Build NAS using Power Mac G4 or G5?

Discussion in 'PowerPC Macs' started by SharkGirl, Jan 14, 2014.

  1. SharkGirl macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2014
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm looking to build an NAS and found an ancient thread in the forum about using an old Power Mac G4 or G5 to do it. I have an early 2008 MacBook Pro running 10.8.5 and an early 2011 MacBook Pro running 10.9.1, plus iPad and iPhone. This is what I want the NAS to do:

    1. Wireless, scheduled backups (I forget to to do them manually)
    2. Create bootable backups (so I need to use something like Carbon Copy Cloner rather than Time Machine)
    3. Store media I don't keep on my internal drives (TV, movies, music, photos)
    4. Act as a media server (so I can watch media on my HDTV via my PS3)

    Redundancy would be great, but I really don't want/need a RAID. My primary need is for a backup solution and I keep reading that RAID is not a backup. I can make additional backups of the really important files. I'd also like the ability to expand in the future, by adding drives and/or swapping in larger ones. So, I think I'd be good with JBOD rather than RAID.

    Cash is an issue, of course. I haven't found any pre-built NAS boxes that are highly-recommended in my price range, or much in any price range for that matter. Ideally, I'd like to start with 4TB of storage but not sure if I'll be able to swing it.

    I know I'll need SATA card, but other than going with a 4 port, I don't know what I need to be looking for.

    I know there are a number of free OS options out there, like FreeNas, which seems like it may Mac-friendly-ish. My Windows using friend uses unRAID and loves it. Or can I just use a version of OS X?

    Any suggestions? Is what I want to build possible? If so, what's the best way to do it? I can't find that old thread, but remember the posters recommending the G4 over the G5. It seems that the G4s have more hard drive bays than the G5s, so maybe that's why?

    I'm not a computer idiot and I have a little home network, but I've never set up an NAS. I'd greatly appreciate feedback! So many variables...
  2. micahgartman macrumors member


    Feb 22, 2005
    Houston, TX, USA
    Love your screen name!!!

    A Power Mac G4 (Mirrored Drive Doors) will certainly do everything on your list. It uses far less power than any of the G5s and can hold [at least] four internal hard drives compared to the G5s two (three with some mod'ing).

    Just turn on File Sharing, install Carbon Copy Cloner and XMBC and you should be set. Wi-Fi can be added by an Airport card or a USB-based device.

    I'd suggest Leopard over Tiger—just increase your RAM to 2GB :)
  3. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    I had an iBook G3 that I didn't use doing this for a while. Two SATA drives in USB 2.0 enclosures (limited to USB 1.1 on the iBook) and Time Machine backups.

    CCC or Super Duper could handle this just fine. The upshot is that you'd have an external bootable drive to boot from.

    In my situation this worked pretty good. The iBook only drew about 45W at max load. It had a large hard drive and I stuck it in a corner with screen sharing and file sharing turned on.

    It's not complicated, so don't let it hang you up too much. A Mac with file sharing turned on, hooked up to the network. Basic NAS.
  4. Cox Orange macrumors 68000

    Jan 1, 2010
    some more Watts info:

    PowerMac G4 MDD: about 90-145W
    PowerMac G4 400-733MHz range: 50-70W
    PowerMac G4 400-733MHz range upgraded to 1,2GHz: 70-100W (with 7 drives 150W at start up and arround 110W letting it sit and moving the mouse)
    ibook G4 12" 1,33GHz: 26-45W
    PowerMac G5 2,3GHz DC: 188W, when exporting iMovie (I did not look at the Watts, when it was just copying or sitting)

    Also the PowerMac G4 AGP's PSU gets more and more ineffective, if the PSU gets hotter, this should be the case with all G3/G4 tower Macs, because all use the PSU as Main heat exhaust. Power consumption rises about 10-20W.
  5. gavinstubbs09 macrumors 65816


    Feb 17, 2013
    NorCal boonies ~~~by Reno sorta
    +1 on the G4 MDD. I'd love to use my unused G5 but that thing makes soooo much heat compared to my G4. If I remember reading correctly there is a hack to make Time Machine backup to a network drive rather than something plugged into the computer or something apple already makes (that being the AirPort thing).
  6. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    Yes. It's a system preference you enable via terminal. Then you create a disk image with the name of your drive and the ethernet MAC address (not the Airport MAC address). The drive inside the disk image can be named whatever you want.

