Better NAS: Synology DS212j or Mac Mini with 2xUSB drives in Software RAID?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by glitch44, Mar 25, 2013.

  1. glitch44 macrumors 65816

    Feb 28, 2006
    The Synology DS212j is cheaper, but the Mac Mini would have more processing power for transcoding videos, etc. But, on the other hand, the Synology would be more "turn-key" for operation and recovery.

    Any thoughts?
  2. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    Personally, I would prefer the Mac Mini. The #1 reason is so that I could add it to my existing Crashplan+ family plan cloud backup... and get unlimited offsite backup for free.

    Also... you can run any Mac app on it to manage your data. With a NAS... you are much more limited in applications that could run, plus the quality is often not up to par.

    As an iTunes server... you have "real iTunes" available. Useful if you have Apple TVs.

    Finally, as a Time Machine backup target... only Macs & Time Capsules are officially supported by Apple.

    I wouldn't put two USB drives in software RAID. I would either get a TB RAID array, or just run single spindle drives with local and cloud backup.

  3. brn2rnjk1 macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2008
    I am confused on how you get disk sizes that are extra large on a mini. Isn't it limited without opening it up an having to know what you are doing. I am looking to get 3-4TB and thought NAS was only way to go. Can you get this size on the mini?
  4. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Dec 14, 2010
    I would go for the Mini - well I actually did!

    I had a Synology 5 bay, which is a great unit. Ive reviewed it pretty extensively on my YouTube channel. I just found it quite limiting.

    I now have a Mac Mini server with the 2x1TB drives, and I have found it much more flexible. I can do everything without having to check if its supported, or whether a package is available etc!
    I have connected a Drobo 5D for further storage of all my media etc, and for some small backups. Much happier with this setup.
  5. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    My 2009 mac mini serves up 6.5TB of storage, and I'm getting ready to add another 2TB. Only .5TB is internal to the mini, the rest are external daisy-chained Firewire drives.
  6. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    With the advent of Thunderbolt... you can expand your machine to "near limitless" storage. This was also available on earlier models with Firewire... but Thunderbolt advances it quite a bit.

    Lots of people complain about Thunderbolt costs... but it is actually quite the bargain for what it delivers. Most people do not need (or want to pay) for that performance... but for those who need it (and used to pay for it with other technologies)... Thunderbolt significantly reduces their expenses and improves performance.

  7. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I've never owned a Synology... but I've owned many NAS boxes and your post matches my overall experience... I was always left feeling flat. Probably my best was an older Windows Home Server (back when they still supported "Drive Extender" or whatever it was called". At least it was a full windows server OS underneath the fluff enabling lots of "real" apps to run. Still... I did not stay with that either... especially as I moved to a full Apple environment.

    I still have not bought a Mac Mini server. I've been too busy spending my money on a new MBA and a iMac every year. Now that all 4 of us own iMacs & MBAs, I'll probably slow down the iMac purchases to every 2-3 years... so I predict a Mac Mini Server in my future. ;)

    I am hoping that the 2013 Mac Mini will have dual Thuderbolt ports. I can live with one... but two would be nicer. The Mini will use an older 2560X1600 30" display using MDP... so it needs to be at the end of the TB chain... which means that I will not be able to add a bus-powered TB peripheral to the end unless I have a second TB port.

  8. utekineir macrumors 6502

    Feb 20, 2008


    My setup is still being hammered out overall. But as of the moment it is as follows:

    i7 ivy mini (refurb, used as home office desktop)
    itunes home sharing
    file sharing
    back to my mac
    bunch of ram
    owc data doubler

    internal cheap 128gb ssd (os drive)
    internal oem 1tb drive (about full, media/pictures)
    external 2.5" 1.5tb usb 3 drive (floating use)
    external 4tb usb 3 drive (backup of everything, disc images, past computers backups, documents, everything)
    external 4tb usb 3 drive (rotating offsite backup)

    When a reasonably priced 4 or more bay 3.5" tb enclosure comes out i'll get that and clean things up.

    Initially I wanted a 4 bay synology. But at $670 for a refurb i7 mini that can also work as a no compromises desktop that only sips power (14ish watts on meter) while performing serving/backup duties it was an easy choice.
  9. r0k macrumors 68040


    Mar 3, 2008
    I have both. Sort of. I picked up a Synology DS212J and I put one WD Green drive inside. I also have a Mac mini that is used as a file server and for my wife's occasional use. I'm considering putting ML server on the thing so I can set up my own VPN and my own DNS.

    I use the Synology exclusively as a file/DLNA server. I mainly use the mini for ripping movies. What I like about the Synology is it only uses 18 watts in operation and 6 watts in standby. I also like that the Synology uses its own Linux Distro (DSM) for it's OS. The only down side is it's an ARM processor so you can't directly download and use x86 Linux binaries like Plex. Basically what you are getting with Synology is a Linux box already set up for NAS and only a minor tweak away from being a DLNA server. The Synology is also capable of mirroring/backing up many of my web sites through its built in apache web server.

    As the time approached for me to put in a second drive in the 212J, I began to think about scenarios where there might be a failure. If the 212J ever failed, ALL my data would be inaccessible. I opted to add a DS112J and put a WD Green drive inside that. I then cloned everything over to the 112J from the 212J. In the end I have 12 watts of vampire power 24x7 and 36 watts of power if both boxes are under peak load.

    I now have a primary and a backup DLNA server. I also have a place to put frequently used files like OSX combo updates. All of my ethernet is gigabit. I have 3 wifi AP's set up using an Android device running wifi analyzer to eliminate dead spots.

    I've learned a think or two about NAS over the years having owned Apple TC (first gen), Buffalo Linkstation, Iomega Storcenter, LaCie NAS (don't remember the brand) and Seagate. I hated Seagate and returned it the same day when I found out they wanted me to pay $19 a year to run my own ftp server in my own house. LaCie, Buffalo, Iomega and all the other low-end drives required me to send my data somewhere if the unit ever failed. When I returned my TC to Apple for a free repair after its power supply died promptly at 18 months' ownership, it came back empty and my daughter's files were permanently lost. Lesson learned. I own the data and the drives it resides on. The NAS itself is disposable. I now use my TC for TM Backup but also use Crashplan to an off site server after TM let me down and I almost lost all my wife's data due to some "corrupted destination volume" error that only cropped up when it was time to RECOVER her data. Thank God I had already started using Crashplan! Thank God I had already started using Crashplan!

    Bottom line: The Synology is a good choice for its turnkey operation and lower power consumption (if you use lower power consumption green drives). I would recommend you use a mini as a main computer rather than relegate it to mere NAS duties.
  10. blueroom macrumors 603


    Feb 15, 2009
    Toronto, Canada
    I'd recommend using your main PC with quad core i5/i7 for transcoding videos. A NAS should be low power consumption and 24/7, RAID IMHO isn't necessary for home use but a backup is (RAID is not a backup).

    I use a Synology DS212j (TM on one drive, everything else on the other) with an external USB drive doing weekly backups. You can get NAS ready 3.5" drives such as the WD RED series.

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