Storage Advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Bonlac, Feb 2, 2013.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Feb 2, 2013
    Hi All,

    Hoping to get some assistance in defining an external storage setup to work with new iMac and existing computer gear. Have browsed forums and found some useful info on possibilities but not enough to crystalise a solution for us.

    Existing IT equipment
    - DELL Studio XPS
    - Toshiba Satellite Laptop
    - Ipad v3
    - iPhone 4, iPhone 3
    - Apple TV
    - Netgear DG834G Router
    - Epson Artisan 835
    About to Purchase
    - iMac 27", 3TB drive

    Following is a list of functions we'd like external storage to support.

    - Backup (iMac Mandatory as it will become main photo / music source, others beneficial)
    - iTunes Server? (Tell us if this is better left on iMac. We currently have 3 seperate itunes accounts. We'd like to have a single source that Apple TV, iPads, iPhones etc can access, sync with)
    - File sharing (allow central store - again, unless sharing off iMac better solution)

    Looking for a simple solution though computer literate and happy to invest effort if there is significant benefit associated with more complex implementation.

    Open to any ideas, let me know if further information is required to help provide useful answer.

    Thanks in Advance.
  2. macrumors regular

    Dec 9, 2011
    South Yorkshire
    Well a simple external drive would meet your basic needs but I would want to ensure my data was really safe so I would go for a NAS. Something like the Netgear Ready Nas NV+ 4 Bay Gigabit Desktop Network Storage System. Two disks minimum in a RAID Array. These disks are hot-swappable. It also has a built in iTunes Server.

  3. macrumors newbie

    Feb 3, 2013
    Back up Files

    Have you considered backing up your files on the cloud? I had a bit of a hard drive disaster a few months ago and decided I would never let it happen again. I chose to back up my files using MyPCBackup at It is really cheap and you can sync 1 computer or multiple computers. By backing up everything on the cloud you don't have to worry about spending a bunch of money on hardware for the external drives.
  4. macrumors regular

    Dec 9, 2011
    South Yorkshire
    But what if the company you have chosen for your cloud backup goes titsup? I would consider cloud backup and local backup complement each other. Neither can be considered truly secure.
  5. macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009
    Durham, UK
    Seconded, using both a cloud and a local backup solution gives the advantages of both and cancels out the negatives of each.

    Sometimes the best solutions are the simplest and most elegant. I'm sure your iMac isnt going to moving about a lot so why not turn it into a server for all of your other devices? Add some external storage and share it out so your laptops can access it over your LAN, then back your Mac/network shares up with both a Cloud and local backup? e.g. Crashplan and Time Machine/Carbon Copy Cloner.

    Sharing the contents of 3 iTunes accounts could be a hassle though, as you're only going to be able to share content with one account per device and your Mac will only have 1 library open to share at a time. Have you considered iTunes Match?
  6. el-John-o, Feb 4, 2013
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2013

    macrumors 65816

    Nov 29, 2010
    Ding ding ding we have a winner! It's hard to convince people of that but you are exactly right. Cloud Backups are slow and have failed in the past. Local backups are fast but most of us don't have enterprise level hardware for our backups at home, the unreliability of consumer components and catastrophic loss (such as a house fire or theft of the equipment) exist as an ever-present reminder that they might not be there when you need it.

    I use CrashPlan as a cloud backup. I also have a local backup. In the event I need to restore, the local backup is much much faster. But in the event there is a situation where my local backup has also failed (fire/flood/theft), then I have the cloud backup!

    Could any of the computers on that list become a dedicated server? If so, I recommend FreeNAS. It's a BSD based operating system that will do everything you described above. At it's root, it's a file server. Providing centralized file storage over AFP, SMB, and NFS (meaning it's compatible with anything). It supports broadcasting a share as a Time Machine source, meaning you can allocate some storage space for Time Machine backups, and it even supports broadcasting as an iTunes DAAP, and can be used as an iTunes server. It's a 'headless' operating system, meaning there is no GUI. However, there is a web-based GUI you can use to manage and set it up.

    If I were in your shoes, I'd take one of those laptops and install FreeNAS on it. Then, I'd get an external drive that was as big and fast as I could afford (if the laptop you're going to relegate to this task has eSATA or USB 3.0 that'd be great. If it doesn't, but it does have an expresscard slot, then get an expresscard USB 3.0 or eSATA adapter). I'd then attach the external drive, boot FreeNAS, and go to town! Setup shares however you need. You can also create storage array's using FreeNAS. For example, if you had two 2TB external drives plugged in via eSATA or USB, you could actually turn them into a mirrored RAID, meaning if one fails you don't lose your data (and thus don't need to resort to downloading your backup!)

    An even BETTER solution, would be an old desktop that has at least a couple gigs of RAM, and a few hard drive bays. That's what I do, I have FreeNAS running on an old desktop with 4 hard drives in it. (As a bonus, FreeNAS doesn't run off of a hard drive! Meaning you can use all the space you have for storage. FreeNAS runs off of a thumb drive). You will need to commission a thumb drive for FreeNAS as well, 2GB is all you need I believe. Stick that into the USB port of the laptop and boot from there. You CAN install it to the laptops hard drive, but none of the space on the hard drive will be usable after that. By booting off of a USB stick, you could use the laptop hard drive as a second share, beyond your external drives.

    Edit: Also, I don't know what your budget is, but a sleek FreeNAS machine could be built for a few hundred. I slapped together a price list for a build that would be a very fast FreeNAS system with four 2TB drives for $1000. There are a lot of things that could bring that price down as well, but that would be a 'top of the line' system coupled with 4 2TB WD RED NAS drives in hot-swap bays.

    Also, I forgot to mention, I highly recommend using gigabit ethernet with the iMac if possible if you intend to store a lot of files on a NAS of any sort. WiFi is unreliable and slow. Sure, theoretically N hits 450mbps.. but it doesn't.. actually. With gigabit ethernet, I'm actually able to transfer data at gigabit speeds. Meaning I move files from the NAS to my Mac (read speeds) at 1000mbps (about 130MB/s) However, over Wireless N, even when close to the router, it's about 200-250mbps.

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