Help with NAS sever/solutions

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by seaneee, Mar 8, 2014.

  1. seaneee, Mar 8, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2014

    seaneee macrumors newbie

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    #1
    I've had a Thecus NAS for about two years and periodically give up on it and want to throw it out the window. I gave it one last go recently and still headache city, not to mention the support is less than desirable.

    Everything seems to point to Synology as the go to for mac users, so I've been looking at their offerings (I'm also open to others manufacturers). I do have a couple specific needs and I'm looking for suggestions.

    My two main uses are to backup CF cards (RAW images) and to Archive work projects (files tend to be on the large side, hi res PSDs, design work, etc).

    Must Haves:

    1. Easy USB backup especially for CF cards (one touch would be ideal), but also thumb drives and other USB drives I take with me on jobs. I wouldn't mind a dedicated CF slot, but front USB port is fine.
    2. Has to be Ethernet capable (not thunderbolt NAS, i.e. Pegasus)
    3. At least 4x 4TB capacity with ability to expand with additional NAS or External Units.
    4. Ability to set a cloud backup solution.
    5. USB 3.0 ports

    Would be nice:
    True iTunes server (through shares) and not web based interface
    esata port
    remote access for specified drives.
    Time Machine Capable

    It's important to note that while I've been using a NAS for a couple years, it's not my cup of tea, so I maybe be asking for something really simple.

    I'm also toying with the idea of keeping things separate for each need. A single bay NAS just for music and moves (thus itunes server request) that would not really require any kind of redundancy, a NAS for just photo files and lastly one for just work project backups.

    This might be overkill.

    Lastly, my biggest worry is creating the right kind of redundancy as I don't trust the single disk solution for longterm backups of work and photos. My personal experience with HDs is the fail rate is waaaay to high. This may be a separate question, but what is the best way to go about this- cloud storage and physical HD? Or a RAID 10 like setup where I just keep swapping out all the drives when they get full so I have "double copies."

    I know that's a lot, but my head is sorta' exploding with options and scenarios, so I'm looking for some focus and advice.

    Thanks!

    ----------------------
    Currently using:

    Two MbP running 10.9 one 10.8
    Time Capsule with one APE, one AEBS extender and one hard wired AEBS for setup for roaming. I have a couple hardwired gigabit ethernet ports around the house that go from router>TC>switch>ports/outlets.
     
  2. Giuly, Mar 8, 2014
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2014

    Giuly macrumors 68040

    Giuly

    #2
    Both Synology (DS414) and QNAP (TS-421) have front USB sockets to backup flash drives (and CF drives via USB adapter) and USB 3.0 ports, both do iTunes sharing, Time Machine and cloud backup.

    [​IMG][​IMG]

    The Synology has a faster dual-core CPU and dual gigabit with link aggregation (if you happen to have a Thunderbolt Display to connect two ethernet cables to the Mac and a network switch that supports link aggregation, it doubles the bandwidth), while the QNAP has eSATA (which you could also achieve with an inexpensive USB 3.0 adapter).

    When a hard drive fails, you simply replace it with a new one and it rebuilds the data. On the Synology, you can also mix and match different size hard drives, and if you happen to run out of space, you can simply replace the smallest with a larger one and the data gets rebuilt as well.

    You should still backup to the cloud (or otherwise off-site), as people tend to say that a NAS won't withstand earth, wind, water and fire.
     
  3. ColdCase, Mar 8, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2014

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #3
    Sounds like you need a server, not a NAS.

    If you are starting from scratch, only Apple devices (Time Capsule, OSX server, APEx) are approved for time machine backups. Many third party NASs claim to support TimeMachine and iTunes, some do, some nots so well, some fail. It seems like every time Apple releases a OS update, one NAS or another breaks and you have to wait for the NAS vendor to fix it. If you are going to use a NAS for backup, use something like CCC instead.

    In the long run, investing now in a refurbbed Mac Mini and hanging drives or enclosures off of it will be much more satisfying than any NAS solution. Using the mini as a media and file server may be a few more $$$, but it is well worth it. If I had it to do over again, thats the way I'd go. The mini has internal drive(s), USB3 ports, Thunderbolt port (great for connecting a RAID), firewire, and SDXC car slots.

    Once you have the mini, you have the flexibility to set up drive redundancy several ways as well as provide all the capability you listed along with having some real horsepower under the hood.

