15 May 2019

Unraid New Users Basics Blog #1

New User Basicbloglogo

Over the years Unraid has grown from a simple Network Attached Storage server OS to a full application platform featuring Docker containers and Virtual Machine support. It can be daunting for new users to navigate the volume of information spread across our Wiki, Forum, and Help section within the product itself. With this in mind, we will publish a series of new user blog posts over the coming months to address some common questions and share some tips, tricks, and best practices to help everyone new to Unraid get the most out of our OS!

In this installment, we will be talking about:

  • Unraid and the USB flash drive
  • Using the USB Flash Creator tool
  • How drives are counted towards the license limit
  • Default Password and How to reset your root password
  • How to rename your server (Tower)
  • How to change banner images and themes

The Unraid OS/USB Flash relationship: ​

A good place to start is with the USB flash drive. We highly recommend you use a high-quality, name-brand USB flash device with at least 1GB capacity. Kingston, PNY, Lexar, and SanDisk brand USBs are good options and will help to ensure that the OS runs properly and the USB doesn’t fail on you. SanDisk Cruzer Fit's are very popular choices for many Unraid users for their low profile design and reliability.

Cheaper ones tend to fail more quickly than a quality USB manufacturer. Once you have Unraid up and running either via a free trial or a purchased license key, it’s important to know that Unraid does not run from the flash drive. The flash drive unpacks an archive of the OS into RAM when it boots and the Unraid OS is actually running in RAM. The USB Flash device is only periodically written with vital configuration data during normal operation.

Here are a few high-quality, brand name USB's recommended for use with Unraid OS:

USB's to avoid using with Unraid OS:

The Unraid USB Flash Creator:

The Unraid USB Flash Creator tool is an open-source program digitally signed by Lime Technology, Inc. Using this program, you can easily convert almost any USB flash device into an Unraid boot device. In addition, the flash creator will give you the option to toggle some advanced settings such as loading a beta release, renaming your server hostname, setting a static IP address for your server pre-boot, and toggling support for UEFI booting. To use the tool:

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

By default, everyone should use the USB flash creator for the easiest and most streamlined experience. 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 here: Manual Method

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

How Drives are Counted Towards the License Limit:

When you purchase an Unraid license, this is a one-time, lifetime cost.

We offer three tiers of Unraid licenses:

  • Basic - $59 (Up to 6 storage devices)
  • Plus - $89 (Up to 12 storage devices)
  • Pro - $129 (Unlimited).

Attached storage devices refers to the total number of storage devices you are allowed to have attached to the server before starting the array. The USB Flash boot device does not count as a storage device.

More info here


Default Username and Password

Now that you've got your Unraid key or trial working, first things first: logging into the Unraid webgui. When you reach the username screen, type in "root" for username and the default password is blank. Once in, be sure to navigate to the Users tab and set a strong root password!

Forgotten Root Password:

Like locking your keys in the car, forgetting your root password can be a real pain and bring everything to a stand still.

To reset your root password:

  1. Shut down your server.
  2. Plug your USB flash into a laptop or another computer.
  3. Open the USB folder and delete the files "config/shadow" and "config/smbpasswd" (do not delete "config/passwd). This will reset all user passwords, including the root user, to none, ie blank.
  4. Now, eject your USB and reboot it on your NAS server and you’re in. You can then set a new password in the Users tab of the Unraid webgui.
Screen Shot 2019 04 23 At 1 30 44 Pm

Important: this process only works for user passwords. If you encrypt your drives and forget this password, unfortunately you are hosed. There is no way for Unraid or anyone to recover this password. Please remember it or write it down in a secure, locked place!

Renaming Your Server [Tower]:

Many new users ask how they can rename their Unraid server from ‘Tower’ to something more personalized like ‘NASBeast’ or ‘Skynet’ or whatever suits you. To change the name, stop your array, go to Settings → Identification and type in your personalized server name. Now click apply and then restart your server. You may also set a custom server name when using the USB Flash Creator tool when initially creating your bootable USB flash device.

Changing Banner Images and Themes:

Did you know you can change the look and feel of the Unraid WebGUI? Oh yeah- to upload your own image banner, go to Settings→ Display Settings and select Yes on the ‘Show Banner’ field. From here, simply drag and drop a .png file onto the default image and click apply.

If you are making your own banner image, 1920x90 image dimensions work great. Also, be sure to check out our gallery of community created banners for some premade ones.

For animated or auto changing banners, do check out the excellent video by Spaceinvader One here:

Do you prefer dark themes instead of light themes? Simply go back to Display Settings and under "Dynamix color theme", you can choose between four different theme settings. The Display Settings menu also has a whole host of other visual related settings that you can customize to your desired preference!

On our next blog, we'll talk about some must have applications, plug-ins and docker containers as well as talk about some best practices to help you get the most out of your Unraid server! Stay tuned...

Keep the discussion going in our forum

What do you think about this blog? Do you have ideas or questions about Unraid that you'd like to see a blog written about? Post them in our forum!