Getting Started

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Getting Started

In this guide we will be covering how to prepare your flash device, boot the system, and configure your first array. The entire process should take less than 15 minutes.


Before we begin, you should have your server assembled, connected via power and Ethernet, and you should have a monitor and keyboard attached for the initial configuration (to be ready to alter configuration settings in your BIOS). Once the initial setup is complete, you can disconnect your monitor and keyboard to run unRAID in a “headless” state if you so desire. You will also need a quality USB flash device that is 1GB or larger. If you haven’t purchased your hardware yet, we have lots of recommendations.

Preparing Your USB Flash Device

There are two methods to preparing your USB flash device. By default, everyone should use the USB flash creator for the easiest and most streamlined experience, but in the event this tool doesn't work for you, we have additionally documented a manual process by which you can also create your flash device.

Important: the Manual Method only works for devices 32GB and smaller.

Using the Flash Creator

  • Plug the USB flash device into your Mac or PC.
  • Go to the downloads page.
  • Download the USB Flash Creator to your Mac or PC and run it.
  • Customize any options you desire and select the flash device you wish to use from the drop down.
  • Click Write to create the bootable flash.

Manual Method (Legacy)

  • Plug the USB flash device into your Mac or PC.
  • Format the device using the FAT (or FAT32) file system.
  • Set the ‘volume label’ to UNRAID (case-sensitive, use all caps).
  • Go to the downloads page.
  • Choose a version and download it to a temporary location on your computer (e.g. a “downloads” folder).
  • Extract the contents of the newly downloaded ZIP file onto your USB flash device.
  • Browse to the USB flash device to see the newly extracted contents from your Mac or PC.
  • Run the make bootable script.
    • From Windows XP, just double-click the make_bootable file.
    • From Windows 7 or later, right-click the file and select 'Run as Administrator’.
    • From Mac devices, double-click the file make_bootable_mac and enter your admin password when prompted.
    • NOTE: during the process of running this script, the flash device may seem to disappear and reappear on your workstation a few times – this is expected behavior.
  • Link to guide with screenshots.

BIOS and Booting Up


You’re now ready to remove the Flash from your PC or Mac, plug it into your server, and power up. Configuring your motherboard BIOS (as well as your storage controller) correctly is an important step to ensuring a solid experience using unRAID. The basic guidelines are as follows:

  • You must configure the USB flash device as the primary boot device (most motherboards support this).
  • Your storage controller should support AHCI and SATA connections and be configured in standard HBA mode (not RAID mode).
  • Enable any and all virtualization support in your BIOS if your hardware supports it / you wish to create virtual machines (Intel VT-x / AMD-V).
  • Enable IOMMU support in your BIOS if your hardware supports it / you wish to assign physical PCI devices (GPUs, media controllers, USB controllers, etc.) to virtual machines.
  • Avoid using front panel USB ports in favor of ports available directly on the motherboard I/O panel.

If after configuring your BIOS you cannot get unRAID to boot properly, try the following:

  • Set the boot order to as follows: Forced-FDD, USB-HDD, USB-ZIP
  • Try disabling USB 2.0/3.0 support (this will default to USB 1.1).
  • Try switching on or off any Fast Boot feature.
  • Try Switching on or off USB keyboard support.

If you still are unable to boot the OS, please post a message in our general support forum.

NOTE: Many motherboards support only up 12 hard drives for purposes of boot selection. This is normally not an issue for unRAID® Server OS; however, if your Flash device is recognized by the bios as a hard drive, you may not be able to boot from the Flash after installing your 12th “real” hard drive. To avoid this, if possible set up your bios so that the Flash is treated as a removable device.

Boot Mode Selector (Syslinux)

After configuring your BIOS, you will be prompted with the unRAID Server OS boot menu. There are a number of options available for you to select:

unRAID OS (Headless)

The standard boot mode for unRAID Server OS, headless mode utilizes less memory than desktop mode, but relies on the use of another device to access the webGui for management.

unRAID OS GUI Mode (Desktop)

Desktop mode loads a lightweight desktop interface with a quick-launch menu for accessing the webGui, product documentation, and useful Linux utilities including a bash shell, midnight commander, and htop. This mode may be helpful for users trying to diagnose network connectivity problems or for users that don't have a separate device to use for connecting to the webGui.

unRAID OS Safe Mode (Headless)

Use this boot mode to diagnose if plugins are causing stability issues on your system.


If you suspect faulty RAM on your system, you can use Memtest86+ to test it. Please post in the general support forum for assistance in using this tool.

Connecting to the unRAID webGui

There are two methods to connect to the webGui in unRAID:

  1. Boot unRAID in GUI mode and login; or
  2. Open a web browser from your Mac or PC and navigate to http://tower (or http://tower.local if using a Mac)

Registering and Installing Your Key

Upon connecting to the unRAID webGui for the first time, you should be taken to the Registration page. From here, you can register and install either a trial or paid license key.

