M.2 NVMe SSD Installation

The Netgate® 4200 has built-in onboard eMMC storage. Optionally, a PCIe-based M.2 NVMe drive can be installed as an upgrade or to bypass the onboard eMMC flash memory.

Warnings and Precautions

Danger

Anti-static protection must be used throughout this procedure.

Warning

pfSense® Plus software must be wiped from the onboard eMMC storage before reinstalling pfSense Plus software on the M.2 NVMe SSD. This is covered later within the installation procedure in this document.

For more details on why this is necessary and how to wipe the disk, see https://docs.netgate.com/pfsense/en/latest/troubleshooting/multiple-disks.html

Warning

The Netgate 4200 only supports PCIe-based M.2 NVMe storage devices. It does not support M.2 SATA devices.

The Netgate 4200 has one socket capable of supporting a PCIe-based M.2 NVMe drive: Socket #3 labeled J13. This is the rear socket nearest to the I/O panel. This is an M-Key socket which accepts M.2 B+M-Key or M-Key PCIe NVMe SSDs only.

See M.2 Socket Specifications and Capabilities for more information.

Danger

Take all appropriate precautions and exercise care when handling the exposed system board and M.2 card. There are many delicate components which can be damaged during this process. Damage caused via physical contact and electrostatic discharge while performing this installation is not covered by the warranty.

Required Tools and Hardware

Installing an M.2 NVMe SSD in the Netgate 4200 requires the following tools and hardware:

  • #1 Phillips screwdriver

  • T10 Torx driver

  • Anti-static grounding strap and anti-static mat for handling bare M.2 card and 4200 system

  • 1 x PCIe-based M.2 NVMe SSD, 2280 size, B+M-key or M-key card

  • 1 x M2.5-0.45 x 6mm Phillips pan head machine screw

See also

This guide assumes a 2280 size card. Other cards may work, but require additional hardware for installation. See the following FAQ topics for details:

Installation Procedure

The installation procedure has many steps which are broken down into related groups in the remainder of this document. Follow all steps in the procedure carefully.

Take a Backup

If the system contains an existing configuration which should be carried over to the SSD, then the first step is to take a backup of that configuration.

If the existing configuration is not necessary, this section may be skipped.

There are numerous backup options covered in the pfSense software documentation section on Backup and Restore.

For the purposes of reinstalling and restoring, the easiest method is to take a local backup.

Download the Installer

Before proceeding further, download a copy of the Online Network Installer amd64 memstick image using a Netgate Store Account and write the installer to a USB memstick. For details, see Reinstalling pfSense Plus Software.

Wipe the eMMC

To ensure the old installation of pfSense software on the eMMC does not interfere with the new installation of pfSense software on the SSD, the metadata on the eMMC must be wiped.

Warning

Do not skip this procedure or it may result in installation failures, upgrade failures, or other unpredictable behavior from having two conflicting installations present.

  1. Connect to the serial console

  2. Boot the Online Network Installer

  3. Choose the option to start a Rescue Shell when prompted

  4. Follow the rest of the procedure for wiping the disks in the pfSense software documentation at https://docs.netgate.com/pfsense/en/latest/troubleshooting/multiple-disks.html

Note

The eMMC storage device will appear as da1 in most cases when booting the installer via USB. When following the procedure to wipe the disks, use that device and not da0 which is likely the installer memstick in the rescue shell.

To confirm the correct device, run the command geom disk list from the rescue shell. One device description will include Ultra HS-COMBO and that device is the eMMC storage.

After wiping the eMMC, run the command shutdown -p now from the rescue shell to cleanly shut down and power off the device.

Power Off and Disconnect

Installing the SSD requires removing the top of the case to expose the internal components. Before opening the case, the Netgate 4200 must be completely disconnected from everything. This includes power, network cables, USB cables, serial console cables, and any other cable or devices connected to the Netgate 4200.

Danger

Reminder:

  • Anti-static protection must be used throughout this procedure.

  • Any hardware damage incurred during this procedure is not covered by the hardware warranty.

