external storage for mini 2012 - RAID or NAS or just large drive :)

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by ody, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. ody macrumors newbie

    Sep 5, 2012

    I need help.

    I own a 2012 Mac mini and need storage space for my music and video and photo library. I am also going to be editing RAW photos but occasionally.

    Do I stop wasting my money and time and go straight to a Synology DS413?
    I do not need most of the features of the NAS because the Mac mini can do it instead. However, the Synology product is expandable, RAID-able, and HDDs can be added incrementally unlike a RAID enclosure. Furthermore, the file format is Operating System agnostic and most importantly the device can run 24x7 with excellent noise, power consumption and hard drive protection.
    Is the NAS dependable for hosting the Plex library and capable of having 1 computer reading a movie off it and another editing RAW photos?

    Is going for a DAS RAID device the wrong way to go as transfer rate of 100-200-300 Megabytes per second are not important for playing a 1080p movie? Is the RAID also too Mac specific in terms of having Windows machines reading the data? I mean how would I give a friend of mine photos when the Mac cannot write to NTFS? Do I just solve this with 3rd party software?

    On the other hand I do not want to fork out too much money and was considering a single bay external hard drive such as the Hitachi g-drive with 4TB. These look like they are quite durable and run cool so they can stay on 24x7.

    The mini is really powerful at quad core, 16GB ram and I feel guilty as the NAS is a bit of an overkill but actually does make financial sense and is very flexible.

    What do you guys use to run your Plex library etc?

    Are things like Startech, OWC qx2, Icy Box, even remotely reliable? or do I stick with Promise DS4600 and Lacie and g-technology?

    Thanks in advance (oh and be gentle!) and sorry for the sheer number of questions.

    A paranoid, mac newbie....
  2. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    I have a Synology DS-212j. The thing about Synology devices is the aren't necessarily a RAID system, but rather their own Synology OS (DSM 4.0). You just have to initialize your drives to the Synology file system when you first setup the system, so you will have to wipe your drives at the beginning.

    Other than that I run my iTunes, iPhoto, and very large Plex library over a wired connection to my router. Runs excellent.

    The only time I get some hiccups in movie playback is when a new TV/Movie download is copying over to the NAS. But this is a rare occurrence.

    The Synology's are a little pricy, and the setup is a little complicated but its a very well put together system. I recommend it if you want a storage solution for the next 10 years.
  3. knarzie macrumors regular

    Aug 5, 2008
    I am very interested in what people have to say about this too. Am in a similar boat. 2TB won't be enough for me so I don't think I'll bother adding a second HDD. I will be using my mini for plex, shared itunes and iphoto library and ideally TM backup for 2 MBPs. I think the LaCie 2Big is available with up to 6TB and thunderbolt/firewire/usb3
  4. MatthewAMEL macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    Unless you know you need a NAS, get direct-attached storage.

    It sounds like your needs would be easily met with a USB3 solution but if you are interested in spending a small premium, go with a Thunderbolt drive.

    Have you considered the Drobo Mini?

    LaCie also makes a 3 and 6TB RAID

    Buffalo has a non-NAS series called DriveStation that is USB3. Hence, a little cheaper than a Thunderbolt solution.
  5. Lance-AR macrumors 6502

    May 7, 2012
    Little Rock, AR
    DAS is simpler than NAS. I keep an external USB drive formatted as exFAT which OS X and Windows XP and newer can both read and write. XP requires an update to support it though.
  6. ody thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 5, 2012
    I wanted to thank all of you so far for providing your opinions and experiences.

    MatthewAMEL you are pragmatic; those solutions you recommended make sense especially the USB 3.0 stuff. it is to the point, they are reliable; i do prefer the g-drive because it has 7200rpm drives and 3 year warranty.

    My honest and humble opinion is that Drobo is an overkill for me (it is expensive and it is slow when writing data).
    The Lacie and buffalo solutions are appealing but I cannot help but think:
    1. I can build a 2 bay RAID enclosure myself and actually choose the HDDs that go in it
    2. Lacie, Buffallo etc even though well thought and properly R&D -ed products are too expensive and running too close to a NAS.
    3. NAS products are designed to be 24x7
    4. reviews are abundant and you know what you are buying as opposed to Taiwan - Chinese unbranded or re-branded cases. You know how much noise to expect from a NAS box especially for keeping it in my living room.

    when doing the maths:
    2 Western Digital RED drives at 3TB cost £138 each.

    If I were to choose a NAS enclosure it would be between 275 to 385 pounds (4 bays)

    If I were to choose a DAS enclosure (4 bays) it would be about 145 pounds

    Hence I can have all the features of the NAS for 150 pounds extra (200 dollars approx).

    DAS has the speed advantage but I am not a professional photographer etc; I am just a home user who wants expandable storage and to get rid of my 4 external hard drives.

    I am really tempted by this though which I was referring to above (it costs £150) -

    Thunderbolt is great but normal hard drives in normal situations do not even come close in making full use of the bandwidth. Plus it is still expensive and tests have shown it runs too close to eSata and USB 3.0

    That;s why I think for the time being I could just get an aluminium enclosure with a fan and stick a 4TB drive in it. I can always download stuff again and i can keep the data I cannot replace on backup.

    Keep the suggestions and experiences coming; particularly around proven products (thanks GimmeSlack12 for putting my mind at ease on NAS; speed wise and spec wise)
  7. ianrip macrumors 6502


    May 30, 2010
    work:Oyu Tolgio, Home:LOS, From Scotland G15
    A quick summary should be, go for a NAS system. It’s the way ahead, external drives are ok, but if its on a NAS then its better, sure you have to come up with a way of backing up your NAS using raid or another device, but that’s the best system.
    I would recommend Hard wire if possible, transferring large files over WIFI works, but you can lose a connection, and it will take longer

    I use a Buffalo NAS, which isn’t the best, but it was the only one I could get at the time.
  8. MatthewAMEL macrumors 6502


    Oct 23, 2007
    Orlando, FL
    After I made my post, I realized I was giving you advice I don't follow. :D

    I received my Mini Server last week and moved all my external drives from my Late2009 iMac to the Mini.

    I now have my Drobo (10TB), 2x 3TB WD USB3 (RAID0), and 1TB WD USB2 attached to the Mini.

    I have also built a FreeNAS box with 2x 1TB drives and my old Dell. Since it sounds like you aren't afraid of a little DIY, have you considered FreeNAS? The huge advantage, IMHO, is being able to run ZFS.

    Have fun.
  9. ody thread starter macrumors newbie

    Sep 5, 2012
    Thanks again for steering me in the right direction.

    2 very quick questions you obviously have the knowledge to answer:

    1. Can the mac mini read an Itunes library (media files) from a NAS? ISCSI target to appear as a local drive? because I heard people have difficulty with the library disappearing and with problems when multiple devices are accessing it. HFS vs ext4?

    2. Over a gigabit connection (wired for both Mac mini and NAS) can Plex play a 1080p mkv movie whilst still refreshing the library with files being downloaded over normal broadband speeds?

    Thanks guys; almost there! :D
  10. GimmeSlack12 macrumors 603


    Apr 29, 2005
    San Francisco
    1. I don't use iSCSI with my NAS, I'll be honest I got lazy and didn't spend much time figuring it out. I just have the NAS mounted as a network drive, works fine with multiple devices accessing it.

    2. Sort of already answered this, but refreshing (updating library) while watching a movie causes no problems for playback with Plex. The only time I've had a small problem is if I try downloading something to the NAS while watching a movie. Though I am not sure if this is the iMac's (mid-2008) problem or the network. Could very likely be the iMac.

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