4tb NAS

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by haravikk, May 11, 2012.

  1. haravikk macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    Okay, so I've decided that it's high time I had a third point of redundancy for my computers. Currently they each individually have an external drive suitable for their requirements (at least as big as their internal storage), however it's still hair-raising whenever I want to wipe either the internal storage or the back-up since during the re-sync there is no margin for error.

    So I figured a good solution might be to get a NAS server, but since it's something I've not really investigated much I'm looking for some recommendations.

    My minimum requirements are 4tb, since my main machine has 2.5tb worth of internal storage, plus my other 3 machines need about 500gb each. That said, the other 3 aren't exactly space-hungry; I wouldn't expect them to ever max out their space, and I don't back up system files and only backup individually selected apps, since it's easy enough to replace the system files and re-install apps, plus it's a cleaner way to do it.

    Anyway, the 4tb requirement seems to eliminate a Time Capsule, unless it's possible to attach and use more storage? Which means I need to look at third party NAS servers.

    First thing I want to ask is do I really need to worry about system requirements? Many NAS servers list Windows requirements but don't mention Mac, does this mean that these drives use NTFS or such internally? Does that even matter? I know that Time Machine has an option to use unsupported (non-Apple?) NAS devices, how reliable is this setting?

    Also, if I heard right then Mountain Lion adds support for multiple Time Machine drives, seemingly allowing a machine to alternate between two or more backup targets. Can anyone confirm this? I probably would be looking toward getting a NAS device around the time Mountain Lion's first update comes out, which gives me a bit of time.

    Otherwise, I'm interested in any recommendations on what devices I should look for. I'm not sure I desperately require a speedy NAS, as my wireless network isn't that fast anyway so I doubt I'd get any extra mileage from gigabit ethernet, RAID-0 or anything like that so anything that gives full-capacity seems like it'd be perfectly adequate.

    I'm also interested in alternatives; for example, if I were to just get an external drive or two, is it feasible to just use AppleRAID to combine them and just hook them up to one of my machines and share them that way with the other machines? Would multi-client Time Machine still work with such a set-up, i.e - can the host machine and the client machines all backup to the same volume in the same way as for NAS, or would they conflict?
  2. lamboman macrumors 6502

    Aug 13, 2011
    You can attach external storage to the Time Capsule, so provided that you don't need any software to run on your NAS (such as media server applications), it would suffice. Speed with the internal drive are good, though USB is pretty poor (25MB/s according to AnandTech). I would use the external drive for Time Machine backups in this scenario, but this proved a tad unreliable for me when I was doing this with my AirPort Exteeme. Maybe others can provide some input as to how well this works for them.

    As for the file system for the NAS, it doesn't matter what it uses. Time Machine backups are held in a .sparsebundle file if the NAS isn't a Time Capsule. However, you do need to use AFP to backup.

    If you need good speeds across the board, I'd suggest a few 2TB drives in a PC running FreeNAS. Provided that AFP works well, it shouldn't bring any disadvantages.
  3. haravikk thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    How easy is FreeNAS to setup for OS X (can it be)? I only have Macs in my setup, which means that AFP should be fine for them.
  4. lamboman macrumors 6502

    Aug 13, 2011
    I'm no expert with FreeNAS, but it would involve building a cheap PC or finding a suitable barebones.

    Honestly, if you only need storage, a TC would be absolutely fine, provided that you would be okay with the slow speed with an external drive.

    Another option is a load of external drives on a Mac mini, but this is expensive and largely unnecessary.
  5. haravikk thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    What about other Airport devices such as the Airport Express or the Extreme base station. Do the devices that support external hard-drives support USB hubs for hooking up more than a single drive?
  6. TurretOperetta macrumors newbie

    Apr 29, 2012
    I just set up a FreeNAS machine and after a few minor hiccups, its up and running perfectly. My current bottleneck is my 100Mbit switch but its still plenty fast for streaming media (including HD movies).

    Setting up AFP shares is no more difficult than setting up a windows share. Most of my computers are running windows but I have a drive set up using AFP to use for Time Machine.

    I run 0.7.2 because i heard it was more stable and feature-full than FreeNAS8. I followed this tutorial at lifehacker. http://lifehacker.com
  7. lamboman macrumors 6502

    Aug 13, 2011
    The AirPort Extreme does; however as it is basically the same as the TC sans the internal drive, it suffers from the poor external drive performance.

    It really comes down to what your speed requirements are.

    Actually, I don't know why I haven't suggested it before, but depending on how prices are in the US, how about a dedicated NAS from the likes of Netgear, QNAP, and Synology?
  8. haravikk thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    Ah, hmm, the Synology NAS enclosures seem like a good bet for 4tb worth of storage, thanks!

