TechnologyTrueNAS - Scale

Unraid Vs TrueNAS SCALE 2021

By November 10, 2021No Comments

Introduction

Often, I see a bunch of posts where someone is having a tough time considering between Unraid, or TrueNAS. so, I am going to write a quick summary based on my experiences, and recommendations.

This article is basically copied from my comment on reddit.

Unraid

+ You add disks, you gain storage, simple as that.

+ Its method of write caching. You add NVMe to a dedicated flash pool, and all of your writes will funnel through the NVMe cache. This is actually a really nice feature. With Truenas, you write directly to your array.

– Performance. Unless your data lives on your flash cache, you are limited to the performance of a single drive. This was my biggest driver for moving from* unraid. Single spool performance is not that great.

+ Resources. You don’t need many resources to run a decently performant unraid install.

+ UI. Unraid has a FANTASTIC UI. Very easy to use and navigate.

+ Power Usage. Only the drive which contains the file you are using needs to be spun up. If the file is on flash, you don’t have to spin up any drives.

+ Tiered Storage. Unraid’s flash/array system is FAR from perfect. However, it does give you a very rudimentary system of tiered storage.

TrueNAS

Adding storage in the CURRENT state, basically means adding another vdev. (I aim for 8-10 disk vdevs) You CAN replace drives one by one, to increase capacity, but, unless you are replacing old 2TB disks with 18T disks, its generally not worth doing this. In the future, online expansion will be added removing this CON.

+ Performance. If you have a 8 disk VDEV, your data is read from, and written to all 8 disks at once. If you have plenty of ram for ARC, reads are generally lightning fast.

– Resources. If you run TrueNAS, RAM RAM and then add MORE RAM. Ram is everything. Also- use ECC ram.

– UI. Scale is still in beta, bugs are being worked out. But, Its UI still doesn’t compare to how easy it is to use Unraid.

– Power Usage. When you read or write something, your entire arrays has to spin up.

– Tiered Storage. Non existent in truenas.

Which is better?

Neither. Each one fits into a unique niche.

For me to recommend one or the other, I would need to know your specific needs.

If you are not highly technical, and you just want a NAS that just “works”, You cannot beat unraid. From its simplistic UI, up to its storage model of being able to just add disks to expand, its easy. You want a docker container? Click the docker tab and add it. Within 30 seconds, you have a new container up and running. You want a VM? Click the VM tab. Easy enough.

Want to add a share? Three more clicks and you are off to the races.

If you are a technical user, who doesn’t mind tinkering, I personally love TrueNAS SCALE

But, in the current state, I would say its better for power users and more technical individuals.

Which one is faster?

Also- neither.

For spinning disk array performance, TrueNAS is hard to beat. Unraid falls pretty flat on its face in this category, only using a single spindle. However, Unraid has the ability to cache reads and writes with NVMe storage, which greatly minimizes this issue.

Note- before somebody mentions the L2ARC from ZFS, it is not really comparable in this situation. It only caches reads, not writes, and it is VERY SITUATIONAL. In most cases, it will hurt your performance rather then helping unless you have a very diverse workload, and LOTS of ram!!!!

What is my personal choice?

Simple. I like TrueNAS. Why?

  1. Performance. The unraid single spool bottleneck was becoming a pain in my ass.
  2. Reliability. If you give truenas the proper hardware, its EXTREMELY reliable. I have a lot of faith in ZFS for maintaining my data integrity. I never actually got a chance to test how well Unraid can recover from a failed drive, however, I have experienced many drive failures with TrueNAS. The last failure, was one of my 8TB drives dying. Access to my data was never lost during the failure. It was degraded in performance, however, but, the missing drive was actually rebuilt from one of my array’s hot spares in ~24h with zero loss to my data.
  3. ZFS > BTRFS IMO. BTRFS raid levels are not reliable as said by the developer. Don’t use BTRFS Raid5/6.
  4. Power. I feel like TrueNAS gives me MUCH more control over everything to a point where it can be dangerous.

Seriously, both are good platforms to choose from.

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