External storage on a network

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Allograft, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. Allograft macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2014
    I would love input and suggestions because I have some ideas but don't really know where I want to go or how to get there. I would like some thoughts on external hardware to purchase, software and how to pull together all the elements that I list below.

    Here's my situation:

    1) I have a mixed environment of Mac's, several Mavericks and soon to be Yosemite. Also, some Windows 7.

    2) Router is Asus RT-AC87U, doing nicely, has USB 2.0, USB 3.0, and ethernet ports.

    3) I want to get a fairly large external drive (or several drives in an enclosure), something like 6 to 8 TB. There seem to be several names like NAS, DAS, SAM. I realize that there will be at least two physical drives.

    4) I want the external drives to be set at RAID 1 configuration for mirroring

    5) I want the external drives to serve the following functions:
    a.Time Machine for Mac's
    b. general storage of photos, videos, files, etc.

    6) I want the data to be accessible by both Macs and Windows. I currently use exFAT on an external WD Elements 2TB drive that works great for inter-operatibiity though its USB 2.0 and slow as hell. So, it needs to be able to be formatted to work with both OS's.

    7) I'm not necessarily opposed to purchasing separate software to make the Windows machines play nicely with a more Mac friendly file system format

    8) I have read that there seem to be some enclosures/systems that have SSD's kind of like Mac's Fusion drives that help speed things along. This sounds nice

    9) If having a Thunderbolt connection is good for these enclosures for quickly moving files as needed for direct connections, then that could be an added bonus

    10) not looking to access files from internet remotely, just looking to mostly work over wifi locally at home

    11) I definitely want the external drive enclosure/system to play nicely with the Asus router, whether attached via ethernet or USB 3.0. Not interested in things limited to only USB 2.0 connections.

    Thanks for input in advance
  2. ColdCase, Oct 20, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2014

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    5) Time machine pretty much forces you to a apple approved device. Although there are many vendors claiming to be compatible and several here are using their devices without issue, there are several with problems. If you are a tech geek, probably not an issue but when starting from scratch, why risk it.

    Think about either retiring one of your old Macs and use it as a file server and TM destination or perhaps look at a new/used/refurbed mini. I started with a NAS awhile ago and eventually found the performance and features lacking and eventually moved to a mini with a OWC thunderbay attached (otherwise known as a DAS) to hold four drives. If I could do it over again I'd save some $$ and grief and bypass the NAS fanboy advice and go just to a computer solution. You have the flexibility to easily do everything on your list and the scalability to add features that you don't know you need yet.

    I have several Windose XP/7/8 computers in the house and sharing files and backing them up to a drive hanging off the mini is seamless. The household music and video library is hosted on the mini and there are a number of iOS, AppleTVS, and computers that stream media from it.

    Dunno if you can attache a drive to the Asus router for anything more than casual use. It would be a slow file server and Time Machine support is questionable.

    You don't need to be thinking about fusion, but a SSD for boot and OS is worthwhile. Unless you are doing real time video editing, hard drives are fast enough, you can use disk utility to RAID 0 a couple drive if it proves to be an issue (one of those scalability things).

    You don't need any software but something like carbon copy cloner for backing up large volumes and OSX server for server features may be of some use Especially if you will want to easily control who has access to what. You will need some kind of backup client on the windose machines, dunno what you are doing know.

    There are dozens of ways and variations to skin this cat and you can cheap out and get by if thats what you want. But you asked for suggestions and this would be mine. For years I just used a Time Capsule for a time machine destination and file sharing. The internal drive hosted several time machine backups and a large USB drive provided ample capacity for file sharing. Perhaps that's all you need.
  3. Allograft thread starter macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2014
    Nice, yeah, I have a 2012 MBA, 2014 MBA, 2014 rMBP, Win XP, Win Vista, Win 7, wifi multifunction in wifi b, and multiple iPhones and iPads.

    So maybe a Mac Mini connected via ethernet to the router, then something like the WD MyBook Thunderbolt Duo connected via Thunderbolt.

    That way I can do Time Machine backups for all the Macs and then all computers can see the files that they want to use?

    Doesn't sound too bad.

    Do I have a handle on what your suggesting as far as hardware goes?
  4. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Exactly what I'm doing, except I need more drive space so went with the OWC TB 4 drive enclosure. They are on clearance for about $350 now. I would suggest looking at more of a NAS rated drive in an enclosure, but thats some cash and the WD drive should work. Check reviews on it. You can always add more drives later, can't have too much storage :)
  5. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    I love my Synology NAS. Works great for time machine as well as a file server. You can get them with a number of drive configurations.

    Remember, RAID is not a backup, it's for fault tolerance. It lets you keep running while you replace the failed drive. You still need external backup to protect against theft, fire, or equipment failure.
  6. orestes1984 macrumors 65816

    Jun 10, 2005
    Either that or introduce an Airport Extreme Base Station, although you would be limited to the data transfer rate of USB2 for any hard drives connected to it, so only 400mbit/s.
  7. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Synology makes a solid product with plenty of features but one has to reorient their though process to UNIX terms and conventions and it quickly runs out of processing power for anything other than slowly serving files. If you start talking higher end Synology NASs, then you are in the same money ballpark as a mini.... and then one still has the time machine issue and proprietary disk formats. Synology products are not approved for time machine, although some here use them without issue, some not. One often has to wait months for Synology to update their OS before you risk updating your Mac OS. If you are going to use a synology NAS for backing up a Mac use CCC or equivalent instead of time machine.

    I started with a lower end synology NAS but outgrew its storage capacity and became disenchanted with its feature set performance within about 8 months.
  8. colorspace macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2005

    I have a Synology 1511+ and love it for storage and time machine backup of our laptops at home. Up until Heartbleed I also had it accessible on the internet from my home network -- love the built in cloud back up service (aka your own personal dropbox) as well as the photo server. But... it's been a very tough year for Linux based systems and the system patches trying to address the seemingly endless security flaws (I do give Synology credit for lots of quick patches).. end result I took the Syno off of the Internet, and now it solely works in the house. Still fantastic for backups, Video Server (great for streaming to AppleTV without a computer always being on) and iTunes. Nearly as fast as internal HDs on our gigabit Ethernet network (I routinely get 100+MB/Sec).
  9. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    I hated the synology video and photo apps, and how things got organized. It was slow and awkward, never working right for me or the family. Managing a 50 video library was a chore. I went back to iTunes and am happier with much less frustration, especially with the client viewers, although its not without its quirks.

    Higher end NAS boxes are better but still far from ideal.

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