  1. Unplug the power cable

    Danger

    Wait at least 60 seconds after unplugging power to proceed. This ensures that all phantom power has dissipated.

  2. Unplug all network cables, USB cables and devices, serial console connections, etc.

  3. Dismount the Netgate 4200 device if it is secured in some way (e.g. wall mount)

  4. Move the Netgate 4200 to a safe work location such as an anti-static mat

Removing the Lid

The next portion of the procedure involves opening the device and removing the lid.

Danger

Reminder:

  • Anti-static protection must be used throughout this procedure.

  • Any hardware damage incurred during this procedure is not covered by the hardware warranty.

  1. Remove the SIM card slot cover screw using the #1 Phillips head screwdriver.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-sim-slots-cover.jpg

    SIM card slot cover screw location

  2. Remove the SIM card slot cover.

  3. Remove the SIM card slot retention screw using the #1 Phillips head screwdriver.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-sim-slots-screw.jpg

    SIM card slot retention screw location

  4. Turn the device over carefully and protect the surface to avoid damaging the vented lid of the device

    Tip

    An anti-static mat or similar non-marring work surface is ideal for this role.

  5. Locate the four (4) T10 Torx pan head machine screws holding the plastic and rubber feet onto the chassis

    ../_images/netgate-4200-feet-screw-locations.jpg

    Foot screw locations

  6. Remove the four (4) T10 Torx pan head machine screws and washers holding the plastic and rubber feet using a T10 Torx driver.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-feet-screw-closeup.jpg

    Foot screw and washer removal

  7. Remove the four (4) plastic and rubber feet.

  8. Remove the four (4) long T10 Torx plas-tite threaded screws from the chassis corners using the T10 Torx driver.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-plas-tite-chassis-screw.jpg

    Plas-tite chassis screw removal

  9. Turn the device so the I/O panel (“rear” of the system) is visible.

  10. Using fingers, gently pry the edge of the plastic lid away from the I/O panel, starting from either corner of the device.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-lid-remove-corner.jpg

    Lid removal starting at a corner

  11. Continue gently prying the corner while starting to pull the metal base and I/O panel up and away from the lid.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-lid-remove-base.jpg

    Separating the lid from the metal base

  12. Continue separating the lid from the chassis, gradually work around to the front of the lid where the LEDs and SIM slots are located.

    Tip

    At this point it may be easier to tilt the device upright on its side.

  13. Gently pull the edge of the plastic lid at the front of the device away from the base only far enough for the lid to clear the LED guides and the SIM card slots.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-lid-remove-leds.jpg

    Separating the lid from the LED guides

  14. Continue to work around to the other side of the chassis, pulling and separating.

    The lid will fully separate from the chassis.

  15. Set the lid off to the side, keeping it upright to avoid damaging the top surface.

  16. Turn the chassis upright so that the system board is visible.

  17. Set the upright system flat on its base.

  18. Turn the device so the I/O panel (“rear” of the system) is visible.

Install the SSD

Now that the lid is removed, it is time to install the SSD.

Danger

Reminder:

  • Anti-static protection must be used throughout this procedure.

  • Any hardware damage incurred during this procedure is not covered by the hardware warranty.

  1. Locate M.2 socket #3 labeled J13. This is the socket in which the M.2 NVMe SSD will be installed.

    Note

    As mentioned earlier in this document and in Which M.2 card sockets support an M.2 PCIe NVMe SSD?, the Netgate 4200 currently supports M.2 B+M-Key or M-Key PCIe NVMe SSDs only in socket #3 labeled J13. This is the rear socket nearest to the I/O panel.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-m2-socket-3-J13.jpg

    Netgate 4200 top-down internal view with M.2 socket #3 (J13) highlighted

  2. Insert the M.2 card into socket #3 (J13) at an approximate 30° angle

    Warning

    M.2 cards are keyed. Do not force an M.2 card into a slot with mismatched keying.

