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StarWind Virtual SAN® Free

StarWind Virtual SAN Video
For virtualization admins, IT geeks, bloggers, students or those who look to build and maintain virtualization infrastructure for test and development, home lab or POC (Proof of Concept) at little to no expense, our solution is StarWind Virtual SAN Free. It is software that creates “shared nothing” fault-tolerant SAN or NAS for personal or production use from just two commodity servers. It also does 2-node hyperconverged infrastructure as an option, restricted to certain use cases.
StarWind Virtual SAN Free targets those who need a SAN or NAS for their home lab, educational or research purposes. It is free for production use, but comes with a basic restricted set of features, compared to
the full VSAN. In case a serious project is starting, StarWind Virtual SAN will come in handy. It offers a wider set of features unlocked and more usage scenarios, also being backed by StarWind support. Getting qualified assistance from expert engineers simplifies the building and maintenance of virtualization infrastructure. The complete list of differences between free and paid versions can be found here.


Unlike open-source free software of similar purpose, our solution is based on in-house developed code, proven to work by years of successful StarWind VSAN usage. It is a native Windows application, without any custom Linux/FreeBSD fork-outs and hours of tinkering. Though self-supported, StarWind Virtual SAN Free was designed to simplify installation, maintenance and possible troubleshooting.

Unlike free versions of typical Software Defined Storage solutions, ours is a production platform. StarWind Virtual SAN Free is more than just a “marketing vehicle” – trial or demonstration software for selling the paid version. It has commercial grade functionality and real-life use cases, such as: virtual shared storage for Microsoft Hyper-V and SQL Server, virtual shared storage for VMware vSphere & ESXi and Xen, failover file server, backup storage (corporate data, VDI profiles), etc.

Full differentiation of StarWind Virtual SAN against competitors can be found here.


Exceptional Simplicity
StarWind Virtual SAN Free was made with simplicity in mind. Any system administrator will install, configure and run it in a matter of minutes without being experienced in storage management. Nothing is easier than putting two servers together, “mirroring” them, and letting StarWind Virtual SAN Free take it from there.
Low Cost
StarWind Virtual SAN Free costs nothing and is ready for prime time. There are no timebombs, no restrictions, production use is allowed too. The only expense on the project will be hardware, though there usually already is a suitable setup, because VSAN Free accepts repurposed servers. When the project exceeds the capabilities of the free version, it can be seamlessly upgraded to commercial StarWind VSAN.
Performance and Features
StarWind Virtual SAN Free adopts most of the performance-related features of the paid version: dynamic RAM and flash caching, Log-Structuring, deduplication and compression etc. It will squeeze the maximum possible performance out of the hardware, putting StarWind Virtual SAN Free in line with Enterprise-class storage platforms in terms of performance.


Converged (Compute and Storage Separated)

StarWind Virtual SAN Free manages segregated storage layer working in pair with compute resources. This architecture is great for infrastructures where there is a need to grow capacity or performance independently from each other, such as big clustered SQL Server and Oracle deployments. Such a scenario can fit the task easier by adding either CPU/RAM to the hypervisor node or disks to storage node. Learn More


The free VSAN can also create a hyperconverged infrastructure, though the option is restricted to certain user statuses. This architecture unifies compute and storage resources on the same layer, thus being easily managed on the hypervisor level. It also requires less hardware to purchase, meaning both servers and associated network infrastructure. Hyperconverged architecture also boosts performance, because StarWind takes care of “data locality”, trying to keep storage on the same node with VMs. This way most of I/O becomes local, without going through wire and performance grows. Learn More

Fault Tolerance and High Availability

Storage and caches are “mirrored” between multiple nodes, achieving 99.99% uptime with 2-way replica and 99.9999% with 3-way replica. Every active host acts as a storage controller and every Logical Unit has its data replicated on multiple nodes. It would take an improbably extensive failure to cause downtime, because the system is impervious to entire storage hosts crashing. Learn More

Server-Side Cache

StarWind Virtual SAN Free implements distributed RAM and flash caches to reduce network traffic to the absolute minimum and reduce I/O latency. The caches are also “mirrored” between the nodes, being not only fast, but also safe. Using commodity hardware for caching and employing “data locality”, StarWind Virtual SAN Free raises performance without breaking the bank. Learn More

Hardware Agnostic and Commodity Hardware

StarWind Virtual SAN Free will run on inexpensive commercial off-the-shelf hardware, without any mandatory proprietary components or “magic hardware”. Two general-purpose servers are everything the user needs to create a fault-tolerant SAN or NAS, nothing else is mandatory, including network switches. All the “top of the line” components are not required, but StarWind Virtual SAN Free still supports them, including high-performance SAS, durable SLC flash and 10-100 GbE network. Learn More

Deduplication and Compression

StarWind Virtual SAN Free inherits Virtual SAN space reduction technologies: deduplication and compression for storage and caches. StarWind brings to table its own 4K in-line dedupe and leverages Microsoft’s offline dedupe, allowing to combine them as the user sees fit. The technology conserves capacity, accelerating performance with “virtually bigger” cache, and prolonging flash life, because the amount of writes goes down. The outcome is calculated in terms of cost: higher performance and capacity on the same hardware. Learn More

VM-Centric Storage and StarWind Log-Structured File System (LSFS)

StarWind Virtual SAN Free was specifically designed to handle VM workload. It successfully fights random I/O, which is typical for virtualization, utilizing Log-Structured File System and smart caching. This way, “I/O Blender” effect is negated and performance is kept high without uber-expensive all-flash model. Learn More

Asynchronous Replication

StarWind Virtual SAN Free is the only free solution of the type to support asynchronous replication to public cloud. Using Azure with geo-redundancy as a DR site for mission-critical data eliminates any need in a remote location and forms a backup solution at no effort.
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Free vs. Paid new What’s the difference? Learn More
Differentiation  Comparison with competitors Learn More
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