8 Best Free and Open source NAS or SAN software

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NAS aka Network Attached storage devices help to overcome storage problems and gives your data a centralized place. A place where people can access and share the data 24×7 through the network.  There are lots of companies that offer Software + Hardware NAS boxes which are basically an out-of-box NAS solution, for example, Qnap and Synology are two veteran NAS vendors.

The cost of NAS boxes depends on the features such as the amount of storage, RAM, CPU etc. But if you want to convert your old system into a NAS box without spending hundreds of bucks then here is the solution. The Opensource Linux NAS software is light Linux Distros but enough power to handle your storage problem. You can build your own NAS server for your small business by using an old or new server/PC hardware. Here is a list of some best open source NAS Linux Operating system available on the Internet.

You can use the NAS box along with some software like OwnCloud to create personal home cloud storage solution. The personal cloud solution helps you to sync your personal files directly from the desktop to mobile devices. You can also listen to your songs and watch movies on the mobile phone those are stored on your NAS or personal desktop, while on the go using the internet connection. Here are 6 open source personal cloud solutions. 

Best Free NAS Software solutions in 2020

Operating systems for a NAS server are basically special software that supports typical server tasks. For example, you enable file sharing for Windows or macOS devices, they stream content to DLNA-enabled devices, can serve as a mail server and the like. They generally have command-line interface but for management, one can control the NAS server remotely from local or another device via the browser GUI web interface. Here is the list that includes all popular Linux Distros based on Linux or FreeBSD meant to use for storage management purposes.

1. FreeNAS

FreeNAS is a most popular free and open-source FreeBSD based NAS operating system that has enterprise-class features and enterprise-ready ZFS open source file system.  It can be installed virtually as well as on hardware to create a centralized data environment. The interface it provides is very intuitive (web interface). It supports Windows sharing SMB/CIFS, NFS and Apple file shares (AFP), FTP, iSCSI. Besides this, it also supports plugins to extend its functionally such as CouchPotato, SickBeard, SABnzbd, Maraschino, HTPC Manager, etc.

Freenas open source

One thing should be noticed before installing this OS on some Old specs system is that it needs a good amount of RAM to work, especially when you planning to install a ZFS file system.

FreeNAS ISO Link

2. NAS4Free / XigmaNAS

NAS4Free is an Open Source Storage NAS (Network-Attached Storage) distribution based on FreeBSD. Earlier it was known as NAS4Free but in 2018 its developer has renamed it to XigmaNAS. XigmaNAS supports sharing across Windows, Apple, and UNIX-like systems.

It includes ZFS v5000 , Software RAID (0,1,5), disk encryption, S.M.A.R.T / email reports etc. with the following protocols: CIFS/SMB (Samba), Active Directory Domain Controller (Samba), FTP, NFS, TFTP, AFP, RSYNC, Unison, iSCSI (initiator and target), HAST, CARP, Bridge, UPnP, and BitTorrent which is all highly configurable by its WEB interface.

Nas4free free and opensource NAS project

It supports ZFS and encryption services. The web interface is not much user-friendly and one may find some difficulty while navigating and extending its functionality through plugins.

Website Link

3. OpenMediaVault (OMV)

OpenMediaVault is Debian based Linux network-attached storage (NAS) solution and light in weight. It can be your choice if you do not want ZFS.  The services it provides are SSH, (S)FTP, SMB/CIFS, Rsync, BitTorrent client, DAAP media server,  and much more.  It is based on Debian which means you will get frequent updated and patches. Its plugins directory is not much vast but still evolving at a good pace and will keep home users happy. The web interface it possesses is very clean and user-friendly.

OpenMediaVault (OMV) NAS storage

If your hardware still supports the legacy USB boot method, you can simply download the latest release of OpenMediaVault as an image. For UEFI systems, it is currently easiest to download the latest Debian NetInst ISO and then install OpenMediaVault afterwards.

The installation of this NAS software works similar to Debian Linux and after the setup, it will ask you to log in. By default, the username and password for OpenMediaVault is “root” and the password “openmedivault”.

OpenMediaVault or Debian Linux comes with an SSH server that provides administrators with full rights over the operating system via a secure protocol. To do this, an SSH client must be installed on the client.

  Link to download

4. Rockstor: Opensource Private Cloud & NAS Server

Rocktsor is based on Centos Linux and BTRFS to provide NAS and cloud storage. It built on a rock-solid CentOs which is another good thing.  It supports BTRFS which is a filesystem like ZFS to provide high data integrity and security.  It can use as a personal cloud server and SMB Cloud Server with a clean and simple web GUI

Rocksto: Opensource Private Cloud & NAS Server

Personal Cloud Server

Rockstor Personal Cloud Server allows you to create your own local private cloud to reduce the risk and cost of the public cloud.


