Best NAS solution

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by TechNut315, Apr 19, 2011.

  1. TechNut315 macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2011
    Hello im looking into buying a NAS for my house but I don't really know very much about it. I want a device that has at least 4 bays, so I can put 4x 2TBs in it. I have about 4TB of media already and this will grow over the next year or two. I have read up a little about raid and I think Im happy with a RAID5 setup which will give me a bit of protection but most of the space.

    I would ideally like to attach the NAS directly to my iMac via a firewire / USB 3 connection so I can get faster write speeds (im futureproofing with USB3). Not as bothered by read speeds as I plan to put my finished video edits, photoshop stuff on after I finish working on them. Is backup to a NAS not really really slow with larger files unless directly connected?

    I was looking at the Drobo S but its really expensive and I have heard if they break then you need to buy another Drobo as the data is filed in a special way. Looking at older Drobos there not actually NAS devices. Other devices such as the QNAP TS-412 look good but no direct connections.

    Also how does an iTunes server work with idevices such as iphone. I currently have homesharing so I can stream my 70GB of music to my ipod touch, can I still do this with iTunes server on a NAS, do you need a special app?

    Any recommendations or advice welcome. Cheers
  2. miles01110 macrumors Core


    Jul 24, 2006
    The Ivory Tower (I'm not coming down)
    Depends on your network, but generally yes.
  3. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I'm thinking about the Drobo FS. I've had Iomega Storcenter and they are awful. I've had Buffalo Linkstation and they are awful. Both of these fail to restart after power failures which are roughly monthly around here. I've looked at Seagate (not blackarmor, the cheaper one) and they try to sell you basic stuff like ftp access on a monthly subscription so I took that back. The only one I haven't tried yet is WD Live but I did talk to WD support and they confirmed it does power itself back on after a loss of power.

    For now I'm using a single 2TB drive plugged in to my aging Time Capsule. I suspect I'll end up with the roughly $700 Drobo FS. And that price is before you add any drives. Costco has the FS with 3 5400 RPM 2TB drives for $900 which leaves 2 slots open.

    For this kind of money, I'm still thinking. Thanks for the heads up that the Drobo drives can only be read by Drobo enclosures. This will figure in my thinking as I figure out what to do. I'm also thinking about online backup from either idrive, carbonite, mozy or crashplan. I need to find out about data caps because I'd probably violate some kind of upload cap to send my initial backup.
  4. Sander macrumors 6502

    Apr 24, 2008
    I have a Synology Diskstation 211 something-or-other. I'm happy with it (though it holds only two drives). I also don't think you can hook it up directly, but my network is plenty fast for simple backups. It supports Time Machine.
  5. Tomorrow macrumors 604


    Mar 2, 2008
    Always a day away
    (1) If you attach it directly to your Mac, it no longer needs to be a NAS; you can save a bunch of money by simply buying a RAID enclosure. A NAS has to include its own operating system, network hardware and software, etc., adding to the price (and limiting your selection).

    (2) Firewire and USB 3 are not going to give you faster write speeds than ethernet. Here a NAS can really shine.
  6. Artillerist macrumors newbie

    Apr 19, 2011
  7. ActionableMango macrumors G3


    Sep 21, 2010
    Backup over wireless is slow and unreliable.

    However, a wired gigabit Ethernet connection is quite possibly the fastest connection you have on your computer. Almost certainly your speed will be limited by the NAS hardware itself.
  8. cube macrumors P6

    May 10, 2004
    What is the ext3 or ext4 NAS with best (quality+performance)/price ratio? 1 or 2-bay.
  9. Corban987 macrumors member

    Apr 21, 2011

    I use FreeNAS for my NAS, also supports timemachine and afp. I have configured double backup as well so my data is mirrored to another drive overnight using rsync. You can build a FreeNAS from any old PC or build it with new parts, buy a case from newegg with removable drive bays. This means its more expandable than most other NAS. As its open source developers can add in other adapters (hopefully thunderbolt when its released as a network adpater).
  10. TechNut315 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 15, 2011

    Thanks for the advice so far. I need it to be a NAS as I want to be able to stream my movies, pictures etc off it when my iMac is switched off. I know I can use an iphone to wake from LAN but all my builds have to have a large girlfriend acceptance factor and that solution doesnt.

    I have looked into the freeNAS thing in the past but normal PCs just use so much more electricity than a NAS. I live in the UK and our electricity prices are high. It is tempting because it looks like you could build a really high quality NAS for half the price, so short term it is better.

