Unraid Moves to Annual Subscription Pricing Model

Unraid Subscription Pricing Announcement Cover
Unraid Subscription Pricing Announcement Cover

Unraid is a popular NAS software, and it announced a big change: it is moving away from perpetual licenses. This, of course, happens on the same day that we do a story on the VMware cost increases. Still, for a portion of STH readers, this will be a big deal.

Unraid Moves to Annual Subscription Pricing Model

In a blog post today, Unraid said that it will grandfather existing Unraid Basic, Plus, and Pro licenses. The company says that users with those existing licenses can upgrade to higher levels of perpetual licenses. That is great news for those already running Unraid OS.

Here are the three pricing levels that Unraid will be moving to.

The new pricing model at Unraid will introduce three new license types:

  • Starter  Supports up to 4 attached storage devices. This will be offered at a lower price than today’s Basic key.

  • Unleashed – Supports an unlimited number of devices. This will be offered at about the same price as today’s Plus key.

  • Lifetime – Essentially the same as a Pro key at a higher price point.

These will function similarly to the current Basic, Plus, and Pro licenses, with the main difference being that the Starter and Unleashed licenses will come with one year of software updates. After that, customers will be able to pay an OPTIONAL extension fee, which makes them eligible for another year of updates. If you choose not to renew, no problem. (Source: Unraid Blog)

Although it sounds like the Starter is less than the Basic, Unleashed is like Plus, and Lifetime is more than Pro, realistically, the next paragraph tells us that is not exactly the case. After a year, one will have to pay an extension fee to continue to get updates.

Final Words

From a business perspective, what Lime Technology (the company behind Unraid) is doing makes sense. Instead of having users buy once for a device, and then having to deal mostly with hardware costs, there is now a subscription involved. Even if the initial price is close, over time Lime Technology can generate more revenue by customers paying for updates.

One, of course, could not update their NAS. At the same time, if you see the sheer number of larger SMB NAS provider bug fixes and security patches, you would not want to have a system running for years without updates. As a result, some may not pay to update, but our best guess is that the majority of customers will.

The interesting part is that this model might actually make NASes from vendors like QNAP and TrueNAS more enticing to Unraid users, even though Unraid has some features that are interesting in how they work differently. Unraid had just started to pull away from TrueNAS in some popularity metrics, so it will be interesting to see how this license change impacts that.


  1. I’m curious whether Unraid is feeling the effects of the (relative, I know that the vendors are still plugging away with ever more heroic measures at the high end, albeit with a lot of those either “coming by 203” or “sampling to hyperscalers” or very specialized stuff like dual-actuator or host-managed SMR) stagnation of HDD capacity.

    A fairly long while back there was a time when heterogeneous arrays weren’t too compelling just because HDDs were getting so much bigger so fast. Do you really even want to allocate a bay and a slot on the HBA for that 500GB when you are popping in 4TBs?

    Then there was a period where heterogenous was pretty cool; because sizes were reliably changing every time you needed a replacement or a capacity expansion; but not really by enough to justify tossing old gear or by so little as to justify just partitioning down new gear(12TBs are out; do you really want to throw away all your 8TBs or shave 4TB off each 12TB so that you can slap it into an array of 8s and remain homogeneous?)

    More recently, though, with the maximum readily available size bogged down in the 22TB area; and the budget options typically a 1-3 generations behind that, depending on what you mean by ‘budget’; it seems like heterogeneous support is less interesting again: still not a bad thing, if you can get it without sacrificing much; but harder to get excited about when the size you are likely buying(especially for incremental upgrades rather than entirely new arrays) is more likely to have been stagnant for a while.

    There’s been a lot more movement on the flash side; but that’s still pretty damn pricey for bulk storage, unless you’ve got an enterprise use case(as well as being fast enough that it becomes trickier, though hardly impossible, to just DIY without bottlenecking somewhere on the networks side; unlike with HDDs where that’s a pretty low risk); and is more likely to show up in tiered storage or caching scenarios; where heterogeneous sizes are much easier to incorporate(for anything that supports those at all).

  2. Well, there goes that. I was on the precipice of moving to Unraid from Proxmox. Now that won’t happen. So sick if subscriptions.

  3. I’m not sure if I want to rush out and get a second licence or wait for the 4 drive subscription licence.
    The second Nas is at my parents house and is currently running unraid v5, when free licence allowed three disks. Might be nice to get the nicer web interface and be able to add another disk

  4. I can half understand, since when I bought my license it was just a NAS. Now, I have dockers and VMs and haven’t paid anything for the development.

    However, I would much prefer charges for major upgrades over a subscription model.

    Additionally, they’ve historically taken a long time to roll out updates. I don’t want the quality to slide just so they can hit a quota.

    Finally, a huge majority is made up of its community. The main way to get plugins and dockers is from a community app. And the level of support from them is huge.

    Dangerous decision.

  5. Not surprised UNRAID is moving to a subscription model, repeat forecastable income is the goal of every business. Overall, I have been quite happy with UNRAID and considering buying a basic license for a backup server while they are available and still perpetual. They keep updating the OS, I am guessing that just selling licenses is not enough to cover the bills.

  6. If my grandfathered Pro license ever stops getting security updates or feature updates I can’t live without, I will look into moving to mergerFS + snapRAID and rolling my own.

