In my earlier article I addressed the difference between FreeNAS and NAS4Free, so I’m not going to go into great detail on this topic, but you are interested in knowing more about the two main free NAS programs available, go HERE. For my install I used NAS4Free because NAS4Free does not have as high system requirements. I’m using an old PC that did not meet the minimum system requirements on FreeNAS. But both programs install/boot very similarly, so you can follow along regardless of which you chose.
1) Download the right file! This step is very important and can easily be overlooked. To select the right file, you must know how you will be installing the program on the PC – Either by SD card, USB, or CD.
- Downloads available at http://sourceforge.net/projects/nas4free/files/
- Select the latest version from the list (will first select version and then it goes to another list of sub-versions – Select the latest on each)
- Download the file. You should only be concerned about downloading either the ‘Live USB’ or ‘Live CD’ versions. The “Embedded” version is to update existing users. The CD program will have ISO file extension and the USB will have a IMG.
IMPORTANT: Two versions of the Live CD and Live USB are available, the 64bit (x64) and the 32bit (x86). Select the one compatible with your PC. If you are unsure, Windows users go to Control Panel -> System. Under the Operating System info you will see 32-bit or 64-bit.
IMPORTANT: CD is the preferred method (because most PCs will boot a CD), but USB or SD card can also be used if you PC can boot from these devises. To know for sure what drives are possible to boot from, open you BIOs and look at the boot order. All computers are different, so I will not go into detail on how to open BIOs for each PC but usually it’s F2 or F12 while the system boots up. If you are not sure, watch your PC on boot up (before Windows starts) and watch for text that mentions “Press XX for BIOs” or “Press XX to change BOOT order”. If you see USB as a option, you can use it!
2) Once downloaded, find the file on your computer and burn it to a CD or make a bootable USB by using a program like Win32 Disk Imager. (if you use a CD, you can skip to the next step)
- In Win32 select find the NAS downloaded file
- Then select the drive letter for the USB and click “WRITE”
- Once Win32 finishes the process, you should see a message saying “Write Successful”.
3) Now you can move to the NAS PC and while it is off, install the CD/USB, and then turn the system on. You should then see something like the screenshot below.
4) NAS4Free will boot into the “live” version, so you will want to embed the program onto the computer’s harddrive or a flashdrive. To embed NAS4Free to the system, select the install & Upgrade option number and hit enter. Select how/where you want the system embedded and hit enter (screenshot of the options below).
5) Reboot the system (should be done automatically) and remove the cd/USB card used to originally boot the system.
The system should now boot directly from the embedded location, and the menu options should change (screenshot below).
6) Once in this screen just go through option 1 (configure network interface) and option 2 (configure network IP Address). Assuming you have your regular PC connected to the same network as your NAS, these steps should be fairly easy.
NAS4Free has an OK wiki page which goes over some very basic how-tos to get you started, but if you run into problems, like I did, it doesn’t offer much trouble shooting ideas. I’m going to go over each problem I ran across and how I resolved each below.
TROUBLESHOOTING: I’m still fairly new to NAS4Free but I thought I would share some the issues I had while setting N4F the first time. You can find more information on the NAS4Free wiki page or the N4F forum.
- If you get an error with Win32 (like I didn’t the first time), you either have a bad file or a bad USB drive. First delete the downloaded file and re-download NAS. I did this and it fixed the issue. If you still have issues, try a different USB drive, or a earlier version of the NAS software.
- If you get an error when booting (I also got an error message!), it can again be fixed with the same steps as above. What worked for me was first reformatting USB drive, and installing an earlier version of NAS4Free. Or if you are having this issue with a CD, try using a USB drive (with the USB.IMG version).
- If the IP address shows as 0.0.0.0 when configured for the first time, your NAS is not connected to the network or the router is not set to Dynamic IP. Some ISPs require static IP addresses, in which case you would need to assign an IP to the NAS. This can be done through the router setup page.