How to Install TrueNAS Scale on a Terramaster NAS

How to Run TrueNAS Scale on a Terramaster NAS Drive – Step By Step Guide

Not all Linux servers are built equally! If you are new to the world of private server storage, you might have heard about how “everything runs on Linux”. Now, that is not exactly true (with many other platforms out there with their own building blocks), but Linux still continues to be the dominant platform that most software we regularly use is built from. Network Attached Storage (NAS) is no exception and most new or relatively inexperienced NAS users can be separated into two clear categories. There are those that want to get their hands dirty, spend sensibly on a DiY system in order to take advantage of community built platforms such as TrueNAS Scale (the Linux version of the popular TrueNAS Core FreeBSD platform), and then there are those that are happy to pay extra for the system to arrive prebuilt, but also know that the software that it comes with can be a little more restrictive. However, it is NOT impossible to have the best of both! Today, I want to show you how to turn the remarkably affordable NAS solutions from Terramaster (easily the best Value NAS in the market right now, even when the 2022 range is pretty well hardware equipped with NVMe, 2.5G, Embedded Graphics CPUs and more) into a linux based TrueNAS Scale, ZFS Powered, NAS system. It is considerably easier than you might think, is very easy to reverse and allows you to have the full customization and freedom of TrueNAS Scale, a prebuilt 24×7 designed server system and all whilst still getting exceptional value for money for the hardware. Cool right? Let’s begin the step-by-step guide.

Note – You can watch my FULL 30 Min+ beginners Guide to installing TrueNAS Scale on a Terramaster NAS Here

TrueNAS Scale Software on Terramaster NAS Hardware – What You Need?

It is worth highlighting that having just a Terramaster NAS is not quite enough and in order to get TrueNAS Scale up and running on a Terramaster NAS requires a few extra checks and use of a few items you might have already in the home/office, or a quick $10 shop online at most. In order to upgrade your system to TrueNAS Scale, you will need to consider/have the following:

 

  • I recommend not using a USB larger than 32GB, due to the constraints of 1st party software to format larger than this in FAT32. Don’t be tempted to spend like $2 more for a 64GB, as the TrueNAS Scale installation will occupy the full USB space (as you will create a system-image-USB) and space is utterly irrelevant when the TrueNAS Scale installation is so small
  • A Disk Image to USB conversion too. I recommend ‘Rufus’, currently in ver 3.19 and can be run in a portable .exe form that doesn’t require installation – DOWNLOAD
  • A basic USB Keyboard (example HERE but really, any will do) and an HDMI Monitor (or simply any device that has an HDMI input – NOT output) such as a TV or Capture card
  • Hard Drive and/or SSD media (you should already have these, but just in case) for your storage
  • OptionalDownload Advanced IP Scanner HERE, as it is a really useful tool for analyzing your network and finding your new TrueNAS Scale NAS for remote access

That is about it. Most of these (maybe not the USB drive at that physical size) you will almost certainly already have to hand.

Can I Reverse the TrueNAS Scale Installation and go back to Terramaster TOS?

Almost certainly YES! I say ‘almost certainly’, as there is one small caveat. When you make the change from Terramster TOS to TrueNAS Scale on the NAS hardware, the drives (HDD and/or SSD) inside are formatted to ZFS and used in the new system software. This works both ways if you want to revert back to TOS on the NAS too. So, although the act of reinitializing the NAS to its original software is very easy (simply needing you to replace the internal USB and rebooting), it will mean that any data that resides on the disks inside will be formatted. So, if you are choosing to make a change from one NAS OS to another, make sure you have your data appropriately backed up elsewhere. So, let’s begin the installation of TrueNAS Scale on the Terramaster NAS.

TrueNAS Scale on a Terramaster NAS – Step 1, Download TrueNAS Scale

Head to the TrueNAS Scale website HERE and download the latest stable release of the software to your local PC, Linux or Mac system. Make sure to remember where you downloaded it.

