How to Install FreeNAS on a USB Flash Drive Without a DVD-ROM Drive
When installing FreeNAS on a Network Attached Storage (NAS) server, it’s recommended to run the FreeNAS operating system (OS) from a USB Flash drive. The reason, is so that you can dedicate all internal drive bays to your storage pool. You might run into an issue when installing FreeNAS on a USB Flash drive because most NAS servers don’t have a DVD-ROM drive. In this post, you will learn how to Install FreeNAS on a USB Flash Drive using Windows 10 and VirtualBox.
USB Flash Drive – As of writing FreeNAS (9.10) requires 8 GB+ for the boot device. In this tutorial we will be using a SanDisk Ultra Fit 16 GB USB 3.0 Flash Drive. I’ve used these in the past for VMware vSphere and FreeNAS and I really like how compact they are. They are cheap, a high quality brand, and don’t stick out when plugged into the computer.
Oracle VirtualBox – VirtualBox is a free application that lets you create and run virtual machines on top of a Windows operating system. It should be possible to do the following steps on Hyper-V or VMware but in this guide we will be using VirtualBox which can be downloaded from here: Oracle VirtualBox.
FreeNAS – We will need the latest FreeNAS ISO image which can be downloaded from here: FreeNAS STABLE. In this guide, we will be using the FreeNAS-9.10.1-U4.iso which is the latest version at the time of writing.
Make sure you have installed VirtualBox and downloaded the latest FreeNAS ISO from the links above. In the following steps we will:
We are now ready to power on the VM and install FreeNAS.
Install FreeNAS on the USB Flash Drive
Click on the VM and then click Start to power it on. If you attached the FreeNAS ISO correctly in the previous steps, you will be presented with a black screen with an option to start the FreeNAS Installer.
Press Enter to start the installation.
Select Install/Upgrade and then press Enter.
Select SanDisk Ultra Fit – 14.3 GiB, then press Space to mark it as the drive to install FreeNAS on. Select OK and then press Enter.
Confirm the install location by selecting Yes and then pressing Enter.
Enter a password for the root user or click Cancel for no root password.
Wait for the installation to finish and then you can power off the VM.
That’s it, you now have FreeNAS installed on a SanDisk USB Flash Drive. You won’t be able to boot into FreeNAS using the VM we just created, but it will work on a physical machine providing you have set USB as the first boot device in the BIOS.