Help setting up external storage please - JBOD, RAID, NAS???

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by cpac54, Jan 16, 2015.

  1. cpac54 macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2014
    Hi all,

    I'm hoping some of you would be kind enough to help me out with figuring out what an ideal external storage setup for me would be.

    I recently purchased a MBPr with 256GB SSD. I take a lot of photos and have a rather large library of movies and music as well on my old laptop.

    I would like to have a setup that allows me to access my music and videos from the external drive at home, as well as use Lightroom on my MBPr with my catalog of photos.

    As well, because everything will be on an external disk, I naturally want to ensure I have a backup of everything too, as the only things I'm really keeping on my MBPr are personal files (Word docs, Excel, etc).

    The one concern for me is using Lightroom and being able to work off the external drive without it being too slow. Is this a legitimate concern?

    I've been considering buying two My Book Studios and just backing the second one up manually. I have also looked at the Thunderbolt Duo (I can get it for a great price) and using it in RAID 1. Admittedly, I am not overly knowledgeable on the advantages or disadvantages to either. There's also NAS too, but not sure I really need remote access... though using my laptop in another room might be quite convenient actually.

    So, with all that, I'd be very curious to hear some opinions on how I might best set up my external storage. Much thanks in advance!
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    I only have one computer that needs the drives, then there's little reason to get a NAS. A DAS is a faster more efficient solution imo.

    As for LR, you can store the images on the external drive, but keep the catalog on your internal drive. You will need to backup the external drive, some DAS units provide RAID support which helps with data duplication but you still will want a backup solute, which means a secondary external drive to copy the data too.
  3. cpac54 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2014

    My wife will be purchasing a laptop likely in the Spring.

    I guess I just like the idea of being able to access files (esp. Music and Movies) anywhere through the NAS, as long as it still is fast enough to work on when using Lr, and would serve as an appropriate backup solution.

    Would something like the Synology 215j serve (read speeds of 111 Mb/s and write of 87 Mb/s)?? How does that compare to a DAS setup or something like the Thunderbolt Duo?

    Similar to the RAID unit, would I still need a 3rd ext. drive for backups, or would a NAS unit like the Synology suffice for what I'm looking for?

    Thanks for clarifying... this stuff is still all slightly above my head on some levels!
  4. ColdCase, Jan 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2015

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Fast enough is subjective. You didn't say how much storage you are targeting and if there is chance you will grow out of it.

    Think about the following:

    A 4-5 bay thunderbolt drive enclosure like the non RAID (JBOD) OWC Thunderbay. Using a 4TB target as an example, buy two 2TB fast drives and use disk utility to RAID0 them. Buy a 4TB NAS type drive and use CCC to daily backup the RAID set to it (or manually). Buy another smaller drive sufficient for your TM backups of the internal drive. All four drives are neatly installed in the same enclosure. Use file sharing to share the RAID0 volume with other devices. Use back to your mac for remote access, but your MBPr will need to be on to access.

    Thunderbolt DAS is much more robust than USB or network storage, it just works and is probably the ideal solution. I'm much happier since I switched from a combination of USB, firewire, and NAS.

    Add one of those toaster type USB Docks to use should there be an unlikely enclosure failure. Since the disks are formatted in a non-proprietary manner, they can be used in any disk enclosure or dock.

    For off site backup, buy a 4TB USB3 drive, backup and store.

    NAS is a PITA to set up and run for most. I use a refurbed mini as a media server, iTunes host and time machine destination, its much easier, more scalable as you grow, more flexible than any NAS solution.

    Do you use a AEBS for your home router?

    Anyway, there are dozens of ways to skin that cat, many with one compromise or another in attempt save a few $$. In the long run, it probably will costs you more. I have been much happier since I switched over from a NAS to a server for the home.

    If your older laptop is still functional and has a TB port, you can use it as your server. I used an old iMac for awhile, just to get a feel for it.
  5. cpac54, Jan 16, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2015

    cpac54 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2014
    Thanks ColdCase.

    I must admit, my knowledge of all of this is fairly pedantic, but that seems like a good setup.

    I guess I have two reservations 1) that seems like it would cost quite a bit more than I was hoping for - though perhaps I just don't have a proper idea of what these things cost. Looking at RAID/NAS enclosures and a 3rd HDD, I was thinking around 600 CHF ($700).
    2) I wonder if I have the knowledge to set up an old computer as a server like you suggest - I wouldn't know the first place to start.

    At this point I'm wondering if using a 2 disk RAID 0 setup (of say 4TB) as my media/photo storage and then having a slightly larger 3rd HDD to backup the RAID and my Macbook wouldn't be an easier option for me in terms of setting up without screwing it up?

    I guess, for me, the most important thing is ensuring that I can work from LR off the external disk without experiencing any loss of performance. NAS/mac mini server setup would be really nice, but not if the speed would affect LR performance or be overly complicated to setup and maintain.


    Also, I don't use the Airport Extreme router, just what was provided by my ISP, a Thomson 870 or something like that.

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