TrueNAS Scale on a Terramaster NAS – Step 2, Download Rufus USB Image Tool

Head to the Rufus website and download the latest version of that tool – I recommend downloading the standalone executable file here, as then it will immediately run when you double click the file, without installation etc. It may redirect you to Github, but it will be the same executable file. Once again, remember where you downloaded it.

TrueNAS Scale on a Terramaster NAS – Step 3, Preparing the USB

Connect the small form factor USB Drive to your system (again, this is the one I used from Sandisk) and after a few seconds, it should appear as an available USB Drive. The drive MAY need formatting (you will be prompted to do so), if that is the case, then you can format it via the system prompts and by default, it will format it to FAT32 (as long as your USB is less than 32GB). If you are not presented with a system prompt to format your USB, then you can head into My PC, or My Computer via a windows computer and right-click the drive, select ‘format’ and format it that way.

If you have used the USB for other things previously, there is a chance that the drive has existing partitions in place. For that, the quickest way to completely remove any partitions is to open up the bottom-left windows system menu as normal, and then just type diskpart and open the command-line GUI tool. From there, use the command list disk to show the available drives that are connected, you will see your USB (normally disk 1 or 2, but can differ depending on your system layout and can be spotted by the storage amount). From there, type select disk # (where # is the drive number that your USB is shown as) and then type clean, which which will then remove any index structure for the drive (i.e the partitions and existing format) and then you can go back to the My Computer/My PC page and format the drive to FAT 32 as normal.

TrueNAS Scale on a Terramaster NAS – Step 4, Creating a USB Installer Image of TrueNAS Scale

Open the Rufus application and from there you will see the USB Drive (listed as NO NAME, or ‘UNTITLED’, ETC) at the top. From there, look to the select image/find image option (depending on the ver. of Rufus or your USB Image Creator tool of choice) and find the TrueNAS Scale disk image you downloaded earlier). If the drive is not listed, it may have downloaded as a compressed/archive file. If that is the case, head to the location of where you downloaded TrueNAS Scale (in your file explorer, not in Rufus) and right-click the file you downloaded. If the option to ‘extract‘ is visible, then you can extract it (i.e unpack it to the original form) in that same download directory. From there, head back into RUFUS and then the TrueNAS Scale system image should be visible. Select it, then run the Rufus System image creator tool and create your USB bootable TrueNAS Scale disk image.

REMEMBER! This will completely format your USB drive and any files that are on that USB will be destroyed. The system image creator tool will turn the USB into a pure boot image tool – the USB will not be usable for traditional storage again unless you completely format it again.

TrueNAS Scale on a Terramaster NAS – Step 5, REMOVE THE USB FROM YOUR PC!!!!!!!!!

Really, really important and sometimes overlooked. Once the USB creation is completed, you need to remove the USB (using the eject hardware safely option at the bottom right of your windows machine taskbar as normal). DO NOT accidentally leave the USB in your USB Ports for any longer than necessary. If you leave it in and your system reboots at any point (eg in a normal ‘end of day shut down, go home, reboot tomorrow’ scenario), then the system might boot directly into the TrueNAS Scale installation and although it is easy to exit from, it can change your system default boot preferences, maybe even remove your primary boot drive as the OS drive – requiring a little messing with a windows installation disk to change it back. The odds of this are very small, but not zero, so make sure to safely remove your USB drive when the TrueNAS Scale system image creator tool is completed.

TrueNAS Scale on a Terramaster NAS – Step 6, Opening up your Terramaster NAS

This next step is going to differ depending on the Terramaster NAS Drive you are choosing to use. For this guide, I am using a 2022 generation F4-423 4-Bay NAS, but the general steps are the same for any Terramaster NAS (though the location of the USB will differ). With the Terramaster NAS disconnected from the network and from any power source. From there you will need to remove the external casing. In the case of most Terramaster NAS, the chassis is held by 4-6 screws on the rear of the casing that, when removed, allow you to remove the rear pannel+fans and slide the internal framework out the front of the casing (be sure to check the fans are not disconnected accidentally in this process). IMPORTANT – Remove any HDD/SSD Media during the dismantling of the Terramaster NAS chassis, as it would be so, SO easy to harm these with accidentally dropping/motion damage. No need to remember the order of the drives when you re-install them, as they are going to be formatted during the TrueNAS Scale installation.