    That disk image does on the network drive and TM will load it when backing up. The downside to this is that your backup is stored in a disk image and not directly on the network drive itself. The upside is that because it's a disk image you can use ANY kind of network drive including NTFS formatted drives.

    That said, the OP is looking to use Carbon Copy Cloner to maintain his backups.
  7. SharkGirl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2014
    Los Angeles, CA
    Thank you, thank you, thank you, everyone!

    @micahgartman- Thanks for the screen name comment! :)

    A few more questions, if you don't mind.
    1. Any MDD will work, even the 867 MHz?
    2. Suggestions on SATA cards? What are good brands and how much should I expect to pay?
    3. Suggestions on hard drive brands? I've read some don't play nicely with Mac even if they're officially compatible.

    It sounds like I can just pop in a SATA card, new hard drives, maybe a bit of RAM, and I'm good to go. No need for any specific NAS OS? Just use file sharing, which is why I'm dong now with two MacBook Pros.

    I'm planning on connecting the G4 to my wireless router via ethernet and putting on the network that way. Then I won't need to install an Airport card, right?

    I found what seems to be a good machine on Craigslist, but I'm trying to find out if it's an MDD. It's 1.25GHz and it looks like there are 2 MDD models and one DP FireWire model, if that's the original CPU. Its has 1.25 GB RAM with an 80 GB hard drive. The owner is selling for $150 with a monitor, but is willing to sell without it. What is a reasonable price, assuming it is an MDD?

    Of course, I want the best box for the least amount of money because I still have to buy the other components, which I think will be pricey.

    At least you guys have made me feel like it's something I can build on my own. Thanks! Now I just need to find the rights components at the right price. Good thing I waited until after all the holiday sales, right? Doh!
  8. archtopshop macrumors regular

    Dec 13, 2011
    If it has the mirrors on the front of the case, then it's an MDD, no matter what processor it has installed in it. :D

    The original MDD's (with FW400) were all DP's and there was a 1.25GHz DP model. The later MDD's (with FW800) also had a 1.25GHz DP model.

    The last MDD produced had a single 1.25GHz processor and FW400 ports.

    Any of them would be fine for what you to do, but the DP's would be worth more.
  9. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    Take a look here.

    I paid $10.76 with free shipping for the card I link to on eBay. Exactly the same type of card as the thread starter and flashing it was friggin' easy (once I got the tempermental PC to boot off the floppy).

    Saved myself about $70.

    Keep in mind though that you are limited to the speed of the PCI bus. So, all that this is really doing is allowing your Mac to use SATA cards. You aren't getting the full SATA speed from the card. And since the PCI bus shares with all your other devices, if you're doing something else on the bus it can slow down.
    I'm partial to Western Digital. Good quality drives.
    Yes, that's pretty much it. Note that if you go the route I did with flashing the SATA card keep in mind that if you ever reset PRAM or hold down the OPTN key to choose a boot drive the SATA drives will be invisible (and therefore unbootable) to the system.

    You'll need to set the startup disk to one of the SATA drives from either inside the OS or using the Utilities menu in the OS X installer disk. This creates some sort of low level pointer to the SATA drives on the PCI bus. But this is only necessary if you intend to boot from a SATA drive.

    No. OS X has had Appletalk, AFP and SMB since the beginning. And G4s have had 10/100/1000 ethernet ports since the early 2000s. Connect it, turn on filesharing, set the shares and you're set.
  10. harrymatic macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2013
    United Kingdom
    I was having this issue was well - the drives wouldn't appear in the disk select screen, and the system would sit at the blinking folder icon for a few seconds before finding the drive and booting. By chance, I swapped the SATA cables over, so the boot drive was on the other channel and both problems went away! This might just be a fluke on my computer, I'm not sure exactly how the boot process works when using an add-in PCI drive controller.
  11. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    Hmmm…might try that. Thanks!
  12. SharkGirl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2014
    Los Angeles, CA
    Thanks, guys!

    That thread threw me a little. Unless I just substitute "Mac" and "OS X" for the statements that refer to PCs and Windows? And insert "CD/DVD" or "jump drive" for floppy disks?

    The CL listing states bus speed as 167 GB. Sorry if this is a dumb question, but would that be PCI bus? I'm also wondering if the lister meant MHz instead of GB. These are the specs listed in the ad:

    Processor 1.25 GHZ Power PC G4 1 MB L3 cache
    Memory 1.25 GB
    Format MAC OS Capacity 76.69 GB
    Bus Speed 167 GB
    Dual Platforms
    Built-in CD/DVD reader and writer

    The lister is going to text me the model or part # tonight. Is there any other info I should be asking for? Is $100 a good price?

