Cloud Sync Prowess of FreeNAS

The COVID-19 situation has driven technology to find new ways to adapt to the new digital workspace. Difficulty in remote access to content files and media assets has disrupted the workflow of the practitioners of many business segments. Many are trying to find ways to get the files and folders into their home computers and laptops to do work when they were used to getting them from the regular NAS shared drives.

These challenges have put hybrid cloud file sharing into the forefront, making it the best possible option to access the NAS folders and files inside and outside the boundaries of the company’s network. However, end users are pressured to invest into new technologies to adjust to this new normal. It does not have to be this way, because FreeNAS™ (and in that aspect TrueNAS®) has plenty of cloud help to offer. Most of the features are Free!

TrueNAS CORE

TrueNAS Core replacing FreeNAS in version 12.0

[ Note: FreeNAS™ will become TrueNAS® Core in the release 12. News was announced 2 months ago ]

FreeNAS™ Cloud Sync

One of the underrated features of FreeNAS™ is Cloud Sync. It was released in version 11.1 and it is invaluable extending the hybrid cloud file sharing to the masses. Cloud Sync makes the shares available to public cloud services such as AWS S3, Dropbox, Google Cloud Storage, Google Drive, Microsoft Blob Storage, Microsoft OneDrive, pCloud, Wasabi™ Cloud and more. This means that the files and folders used within the NAS space in the LAN, can synchronized and used through the public cloud services mentioned.

There are 2 steps to setup Cloud Sync.

  • Add the Cloud Credentials for the cloud provider to use
  • Create the Cloud Sync Task

Cloud Credentials

Cloud Credentials requires an Access Key or Access Token, and in some services, require a Secret Key or some sort of drive ID as well. Obviously an account to these cloud providers is required. In this example, I am using Microsoft OneDrive.

rclone is a very useful utility to get the details required. It supports 36 different cloud storage and file sync/share providers. Download the zip file and run it in Powershell with the command ‘start rclone config‘. A command window appears as shown below in Fig 1 and Fig 2 where it goes through a series of menu-driven options. Select the cloud service provider of choice. Once the login is successful, the details of the Access Key or Access Token, Secret Key and other required authentication will appear for that particular cloud provider.

Fig 1: rclone configuration

Fig 2: Microsoft OneDrive Access Token and Drive ID details

Take note that the Access Token or the Access Key and the Secret Key can be an extremely long set of alphanumerics. This is usually between 2 double quotes (” “). Copy with CTRL-C.

At the FreeNAS™ WebGUI, go to System > Cloud Credentials. Give the Service a Name and input the required details to connect to OneDrive. CTRL-V to past the required alphanumeric keys. In this example, I have chosen the name “Microsoft One Drive Sync”.

Cloud Sync Task

The second step is to setup the Cloud Sync Task. Go to Tasks > Cloud Sync Tasks.

At the “Direction” configure this to PUSH in order to synchronize the NAS share from FreeNAS™ to the OneDrive. And also select the respective NAS dataset. Both configurations are shown above. As long as the cloud credentials are correct, the synchronization should work. To run it for the first time, select the Task Name and set it to “Run Now”. The screenshot is shown below:

Accessing the NAS files and folders anywhere

The objective is to get access to the files and folders as seamless as it is from the network drives or the mount points and from the public Internet. If a VPN (virtual private network) is available, and if properly sized, access is as if it is in the local area network. But we live in unprecedented times, and VPNs may get inundated by the sheer volume of access. Thus, for the lesser power users, the FreeNAS™ Cloud Sync may be a viable option.

At the remote end point, the user can access these files through a gamut of 3rd party cloud drives and explorers. Wasabi™ Cloud has the free Wasabi™ Explorer, which is a rebranded MSP360 (previously Cloudberry Labs) Explorer. Cyber Duck is another explorer software. For a more astute use in business settings rather than an individual or personal one, the cloud drives are better for obvious reasons. Again there are plenty of commercial selections in MSP360 Cloud Drive, Mountain Duck (Cyber Duck’s big brother), ExpanDrive and others.

Extending FreeNAS™ and TrueNAS® to the Cloud

So in this quarantine period here in Malaysia, I have spent the last 4 weeks crafting the cloud capabilities with FreeNAS™. I have consolidated all 3 hybrid cloud solutions into my company, Katana Logic‘s solution offerings in the explainer diagram below.

Katana Logic Hybrid Cloud File Sharing

Hybrid Cloud File Sharing Capabilities with FreeNAS and TrueNAS – Cloud Sync, NextCloud and with iconik

I have put together the iconik content media management as a hybrid cloud file sharing solution that works seamlessly with FreeNAS™ and Wasabi Cloud. The configuration steps were documents in both Part 1 and Part 2 of my previous postings.

The NextCloud on FreeNAS™ workings is well documented by other folks on the Internet and I will not be spending time blogging about it. One of the best is from this blog by Fahad Usman. Please check out his blog. Another helpful source is the Youtube video by Nhan Nguyen.

Conclusion

FreeNAS™ is maturing. It has passed the decade mark and the next release will be TrueNAS® Core. And I see a significant importance to see that strong transition from a project-based solution technology to a business facing Enterprise Storage Array with hybrid cloud capabilities. The beauty of FreeNAS™ and TrueNAS® is it remains firmly in the hands of the true believers. The commitment of the OpenZFS file system brings the TrueNAS® codes, both Core and Enterprise, to the next era.

And it is important to be hybrid cloud ready. This blog shows the some of the reasons and the way to make cloud happen!

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About cfheoh

I am a technology blogger with 25+ years of IT experience. I write heavily on technologies related to storage networking and data management because that is my area of interest and expertise. I introduce technologies with the objectives to get readers to *know the facts*, and use that knowledge to cut through the marketing hypes, FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and other fancy stuff. Only then, there will be progress. I am involved in SNIA (Storage Networking Industry Association) and as of October 2013, I have been appointed as SNIA South Asia & SNIA Malaysia non-voting representation to SNIA Technical Council. I currently run a small system integration and consulting company focusing on storage and cloud solutions, with occasional consulting work on high performance computing (HPC).

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