Now, if you take a closer look at the main controller board of the Terramaster NAS (the one with network/USB ports attached, not the one that the HDD/SSD bays are on), you will spot a VERY small USB module in a tiny USB port. It should look something like this:

Now, THIS is where the default Terramaster TOS NAS software installation is kept. This is NOT where the OS actually runs from, but this is where the system checks in it’s BIOS when booting to find installation media (IF the system does not already have an active OS on the drives). Very delicately (as it IS a small USB and likely tucked in next to some other delicate components) remove the USB there is there, put it somewhere safe (as you will need this if you ever want to return the Terramster back to a TOS software system) and then replace it with the USB from earlier that has the TrueNAS Scale system image you created in Rufus. THIS is why you needed a very small USB, as otherwise there is simply no way you would fit a traditional USB flash stick in the space provided.

That is pretty much it. This only other thing to factor in here is IF your Terramaster NAS does NOT have an external HDMI port. Most Terramsater NAS released in 2020-2022 have an HDMI port on the rear that although largely useless in TOS, is still accessible (something you will need for TrueNAS Scale initialization. However, some Terramaster NAS with Intel Processors have the HDMI Port located INSIDE the main chassis. So, IF your NAS has an inside HDMI port, you are going to need to connect an  HDMI monitor to it and run the initial installation (covering in a bit) with the chassis in this open state. After installation is complete, you can close the Terramaster NAS chassis up. Otherwise, if your NAS already has an external HDMI port, you can go ahead and reconstruct the NAS chassis.

NOTE – If you plan on upgrading the memory of your NAS to 8GB-16GB (in order to use ALL of the features of TrueNAS Scale to their fullest extent), I would recommend doing so at this point before rebuilding the physical chassis again, as many Terramaser NAS have the 2nd SODIMM memory slot in really tight locations.

TrueNAS Scale on a Terramaster NAS – Step 7, Accessing the HDMI Port and Keyboard Control

Next, you need to start getting the system ready for Initialization and Setup. I would strongly recommend running the first-time installation via a direct interface with the Terramaster NAS. You will need to connect an HDMI Monitor/TV/Capture Card to the HDMI port of the NAS, a Keyboard (and/or mouse) to an available USB port) and then connect the power/network connections to the NAS and boot the device up.

After a few minutes, the TrueNAS Scale GUI/Command will appear on your monitor and all you need to do is navigate the config choices to set up your TrueNAS Scale NAS the first time.

Important – TrueNAS Scale runs at its best when it is run on a separate drive from your storage. Much like an Operating System, you can install TrueNAS Scale on an available SSD in a SATA or NVMe SSD slot in the Terramaster NAS, then (after initialization) you can go into the TrueNAS Scale > Storage area and create a pool of storage using the available storage media bays,

It is NOT recommended that you install it on a USB drive, for reasons of speed and power-connections.

After you have completed the setup and are back at the initial TrueNAS Scale boot menu, select the ‘SHUTDOWN‘ option (not reboot/restart, for reasons I will explain in a moment).

TrueNAS Scale on a Terramaster NAS – Step 8, Remove the Boot USB Drive

Once your Terramaster NAS has fully powered down, you need to disconnect the storage, power and any other cables, then open up the Terramaster NAS again (if it was re-constructed from earlier) and then remove the USB drive you installed earlier with TrueNAS Scale boot loader on it. You need to do this as otherwise, when you reboot the Terramaster NAS, it will reboot into the bootloader again. You can skip past this and/or it will not action a reinitialization without your input, but better to remove the USB and therefore allow the system to always immediately boot into the TrueNAS Scale system. After you have reconstructed the terramaster NAS, you can go ahead and connect all the cables and power on the device.

