StarWind Virtual SAN® Free

Value Proposition

For virtualization admins, developers, and IT geeks, who look to build and manually maintain virtualization infrastructure for production purposes, POC (Proof of Concept), or test and development at no expense, our solution is StarWind Virtual SAN Free. It is a free Software-Defined Storage stack that eliminates the need in physical shared storage by “mirroring” local disks and flash between its servers to create a fault-tolerant storage pool.

Software Defined Storage for the HCI • StarWind Virtual SAN ® Free - pic 1

Unlike most free software-defined storages, which are, essentially, cut and restricted versions of the original, StarWind Virtual SAN Free is completely unrestricted: it is allowed for production use, supports all usage scenarios of the commercial version, has a perpetual license, and is not feature- or functionality-limited version of StarWind VSAN.

Unlike StarWind Virtual SAN, which has multiple management methods, StarWind Virtual SAN Free is designed as a Command Line Interface oriented solution, supporting PowerShell scripts much like Microsoft S2D. All other management tools, like StarWind thin and thick clients, VMware vCenter through VASA-provider, and Microsoft SCVMM with SMI-S, are optional.


Exceptional Simplicity

StarWind Virtual SAN Free requires no specialized skills like network or storage administration to install and run. A typical Windows admin with basic idea of how Microsoft PowerShell works will easily configure and maintain the normal operation. The free version is supported on the dedicated forum at the StarWind website, so any questions will eventually be answered.


StarWind Virtual SAN Free allows the user to build a virtualization infrastructure without paying a dime. It runs on commercial off-the-shelf hardware, so it will easily work with the existing setup. Basically, StarWind VSAN Free deploys a fully functioning production-allowed hyperconverged or dedicated SDS completely free of charge.

Performance and Features

StarWind Virtual SAN Free provides Enterprise-class features, which are typically not included into free Software-Defined Storage. It inherits StarWind Virtual SAN high performance aptitude and small hardware footprint. The features include: server-side flash and memory caching, log-structuring, and an absolutely minimalistic I/O path.



StarWind Virtual SAN Free supports hyper-converged architecture, combining compute and storage resources on the same hardware. This configuration reduces the amount of required hardware and provides the benefits of data locality, by binding all I/O to the local node. Caches are local too, so there is a major boost in performance.

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Data Locality

The “data locality” approach effectively maximizes the performance of the IT infrastructure by keeping compute and storage resources for every virtual machine on its physical node. This allows processing most of the I/O locally, eliminating the problem of slow data transfer through interconnect fabrics and providing lower latency.

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Grid Architecture

The “grid architecture” allows building a highly fault-tolerant cluster by connecting a number of nodes together into a single grid. Such cluster topology provides a high rate of resiliency, allowing the cluster to stay operational even after multiple nodes failure while maintaining the principle of “data locality” for ultimate performance.

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Converged ("Compute and Storage separated")

StarWind Virtual SAN Free supports a more traditional configuration, when there is a requirement to leverage compute and storage resources independently from each other. It can run on a dedicated set of servers and create a shared storage for such use cases, as huge clustered SQL Server, Oracle, SAP, and NoSQL deployments.

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Unified Storage (Multiprotocol)

StarWind Virtual SAN Free exposes the most widespread protocols, like iSCSI, SMB3 and NFS, allowing the integration with any virtualization infrastructure. Additionally, it adopts Remote Direct Memory Access technology by utilizing RDMA-capable protocols, like iSER and SMB Direct to reduce CPU load and achieve even higher performance.

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Log-Structured File System (LSFS)

StarWind Virtual SAN Free utilizes StarWind Log-Structured File System, which is designed for virtualization workloads. It eliminates random I/O, which dominates virtual environments, by packing small writes into big pages using sophisticated caching. Thus, LSFS negates all the typical performance degradation issues of virtualization.

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Server-Side Cache

StarWind Virtual SAN Free utilizes distributed RAM and flash caches to reduce I/O latency and network traffic. This approach boosts performance using commercial off-the-shelf hardware without unnecessary high expenditures. The caches are also replicated between the nodes to match the infrastructure’s overall reliability.

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Fault Tolerance and High Availability

StarWind Virtual SAN Free basically “mirrors” local disks and flash between the servers to create a fault tolerant storage pool. With duplication, 99.99% uptime can be achieved, while triplication offers 99.9999%. There is no single point of failure, because multiple copies of data exist on different nodes and can be recovered in case some of the nodes fail.

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Scale-Up and Scale-Out

StarWind Virtual SAN Free supports horizontal and vertical scaling to grow the infrastructure. Scaling up is performed by adding disks and flash, while scaling out is done by expanding with new cluster nodes with their own CPU, RAM, and internal storage. Thus, StarWind VSAN Free can grow compute and storage resources independently as well as in one go.

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Hardware Agnostic and Commodity Hardware

StarWind Virtual SAN Free runs on commodity hardware that’s available in the nearest PC shop. It eliminates many unnecessary expenses by utilizing general-purpose x64 servers, MLC flash, spinning disks, and Ethernet. However, when required, StarWind VSAN Free will easily use SAS, SLC flash, as well as 25/50/100 GbE networks and Infiniband.

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Asynchronous Replication

StarWind Virtual SAN Free supports asynchronous replication for backup and Disaster Recovery purposes. It can offload backup data to a dedicated storage, a remote DR site or even utilize public cloud like Azure Glacier and AWS S3 to achieve maximum data safety without requiring any additional hardware purchases.

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Snapshots and Automated Storage Tiering

StarWind Virtual SAN Free adopts storage tiering to optimize capacity usage expenses per GB. It offloads the most infrequently accessed “cold” data to a slow and inexpensive storage tier, while the “hot” data is stored on the most highly-performing tier. As a result, even a hybrid setup with a small amount of flash memory can go near all-flash performance.

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Deduplication and Compression

StarWind Virtual SAN Free conserves storage space and boosts performance by utilizing data reduction technologies. Deduplication removes duplicated pieces of data, which can take a large part of capacity in virtualization scenarios. Reducing the amount of data physically written to the array, the technology saves disk space and boosts performance.

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Virtual Storage Appliance

StarWind Virtual SAN trial version is available for fast deployment from a pre-configured VMware and Hyper-V compatible VM. It may not give a clear view on performance, residing in a Virtual Machine, but it shows all the features available in StarWind Virtual SAN.

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Virtual Tape Library (VTL)

StarWind Virtual SAN Free does not include the VTL plugin for obvious reasons. Its typical use cases do not involve tape backup solutions. However, if for any reason, it is necessary to deal with tape hardware, StarWind VSAN may come in handy with its VTL plugin. It accelerates backup and fits the process into backup window, avoiding overlap with production time and performance degradation.

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Starwind Swordfish Provider NEW

StarWind Swordfish Plugin allows to easily manage, allocate and scale infrastructures based on StarWind Virtual SAN as well as setups with StarWind VSAN being part of a bigger storage infrastructure. Swordfish API comes as a part of VSAN installation, making StarWind deployment extra simple and eliminating the need to install additional software to manage the infrastructure.

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To download the software products please make your choice below. An installer link and the license key will be sent to the e-mail address you specify. Please check the Free vs. Paid document if you are uncertain of the StarWind Virtual SAN version. A totally unrestricted NFR (Not For Resale) version of StarWind Virtual SAN is available for certain use cases. Learn more here. The Release Notes can be found here.

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