Getting serious about BACKUP...

Discussion in 'Mac Pro' started by citizencraig, Jun 16, 2009.

  1. citizencraig macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2009
    First off, I'm sorry about the long post but I just wanted to ask everything at once since I don't know what effects what?

    Over the past years I've had a MBP and have always added Western Digital Mybook drives whenever I needed storage. One of clicked and died this past year and I lost some data since I was "MANUALLY" backing up. Since then I've tried to read about RAID, NAS, and DROBO type devices.

    I recently bought a Mac Pro 2008 edition because I needed more speed. I mainly edit wedding photos in Lightroom but also come from a heavy motion graphics background and do some After Effects projects from time to time.

    Here's a list of my current setup and what I'm hoping to achieve but I'm in over my head of what to do???

    1 Mac Pro (2008 edition) - I'm considering setting up 4 1TB harddrives inside that are mirrored. I was looking at the Caviar Black or Hitachi drives...

    2. I have two Airport Extreme Base Stations for my home network. (One is plugged into my Mac Pro and the other is near my Vizio LCD and Xbox 360. I've been toying around with sharing iPhoto slideshows (which I really like the idea of) The problem is that it seems really slow for video and hiccups on the stills sometimes. It doesn't seem to make a difference if it's pulling it from the Mac Pro or from a USB drive attached directly to my Airport Extreme. How do I speed this up? Is it always going to be faster to stream from the Mac Pro over ethernet cable than a harddrive plugged in through USB?

    3. A few RAID and NAS solutions I've been looking at are the following but I don't really understand what I get with an external device vs an internal? I also don't know which is BETTER? for easy reliable backup.

    4. I've been reading mixed reviews about the Drobo but don't quite understand if it's a better solution then setting up a mirror INSIDE my Mac Pro. I DO NOT want to buy a $900 raid card for the Mac Pro though. Do most people choose the Drobo because they only have laptops? Should I only consider building something inside my Mac Pro?

    5. I was considering Chonosync for backing up 3rd level backups

    6. I just bought a Blu-Ray drive for 4th level backups that I can send off site.

    7. I have all these other Mybooks. Two of them are mirrored but only one is a 1TBx2 Sata drive. The rest are IDE. I guess I'll just use these for misc things? Maybe just plug one into the Xbox for watching movies?

    8. My neighbor down the hall has a similar setup and is using a Mac Mini to stream things (through Front Row) like Hulu and videos another room to his TV. Mine doesn't seem to stream fast enough. Since I have the MBP that I will use rarely since I got my desktop I was considering using that instead of Apple TV or a Mac Mini but it's too slow? Maybe I set it up wrong?

    PLEASE HELP? I don't know what I'm doing. :)

  2. surflordca macrumors 6502a


    Nov 16, 2007
    Ontario, Canada

    Well with a 2008 MP you have extra HDD bays. I uses one of these bays for an extra HDD just to backup to. I don't use RAID. I do use SuperDuper. I have it set to backup everything new daily and the drive is also bootable. So if my main drive fails I have a drive ready to take over.
  3. kbonnel macrumors 6502

    Mar 1, 2004
    In a nice place..

    Lots of questions :) Don't have answers for them all, but here are some of my thoughts.

    One thing I would suggest, as it is very easy and quick, is to use time machine. It is a great auto backup solution, which I have used many times to recovery data. (You can use it with a direct attached USB to the Mac Pro, extra internal drive, or maybe even using a USB attached to the airport express, but I am not sure) (I have one of the TB Time Capsules)

    As for the NAS solution. I have utilized many different solutions, both commercial and non (i.e., using another computer to share a bunch of drives in a raid). I have heavily used the ReadyNAS solution from netgear, and it is quite powerful, and easy to use. The hardware is a little expensive, and I would suggest you get the non-drive model and add your own disks. What is really nice is that you can start with 1 drive, and work your way up (each additional drive add automatic redundancy and space when you go past 2 drives (raid5). (I would of course suggest a minimum of 2 drives for redundancy). I have also setup a linux box running an smb server with software raid5 on some drives. This is cheaper than the ReadyNAS, but does take a little more time to manage and setup additional features (such as itunes server, etc). One of the things I liked about the separate NAS solution was the reduction in noise (the NAS sits in my basement). Speed transfers on a 1Gb network is quite acceptable on both, usually around 30 - 40MB / sec transfer rates, but sometimes less depending on network congestion.

    Are your 2 AE connected together wirelessly? Is it using 802.11N, or G? If you have a bad connection between the two it could cause some of your vid/photo issues. I don't know how affective the speeds are between the AE and an external USB drive.