Note – Do NOT replace the USB with the original Terramaster USB Drive that it arrived with, or the system will auto boot into the Terramaster TOS Installation setup.

TrueNAS Scale on a Terramaster NAS – Step 9, Reboot the NAS

Upon rebooting the Terramaster into TrueNAS Scale (can take up to 5 mins, but usually much quicker). You have two options with how to access the configuration and controls. You can use the HDMI+Keyboard if you choose for console/command level access, but it will be ALOT higher a learning curve than the network GUI.

Alternatively (much more recommended), use a program such as Advanced IP Scanner, which is free and VERY useful anyway, or even network command prompt) to scan your local area network and find where the Terramaster with TrueNAS Scale is located (i.e it’s IP). This IP (eg 192.168.1.111) is what you put into the URL bar ofay web browser and it will load into the login GUI for TrueNAS Scale. From here you will need to use the username ‘root’ in combination with the password that you created during initialization.

And that is about it. You now have TrueNAS Scale installed as the default OS of your Terramaster NAS. From here you can do anything and everything that his highly regarded ZFS powered server software offers. Head into the Storage area and start creating pools, as well as areas for caching and lots more features.

TrueNAS Core was recently updated to ver.13 in a stable release of the FreeBSD format, as well as new improvements in the Linux-based version ‘TrueNAS Scale’. The first thing you are going to need to do when setting up your TrueNAS Scale > Terramaster NAS server is set up your storage. Do this by heading into the storage tab and following the handy steps on screen. After that, you can pretty much do anything on your new ZFS NAS!

You can find out more about TrueNAS in my full review below that covers everything I like and dislike about the platform:

Thanks for reading! I hope you found this helpful and that it really helped you to make the most of your storage. Want to help me continue to make more guides, reviews and tutorials on the subject of NAS? Then you can do so in a few different ways (any of which I will be eternally grateful for if you choose to!). You can visit the ‘Support NAS Passion’ page HERE and see a few different ways that you can help us keep the lights on. Alternatively, you can use one of the links below to shop for your hardware today or in future (visiting those sites via the link below ensures that we get a mall commission on absolutely anything you purchase – and doesn’t cost you anything extra). Finally, if you want to support us in spirit rather than financially, recommend our blog to a friend or professional colleague or share a link on your social media site of choice. Thank you for reading and have a fantastic week!



 

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    34 thoughts on “How to Install TrueNAS Scale on a Terramaster NAS

    1. Anyone installed the app on mobile phone for this device.?
      I’m trying to do this after following the full guidelines on setup , and for over 24 hrs I’m trying to add to my phone and see the Nas, but can’t login.
      On my Pc and sharing on my network is ok, i can see and connect, but once I’m open my app on phone, i can’t login.
      I’m using my user name and password,but on last option said,, PLEASE INPUT TNAS ADDRESS “. That’s the problem i just can’t understand,what do i need to add there.
      Any help or advice will be really appreciated.

      Thank you
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    2. This mini series quickly became my favorite way to think about backups. Small form factor, small power foot print, just some big drives and a schedule to back some data up.
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    3. I have the TerraMaster F2 423, and I replaced the OS USB with an empty USB drive. I used the rear USB slots to load TrueNAS Scale onto the empty USB drive. I also used the 2x M.2 Slots for 128G SATA SSD’s as Cache drives. The 2x Hotswap Drives are 14TB HDDs mirrored. I also installed an additional 32G of mem on the bottom leaving the original 4G of mem in place. TrueNAS on the USB drive as the OS works fine with no issues for the past 4 months. File read and writes are better than expected.
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    4. Was thinking of doing this so great guide thx. Could you confirm if like the. F4-421 and f4-422, the f4-423 has 5 sata ports on the back plane? From the vide looks like the have reduced it to 4 was hoping to modify and use as 5 bay.
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    5. I am truly on the verge on doing the same setup as i am quiet happy with the flexibility that ZFS/TrueNAS is offering. If only QuTS Hero was made available on more NAS systems.
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    6. At first a 1-hour video seemed long, but every point mentioned was pertinent. And it’s the weekend anyway, so. 😉
      Only addition I would have liked is an overview of network shares management.

