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Upgrading FreeNAS™


FreeNAS DLNAFreeNAS™ is rapidly becoming the most preferred Network Attached Storage operating system with its reliable and feature rich interface and zero dollar price point. Previously, HSI has presented “how to’s” on installing FreeNAS™but as always, new versions are released as technology continues to improve. We want your upgrade to be as smooth as possible so here are the instructions on how to upgrade.

An important note: You cannot upgrade FreeNAS™ version 7; the upgrade must be FreeNAS™ 8.0 and later which should be done via the CD. As of today, the latest version is 8.0.3 which is based on FreeBSD 8.2.

Getting Started

First of all, the best advice we can give in regards to hardware is to have a 64-bit processorwhich will allow for plenty of RAM. RAM will give you the performance you’re looking for from your NAS. The bare minimum “rule of thumb” is at least 1 GB of RAM per 1 TB of storage space but I wouldn’t use less than 6 GB of RAM.

Next, it’s recommended by the authors of FreeNAS™ to install the FreeNAS™ OS onto a USBor compact flash device at least 2 GB in size. This device should remain in the NAS at all times.

Finally, before you perform an upgrade, do a backup of your current system configuration.

Without further ado, the following is the preferred method of running a FreeNAS™ 8.x upgrade:

There are 2 ways to upgrade a FreeNAS™ 8.x system: from the ISO or from the xz file. Both methods are described below:

Using the ISO

To upgrade from the CDROM, download the latest version of the ISO image that matches the architecture of the system (32 or 64 bit) and burn it to a CDROM.

NOTE:the installer on the CDROM will recognize if a previous version of FreeNAS™ 8.x is already installed, meaning the CDROM can also be used to upgrade FreeNAS™. However, the installer cannot perform an upgrade from a FreeNAS™ 7.x system.

Insert the CDROM into the system and boot from it. Once the media has finished booting into the installation menu, press enter to select the default option of “1 Install/Upgrade to hard drive/flash device, etc.”. As with a fresh install, the installer will present a screen showing all available drives (see Figure 2.2b); select the drive FreeNAS™ is installed into and press enter.

The installer will recognize that an earlier version of FreeNAS™ is installed and will present the message shown in Figure 2.5a:

Figure 2.5a: Upgrading a FreeNAS™ Installation


NOTE:if you select NO at this screen, the installer will do a fresh install of the version on the CD rather than upgrading the previous version.

To upgrade, press enter to accept the default of Yes. Again, the installer will remind you that the operating system should be installed on a thumb drive (seen in Figure 2.2c). Press enter to start the upgrade. Once the installer has finished unpacking the new image, you will see the menu shown in Figure 2.5b. The database file that is preserved and migrated contains your FreeNAS™ configuration settings.

Figure 2.5b: FreeNAS™ will Preserve and Migrate Settings


Press enter and FreeNAS™ will indicate that the upgrade is complete and that you should reboot, as seen in Figure 2.5c.

Figure 2.5c: Upgrade is Complete


From the GUI

DANGER! The image size was increased from 1GB to 2GB between 8.01-BETA2 and 8.0.1-BETA3. THIS MEANS THAT A GUI UPGRADE FROM AN EARLIER 8.X VERSION TO AN 8.0.1-BETA3 OR HIGHER VERSION WILL FAIL.However, a CD upgradewill succeed and will save all of your configuration settings. If you are unable to perform a CD upgrade, you will need to:

1) backup your configuration using System -> Settings -> General -> Save Config;

2) perform a full install; and

3) restore your configuration using System -> Settings -> General -> Upload Config.

Before upgrading FreeNAS™:

1. Download the *.GUI_upgrade.xz image file that matches your architecture; download this file to the computer that you use to access the FreeNAS™ system.

2. Download the ReleaseNotes for that version; towards the bottom you will find the SHA256 hash for the *.GUI_upgrade.xz image file.

3. Backup the FreeNAS™ configuration in System -> Settings -> General -> Save Config.

4. Warn all network users that the FreeNAS™ shares will be unavailable during the upgrade; you should schedule the upgrade for a time that will least impact users.

5. Stop all services in Services -> Control Services.

6. Go to System -> Settings -> Advanced, check the box “Show console messages in the footer (Requires UI reload)”, and refresh your browser. This way you can watch the progress of the upgrade until the first reboot.

To perform the upgrade, go to System -> Settings -> Advanced -> Firmware Update as shown in Figure 2.5d:

Figure 2.5d: Upgrading FreeNAS™ From the GUI


Use the drop-down menu to select a volume to temporarily place the firmware file during the upgrade, then click the Update button. You will be prompted to browse to the location of the downloaded .xz file and to paste the SHA256 sum. The SHA256 sum in the ReleaseNotes will look similar to this:



SHA256 Hash:


When finished, click the Apply Update button which will change to “please Wait…”. Behind the scenes, the following steps are occurring:

  • the SHA256 hash is confirmed and an error will display if it does not match; if you get this error, double-check that you pasted the correct checksum and try pasting again
  • the new image is uncompressed and written to the USB compact or flash drive; this can take 10 to 15 minutes so be patient
  • once the new image is written, you will momentarily lose your connection as the FreeNAS™ system will automatically reboot into the new version of the operating system
  • FreeNAS™ will actually reboot twice: once the new operating system loads the upgrade process applies the new database schema and reboots again
  • assuming all went well, the FreeNAS™ system will receive the same IP from the DHCP server; refresh your browser after a moment to see if you access the system
If Something Goes Wrong

If the FreeNAS™ system does not become available after the upgrade, you will need physical access to the system to find out what went wrong. From the console menu you can determine if it received an IP address and use option “1) Configure Network Interfaces” if it did not.

If this does not fix the problem, go into option “9) Shell” and read the system log with this command:

more /var/log/messages

If the problem is not obvious or you are unsure how to fix it, see FreeNAS_Support_Resources.If the system remains inaccessible and you wish to revert back to the previous installation, type rebootfrom the shell or select “10) Reboot” from the console menu. Watch the boot screens and press F2 when you see this menu:

F1 FreeBSD

F2 FreeBSD

Boot: F1

That’s all there is to it…

Be sure to check out our other FreeNAS 7 tutorials (if you are still running that version) here at Home System Integration, your “Connected Home” resource!


Alan Worley

About the Author

Tom AbellPut simply, Tom loves technology! Having been involved in the IT world since leaving the US Navy Submarine Force in 1992, Tom has moved his way up to the top as an IT Systems Engineering. But having spent some time in the Home Automation industry early in his career, he’s never been able to shake his love for creating integrated Home Technology environments and has been running HTPCs and Windows Home Servers for years. With 17 years of IT Systems Engineering experience, Tom's recent OIF 08-09 deployment has rekindled his love for the Connected Home Industry and hence, the website. We hope you like the site, please share it with your friends and follow us on your favorite Social Networks! Read more about Tom on the "About Us" page.View all posts by Tom Abell

  1. Mike

    why is so much ram required? I know FreeNAS can be installed on relatively weak or old computers. Does DLNA require more activity on the server than simple filesharing via SMB/CIFS or NFS?

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