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Old Mar 13, 2005, 12:57 AM   #1
heljy
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Network Attached Storage Setup Recommendation

After a series of harddrives crashes and fustration over the lost of data. I have decided to come up with a file server of some sort that will periodically backup its contents to an external HDD.

This file server is to be used in a network with both windows and mac machines and should be able to share files seemlessly between the different platform. I know the simplest way is to have a computer set up as a file server and use samba to connect to it (assuming its on a windoze box).

The other alternative that I am more interested in looking at is a dedicated Network Attached Storage (NAS) solution. From the little research that I have done, the reasonably priced ones are either the Linksys EFG120 or the Buffalo LinkStation 120GB. Does anyone have any experience with these and have any comments on how well they work in a network with macs and pcs?

Ideally, I would want a solution that has the potential for hdd upgrades (300Gb and up) and can automatically back itself up to an external hdd which is formated in either NTFS or Mac OS Extended; I have alot of files with asian fonts and i doubt that fat32 handles that well, not to mention the 2GB file limitation. I am not too interested in other features like DHCP server or print server, etc. I can simply have a router that does that. The idea is to have the solution as simple as possible and at the same time provide flexibility in the file system that it can support.

Anyone has any recommendations or would like to share their setup?

Thanks in advance!

Last edited by heljy; Mar 13, 2005 at 01:00 AM.
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Old Mar 13, 2005, 01:43 AM   #2
CanadaRAM
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I think you are going to have to send your specific requirements to the companies' tech support for answers.

None of the NAS devices I know of use Mac HFS+ formatting. They are Linux boxes at heart. Why would asian fonts be a problem on FAT32?

I have experience with the Buffalo, but not good. Turns out you can't do advanced setup or maintenance like updating the BIOS from a Mac, only a Windows machine. I have been waiting 4 months for a refund from the supplier.

I would suspect the Linksys has some of the same limitations with administration. Linksys does not state Mac compatibility at all, Neither does Maxtor (and Maxtor requires the use of Internet Explorer 6 which is not available on Macs)

The Tritton Tri-NAS and SimpleNAS products are Mac compatible, but they do not have a USB port for chaining a second drive off them for backups.

Thanks
Trevor
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Old Mar 13, 2005, 11:51 AM   #3
heljy
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Quote:
None of the NAS devices I know of use Mac HFS+ formatting. They are Linux boxes at heart. Why would asian fonts be a problem on FAT32?
I am not sure if this is related, but I have problems writing files with asian fonts to NTFS disks if they are too long. Dont Fat32 has a more limited length of filename path? I know they probably dont use Mac HFS+ internally, but does it support writing to an exteranl Mac HFS+ drive or an exteranl NTFS drive?

Quote:
I have experience with the Buffalo, but not good. Turns out you can't do advanced setup or maintenance like updating the BIOS from a Mac, only a Windows machine. I have been waiting 4 months for a refund from the supplier.
Do you mean it comes with an application that configures the Buffalo box? I understand that most of these NAS boxes uses a browser interface so as to allow it to be platform independent. It will really sux if it requires a windows machine to do all that. Do you know if you can upgrade the HDD inside the box yourself? For the price HDD are going, I would rather buy a 120GB NAS box and upgrade the inside to a 300GB HDD rather than buying a 300GB NAS box which will cost more...

Thanks for the comments
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Old Mar 13, 2005, 12:14 PM   #4
CanadaRAM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by heljy
does it support writing to an exteranl Mac HFS+
No. No NAS that I am aware of supports external drives formatted with HFS+. Most units that have external drive capability, the drive must be formatted from the NAS unit in its native OS format, whatever that is.
Remember though, when you are writing to the NAS you are not connecting to it like a Firewire drive, you are connecting by smb: to a file server. In some cases the NAS units also support afp:. It is not a drive, it is a file server. There will be limitations on path names, file names etc. I suggest you send queries to the tech support departments of the manufacturers before ordering.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heljy
Do you mean it comes with an application that configures the Buffalo box?
Yes: although basic administration can be done by a Web interface AFTER the Buffalo has been set up, it is very difficult (I found it impossible, despite 2 hours on the phone with Buffalo tech support) to do the initial setup of the drive, set IP addresses, and define users and group permissions, from a Mac. Updating the firmware of the NAS can only be done from a directly-connected Windows machine.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heljy
I understand that most of these NAS boxes uses a browser interface so as to allow it to be platform independent. It will really sux if it requires a windows machine to do all that.
Yup, that's why I am trying to get my money back. That, and the fact the firmware update (done with tech support on the phone, from a Windows laptop) only served to lobotomize the unit and make it non-functional. Buffalo have approved the refund twice but the Canadian supplier doesn't reply to requests to issue a return authorization number. B@$^@*%$.

Quote:
Originally Posted by heljy
Do you know if you can upgrade the HDD inside the box yourself? For the price HDD are going, I would rather buy a 120GB NAS box and upgrade the inside to a 300GB HDD rather than buying a 300GB NAS box which will cost more...
The Tritton SimpleNAS is available as a chassis only, into which you install the drive of your choice. They have better Mac support than Buffalo, however the Tritton does not have a USB port to hang a second drive off. Of course if you install your own drive, warranty on the drive mechanism is up to you to deal with.

Thanks
Trevor
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Old Mar 13, 2005, 12:24 PM   #5
heljy
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Ah, thanks for the info Trevor,

It seems from your experience that I'm better off setting up a comp and using that as a file server instead of getting those NAS solution...

I guess I can setup a small PC, run windows server 2003 (I can download it free as I am taking a IS class) and even hook it up to my TV. The external drives will have to be formated to NTFS of course, but that wouldnt be a problem because I know OS X is able to read those drives (not write to them though)

So Trevor, what is your current solution right now? Do you still have a centralized storage solution of some sorts?
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Old Mar 13, 2005, 01:08 PM   #6
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Compare whatever you do to a Mac mini with FireWire drives.
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Old Mar 13, 2005, 02:41 PM   #7
Jo-Kun
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maybe have a look at LaCie's ethernet disk (not the mini I guess) because that has FireWire support for extra harddrives... its running windows embedded, have no I dea how bad that is but since LaCie is quite Pro-Apple this will both work on apple/pc's in a network...

for the rest I have no Idea what you need or want but I think there is software you can run on both pc & mac that will allow back-up to this drive in the network (not the drive doing this, software on every single computer itself doing this

I do all my back-up on dvd's (ok not the best/cheapest solution for now) and I have all the files wich I'm woring on before they are ready to go to the clients or so on my internal and in copy extrenal on a FW drive...

I've been looking at LaCie's ethernet disk mini... maybe for the future so I can have my drives somewhere else... but then probably I need a way to make them WiFi since everything is wireless in my home...
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