Clone laptops to NAS, backup NAS to cloud?

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by alexandero, May 26, 2018.

  1. alexandero macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #1
    I'm looking into a onsite and offsite backup solution for a two-laptop household (with each a 256GB) plus 100-150GB of files on an external drive. Here are my current plans. Any suggestions to improve these will be greatly appreciated.

    1. Each person has a iCloud account, syncing ~/Documents, ~/Desktop, photos etc., and also a iTunes Match account syncing music. We'd still like to keep the original photos and audio files, and not only trust Apple to keep them safe.

    2. I'm planning to buy a Synology or QNAP NAS with either one bay or a RAID1 two bay, the HDD will be encrypted (I assume ext4 formatted, as the cheaper NAS solutions don't provide Btrfs yet due to CPU limitations).

    3. This NAS should host (full system) Time Machine backups from both laptops, and also provide a share for movies, archived work projects etc.

    4. Additionally to the Time Machine backups I'm considering using Arq, CCC, SuperDuper or anything else you can suggest to clone the user folders (including at least parts of ~/Library, as they include mail archives) to the NAS via wifi, at least once per day. Ideally one should not need to wait for completion of the cloning (meaning not destroying anything in case one needs to rush to work with the laptop or wanting to go to sleep, and cannot wait 15 more minutes).

    5. The NAS should be responsible for backing up these cloned folders (I assume 100GB each, mainly attributed to music and photos) plus the movies etc. on the NAS to the cloud (and taking care of the encryption). I have no preference on cloud backup providers yet. This backup should be versioned, keeping files that were deleted locally (and on the NAS in the cloning process) for at least a month.

    6. I do not think it's necessary to backup/clone the Time Machine backup on the NAS to the cloud. In case the NAS and the laptops all get stolen or my house burns down, I will still have the user folders in the cloud, and reinstalling apps on new laptops is the least of my worries. So the Time Machine backups are only used in case the SSD of a laptop fails and to feel safer when updating MacOS.

    7. The reason for not directly backing up the laptops to the cloud is that my internet connection is slow (75 Mbps downstream, 7.5 Mbps upstream). Wifi to NAS is 10x faster, and with laptops only being active for an hour or two each day in the evenings, it feels smarter to first clone to the NAS and then not worry if it needs an hour or longer to upload to the cloud. (While we use our laptops at work, we cannot use the internet connections at work for backing them up)

    8. As for cloud backups, I'm wondering if it's possible (and suggested) to use something cheap like Glacier for uploading movies and music (as most likely at least 90% can be re-purchased in a few years), and another provider for all other data (photos and documents).

    9. Additionally I will connect an external HDD to my NAS about once per month, clone the NAS and keep that external HDD safe offsite in my office drawer until the next month.

    Given the circumstances (laptops, wifi, slow internet upload), do you think this is the optimal backup strategy, or how can it be improved? Will local cloning software and/or NAS cloud backup software have to reupload large database files like from Apple Photos or iTunes, or can they identify the changes/additions and only upload these? Which apps and cloud backup solutions can you suggest? And is there any reason why Synology or QNAP NAS are the better option (besides Synology having the easier/better UI and QNAP better hardware given the same budget)?

    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. Tech198, May 27, 2018
    Last edited: May 27, 2018

    Tech198 macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2011
    Location:
    Australia, Perth
    #2
    I can at least answer a few of these...

    I to have encrypted NAS from QNAP (RAID 1), but i don't use nay automated cloning or software solution.... My setup is vastly different, only 2 computers, but over a slow internet connection (upload), NAS would really be the preferred way, or few external drives as backups.

    Backup music and photos to NAS as well file and photos to local storage (external drive, Nas etc) as well.

    Always keep local copies as you never know what changes may happen in the cloud. Qnap have their own apps for iOS as well for file management, and they have their own cloud as well if you choose not to use Apple's iCloud.

    I think Apple's iCloud drive is "file based" so any changed it will need to re-upload the entire file. I tested this while editing a photo, and it took a while to re-upload.

    My external drives never connect directly to NAS.. Instead i manually copy files over network.. every time external drives are changed. That may appear slow, but i'd just prefer being in control knowing that's i'm copying and can see it happening rather than an automated approach.

    QNAP is EXT4, and it does support Time Machine. : https://www.qnap.com/en-us/how-to/tutorial/article/time-machine-support

    Synoloy: https://www.synology.com/en-global/...es_from_Mac_to_Synology_NAS_with_Time_Machine

    TM on Mac: https://support.apple.com/kb/PH25588?locale=en_US&viewlocale=en_US

    I've never used Synology, only QNAP. But like any NAS there are always bugs.... weather it be in the features supported , networking, file sharing. but they are good for central storage. in addition to usb storage i think.
     
  3. alexandero thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #3
    Thanks for your reply. Does the QNAP NAS manage to copy the entire libraries of iTunes, Photos and Mail? And when accessing the NAS, is it possible to dive into a subfolder and access specific files? Or will it save a monolithic huge file on the NAS?

    The reason I'm asking is that ideally I'd have a more or less file system copy on the NAS, and then let the NAS take care of backing them up to the cloud (slowly over night, due to the limited upstream internet connection). Whereas if my entire home folder was stored in a single sparsebundle file on the NAS, I highly doubt the NAS will be able to only backup changes to the cloud, and would attempt to reupload 100GB every day, even if one only changes one single file.