    Refer to M.2 Edge Connector Keying for a depiction of the different M.2 key types.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-ssd-install.jpg

    Inserting the SSD into M.2 socket #3 (J13) at an angle

  3. Gently push down the M.2 NMVe card until it reaches the retention screw hole.

  4. Insert the retention screw into the standoff and tighten using the #1 Phillips head screwdriver.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-ssd-install-screw.jpg

    Fastening the M.2 NVMe card retention screw

Replacing and Fastening the Lid

With the M.2 NVMe SSD in place, the next step is to replace the lid and all of the fasteners.

Danger

Reminder:

  • Anti-static protection must be used throughout this procedure.

  • Any hardware damage incurred during this procedure is not covered by the hardware warranty.

  1. Align the internal groove in the lid with the edges of the I/O panel.

  2. Lower the left edge of the lid onto the chassis.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-lid-replace-left.jpg

    Aligning the left edge of the lid with the I/O panel

  3. Continue lowering the lid, turning the system until the front (LED and SIM slot side) is visible.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-lid-replace-front.jpg

    Replacing the front part of the lid

  4. Gently pry the front of the lid away from the chassis just enough to clear the LED light guides and the SIM card slots while simultaneously squeezing the lid down over the light guides and the SIM slots.

    The lid should click into place over the light guides.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-lid-replace-front-leds.jpg

    Replacing the front part of the lid over the LED guides

  5. Check the rear corners of the lid to make sure the I/O panel is fully seated in the lid grooves.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-lid-replace-check-io-left.jpg

    Check the left edge of the I/O Panel

    ../_images/netgate-4200-lid-replace-check-io-right.jpg

    Check the right edge of the I/O Panel

  6. Check the alignment of the plastic lid edges with the metal base plate, SIM card slots, USB A opening, etc.

  7. Turn the device over carefully and protect the surface to avoid damaging the lid.

    Tip

    An anti-static mat or similar non-marring work surface is ideal for this role.

  8. Replace the four (4) long T10 Torx plas-tite threaded case screws in the holes (Plas-tite chassis screw locations) using the T10 Torx driver.

    Danger

    Use caution when replacing the plas-tite threaded case screws. Do not cross thread or over-tighten the screws. Over-tightening the screws can crack and permanently damage the plastic lid.

    ../_images/netgate-4200-plas-tite-chassis-screw-locations.jpg

    Plas-tite chassis screw locations

  9. Replace the plastic and rubber feet, fastening them in place with the four (4) T10 Torx machine screws and washers using the T10 Torx driver.

  10. Replace the SIM card slot retention screw using the #1 Phillips screwdriver.

    Warning

    Use caution when replacing the SIM card slot retention screw. Do not cross thread or over-tighten the screw.

    The screw only requires a few gentle turns. Excess force can crack and permanently damage the plastic lid.

  11. Replace the sim card slot cover and retention screw using the #1 Phillips screwdriver.

    Warning

    Use caution when replacing the SIM card cover retention screw. Do not cross thread or over-tighten the screw.

    The screw only requires a few gentle turns. Excess force can crack and permanently damage the slot cover.

Reconnect

The device is now ready to be put back into its former location.

  1. Move the device back to its original location.

  2. Re-mount the Netgate 4200 device if it should be secured in some way (e.g. wall mount)

  3. Plug in all network cables, USB cables and devices, serial console connections, etc.

  4. Insert the USB memstick containing the installation media

  5. Plug in the power cable

  6. Reconnect to the serial console

Reinstall pfSense Plus Software

With the device back together and ready to proceed, the next step is to reinstall pfSense Plus software to the SSD. This procedure is covered in detail in Reinstalling pfSense Plus Software.

Note

If prompted to select a drive during the installation, choose the NVMe drive which will be nda0. The installer will typically select this drive automatically, but double check to be certain it is correct.

The eMMC drive (da0 or da1) should remain deselected so it will not be used by the installer.

If there is no backup to restore, then no further steps are necessary. Login to the firewall and configure it as normal (Initial Configuration).

Restore the Configuration

The final step is to restore the configuration. If a configuration was backed up earlier in this procedure, now is the time to restore it using the GUI or one of the other methods mentioned in the pfSense software documentation section on Backup and Restore.