    If you are adamant about NAS, Synology products are decent, some don't support USB3 or have CF slots. A DS412+ is a nice 4bay unit that supports video server well enough, but thats $600. A brand new mini is $700 (Apple refurb sometimes as low as $550).


    About your last question, how much storage are we talking about? RAID is not a backup solution. In today's market USB drives are cheap, $130 for 4TB... buy two, use one for your working files, and use something like carbon copy cloner to backup the working drive to the other during the wee hours of the morning. Rotate another drive in if you must have one for off site backup.
     
  4. seaneee thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    All good stuff, thank you. Keep 'em coming...

    The more I think about it, the more I think this isn't the way to go. My fear is even though I have dual backups, I try to assume that at some point the drive will fail. Especially with all those Bathtub curves studies and such. I guess I don't trust it, and until SSD becomes a bit larger and more affordable, cloud may be the way to go.

    I've definitely considered the mac mini idea, especially since the synology is $600 diskless. So figure in 4x4tb disks...

    I have two concerns about this route, one of which you brought up about TM and 3rd party devices, changes in firmware and software updates. I love me some Apple, but when it comes time for a new update things can get hairy. IME, non Apple networking products seem to be a little more flexible and a little less fussy. YMMV. The second concern is Apples tendency to render certain technologies obsolete, sometimes by just introducing a single new product. Not to say that others don't do the same, but my impression is the windows world is a little more stubborn when it comes to change.

    None the less, you've both got me thinking. Thanks.

    Anyone else who's had experience with one or both of these setups, please chime in as well.
     
  5. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #5
    What I like about the NAS over a Mac Mini is that I have a full hardware RAID solution for data replication. I think you can add a second drive in a mini but its not that easy AFAIK, and you have to roll your own software for the NAS services.

    I like my qnap because its a turnkey solution, There are many ways to skin a cat but generally speaking a NAS enclosure is an effective solution. I don't want to spend hours of time tweaking and working on getting a computer to operate like a NAS or run into issues that I'll not have a lot of support for. The NAS offers support and its a specialized product so it does one thing great.

    As for backups, my qnap has a USB port, I throw a drive on the port and run a job to backup the NAS to the drive. I now have 2 copies of my data.
     
  6. priitv8 macrumors 68030

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    #6
    You could achieve the same with RAID-DAS attached to the Mini. At the end - your options on the software side, are a lot more extensive, than on any NAS.
     
  7. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #7
    I'll not disagree, though it will require more upfront work, and its less of a turnkey solution. There's also the issue of support especially when an apple update breaks some software. There's a thread in the Mavericks forum about a person's samba server not working because Macports Samba 3 stopped working after the 10.9.2 update.

    It all depends on the OPs desire to do the work himself or get an off the shelf solution. I prefer when it comes to stuff like this, to use a turnkey solution.
     
  8. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #8
    I find that to be a disadvantage of a NAS.

    Adding a second drive inside a mini is not easy, unless you buy the server version.
     
  9. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #9
    Different strokes for different folks

    NAS units have an appeal, as does home grown solutions :)
     
  10. ColdCase, Mar 9, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2014

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #10
    I disagree, I have found apple devices and software to be relatively seamless. Apple will depreciate ancient capability now and again, similar to any OS.. and are far from perfect... but other systems have much more compatibility problems (and much larger set of problems discussed in their forums). Now if you enjoy tinkering and can deal with the myriad configuration options, know what you are doing, then there are plenty of options. My neighbor's third party based system was a pain to maintain for years, with several windose screw ups. He was always adjusting or resetting. He went over to entirely Apple a year or two ago and hasn't looked back. He is enjoying his extra fee time as the devices just work :)

    For enterprise, it may be a different story.

    ----------

    They have an appeal to hobbyists perhaps, nothing wrong with that. They made a lot of sense years ago, but time has passed them by, however. Today NASs are overprice for the value added. If you just need a network file server, they are very good at that. But once you start asking additional function (like time machine backups, media server, remote network access), they are severely crippled.
     
  11. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

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    #11
    adding a second drive in the mini is actually quite easy. first time i did it, it took me about 45 min just being excessively careful and patient. Second time less than 30 min.

    It may look complicated but it really isn't! (just make sure to have the right tools for the job.
     