  7. Adding to earlier post after reading Unraid’s info: looks like all existing licence holders are unaffected.

    So any current users don’t have to do anything. Unless I’m misunderstanding it.

    For now at least.

  8. I was going to setup Unraid this week on my new server.Subscription will kill this platform……Hello Truenas.

  9. Some clarifications…

    – Current licenses will be honored with lifetime updates. No change.
    – There will be a Lifetime license (same as current Pro license) available at an increased cost.
    – The subscription licenses will cost less and renew for ~50% of their initial cost.
    – If you choose not to renew, unRAID will continue to work forever with full functionality, but you will no longer be able to update.
    – If you later choose to renew after your subscription has lapsed for months/years, you can do so with no penalty (you don’t have to pay for the missing time) and have the ability to immediately update to current and continue to update for another year.

    Overall, I think it’s very fair. They aren’t hurting the current customers at all, and a lifetime license will still be available (though I’m curious how much the increase will be). If anybody was looking to get one of the current licenses, now is the time. While the “Pro” lifetime license will still be available, it will cost more than it does now.

  10. I do wonder who’d like to pay regularly for a home server. For me part of the home server idea is that I can do with less subscriptions and just buy something when I want it and I can afford it.
    If you start paying yearly/monthly then why bother in the first place? There are plenty of cheap cloud services that you can use, which don’t need to cost you much (more) while saving you some of the hassle.

  11. The new NAS OS that Linus (LTT) has invested in will be announced soon. It will be interesting to se what sort of pricing model they go for.

  12. Jorik, I don’t know about you, but paying for 44TB of cloud storage would cost me way more than I am willing to pay.

  13. I guess it’s time to start my VERY SLOW, migration from UnRAID to TrueNAS…

    This is going to be rough, but no…no subscriptions.

  14. The headline and assertion that this is a *subscription* is incorrect. There is no subscription and nowhere in Unraid’s blog or forum post will you see the word subscription, because that’s now what this is. Pretty frustrating for someone to either not correctly understand what they’re reading and reporting on it, or purposefully reporting incorrect information.

  15. Jordan,

    That’s true. The word subscription implies that unRAID would stop working when it expires. This is more of a maintenance contract (allowing you to update). unRAID will continue to fully function regardless.

  16. Been using Unraid for a long time, recently migrated to TrueNAS Scale. Encountered a range of issues, a real headache. TrueNAS is good NAS as their intended audience but everything else is terrible. Within two days migrated back to Unraid. Unraid is the perfect home lab solution. If priced fairly and developed further it’s worth the cost. £5 or £9 a month same price as one coffee or a cocktail. Stop being so cheap. Nothing worthwhile is free.

  17. Just had a read on official posts, it’s not a subscription model at all. Sound pretty reasonable. Recommended checking it out.

  18. It’s a subscription that they didn’t call a subscription.

    Nobody’s going to be dumb enough to not get updates for a NAS and server like Unraid.

    They say you don’t need the recurring annual support extensions, but you shouldn’t be admining a system like this if you’re not getting updates.

    I think the article is right. You’ve gone from one and done license, to something that you’re needing to pay annually for if you want it to have security and stability updates.

    See the recent ZFS drama and updates. If that happened for Unraid, and you don’t have updates then you’ve got potential for data loss unless you pay. See QNAP and Synology’s apps with security holes. You’ve got to update those as soon as patches come out.

    I can’t fathom people saying they won’t pay for annual Unraid updates so it’s a subscription. They just aren’t calling it that.

  19. This was inevitable. Lifetime licenses with all future upgrades included are almost always unsustainable.

    They’re a company with full-time employees (8 employees I think?) and they can’t pay their recurring costs if everyone only pays once for a lifetime license. They’ve said that the recurring revenue will allow them to spend more time on implementing new features instead of having to spend a lot of time advertising to new users (since that was previously the only way for them to make money).

    It’s not really a subscription. Was Windows 95 a subscription because you had to buy a new license to upgrade to Windows 98? A large amount of non-subscription licensed software only either includes the current major version (like Windows did, and Adobe used to do before subscriptions), or major versions only for a certain period of time (like Unraid is doing now, Blue Iris, Directory Opus, and a bunch of other software).

  20. I don’t support subscriptions. It would be better to buy a limited update I. The same format. Ie keep the same license but to get unraid 7 you need to buy it again.

  21. Don’t judge until the actual pricing comes out. I have been running unRaid for over a decade for about $120 I think. It is light years better than it was and I actually felt a little guilty and thinks this makes sense because they will still offer the perpetual license.

  22. At first I thought, did they misread the VMware debacle, but after seeing the video on their blog, they’re not scewing over existing customers, and new customers initially pay less and can tack on an extra year of updates when they can or feel like it. Current basic/plus users can still upgrade the old way.

  23. So many emotional responses. Can’t wait to see the feedback when TrueNAS inevitably adopts the same model.

    The nerve of these businesses to make money….

  24. Businesses need to make money.

    They either do that from sales, service, or ads. Take your pick, or use something else and hope/pray it gets long term support. Your choice.

  25. So for a guy on the fence. Do folks think you should hurry up and grab a perpetual while you can, or are these changes going to be the end for Unraid and getting a perpetual now would be throwing money away?


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