of the bare parts but would certainly come out way behind with the time spent figuring out how to put them all together and build a functioning car, let alone the costs to maintain it! Most businesses don’t have the time, available hardware, or internal support expertise for a do-it- yourself storage solution — they’re busy focused on their own missions and business models. But, with a 100% software solution, you must build the server yourself. If there is a problem with the server hardware, you can’t look to the software vendor for support, and vice-versa if you have hardware problems.

TrueNAS Core because many are turning to virtualization.

TrueNAS Core is known to work well with all major virtualization platforms, but due to the nature of the decoupled hardware, we aren’t able to officially certify the software with the virtualization vendors. Therefore, if something goes haywire, the user cannot turn to the virtualization vendor for assistance and instead must rely on the TrueNAS Core community.

TrueNAS because many are turning to virtualization…and need Support.

With a software-only solution you must verify that every component is on the virtualization vendors’ compatibility list and when your configuration changes (such as upgrading to a new network card) you need to validate the configuration again. Most businesses can’t afford the risk, so TrueNAS is officially certified to support Citrix XenServer, VMware ESXi, and Microsoft Hyper-V.

TrueNAS Core and TrueNAS both have their rightful places

TrueNAS Core is the world’s most popular software defined storage OS, with more downloads and installs than any other storage software on the planet. The sheer magnitude of interest speaks volumes about its myriad applications. And, as its enterprise counterpart, TrueNAS has the performance, high-availability, functionality, and professional software support that mission-critical storage applications require.

Brett Davis
iXsystems Executive Vice President

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Modified for current year.

Reprinted with permission from iXsystems.