    No issues? I've read they can get wonky in Macs, though I have several external portables that work great. Do you know which models I should look at? I would love to start out with a total of 4TB if I can afford it.

    Please forgive my idiocy, but what is "flashing the SATA card" and why is this better than whatever other option I have? (Not that I have a clue what that is.)

    Can I use the 80 GB hard drive that's currently in the machine to run the OS? I'm assuming it's ATA and I haven't researched anything about that yet.

    That sounds easy enough. Then I can set up Carbon Copy Cloner for backups and dump all my media. I would just use something like PS3 Media Server to make the files accessible on the PS3? This is what I do now.

    I need SATA cables as well, I guess? And they probably don't come with the card or the drives. Any idea how much they would run me? I'm getting worried about costs now...

    I need:
    -Power Mac G4 MDD
    -SATA card
    -SATA drives
    -SATA cables
    -Possibly more RAM?
    Am I forgetting anything?

    Oh, here's another dumb question. Can I set it up headless? I don't have a stand alone monitor.

    You guys are the best! :)
  13. harrymatic macrumors 6502

    Dec 30, 2013
    United Kingdom
    Flashing is where you replace the firmware on a device, usually to use it in a different machine than it was intended for. It allows you to use a really cheap PC SATA card in a Mac - otherwise you would end up spending about $80 on a Mac specific card such as a Sonnet Tempo.

    I go through all the details and steps in the guide that eyoungren mentioned about flashing SATA cards -
  14. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    OK. Let's back up a bit.

    The card I bought is a SATA PCI card for Windows PCs. In order for the Mac to recognize that card and use it you have to re-write the code contained on the chips on the card. That is called flashing. But you have to use a PC to do that.

    In the thread I linked to, someone has provided the code necessary to allow the card to be read in a Mac. So, that code needs to be put on a 1.44mb 3.5" PC formatted floppy disk. A boot disk for a PC needs to be created. In this case the OP used Windows 98. The link that the OP gives is to a program that will automatically create the boot disk for you. That needs to be run on a PC to create the disk. The disk created is a 1.44mb 3.5 inch floppy disk.

    Once you have both, you put the card into an empty PCI slot in the PC, then the boot disk goes into the PC and you boot from it. Once you get an A:\ prompt (this is DOS) you pull out the boot disk and insert the other disk and type the flash command. That flashes the card (makes it readable by the Mac). You can then shut down the PC, take the PCI SATA card out and use it in the Mac.

    Yes, that would be the bus speed. Realistically, a PCI SATA card will give you only about ~40mbps transfer speed (you may get faster). And yes, that is a good price.
    I have a Western Digital Scorpio Blue PATA (IDE) 320GB laptop drive in my 17" PowerBook G4. My wife has the 250GB model. Both drives have been dependable and given us no issues.

    So, I'd recommend the Scorpio series. You'd be looking for SATA drives of course. Scorpio Blue drives are PATA so you are probably going to want to look at the Black or Green series.
    See above. To me, this is better than your other options. You can buy directly from Sonnet Technologies a Mac SATA card if you like. After shipping it'll probably run you about $100. On eBay, the Sonnet Tempo PCI SATA cards run around $70. Some of the more expensive ones run upwards of $200+. Of course, there are other Mac SATA card manufacturers, but I don't know of any other than Sonnet. Also, unfortunately, on Amazon and eBay and CL, this is a case where they buyer knows what they have. These cards are like Kitchen Aide mixers. You will never find one for sale below a certain price.

    Personally, I think buying a PC PCI SATA card for $10 and flashing it makes a lot of sense over spending $70+ on a Sonnet Mac PCI card.

    Yes. You can have two IDE drives and two or more SATA drives depending on the kind of SATA controller card you get (some SATA cards have four drive connectors). Your limitation is the power supply unit in the Mac. Connect too many power hungry devices and the PSU may fail. I've got two SATA drives and two IDE drives though and the PSU seems fine with it. I had to buy two SATA data cables and a Molex to SATA power Y-splitter cable.
    Yes, but I'm not sure about the whole PS3 thing. I don't have one so that's not a setup I've ever tried.
    Yes. The two data cables I got came in a three pack for about $3 with free shipping. The splitter cable was around $3, free shipping. eBay.

    That sounds right. And yes, I'd max the ram if you can.