    Regarding "I DO NOT want to buy a $900 raid card for the Mac Pro though". You don't' have to. You can use software raid to mirror/stripe your internal disks.
  4. citizencraig thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 16, 2009
    surflordca - The one thing I like about the "mirrored" setup is that I don't need to think about it. While I realize that it only protects me in the case of a ahardrive failure I do know that I need other backups as well. Many threads I have read warn NOT to use Software Raid but that could be somewhat inccorect?

    kbonnel - For some reason I never really considered Time Machine but it might be great to help me backup my wifes laptop as well. Thank you for the tip. I think I could use one of my "MYBOOKS" connected through USB to my Airport Extreme and dedicate that as a Time Machine Drive.

    Mainly as far as NAS is concerned am I gaining more speed with a solution like that? Is it going to be faster than anything I can use with the AE's? That is where I'm getting confused...

    I'm planning on buying ALL 4 drives at once because I've heard that you don't want to mix drives of different styles or creation dates. Am I correct in thinking that TWO 1TB drives mirrored (4 total) is a good option if I go internal. It seems more reliable than ANYTHING that shares drives (like a Drobo)... Is that true?

  5. HunterMaximus macrumors member

    Jun 25, 2008
    Toronto, ON, Canada
    First off - how much actual data do you have that you want to kept backed up, and does that include your system (OS, apps, settings, etc.), or just the actual data? If it's large enough that it's spread across several drives, then you need a different plan.

    Assuming that it's on one drive, my thoughts on how to back up your data:
    1) Internal Time Machine drive - this is your "first level" of backup, if you want to think about things that way. You can do a system restore from it if your primary drive fails, and it also protects you against user errors (accidental file deletion, etc.) that a mirror setup won't. For this to be effective, you'll want a drive larger than the one you're backing up (so if you have 1TB of data, you'll probably want a 1.5TB or even 2TB drive), depending how far back you want your copies to go, and how frequently you want them updated.

    2) Get an external drive of the same capacity as your main drive. Use SuperDuper to clone onto this drive every night (or every other night, or once a week, balance your paranoia with what's convenient). If your main drive dies, this is a bootable copy, so you can keep on going with your work (and pull any more recent copies off your Time Machine drive if needed) while you wait for a replacement.
    Having it as an external protects against the possibility of a PSU or other serious failure affecting your main drive AND the Time Machine drive, but keep in mind that in that case, you will lose everything since the last time you updated the SuperDuper backup (so probably better to back up to this every night, rather than once a month). Keeping it disconnected (or turned off) except for nightly backups can prevent against the (very unlikely) possibility of a serious bug/virus from wiping your internal and external drives, but this isn't essential, and keeping it plugged in means you can do automated nightly backups without any user action.

    2a) (Optional, but recommended) Get another external of the same capacity and every week or two, make SuperDuper backups as in step 2. Store this drive at a different location (somewhere close and convenient is good, but not somewhere that a fire or burglary would affect both). This is your off-site backup in case of catastrophe. You'll lose recent work, but save lots.

    3) Archiving. This depends on the volume of data, and how long you need to keep it for. If you have less than 1TB (roughly speaking), and not growing too fast, then you're probably fine with the above methods only. If you have lots of data that you either don't want to keep on your active system, or want additional long term backups of, then an archiving system is a good idea.
    Short of getting a tape backup system (which can be expensive, time consuming and possibly technically challenging), the two options are more hard drives, or optical disks (DVD or Blu-ray).
    Optical is very cheap (for DVDs), but time consuming, and they can and will fail, and at a fairly unpredictable rate. If you use them, make extra copies.
    Hard drives are higher capacity, less effort, and still fairly cheap. The one concern is the possibility of the drive mechanisms going bad after long term storage. I don't think it's a very high chance at all, but haven't seen any conclusive evidence. Depending on the amount of data you want to archive, use either a couple high capacity drives in their own enclosures, or get something like this ( that allows you to hot-swap bare drives. Store them in static shielded bags (50-packs can be had for $10 on ebay) in containers with appropriate packaging (foam cut out to fit the drives is a good idea, like the type in Pelican cases).

    Follow those instructions and you should have a pretty fool-proof backup system that can withstand multiple failures.

    Addendum: I suggest NOT buying identical drives, even if you end up doing a mirrored software RAID. As long as you get drives of the same capacity (check the manufacturers specs for the exact number of guaranteed sectors, 1TB isn't exactly the same across manufacturers), then it will work for software RAID, or backups. The reason for doing this is that if there's a manufacturing or firmware defect in a particular model or batch of drives, it won't take out all the drives at once.
  6. Tesselator macrumors 601


    Jan 9, 2008
    Mmm, you can mix creation date or "batches" without concern 99.99% of the time.

    Also I wonder. Four $150 1TB drives or three $150 1TB drives plus a $150 raid card that supports RAID level 5. You'll end up with the same amount of space either way and RAID5 is a little more secure and a little more convenient. For me I would go with the RAID card.

    Also I question the 1TB drives when 1.5TB and 2TB are so much faster with their 500GB plater densities. I'm using $120 (in the USA) 1.5TB green drives and they're as fast or faster than the 1TB black drives. They really scream!

    A few things for you to think about anyway...

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