FreeNAS vs unRAID

Freenas and Unraid are two popular operating systems compatible with NAS servers.  But, they vary greatly in terms of features and functionality. Here are some of the main differences between Unraid vs Freenas.

When it comes to storing data on Network Attached Storage systems you must have a compatible storage device. Not only does building a NAS system require a compatible hardware, but also means choosing the right software to run on it.

Though you can use virtually any software out there, there are two specialized options that comprise Unraid and Freenas.  Built by iXsystems, Freenas is one of the NAS software options that can be used in your home, enterprise or even your small business. The other best alternative that has been gaining popularity over the past several years is the Unraid, developed by Lime Technology.

These operating systems are uniquely designed to run on a vast range of hardware platforms, facilitating the sharing of data over a network.

In this article, we are going to look at a detailed comparison of the Unraid vs Freenas to help you make a more informed decision when choosing between the two.

unraid vs freenas features compared




$59 to $129


Ease of Use

Graphical User Interface

Graphical User Interface


Processor: 64 bit;

RAM: 2 GB/ 4 GB/ up to 32 GB

Processor: 64 bit;



The application server and Virtualization host

Cloud Store

File System

Open ZFS

XFS (default), BTRFS

Third Party Application Support

Docker, KVM, Qemu

Jails, Plugins, Docker VMs, bhyve VMs

Costs and Licensing 

When it comes to the differences in costs, Freenas operating system is available for free that means it’s open-source software. This software comes with BSD license and you can easily access the source code from GitHub. Alternatively, if you want Freenas software for your business, you can access its enterprise version from TrueNAS. On top of being free, Freenas allows you to attach unlimited number of storage devices.

On the contrary, unRAID is a paid version and closed source. How much you’ll pay typically depends on the type and number of devices you’d want to install it in. The basic version, however, will cost you about 59 dollars and allows attaching up to six storage devices.  There is also a plus version that costs 89 dollars and supports about twelve devices as well as a pro version that costs 129 dollars for unlimited storage devices.

Storage Stack and File Sharing 

One of the notable similarities of the two operating systems is that they offer NFS shares; AFP for iOS and Mac OSX as well as SMB for Windows.

With Unraid, you can store all sorts of digital media including, movies, photos, music, and videos using XFS file system. You also can set up an array of storage disks, allowing you to spread your data across different disks.

Unraid devices stores your data securely on the disks allowing you to manage and backup your essential files the best way. The best part is that you can as well share data from the different disks via the local network. Unraid allows you to scale your storage easily and seamlessly without interfering with the stored data. This is important, particularly, when you’re dealing with massive data.

For Freenas, you use the ZFS file system to store and manage your data securely. It also lets you create your own cloud storage, where you can back up your data a lot easier and securely. The ZFS file system supports an extensive range of storage devices and greater scalability. You also can easily access and share your data across different devices from your cloud storage.

Additional Features 

Besides support for NFS shares, FreeNAS also offers iSCSI services, Kerberos, LDAP, and Active Directory, which aren’t available when using unRAID.

While Unraid only comes with disk encryption, FreeNAS comes equipped with remote replication, encryption snapshots, deduplication and built-in compression.

Freenas also features cloud-backup integration that supports services such as Azure, Google Cloud, Amazon S3, and Backblaze. Additionaly, it features email-alerts and support for various services like Slack and Hipchat, notifying you of system events.

When it comes to monitoring, unRAID offers you email alerts on its Graphical user interface whereas Freenas features a WebUI that showcases utilization of system resources using real-time graphs as well as other alerts.

Other Use Cases

Besides facilitating for storage of data in NAS systems, Unraid is designed to allow smooth running of other virtual machines and applications such as Torrent client, NextCloud, and Plex servers with the help of Docker containers. Another thing that makes Unraid stand out is its support for KVM and wide range of operating systems, Linux included.

Similarly, Freenas has inbuilt containerization technology as well as a virtualization option. This allows you to use Freenas for other purposes such as run a Plex server.  It also lets you to seamlessly run Docker inside a virtual machine.

Which One Should You Choose between Unraid vs Freenas?

As you’ve seen, both operating systems are superb options for storing your data easily and securely. Despite the amount of data you’re looking to store, these systems allow you to store it with a backup option and easily access it whenever you like.

The two systems, however, come with different features and pricing. So, when it comes to choosing between the Unraid and Freenas, your best option will mainly depend on the use case. Freenas is a superb option if you just want to store your data on your own cloud storage without incurring the costs or just want the best option for your small business.

Unraid, on the other hand, is ideal for big enterprises with huge amounts of data as it’s highly scalable and doesn’t compromise your stored data when adding more storage.