  • Reduce cost
  • Effectively scale capacity, manage privacy and performance
  • Access data from desktops, laptop or mobile devices from anywhere.
  • Move data between public cloud, Rockstor, and your devices

SMB Cloud Server

Rockstor Small and Midsize Business (SMB) Cloud Server is a special build for small businesses that require the capacity of several hundred Terabytes to capture the business demands. You can save you crucial business data on Rockstor SMB cloud server and less sensitive data on the public cloud. This practice will decrease the cost and increase the security of data. Also, an organization doesn’t need to rely completely on an expensive public cloud.

Helpful resource: How To Install Rockstor NAS On Ubuntu/Debian in Virtual Machine

Features of SMB Cloud Server:

  • Build your Private Cloud Storage with a hybrid workflow
  • Seamlessly integrate with public cloud storage
  • Scale your storage as needs

Get the Rockstor ISO 

5. Openfiler Community edition

Openfiler is another enterprise-level NAS/SAN Distro like FreeNAS.  It can easily convert your old system into IP-based storage. Openfiler provides some very useful features such as iSCSI target for virtualization, Fibre Channel target support and block-level replication.

Openfiler Community edition

You might face some update problems with it. Also, the operating system on which it based is rPath Linux distribution which not updated since 2008 which makes it not a very reliable choice but you can lay your hands upon it for learning or to fork out some new NAS software distro.

Download Openfiler

6. Nexenta Community Edition

Nexenta’s edition is a free edition which basically a community version of a commercial storage product. The free version can support up to 18TB of storage. It gives ZFS support and based on open Solaris called Illumos. As it is a strip version of the commercial product so you don’t have worry about updated, stability and support.

nexentafusion NAS OS

It can be very useful for very small business and home users with limited features but if you’re looking for big enterprise grid functionality then you have to go for commercial Nexenta

Get the Nexenta NAS ISO

7. Amahi

Amahi cannot be considered as NAS operating system instead of NAS it is a well-known Home server. It is a community version built around the commercial version.

It is a home server with tons of apps and plugins to expand the functionality such as WordPress, Plex media server, OpenVPN, Own could and more. It handles your entertainment, storage, and computing needs.

Amahi home media server

You can store, organize and deliver your recorded TV shows, videos, and music to media devices in your network. It is based on the most popular distros Fedora & Ubuntu. As it is not a full-fledged NAS so don’t use it for your critical or top-secret data. Also, we cannot rely completely on their cloud system they are providing because we don’t know how much secure it is.

Download Amahi ISO 

8. TurnKey File Server

If you are looking for a simple File Server – Simple Network Attached Storage then Pre-build Turnkey solution would be an option to mull on. It supports and compatible with Windows network file sharing including support for SMB, SFTP, NFS, WebDAV and rsync file transfer protocols. User can manage both private and public storage on Samba and SambaDAV suing the Turnkey File server. It has easy to understand web graphical user interface.

Turnkey NAS file server webmin_admin_dashboardKey Features:

  • SSL support
  • To manage SAMBA Webmin module integration
  • WebUI and WebDAV access
  • UNIX and DOS formats support
  • Accessing of file server via samba on the command line.
  • Support compression zip, rar, and bz2 tools.

Get Turnkey File Server

Other Linux open-source NAS/SAN projects

If someone is planning for large data storage models and cloud solutions with a scalable infrastructure then he or she should go through the available Linux SAN storage solutions. Here are some:

8. ESOS – Enterprise Storage OS

Enterprise Storage OS is a quasi Linux distribution based on the SCST project. Its purpose is to provide SCSI targets via a compatible SAN (Fibre Channel, InfiniBand, iSCSI, FCoE). It is memory friendly operating system, means the user can boot it from a USB flash drive and everything will be loaded into RAM to run and in case it failed a notification mail pushed to a user by the ESOS.


Key Features:

  • Two operating modes: Production (default) & Debug, in case any problem appear simply reboot in debug mode.
  • Enterprise RAID controller CLI configuration tools
  • Text-based user interface (TUI)
  • With the help of Linux software RAID (md) and Logical Volume Manager (LVM2) user can create advanced back-end storage block device configurations.
  • Support for Linux Ethernet bridging and NIC bonding
  • Software-based block layer cache solutions
  • Advanced ZFS storage subsystem
  • Works with Symantec NetBackup, Symantec BackupExec, EMC/Legato NetWorker, Bakbone Netvault, Tivoli Storage Manager (TSM), and Bacula.
  • And more…

Download ESOS

9. Openattic: Open Source Ceph and Storage Management

openATTIC is an Open Source Ceph and storage management solution for Linux, with a  focus on storage management in a data centre environment. The project is sponsored by SUSE.