    And yes, you can run it headless. Just use a VNC server like OSXVnc or Vine Server or turn on Screen Sharing. But you will need to do that in the initial setup while it's connected to a monitor. Once you have it setup to run headless you can even pull the video card out if you like. I have a G4 at work that runs headless.

    Just note that in all cases VNC won't kick in until the driver is actually loaded and the server/sharing started. That could be in the middle to the end of the boot process.

    Hope that helps.
  15. micahgartman macrumors member


    Feb 22, 2005
    Houston, TX, USA
    I'm a Hitachi guy. Fujitsu and Toshiba second and third. I'd stay away from Western Digital and Seagate—they seem to die too young.

    I'd also stay away from non-Mac SATA cards. The kids these days with their "flashing." Pshaw!

    A Power Mac G4 "MDD" with FireWire 800, four IDE (aka PATA) hard drives and OS X 10.5 Leopard. That's where the action is :)

    But, that's just, like, my opinion, man.
  16. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two

    I've had the opposite experience with Hitachi drives. All the Hitachis I've ever had died fast and died early.

    As to the flashing…well, I bricked a perfectly good PC motherboard once flashing the wrong BIOS to it so I was very hesitant to try this. But I figured, what the heck, if I screwed it up I was only out $11.
  17. jrsx macrumors 65816


    Nov 2, 2013
    Tacoma, Washington
    Wut. Toshiba is simply awful in my experience, Hitachi, everyone says don't use it, they fail too fast (you're the first that hasn't to me!), and Fujitsu, well, they make good laptops, but I've had much better experiences with WD and Seagate (although Seagate's firmware is sketchy). Also, Corsair isn't know to make HDDs as much, but their drives last for literally FOREVER. Period. My friend has a Corsair from 1995 (ish) and it's still going strong. I think it's only 50 MBs or something like that, though.
  18. SharkGirl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2014
    Los Angeles, CA
    @eyoungren Thank you for the Tutorial for Dummies. Very helpful!

    The tricky part with this is that I don't think I know anyone (no joke) who runs a PC, other than a friend up north and I'm willing to bet he doesn't have a floppy drive. :(

    WD's site is actually not super helpful. Would this WD Green Drive work? It is less expensive than the Scorpio Black and works better as far as storage space goes. I can go with 2 2TB drives.

    This does sound ideal cost wise. I'm not sure I can accomplish it though. I really don't think I can get local access to a PC, which is kinda shocking.

    Another stupid question. I would need one SATA cable per hard drive?

    At least that's pretty cheap. If this system works out, I'd probably only need a 1 GB stick.

    Soooo, I know what file sharing is, but not a VNC server. No biggie, I can figure out those details once I figure out how to attach it to a monitor. Could I attach it to an iMac and use that monitor for set up? Just like my lack of PC contacts, most people I know have laptops.

    Haven't quite wrapped my head around this yet, but I will. Is the boot process unusually long?

    I really appreciate you answering all my questions. As I said, I've never done this before and I tend be very tactile. I learn best by doing. Once I have all the components, I'll have to put together a step by step for myself to do the build. I'm good with IKEA furniture. Will that help??

    I also appreciate your patience and hope I'm not driving you crazy with all the questions. I'm probably going to keep asking until I totally understand everything. Unless you tell me to shut up, that is. :)


    You're killing me! I actually have used both WD and Seagate externals. I've had no issues with my portables at all. The Seagate desktop I set up for my friend's Time Machine died after a few years with no warning, but it happens.

    My dad is a photographer and he buys Seagate. He's not a fan of WD either.

    I may have to due to my lack of PC access.If so, where can I get an inexpensive Mac SATA card? They're crazy pricey!

    IDE drives would be the easiest because I wouldn't need a SATA card, right? The expansion bays are already formatted for IDE. But can I get IDE drives that aren't itty bitty and will they be too slow to send my movies and TV shows over the wifi?

    Argh! :rolleyes:
  19. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    No problem!
    Well…you have options. This is where old hardware comes with benefits. If you're willing, troll around your local Salvation Army or Goodwill. They usually have plenty of PC cast offs cheap. You can probably pick up a PC with a 3.5 floppy drive for $20-30. Should you decide to go this route.
    Yeah, that's because WD does not sell direct. They are mainly just showing you what they make. The drive you link to is fine. You will not get SATA 3 speeds though. Just know that since it has no Molex power connector you will need a Molex to SATA power cable. Here's what I mean…

    This pic is what a SATA drive with a Molex connector looks like. It's the one on the right. Molex is a standard peripheral connector. But modern SATA drives get power from the connector on the left side. This pic is showing both types. The drive you linked to only has the SATA one on the left.

