Best practices for a Home NAS for PC Data Backup

I’m new to TrueNAS and NAS systems in general.
I have repurposed my previous PC as a NAS to serve as a backup solution for both my and my wife’s PCs.
My goal is to secure data from one of my disks and ensure a full system restore capability for my wife’s PC, including backups of her data in C:/ and D:/ drives.

So the PC is surely more powerful than it needs to be. The system specs are:

  • CPU Intel i5-4440
  • RAM 16gb
  • SSD 256gb (boot device)
  • I then bought 3 HDD of 2TB each

My current setup is:

  • TrueNAS Core v13 installed
  • Created a single pool in Raid Z1 with about 4 TB of usable storage
  • Created two datasets, one for my backups and one for my wife’s
  • Configured two SMB shares to manage our backups
  • Used Windows 11 built-in Backup and Recovery (Windows 7 tool) for backup tasks (I know that there a lot of tools for this but I thought that this tool should get the job done)
  • Scheduled SMART tests and configured mail authentication to receive alerts via email

I’m wondering if there are any best practices on how to use this TrueNAS in a home environment focused on data backup.
Also, how can I optimize the use of my SSD, given it’s currently underutilized and can’t be added to the pool?

I found on this forum the uncle fester’s beginner’s guide but the link appears to be broken.
If you have any other resources to share similar to this, it would be much appreciated.

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2tb drives seem a bit small to me. but if the raidz1 pool of 3x 2tb drives is enough storage for you, then that should be fine.

but in terms of the best bang for buck 4tbx3 or 4? i’m using the later. Not saying you have to go similarly, but that is sufficient for most people. Only pay for what you actually use.

If you are looking for more zfs tuning videos, lawrence has a bunch of them you can check out

Since you are new to truenas you may want to check out how to setup the smb and acls for your truenas. lawrence explains it well here

are you using core or scale?

If you plan to use apps, scale is better. Core is very stable, but scale is also being pushed to enterprise good sign that it’s stable enough for production use for a while now. I’m on dragonfish which is considered beta and not for production.

make sure you have monthly raid scrubs once a month set if they haven’t already.

your ssd is already being used for your boot pool? not sure what other optimization you want for it. You could go for a mirror boot pool ssd if you want, or just stick to your current setup. That’s about it?

In Tim’s video he explains the other options. lots of it is optional. You don’t really have to do all that, i didn’t. I just deployed the basic truenas setup and it just works fine :sweat_smile:

but if you want to explore the extra features just check lawrence, tim or some other youtuber explaining those stuff.

Guess you are set on your backup and restore for your desktop pc? so i won’t go into that :saluting_face:

The way i see it, if you go for a small sized ssd, you have a shorter life span for that ssd. So though a bigger ssd might seem under utilized for you, it may add to it’s lifespan. For a bang for buck 1tb or 2tb is the sweet spot. Or if you want 500gb. But i wouldn’t go lesser than that. Check the prices and look at their TBW and get whatever makes sense to you. but since you already have one, just stick to that.

Also once you add that ssd for boot drive, that is all it can be used for, nothing else.

If you need an ssd for use to say, install the truenas apps, vm, or jailmaker to setup docker containers, then you can buy and add a different ssd for that purpose to create a new pool using that.

my own setup as an example i have 1 boot drive (SSD), 2 pools (4x 4tb hdd raidz1 & 2x 500gb SSD mirror)

I utilize some tools for managing my backup. For example, i use dupeguru and qdirstat which i self host on the nas.

These tools let me check for duplicates so i can delete wasteful stuff. And qdirstat lets me view the storage being used by what, and check whether i should remove some stuff if they become irrelevant over time, starting with the biggest file sizes.

i also use other useful stuff for my backup like syncthings to backup smartphones 2fa, and keepass database

So when you say under utilized, to me this means not taking advantage of self hosting some apps that might be useful to do maintenance or other things. You don’t have to do all that, just food for thought.

If all you want to do is store data and that’s it, that’s fine as well. lawrence and tim’s video may cover what you are looking for in that regard :sweat_smile:

make sure you save your truenas config in truenas > systems settings > general > manage configuration

save it to a safe location. So if for some reason your ssd boot drive died, you can recover using that truenas config. Also you can recover/import your pools without losing them. You should backup your truenas to a separate storage device regardless.

if privacy is a concern, you can setup some or all datasets with encryption e.g. passphrase. upon a reboot they are auto locked and will require a password to unencrypt them. this is additional protection for sensitive stuff on your backup. but if you opt for this, you need to carefully store that encryption key/passphrase or you won’t have access to it :sweat_smile:

hope that helps

3-2-1 backup rule…

If the data remains on the PC’s and it is a copy on TrueNAS, you got 2 down…1 to go…

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I would recommend using the free Veeam Windows Agent to backup to a TrueNAS SMB share.

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Thank you for all the resources and the tips. I will take a look into each of them

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Yeah I know this rule, for the moment I’m happy to have one backup. In the future I will take in consideration a third place


I saw this software mentioned before. What added values does it bring compared to the built-in Backup and Recovery tool (Win 7) in your opinion?

Your trusting Microsoft vs Veeam which makes its entire business from doing backups.