Link to openattic

10. OpenDedupe

OpenDedupe is another opensource cloud storage gateway and filesystem. It has been in the market since 2010 developed by filesystem SDFS, and the Datish NAS appliance. It is an inline deduplication file system based NAS OS for local or cloud storage purposes along with some advance attributes such as storage optimization, scaling to secure and deal with large amounts of data. It is available OpenDedup Deduplication NAS Virtual Appliance to quickly install and start working with it.


 Get opendedup

11. PetaSAN

PetaSAN is an open-source Scale-Out SAN solution that relies on Ceph storage engine (open source SDS cloud storage solution). PetaSAN is designed from the ground up to do one thing: provide highly available clustered iSCSI disks. It uses modern cloud-based technologies to provide elasticity and agility. PetaSAN provides highly available clustered iSCSI disks and each can be identified by its virtual IP address.

Just like the NAS operating system mentioned above, the PetaSAN can also be operated using the graphical user interface from non-Linux systems using the browser, and if you want a command-line then SSH is always there.


Download PetaSAN

12. CryptoNAS

CryptoNAS is web-based NAS server OS formerly known as CryptoBox. This NAS project is especially focused on disk encryption.  It comes as CryptoNAS live-CD and  CryptoNAS-Server package.

CryptoNAS live-CD: The live CD can use to encrypt data without bothering about complicated technical issues. A computer running on live-CD works as a file server (NAS) that encrypts your private data.

CryptoNAS-Server package adds a user-friendly, web-based front end for hard disk encryption to an existing file server.


Website Link

Note: The CryptoNAS has not been updated for last 7 year, so this would not be a trustworthy project. For just a knowledge purpose it is here.

Other Useful Resources:


Rajkumar Mauryahttps://www.how2shout.com
Rajkumar Maurya is the H2S Media tech expert. He’s always been passionate about technology and has been writing on the subject since 2014. He has extensive knowledge of all kinds of technology, from consumer-tech to enterprise solutions. You can contact the author at-- raj@how2shout.com


  1. Nice Article, got a quick update, what’s available today.

    I don’t want to spoil it but your heading “Best Free NAS Software: Linux Based” is wrong. At least for your top 1 and 2, freenas and nas4free are both based on freebsd instead of linux. While both OS’es are UNIXes, in practice, bsd’s “behave” slightly different than linux based systems. Also they use different kernels and are being developed completely independent from linux in general.

  2. I find it funny that CryptoNas, a project that hasn’t been maintained since May 2011, found its way onto this list. Yes, it might be free but would you trust your data to a solution (AND encrypt it) using 8 year old SW that has been without maintainer for so long? I wouldn’t.

    • Own cloud is a self-hosted personal cloud platform for file sync and share. It provides access to your files and folders through an intuitive web interface or mobile app locally and remotely. While if you talk about hardcore NAS application which runs on your old hardware or some powerful server or a NAS box it can provide advanced security, RAID and protocols, plugins and more. Even in FreeNAS, you can install the own cloud plugin to get the own cloud functionality. So, if you just want a simple, easy to use open source personal cloud software then the Own cloud is one of the best available in the market.


  3. Not quite sure how OpenFiler made it on to your list. It uses the rPath distro which hasn’t been around for years (and is, consequently, not updated), hasn’t been developed for years and doesn’t support ext4/ZFS/BTRFS.

  4. Nice one, although I noticed the same issue as Gunnar 😉 I’ve heard about most of those mentioned here, really liked the FreeNAS, but currently I’m using the SOHO version of Open-E DSS V7, it’s not ZFS but XFS, and does its job really well. And by the way: those ‘not much popular’ – are they really worth a try?

  5. I just jumped into your article and it’s incredible interesting.
    The only doubt I have is: does any one have an app to synchronize folders from computers to the NAS?
    Thanks in advance!!!

    • Yes, you can use syncthing-plugin for your FreeNAS-server. Also, if you want to push dataset between two storage servers then you can use the Rsync. However, if you requirement is basic file sync and file storage then you can go for open source cloud software like Opencloud, NextCloud or Syncthing.

    • yep community hacked together a process to use the open source components of Synology’s DSM which a great NAS environment with plenty of addon apps available… if you have the specific CPU, chipset and network card to run it on, preferably Intel newer than Haswell. Trying to run a home NAS on the bits you removed from your last gaming PC upgrade is very hit and miss.

  6. Open Media Vault has had the option of installing ZFS for Linux for quite a while, I first installed OMV 3 on a Debian 8 installation in late 2017, and also added the third-party ZFS plugin in early 2018.

  7. I read and followed your link to AMAHI, there is no such thing as
    AMAHI HOME SERVER.. its just a company that has dozens of software
    apps. None of them are names HOME SERVER..or anything close to that.
    What are you thinking ?


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