Best way to backup macs to FreeNAS?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by cjoy, Mar 7, 2013.

  1. cjoy macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2008
    I have a couple of macs that need to run daily incremental backups to a central FreeNAS that is scheduled to replace a mac mini with external drives.

    In the past, Mike's CCC has been the nobrainer solution for this task (highly recommended for anyone looking to push data from a mac to a mac). Unfortunately getting CCC to play nice with FreeNAS seems to be difficult at best.

    Attempt #1: Define custom remote backup target
    Basically the same setup as with the mac mini, just that the IP points towards the NAS and I skipped the auth pkg install (only works when both machines are macs) and instead made sure to mirror the client users on the NAS and setup authorized_keys for automated rsync via ssh. So far so good ... but it turns out that CCC will only work with user root@target currently. Giving root access to the clients is not desired.

    Attempt #2: Make each backup destination available as an AFP volume
    Apparently, CCC 3.4.7 is able to automount AFP volumes for scheduled backups. I did have to toggle the service off/on after adding multiple AFP shares for any of them to (continue to) work. Other than that, making an AFP share available via FreeNAS is fairly simple. Unfortunately, CCC will disable some of the most important local source folders (/Users, /Applications ... to name some) when the target is set to the AFP instead of an external drive. What good is that?

    Attempt #3: ???
    Not sure where to head from here. Setting up a little script via launchd to check NAS availability and rsync using ssh seems to be the least problematic. However I would need to provide the clients with a little GUI to indicate progress and make available a way to stop backups when required, for which I would resort to an AppleScriptObjC app.

    In light of my limited experience with both AppleScript and Xcode I'd like to hear if any of you folks have run into similar requirements, how you dealt with it or if you have any suggestions.

  2. phoenixsan macrumors 65816


    Oct 19, 2012
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Why not use Time Machine? TM is an incremental backup. I have some space on a FreeNAS server that my Macs see as a second TM drive. Each Mac has a local external drive used for TM but in addition TM also saves to the FreeNAS sever. It is easy to set up with FreeNAS' web based GUI.

    Do you really need to make incremental when you are writing to FeeNAS? Why not do an rsync and then have ZFS do periodic snapshots. This moves the efforts onto the server. It is better I think because rsync only moves changes over the network and ZFS can keep self-consistnt snapshots. rsync is easy to setup on a mac and on FreeNAS too.
  4. assembled macrumors regular

    Jan 12, 2009
    I would tend to use the built in FreeNAS Time Machine method, but just to add another option, you could create iSCSI volumes on FreeNAS, mount them on each Mac Mini and use those for Time Machine.
  5. cjoy thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 24, 2008
    Thanks - been there done that. The problem is, that I cannot get the macs to mount the FreeNAS SMB/CIFS share at all ("The operation can’t be completed because the original item for “share_name” can’t be found."). No luck tweaking cfg to get around this issue.

    As for TimeMachine - it failed me badly a few years ago with data loss on the mac and the attached backup volume. Since then I have been reluctant to touch it, maybe I should give it another chance.

    The backups I need are not "incremental" in the sense that I would need versioning for files (as in Timemachine or ZFS snaps) - "rsync -a" is all that is required really. Sorry for the misleading terminology.

    Rsync is probably my preferred solution at this point as I have full control over what happens, rights management etc, but it lacks a GUI for the less tech savy clients that indicates backup tasks are running, their progress and a way to abort the process (this is where CCC shines as a rsync wrapper).

    I read that it should be absolutely avoided to configure multiple AFP shares as "TimeMachine" targets in FreeNAS. Do you have multiple macs backup to a single AFP share?

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