    So… you are going to need this kind of cable to get power from the PSU to the drive…

    This is the cable I got because I needed to split one Molex connector to two SATA drives…
    You might want to get the cable I got in order to split power to two SATA drives.

    See above about your options.
    Yes… and here is what they look like.

    Nope, not out of the box. You're going to need a monitor to do this. Maybe Goodwill or Salvation Army?
    No, it's just that if you try to connect before the driver is loaded you won't see anything. So you have to wait for the driver to load before you can connect.
    In the sense of using a screwdriver, well, yes.

    No worries. We're all here to help.
  20. SharkGirl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2014
    Los Angeles, CA
    I have no experience with Toshiba, Hitachi, or Fujitsu. Now that I think about it, I've always used WD or Seagate. I do have a small Aegis FW drive that's been great.
  21. gavinstubbs09 macrumors 65816


    Feb 17, 2013
    NorCal boonies ~~~by Reno sorta
    Toshiba = bad luck. Especially 2008/9 Toshitta computers that I've had to fix were all from dead hard drives. Even the SSDs they make that Apple put in the 2012 MBAs fail (I was a victim of that). WD, I've had back luck with them too. I recently had a portable 1TB drive fail which sucks a lot :(

    I'm one for Seagate. Their drives seem to be extremely reliable and I have those in just about every computer I own.
  22. SlCKB0Y, Jan 15, 2014
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2014

    SlCKB0Y macrumors 68040


    Feb 25, 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    I'm going to give my opinion which might be unpopular given this subforum. Those old G4's are beautiful machines but they aren't the best tool for your job.

    1. They are now very old - who knows how much life is left in the CPU, the RAM, the logicboard etc. The RAM in these machines is extremely expensive and if it fails, will not be cost effective to replace.

    2. They consume relatively high amounts of power which should be taken into account with total cost of ownership.

    3. They are relatively noisy and produce significant amounts of heat.

    4. They are quite large

    5. Your project would probably best be completed using a Linux or FreeBSD NAS distro
    FreeBSD based:
    Linux Based:
    They both support Time Machine backups, SMB, AFP etc and can do various forms of RAID (recommended in case of drive failure). They can both be run headless and come with a very comprehensive web interface which can be accessed from any OS with a browser. The PPC architecture will drastically limit these FreeBSD and Linux options.

    6. Expect to be messing about with flashing SATA cards, adapter cables etc and even then you will not be getting good performance out of the drives.

    HP make a range of SOHO servers called "Proliant Microservers". They were originally priced high ($700), but HP in Australia had a sale of these where they could be picked up for as little as $200. What they discovered was a massive market for hobbyists and home servers and they went on to produce numerous versions to the worldwide market but instead sold them at a lower price point.

    These machines are perfect for what you are trying to do:

    1. They are extremely reliable - mine has been quietly humming away in the corner of my living room for years. It never goes to sleep or gets turned off.

    2. They are small

    3. They are quiet and draw very little power.

    4. They have features not often found on consumer machines - 4 removable hard drive bays and a motherboard on a pull-out tray for maintenance. They have an optional remote access card so that they can be started, stopped and managed via a web interface on a secondary network port.

    5. They can be picked up on ebay second hand for less than the cost of a decent NAS

    6. They are very flexible in terms of drive configuration and take cheap DDR3 ram.

    7. Will run all modern Linux and BSD distributions as well as Windows.

    8. Has a PCI slot which any low profile Wifi card will work in (just make sure it is compatible with Linux/BSD) Pretty much anything with a Realtek chipset will work and will be cheap.

    9. It has Gigabit ethernet and SATAIII for high speed data transfer.

    10. There is a MASSIVE support community around them. Eg:

    11. Has an internal USB slot. You can install one of the above NAS distro's onto a USB key and boot off this so you are not trying up one of the 4 drive bays with your boot drive. The bays can then be dedicated to your RAID array.

    Short of a dedicated NAS appliance, these are by far the best option on the market, plus you get much greater flexibility in terms of software than a specialised NAS.

    Example on eBay:

    Brand New:

    This is the latest and greatest version (but more expensive)

    If you need advice about drives let me know - I work in a company which has a Linux datacentre with about 1100 servers. Each server has between 2 and 10 drives so I have gotten a pretty good idea of the failure rates of various brands over the years ;)

    FreeNAS installation help
  23. SharkGirl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2014
    Los Angeles, CA
    I'm sorry. That is major suckage.

