FreeNAS SSD Cache: Boost your SSD Performance

by Paul | Last Updated: July 22, 2021

Data is essential, businesses thrive on it, we all use it. Big Data, artificial intelligence, social media and so on all depend on data. So, it is no surprise that storage devices are in demand. This article will highlight one that has a large capacity, requires network connection, and can be used by individuals or small businesses.

FreeNAS SSD cache

Network Attached Storage (NAS) is an intelligence storage box that connects to your home router or whatever network you use that is reliable and stable. It typically has 4 bays, but you can extend it to 8 to give it more data storage capacity. If one drive fails, you can still have your data on another while you replace it as it duplicates files on all drives.

It is a onetime purchase; you can access your NAS wherever you are. It was called FreeNAS to show you don’t need to pay for data storage, all you must do is buy the box and other components, but it is now known as TrueNAS. When you pair an SSD cache with your FreeNAS, you will experience a faster read/write speed. This is important because you are more likely to have HDD in your NAS than SSD as the former is more affordable.

Cache is a popular feature in devices, it is very common in your browser. For example, when you want to clear your browsing history, it asks you if you want to clear your cache. Even with mobile applications, you can clear the cache of a certain app to free up space.

When it is cleared, for the browser, you will notice that sites you easily accessed especially if they require login, will no longer be the same. For those sites you will have to login again, for your apps you might notice some parts now load like when it was initially installed.

So, we can see that caching basically makes data easily accessible and this makes it very beneficial. Is it beneficial for all types of data? How does it interact with NAS? We will look at these and more. Let us start with a more detailed description of NAS.

Why is the NAS preferred to cloud storage?

The importance of data cannot be overemphasised, and it is evident in skills that are in high demand i.e., data analyst and other data processing jobs. This need has given raise to data storage service especially online storage which usually has a fee attached, this fee is regular and is dependent on the size of your data. This means having large data will come at quite a cost and that is why NAS is preferrable.

NAS is better at storing large data at a lower cost.It is a network storage with an advanced file system. It is an open source storage, with an expandable raid which is dependent on a matching VDEV. It uses an IXsystems & Community plugin.It allows snapshot & replication via Zeta File system (ZFS) to protect yourself against ransomware or data issues, this is like a system restore on windows. It is very powerful and fast.

Other Features of FreeNAS

It has an S3 server support. It supports Rsync, which makes syncing with standalone devices and other FreeNAS devices easy. It supports windows files sharing, manages users & permissions and has active directory integration

You can backup data and this software is community supported & there is a third party plugin. With NAS, can have a few hard drives that work as one massive disk. You can access it via your devices with a user interface that is not too difficult to navigate.

With this interface, you can set it to send email to you whenever something happens, and you can also test the drives.

Why SSD cache?

The SSD cache removes a lot of pressure from the CPU, memory, and storage device. Reducing this pressure results in speeding up all internal operations. It achieves this speed by making a duplicate of your information and improves your read/write operations by at least 13%, it is valuable to people who cannot afford a total upgrade to SSD drives.

As cool as this is, not all data lives on the SSD, only data that is frequently accessed. It is designed to be beneficial for small data i.e., random data but it is not so valuable for large files i.e., sequential data. This process is made possible by the store controller on your PC. This controller also automatically removes data that has not been accessed a long time to free up space.

Other FreeNAS SSD benefits

Getting an SSD with a large storage capacity is expensive and that’s what makes using the SSD cache method great as the SSD does not have to be the same size with your HDD i.e., for every 1TB HDD you need 60GB SSD.

It is also great for virtual machine users i.e., people who have multiple operating systems as there will be a boost in boot, shut down and launch time.

Types of SSD cache

There are 2 main types of cache: read only and read/write.  Read only cache puts data on the NAS directly, it can function with just one SSD and frequently accessed files are moved to the cache. This means that if the SSD has issues you will have all your data as it in on the hard drive.

Read/write needs at least 2 SSD, it also sends data to the HDD, it has a great fail safe and it is more expensive.

If you are to enjoy using an SSD cache with your NAS: You must get enough memory before opting for SSD cache for example a 500GB drive requires about 250MB for caching. It also needs more that 8GB RAM to function properly

To enjoy data security and great performance with NAS: You must use hard drives designed for NAS to ensure data security, look out for drives that have the NASware. A recommended one is the Western Digital Red Plus as it can handle the workload, offer data protection, and maximise performance.