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Old Dec 12, 2012, 07:31 AM   #1
js81
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RAID Box/NAS/server advice for '09 Mini/MBP

First, let me apologize - I know this is going to be a long post, lol. If you read it through and especially if you respond, thank you thank you thank you!

SUMMARY: I'm tired of dealing with connection issues between OS X and Windows Home Server. Suggestions? I have an '09 mini and 5 1TB SATA hard drives.

OK, here's my dilemma:

I have always had a Mac for the last several years, but I have always gone back and forth with my main desktop/bulk storage machine. Until just recently, my desktop was an HP workstation - during its tenure with me, I also purchased and setup an HP Microserver to put all of my external hard drives (5 total drives, a couple were inside the workstation) into one accessible place. A couple of months ago, I got fed up with the big-ness and loud-ness (not to mention the hot-ness!) of the HP workstation. So it went to eBay and I replaced it with the best Mac I could afford - a 2009 mini server. And I already had an '09 15" MBP.

Since moving to the mini meant giving up my five internal hard drive bays, I knew that all of my data (and hard drives) would have to live in the Microserver. No problem - moved everything over, it's got 5TB of storage total anyway, and I only have about 1.5-2TB of data right now...

Now I'm running into issues. Problem isn't really the server (it runs Windows Home Server 2011) or the mini (Mountain Lion), per se - it's that the network connections refuse to stay active. I've read that's an issue with 10.8, but let me explain one other part - sometimes the mini refuses to let me reconnect the drives unless I reboot it. Same with the server; sometimes I have to restart it. In other words, these two just refuse to get along. (And don't get me started with the MBP - it's wifi of course, so these issues are even worse.)

Basically, I'm tired of it. I'm almost 100% convinced that it's a combination of Windows Home Server and Mac OS X not cooperating. Not sure who's at fault; don't really care. Just tired of restarting my machines every day...

What do you guys suggest I do? Here are some of my thoughts:

1) Use a different server OS. Maybe FreeNAS or Ubuntu. Have any of you used either of these with Mountain Lion? How's it work with OS X? This would be the easiest/cheapest, so obviously I'm for it.

2) Sell the server and get a RAID enclosure. Something like the OWC Mercury Elite Pro Qx2. (Keep in mind that my 2009's don't have Thunderbolt or USB 3.0, so it would have to be something that supports Firewire 800)

3) Sell the server and get a NAS of some sort. After my current network issues troubles, I almost think I'd prefer attached storage. I can simply share to the MBP, as the mini is always on.

4) Some other suggestion I haven't thought of?

What I have right now:
4x 1TB WD Green hard drives (WD10EARS)
1x 1TB WD Blue hard drive (WD10EALS)
Gigabit Ethernet between mini and server

One last bit of info: I'm a poor school teacher and we have a new baby. Spending money (for drives or enclosures) is out of the question. I can sell things to do this, but I can't spend any extra. My wife would kill me.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 12:24 PM   #2
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C'mon... I never would've thought the guys and gals on Macrumors wouldn't at least have an opinion... Let me know what you think. I'm thinking I may move to a RAID box just to simplify things. But if you think that FreeNAS or Ubuntu would work just as well, by all means, let me know!
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 03:58 PM   #3
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...... **crickets** ......

Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 04:01 PM   #4
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#3 Sell the server and get a NAS

Synology comes to mind. Works great with most OS's plus very stable.
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Old Dec 12, 2012, 04:11 PM   #5
js81
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Originally Posted by blueroom View Post
#3 Sell the server and get a NAS

Synology comes to mind. Works great with most OS's plus very stable.
That was my first thought, but I don't imagine it's in my budget. I can get about $200-250 for the server.

Anyone use the Mercury Elite Pro RAID? It's the two bay Firewire 800 enclosure from OWC, btw. My concern is how loud is it? Even though it's a full server, my HP Microserver is very quiet - you can hear the hard drives over its fan (a single 120mm).
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Old Dec 13, 2012, 01:18 PM   #6
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Sold the server, bought a pair of the OWC firewire enclosures. Done deal. Thanks.
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Old Dec 13, 2012, 03:37 PM   #7
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I've heard good things about the Synology NAS. You just supply your own hard drives. Does it offer more than FreeNas? Not sure.

But there is ALOT to be said for rock solid products that work out of the box. It's the whole reason for existence of alot of companies, like Red Hat.

At their core they offer professional consulting on what is already free (linux). Now they've added alot of other products, but they're still open source.

But these products don't work out of the box in the sense that you need to read the manual, like crazy, and know alot to get them set up.

Synology or Qnap are banking on the fact that alot of people will value sticking in your own hard drive and then being up and running in 15 minutes.

It's $200. If you make $50 an hour, I dare say you'd come out ahead. It's probably easier and more economical to stay at work for an extra four hours than the 40 hours it would take to make freenas work to duplicate Synology's functions.

But the geniuses and the tinkerers do not value their time b/c it either takes so little time (geniuses) or the journey of setting up their own NAS is the best part of the process (tinkerers).

I fancy myself a tinkerer, but the older I get, the more I realize that "geez, I spend all my time setting up stuff and finding the perfect setup than actually enjoying the fruits of my labor". This is akin to the person who keeps hunting for the perfect set of speakers who never ends up getting to listen to music.

Also, the older I get, the more I lay the ego aside, b/c that's what part of being able to roll your own system involves. I think that if, given enough time, and perseverance, I could bend FreeNas or whatever to my will. But in the end, I've come to accept my limitations more and be OK with that. I'm good at some things, and I'm not so good at other things. No shame in that.
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Old Dec 14, 2012, 07:19 AM   #8
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... the more I realize that "geez, I spend all my time setting up stuff and finding the perfect setup than actually enjoying the fruits of my labor". This is akin to the person who keeps hunting for the perfect set of speakers who never ends up getting to listen to music.
Truest statement I've ever heard (at least here on Macrumors). That's the entire reason I bought a Mac; it's also the reason I said "screw it" to trying to make my Windows home server cooperate with said Mac. I'm definitely looking into the Synology/QNAP/Drobo route in the future, but for now I just need something that works and is cheap. Since it's just my wife and I using the computers, a mini and a MBP, (and my mini stays on all the time for Magicjack anyway), shared firewire drives will work great for now. I had the exact same thoughts about FreeNAS; I tried it ONCE for about 2 or 3 hours and all but gave up - and I'm a "tinkerer" too! Personally, I can't wait to set this up and be DONE; I just want to watch my baby girl grow up!
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