    Is ethernet really that good at transferring? I have read in the past that unless its a really top quality NAS, ethernet speeds are poor, thats why I wanted another connection such as USB3 or at least firewire. But maybe its the other hardware in the NAS thats limiting it. I really want a 4bay NAS that can stream my HD content, take upto 3TB drives and cost 150quid, i dont think its gona happen anytime soon.
  11. balamw Moderator


    Staff Member

    Aug 16, 2005
    New England
    This is a low cost 1-3TB single drive solution with really quite decent performance over the Ethernet (Competitive with FW800).

    ~200quid in the UK.

  12. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I went to MicroCenter to take a look at the Drobo enclosure. You know. The $699 one that has 5 empty bays to fill. I just couldn't justify it. Then I looked at Buffalo Linkstations - no they don't power back on after a power failure. Then I looked at Seagate products but remembered they want to charge a subscription to use "advanced" features like FTP. Then I looked at WD and some other thing they had there called a C2N. Finally as I was about to leave, the guy mentioned they carry drives by Lacie over in the Mac section. So I walked to the opposite side of the store and saw several Lacie drives but settled on the network space 2.

    I had called Buffalo to find out if the drive powered itself back on after a power failure only to give up after 15 minutes in pound punch hell. I called LaCie and the gentleman who came on after only a few minutes informed me he thought the LaCie drives needed to be turned back on as well. But he decided to unplug the one he had in front of him to see what would happen. It came back on. Wow. Talk about good service. So I considered the network space 2 and a 4TB model next to it. The 4TB model was not as good a buy so I picked up the NS2. It's still sitting on the shelf but I expect to install it in the next day or so.

    If you're looking for NAS for a Mac, I would say Time Capsule, Lacie and Drobo should be on your short list. But LaCie offers the best selection and value.
  13. Dalton63841 macrumors 65816


    Nov 27, 2010
    I got a D-Link DNS-321 for about $70. Of course I supplied my own drives. It formats in your choice of ext2 or ext3. Does SMB,FTP,iTunes Server, UPNP, has extensions, and can be hacked to no end. Has 2 bays and can see up to 4TB.
  14. firestarter, Apr 24, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2011

    firestarter macrumors 603


    Dec 31, 2002
    Green and pleasant land
    Gigabit ethernet is fast, but the processors they put in NAS devices are usually pretty cheezy slow ones. Remember that the processor isn't just serving up data, it's running an OS, managing file systems, possibly decoding the RAID set in software. Unless you're paying good money, you'd be unlikely to approach USB2 speeds.

    If you're going to be making backups, then I'd get some generic box and run it as separate disks, not RAID5. IMO, the theoretical benefit you get through the use of the parity protection is more than offset by:
    - The bigger expense of the box, and 'loosing' 1/4 of your storage
    - Increased risk of the box itself dying and leaving you with unreadable disks in some proprietary format

    RAID is great if you're a business user and you can't deal with any downtime. For a home user with a decent backup, it doesn't really matter if you loose a disk and need a few hours to restore from backup. Backup is easy if it's a media server, as your files don't change that often.

    With separate disks you get more storage, simpler hardware and the ability to swap drives to a locally connected box, or swap them out as a backup etc. When the box dies it's not a biggie - your disks all work individually.

    Don't buy a Drobo. They're slow, expensive and have a proprietary format.

    Edit: Another thing to look out for... most NAS boxes have tiny noisy fans in them. If 'girlfriend friendly' is a priority, then be warned.
  15. VPrime macrumors 68000


    Dec 19, 2008
    London Ontario
    I too am looking into a NAS drive. One that seem cheap and fairly decent is the Netgear ReadyNas drives (specifically the readynas NV+).
    You can get them as an empty enclosure and add your own drives, or buy them with drives from certain vendors. There is lots of community support with 3rd party apps and services you can install as well.
    For the most part this drive seems to be getting good reviews. Though some people are saying it isn't the fastest drive out there, which is sort of reasonable at it is fairly cheap (with out drives).

    Another option (mentioned) is free nas. Instead of using regular desktop components which take up lots of power you can run mini ITX board with an atom cpu and use up very little power.
    I priced one out and it was around the same cost of buying a lower end pre-made unity (like the netgear ready nas). The benifit is this would likely be quite a bit faster than most lower end units, as quiet as you feel like making, and potentially use low power. Downside is depending on the case it isn't as convenient (quick access drives).
  16. mousemd macrumors member

    Nov 21, 2002
    for most needs, I would think the Drobo would do its job. I've had one for good 4 years? I think and so far so good. Occassional rebuild when it got disconnected accidently when i was using the USB interface, but always been able to rebuild the database with diskwarrior. When i looked at easy to manage backup solutions with redundancy I thought Drobo offered me the best option.

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