Assigning Devices to the Array and Cache


After installing a registration key, you are ready to begin assigning devices for unRAID to manage. Click on the Main tab from the unRAID webGui and follow these guidelines when assigning disks:

  • Always pick the largest storage device available to act as your parity device(s). When expanding your array in the future (adding more devices to data disk slots), you cannot assign a data disk that is larger than your parity device(s). For this reason, it is highly recommended to purchase the largest HDD available for use as your initial parity device, so future expansions aren’t limited to small device sizes. If assigning dual parity disks, your two parity disks can vary in size, but the same rule holds true that no disk in the array can be larger than your smallest parity device.
  • SSD support in the array is experimental. Some SSDs may not be ideal for use in the array due to how TRIM/Discard may be implemented. Using SSDs as data/parity devices may have unexpected/undesirable results. This does NOT apply to the cache / cache pool.
  • Using a cache will improve array performance. It does this by redirecting write operations to a dedicated disk (or pool of disks in unRAID 6) and moves that data to the array on a schedule that you define (by default, once per day at 3:40AM). Data written to the cache is still presented through your user shares, making use of this function completely transparent.
  • Creating a cache-pool adds protection for cached data. If you only assign one cache device to the system, data residing there before being moved to the array on a schedule is not protected from data loss. To ensure data remains protected at all times (both on data and cache disks), you must assign more than one device to the cache function, creating what is called a cache-pool. Cache pools can be expanded on demand, similar to the array.
  • SSD-based cache devices are ideal for applications and virtual machines. Apps and VMs benefit from SSDs as they can leverage their raw IO potential to perform faster when interacting with them. Use SSDs in a cache pool for the ultimate combination of functionality, performance, and protection.

NOTE: Your array will not start if you assign or attach more devices than your license key allows.

Starting the Array and Formatting Your Devices

Once you have all your devices assigned, you can click the Start button under Array Operation. This will mount your devices and start the array. New devices added to disk or cache device slots will appear as 'Unformatted' and will be unusable until you format them. unRAID 6 defaults to using the XFS filesystem for all devices, but if you define a cache pool, BTRFS will automatically be used for those devices. To format your devices for use, you must click the check box under ‘Array Operation’ that says Format and then click the Format button.

Even before the devices are formatted, a parity sync will be performing in the background to initialize the protection of the array. Until the sync is completed, the array will operate but in an unprotected state. It is recommended to wait until the initial parity sync completes before adding data to the array.

Stopping Array, Shutting Down, and Rebooting

In order to perform one of these operations, visit the Main tab and scroll down to the section titled Array Operation.

Additional Settings

While unRAID is configured to work automatically, you may wish to further refine your setup by customizing your IP address, hostname, disk tunables, and other settings. This section goes over the various settings you can configure from the unRAID webGui. All settings controls can be found under the Settings tab on the unRAID task bar unless otherwise specified.

Date-time.png Date & Time

From this page you can set your time zone and toggle use of up to 3 NTP servers. It is recommended that you adjust unRAID to your time zone for accurate timekeeping.

Disk-settings.png Disk Settings

You can configure additional settings for your disk devices from this page. Enable your array to auto-start on boot, adjust disk spin down timers, and even adjust advanced driver settings such as SMART polling frequency.

Dynamix.docker.manager.png Docker

Docker containers allow users to add a variety of pre-configured Linux applications to their systems. See the Docker Management page for more information on setting up applications using Docker.

Ident.png Identification

unRAID automatically uses the hostname of tower, but you can adjust that from this page. You can also give your system a description / model number (useful for system builders). In addition, this page also allows you to enable or disable SSL support, change what port the webGui uses, and even provision an SSL certificate for your server.

Network-settings.png Network Settings

By default, unRAID will attempt to get an IP address from a DHCP server present on your local network (typically by your router). From this page you can configure a static IP address, set up bonding / bridging, or other options. Setting a static IP is recommended, but not required to use unRAID.

Share-settings.png Global Share Settings

As described earlier, user shares can vastly simplify how content can be organized and accessed across multiple disks in the array. You can specify what disks are allowed to participate in user shares (global inclusion/exclusion) and if a cache device/pool is present, you can configure it's use with user shares from here.

Apcupsd.png UPS Settings

unRAID can be connected to an APC UPS (uninterruptable power supply) so that in the event of a power loss, the system can be commanded to shut down while being supplied power through a battery. From this page you can configure connection to your specific UPS and define policies for when the shutdown command should be issued. For a complete manual, visit:

Dynamix.vm.manager.png VM Manager

Virtual machines can be used to turn your server into a desktop, a media player, or just to run applications that weren't designed for Linux. See VM Management and VM Guest Support for more information on creating and managing VMs on unRAID.

Apple-logo.png AFP (Apple File Protocol)

From this page you can enable user shares for use with the Apple File Protocol, allowing them to be used as valid Time Machine backup targets for your Mac OS X devices.

Linux-logo.png NFS (Network File System)

NFSv4 support has been included in unRAID 6. You can enable or disable it's use with user shares from this page, as well as adjust the fuse_remember tunable which can help with resolving NFS Stale File Handles error messages.

Windows-logo.png SMB (Server Message Block)

The SMB protocol is the standard used by Microsoft Windows-based clients. From this page, you can enable its use, define a Windows workgroup, or even join an active directory domain.

Ftp-server.png FTP (File Transfer Protocol)

Users can connect via FTP if they are added to the FTP user(s) field on this page. If no users are added, the FTP service will not be started.

Confirmations.png Confirmations

From here, you can disable the need for confirmations to perform various tasks.

Display-settings.png Display Settings

Customize the appearance of the unRAID webGui from this page. This includes adjusting the date and time format, number format, toggles for tabbed/non-tabbed view modes, temperature unit, and much more. You can also toggle between various themes for how the UI itself is presented.

Notifications.png Notifications Settings

Browser and e-mail-based system notifications can be configured from this page. You can subscribe to different types of notifications for each method and even add custom alerts for SMART values attribute monitoring.

Scheduler.png Scheduler

The scheduler settings page allows you configure the frequency for two types of automated system tasks: parity checks and the cache mover.