      And you are spot-on my user usecase/profile: Home techie power user currently using a Synology that likes its simplicity but that still keeps an eye on other totally open source platforms for a bit more control/flexibility (and lot more verbose logs!!). And so I agree with every single of your comments.

      Indeed, an “easy” mode in TrueNAS or more wizards across the system would be greatly helpful because I may be tech-savvy at some level, still maybe not quite the TrueNAS level.
      So to have something to bridge the gap between current TrueNAS “complexity” and Synology DSM “simplicity” would be perfect.

      The other thing that makes me hesitating from leaving Synology ecosystem is the turn-key/hand-holding/well-integrated (DSM/mobile) apps. But even there — and it’s one of the reasons I’m looking elsewhere — is that in the recent years Synology has seemed to neglect all their non-business apps.
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    7. I would find it very interesting.
      If u would test out TrueNAS scale ad the review u have made now about TrueNAS Core.
      It’s out of beta and in the release channel.
      And it opens up a tons of possibilities as a Linux user, because of docker and k8s.

      I really trust and enjoy ur indept reviews.
      It would be great to see that for TrueNAS SCALE.
      Best regards from me.
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    8. Adding a comment here to your most recent upload, hoping to get a reply. Watched 100’s of your uploads now. I need a new nas (4-10 bays). My old one died. Won’t be editing on it or doing anything taxing (fancy) with it, so not bothered with nvme caching etc. Just storing/accessing files locally via LAN. Best option? (Ideally with faster than 1.0GBe)
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    9. I’d be all over TrueNAS (and/or Proxmox), but I have a QNAP TS-453D and for the life of me I cannot boot off the internal drives. No, I am not happy booting off an external USB drive. Do you, or anyone, have any tricks to be able to boot directly off the internal drives on a midrange QNAP device?
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    10. Sweet! Great deep dive as always without being intimidating for us newbies rob! – bit the bullet last year on a tvs-h1288x due to your coverage and don’t regret it as it’s been great overall but with all the gross stuff that’s been happening in the qnap camp, definitely considering potentially repurposing it for a truenas. Possible?
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    11. I’m looking into a NAS system. But I don’t know how much I want to do with it. Right now I only want storage. But I also bought a raspberry pi 4 just for experimenting, and now I have: an add sinkhole, VPN server, Home Assistent, link to smart meter, DDNS server, selfhosted Bitwarden, node red, ZigBee network, and on and on… In just three months. So yea.. it will probably not only be for storage and will take over all tasks from the pi, start media server, couch potato, radarr, lidarr, security cameras with AI face detection, etc. I think I just have to go with TrueNas because eventually I want it all….
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    12. I was using freenas/truenas before I got a qnap for ease of use. Truenas wipes the floor with qnap, you just need some patience to get your head around the user interface. Please also advise everyone that you can run truenas on an old pc or in a virtual environment to test.
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    13. Yayyyyy Robbie is back! I bought a qnap based on your review. Your info was great. Its a shame that qnap decided to, there is no delicate way of saying this, shaft thier user base. I really think this is a fantastic idea and would love to see more of your valuable input. Might be time to get the big hammer out and doctor my tvs-1282. Once more it’s good to see you with your enthusiasm for nas. You are back on the watch list. Thank you Robbie.
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    14. Thanks for this look at TrueNAS. I’m eagerly awaiting your review of that IXsystems box you’ve got there as well as a “Setting Up” video on it. If at all possible it would be nice if you showed a basic, recommended system setup from the point of view of Joe, Jane and Baby Bag-O’Donuts.
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