    Why does Seagate have to so pricey though? Not like they're that much more than WD, I guess. Starting to feel like this is going to cost way more than I had hoped. :(
  24. SharkGirl thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 14, 2014
    Los Angeles, CA
    Not at all. You've actually brought up an interesting idea...and made me again doubt the direction I'm heading in, but that has happened a few times already during this process.

    I did wonder at this but everyone is so gung ho and Apple machines do tend to last forever.

    Also considered, but I figured it wouldn't be any worse than using an old PC tower, which is where I began this journey.

    I actually ran across FreeNas during the marathon of research I've done over the past several days. It seems pretty popular, though NAS4Free has its supporters as well. Seems kind of like a PC/Mac thing except I know NAS4Free started as FreeNAS and then split off. Or vice versa. (What's annoying is how full my brain feels and yet I still feel like I know nothing and am not sure what to do!)

    #1-3= Sounds great
    #4= Who doesn't like features? I have been looking for a 4 drive system, hence the G4 instead of the G5. Remote is not necessary, but very nifty. So in theory, even if I were away, I could access a movie on my home network and watch it on my iPad? Or am I just being stupid? (I sometimes hit a wall with info and start thinking I can do magical things. :p)
    #5-6= Of course, I prefer the flexibility and cheap components
    #7= Slightly confused. Used Windows for years and never want to have to again. I've never run Linux or BSD and don't totally get how they are Mac-compatible. I think Linux is related to Mac somehow via Unix... Maybe?
    #8-9= Again, yay for cheap. I was planning on connecting the NAS to my wireless router via ethernet so I can access it wirelessly over my home network. No need for a WiFi card then, right?
    #10= Awesome, as you can see I need a lotta help. :p Actually, once I understand something, I'm usually ok.
    #11= A USB Key is more or less a flash drive, yes? I remember reading something about FreeNAS booting from a key... What size is needed?

    These prices make me sad, but I'm starting to think the reality is that I can't do what I want for the cost of the 2 GB Time Capsule. Especially not if I want 4 GB of storage.

    This WHOLE thing started when my Dad offered to get me a Time Capsule for Chanukah. Oy. I had a 1st gen TC that finally died a year or so ago, which was apparently an usually long life for that model. Since then I have been using Time Machine on a portable drive and keeping a bootable clone on another portable.

    I thought this would be a good time to find a way to find a better option that would do everything I want in one place, rather than dealing with a bunch of hard drives. Oh, and I can't be trusted to manually backup as frequently as I'd like.

    I was unable to find any prebuilt NAS with positive reviews, other than Synology, which was way out of my price range. I somehow got the stupid idea I could build something myself that would work better and be cheaper. :roll eyes:

    So here's a RAID question, and everyone please feel free to chime in. I'm not sure if I want a RAID. Redundancy is important. No one wants to lose data. I am pretty good about keeping multiple copies of my most important stuff, which is mainly photos and videos, and a handful of other files.

    While it would suck to lose all of my other media, such as TV shows, movies, and music. Technically, it can all be replaced.

    My understanding is that I would need an additional drive for a RAID array, which means more $$. I would like to start out now with 2 drives and be able to expand in the future. My friend, who is the only person I know who knows anything about RAID, tells me it is not easily expandable/upgradable. He uses unRAID and loves it, but he's a Windows user and it doesn't seem to be very Mac-friendly.

    The other thing is that I have read a countless number of times over the past past few days that "RAID is not a backup system", that is not it's purpose. So I don't understand why I would want to set up a RAID array if it's technically not for backup, it's inflexible, and will cost a billion times more. Feedback?

    Yes, please.

    Ultimately, I want to find the most reliable, easiest to set up and manage, and least costly way to do the things I listed when I opened the thread. I'm not yet committed to a specific direction, though I am going to have to give the G4 person from CL an answer probably tomorrow.

    Though it's painful to say this, the NAS doesn't have to be lightening fast. As long as it doesn't slow down my internet access, it'll be fine. I do most of my work online and need constant internet access. If it were to get any slower than it is now, I might actually throw something out the window.

    I will very likely end up pestering you with question after question, so I apologize in advance, and if it's not cool just let me know.

    Thank you!
  25. eyoungren macrumors Core


    Aug 31, 2011
    ten-zero-eleven-zero-zero by zero-two
    Don't think this is a fluke! It worked for me. I'm seeing the boot drive when I press the OPTN key on boot. Also seems to be slightly faster and snappier now.

    Thanks for the tip!

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