    Okay then, the other question then is how best to set up Time Machine for backing up to more than one drive. As I say, my machines all currently have their own external drives, but my intention is to have the NAS as a third point of redundancy for all of the machines, and probably try to put somewhere nice and safe.

    In OS X Lion Time Machine only seems to allow selection of a single drive, but I seem to remember mention that Mountain Lion may allow alternating between several drives, can anyone confirm? Otherwise what are the best options? I've set up rsync for things in the past, but I'm unsure if it would allow for copying of a Time Machine backup (due to all the hard-linking). If Mountain Lion will do it out of the box then I'm happy to wait since I'll probably get the NAS around launch time anyway.
  9. SOLLERBOY macrumors 6502a

    Aug 8, 2008
    You can use 2 different disks for Time Machine in Lion, just change the backup destination manually.
  10. monsieurpaul macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2009
    Time Machine is not supported for network drives. It works most of the time, but the "most of the time" part is a problem if you can't trust your backups. There are others solutions though, such as Carbon Copy Cloner
  11. haravikk thread starter macrumors 65816

    May 1, 2005
    The Synology drives specifically list Mac support for Time Machine, which I assume means AFP support. Do you mean network storage is unsuitable over AFS as well?
  12. drsox macrumors 65816


    Apr 29, 2011
    Not true about Time Machine over networks.
    I can't comment about Synology, but the ReadyNAS range works fine with Time Machine. There's even a whole section of the ReadyNAS forum dedicated to it with a real simple HowTo. See : http://www.readynas.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=71
  13. monsieurpaul macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2009
    I own a Synology DS212j and one of my motivation to get one is that it is compatible with Time Machine.
    It is very easy to setup and it works, most of the time...
    And there lies the problem, because a backup you can't trust is not a backup.
    Fortunately there are others tools that works well with Synology, such as Carbon Copy Cloner and I am very happy with my NAS, but IMHO don't rely only on TM for backups.
  14. murphychris macrumors 6502a

    Mar 19, 2012
    To test it out:

    You can download VirtualBox for free, if you don't already have a virtualization program like Parallels or VMWare. VBox 4.1.15 is current for Lion, note the separate link. When you configure the VM, change the Network setting to "bridged" from NAT. Then install FreeNAS. For the install disk, it can be a minimally sized virtual disk. Either before or after install, you can create however many virtual disks you want to use for building the storage pool.

    When you reboot, the screen will tell you what IP address to point your web browser to. Do that, and you'll end up at the web interface for FreeNAS and you can play around with it all you want rather inconsequentially.

    Advantage FreeNAS is AFP support is included. NexentaStor (community edition is free up to 18TB) is also worth looking at, is ZFS based, does not include AFP but there are how to's on getting it working. Or use NFS. Advantage NexentaStor is it supports ZFS v26 whereas FreeNAS is back on v15. Still, it is an always consistent file system, with checksumming, and RAIDZ1 lacks the write hole of RAID 5.

    As for hardware, something like this would work. While the operating system needs few resources memory wise, ZFS will use all memory for cache. So the more you give it, the better the performance will be. You might start out with a single 4GB DIMM since the max is 8GB, $34. Looks like it takes ECC memory also, which is a good thing.

    Another thing to consider in addition to or in lieu of a NAS (or in lieu of the more manual, existing backup strategies you have), is CrashPlan. $50 a year, unlimited storage for 1 computer. $119 a year, unlimited storage for 2-10 computers. Encrypted locally, then uploaded. Someone else mentioned in another thread in this forum that it's possible to send a hard drive of encrypted data to them for the initial upload instead of it taking a week (or whatever) to upload a big pile of data - although I'm not seeing information on this on their web site.


    One thing I like about FreeNAS, and Nexenta is open storage. You aren't locked into proprietary hardware for your data. For some people this is an important consideration. Also, ZFS has built in scheduled periodic snapshots, so you can keep a running (weekly) snapshot of data that remains available. Snapshots can be remote replicated to another NAS, local or remote.

    If you have more than a few computers, it starts to make sense to reduce the tendency to store important files on the local computer. Important data should go on more resilient storage. Upgrade the computers with SSD for faster performance: OS, apps, scratch space, and minimal (not irreplaceable) user data. Then you don't have to have such an aggressive and complex backup plan for each computer. Instead, you can image their drives in a stable state, and keep the image on the NAS in case a drive on a computer dies, you can rebuild just be reimaging a new disk.

Share This Page