    I've looked into Arq to copy files to the NAS, but it will encrypt all data on upload and create a similar result which might not be easily backupable to the cloud. I've also tested Carbon Copy Cloner to sync a programming folder (with thousands of small files, but only 50MB in total size), but that will take multiple minutes on each sync. Meaning that it does not seem possible to use CCC to sync the home folder to the NAS.
     
  4. Tech198, May 27, 2018
    Last edited: May 27, 2018

    Tech198 macrumors G5

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2011
    Location:
    Australia, Perth
    #4
    No to both, but it does have specific folders for Music and photos so you'll need to still store files in this location if you want to access then directly in applications on Mac on iOS to browse. I don't know if there is and NAS that will access libraries directly, but you

    This way it would be one central location to access on your network as well as backing them up

    Backing up library file itself would be good though. But the idea for one "blob" container, can wreck havoc is corruption occurs in the library.... vs if u can't open a file, at least you know which one to "toss" out. I guess there's pros and con's of each method.

    QNAS also has USB port on the front, so you don't need a host to start the copy process.. Once set up in the GUI, just plug in external drive to USB on NAS and tab "One Touch Copy"to backup/sync , but if you have thousands of photos, it wouldn't really matter weather it's just a library file, or each individual files,,,, the end result would probably be the same size anyway or take just as long...

    It would just come down to managing them better. Your right,,, individual files would be able to resume backups as well, rather than it would have to know where it's at if handing just "one library file"

    You could always just copy the library file over to it's own folder and share that to Mac.

    https://www.qnap.com/en/how-to/tutorial/article/managing-photos-with-photo-station
     
  5. hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2015
    Location:
    on the land line mr. smith.
    #5
    I would add that current Synology offerings seem to do well as a TM backup destination. I have one at work backup up almost 500GB over ethernet with no issues. Been running it as a destination for about a month. After the first manual setup, the share mounts automatically and runs, no errors.

    Synology has quite a few methods available to backup or sync with local machines....it may be hardest to figure out what is best for your needs...test and find out which is most agreeable for you.

    You can easily clone the backups to USB, and you could take that off-site or put in a fireproof safe.

    Or, they have a client for AWS Glacier, which should be the perfect low cost cloud backup. I say should...because I have not used it. Likely a bit more work to setup, but much cheaper than most premium consumer services. Month after month...that could be a huge savings.
     
  6. alexandero thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #6
    Thanks to both of you. It seems I will simply have to buy a NAS and see how their OS handles MacOS specific media libraries and HFS+/APFS metadata on an ext4 volume, as there's little to no description available online.

    Regarding Time Machine backups: I've been using a Time Capsule for the past 5 years and have been backing up via wifi, but every 2-3 months I see ™ checking the backup for an hour or so, and frequently it tells me that the backup is corrupt and I have to create a new backup. And that's a problem, if I want to keep a version history longer than a few months. And I really doubt that a Synology/QNAP NAS will work better – I assume these problems are caused by either using wifi for backups, or that Time Machine isn't as reliable when backing up thousands of tiny files such as when installing programming languages with their libraries (in my case: Ruby, but it's probably the same with Phyton or R).

    As for AWS Glacier: I've now testing the combination of Arq as backup software and Backblaze B2, which has similar costs. This certainly is a pain with a slow internet upstream and backing up from laptops, and I was hoping I could rely on the NAS to backup everything to the cloud at night, but unfortunately it seems this is the only reliable solution for offsite-backups.
     
  7. hobowankenobi macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2015
    Location:
    on the land line mr. smith.
    #7
    Synology has a fairly new—but not bleeding edge—file system: Btrfs

    You don't have to use it, but some of their core snap shot backup tech and file versioning is built on it, so I can't see a reason not to. Some may say it is too young I suppose, but running it now and no issues for me.

    Yes....TM over a network has a history of being a bit fragile, but I have not had any of those issues yet....although this desk machines with gig Ethernet. I have read some observations or opinions that TM issues over wifi have to due with connection quality issues. If so, you might consider the range and signal strength of your current coverage. It could be the culprit.
     
  8. alexandero thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2004
    #8
    Synology-support emailed my last week upon my inquiry that Btrfs is limited to machines which have a fast enough CPU to support it. Most 1- and 2-bay NAS from Synology (even if released 2018) do not support Btrfs (and they aren't planning to change that). I'm undecided yet if I want to pay $300 instead of $200 for a NAS with Btrfs-support, or simply stick with ext4 and in three to four years spend another $200 for a NAS with Btrfs support (and whatever else is is added by then, maybe that's also the time where SDDs hit a comparable price point to RAID1 HDDs).

    As for the issues with my Time Machine backups failing from time to time: it's not the range of the Time Capsule, as it's sitting on top of a bookshelf in the living room, and I'm only a few meters away from it. Still it has been failing on an old MacBook Air and a newer MacBook Pro every few months. My working theory is that it has issues with keeping track when the files count is too large. E.g. a 500MB folder containing the programming environment Ruby has 50.000 files, which all are updated every few weeks. Excluding such folders in the backup will likely help, but I like the concept of having Time Machine as a local and automated backup I can fully restore from.

    Yes, I've also had a phase where I used CCC to clone to a USB-HDD, but there's one thing you cannot automate: attach an external drive to your laptop on a daily basis. Which is why I was happy when purchasing a Time Capsule, and was now hoping I could improve my setup with a new NAS – to only find out that it's better to backup notebooks directly to the cloud, not first to the NAS and have it take care of offsite backups (due to NAS drives not supporting HFS+ volumes).
     

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