The Best Introduction to ZFS…ever?

If you care about your data, you should care about filesystems (the operating system/software abstraction over your storage hardware). If you care about filesystems, you will end up at ZFS: the Zettabyte FileSystem.

It’s basically an incredible piece of technology that can do just about anything that you might need from a storage system: instant snapshots, cloning, “live streaming” of filesystem changes over SSH, bitrot/corruption prevention and fixing (with checksumming), plus all the mirroring and parity features you’d expect from RAID. And so, so, so, soooooooo much more.

Here’s the best way to get started: watch these two videos, in order, and then go play with a FreeBSD system:

Introduction to ZFS, part 1:


Introduction to ZFS, part 2:


Now, get yourself to a FreeBSD VPS or server (or check out the ZFS on Linux project) and start playing around. Digitalocean and Vultr both have good FreeBSD VPSs to play around with.


Why Not BTRFS?

The GPL community wanted a Linux/GPL-friendly clone of ZFS, so they started the btrfs project. This offers a very similar foundation of features, but it’s nowhere near the level of maturity and user-friendliness that ZFS has. Certainly worth a look if you absolutely have to keep your infrastructure Linux-only, though.


Advice for Setting Up Your First NAS or Storage Server

My advice: if you’re going to set up a NAS (Network-Attached Storage), it should be a dedicated box full of disks anyway. This will require its own operating system. You may as well use the most suitable operating system for the job; namely FreeBSD with ZFS. This is made incredibly easy by the FreeNAS project, which even gives you a nice little Graphical (Web) Interface to work with.


Enjoy ZFS.