  12. seaneee thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #12
    Agreed. I've had about a 95% success rate with opening up mac products and adding new drives, converting out optical drives for SSDs, upgrading ATV1 from PATA to SATA, etc. It takes patience, but there is so much info out there you can basically use the "Cooking Show" method to get stuff done—step by step.

    (let's not talk about the other 5%:))


    I don't wanna turn this into a thread about compatibility and obsolescence. I guess it's just one of those "how you look at it kinda' things". Just having worked and continuing to work in environments that are 99.9% Apple based except for the Server/Networking setup and chatting with some really knowledgeable folks about why, I have my reservations.

    Regardless, I'm starting to lean toward the Mini scenario. After my post last night, my current NAS decided to report a bad block on one of the drives and send all sorts of dire "engrish" email warnings. I pulled the drive out, reformatted it, and stuck it back in and (knock on wood) everything is fine. Woke up this morning to find out it's a common issue with Thecus. Don't worry, QNAP and Synology aren't off the table though.

    But because I'm more familiar with Mac, the idea of working in that environment is a little less stressful. However, I'm slowly getting comfortable working in other setups, it's just takes longer to get the optimal results.

    This may sound naive, but if I have a mac mini server up, why would I need NAS services and not just DAS?
     
  13. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    #13
    An issue with cloud backup of that large of a NAS is your internet connection. With more ISPs imposing data caps, will you be able to back it up to a no line service? If you have a 250gb cap, it could take 3 years to backup your 8 TB (assuming 4x4tb at half full).

    It took us almost two weeks to backup a MBP and iMac to CrashPlan. How fast is your upload speed? Work out the numbers and see if it's feasible. As someone once said, never underestimate the bandwidth of a van full of mag tapes traveling 70 mph down the highway.
     
  14. dimme macrumors 65816

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    #14
    My vote would be for a mini server. I run one and it's very flexible. Also doubles as a backup machine in a pinch. I n the pas I have tried NAS, Win servers, and Linux servers. For my mostly mac environment the mini is a winner.
     
  15. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

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    #15
    If you only to access the data from a single computer, then you're right you don't need to worry about NAS.
     
  16. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    #16
    I've been using a Mac mini server for 4 years now. It has 12 TB of storage capacity, using 3-4 TB external drives as well as the pair of internal drives. An additional external drive does nightly backups of critical data and a drive "toaster" is used to clone the other drives for backups (two sets, one always offsite). About 1TB of content is additionally backed up by Crashplan.

    Our home network serves two iMacs, two MacBook models, two minis as entertainment servers, 4 iOS devices and a ROKU (for PLEX). Services: file sharing (of course!), TimeMachine, Calendar, Address Book, Updates (surprising useful with so many Apple devices), Plex Server (video, music, and photos), Wiki, VM running Quicken, VPN, DDNS, DNS, DHCP.

    [​IMG]

    Only real downside seems to be the cabling mess, some seen above, and the outlet situation below. Still, though, its only 40 watts at idle.

    [​IMG]
     
  17. seaneee thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #17
    Not really the case, but the units that would be accessing volumes and shared folders are myself and my wife- possibly a guest or two if we are working on a project. Not to mention network shares, ATV (XBMC), airplay, etc.

    From my understand, OS X server software can replicate the functions of sharing similar to a NAS. Am I wrong here?
     
  18. ColdCase, Mar 10, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #18
    Any mac OS can share any attached drive, called file sharing. With the server you can set up more sophistcated permissions. There is an OSX server forum here I think. You may want to look through it to evaluate if it meets your needs.

    http://forums.macrumors.com/forumdisplay.php?f=123
     
  19. seaneee thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #19
    Alright. I think I've finally reached a moment of clarity. Here's the plan, chime in if I'm crazy (but only as it relates to this thread).

    First, I'm going to stick with the plan of throwing the Thecus NAS out the window and replace it with a 4 or 5 bay Synology unit.

    I'll get that humming and then start looking into a mac mini setup that I can attach the NAS to.

    I've ruled out cloud storage for now or even Amazon Glacier for archival due to the size of my data as it relates to annual costs. The types of files I work with are fairly large and I usually work by versioning files out, so changes to a project involve an additional copy of a file for each major revision.

    In the long run, my ideal setup would be a Mac Mini with a NAS, then a DAS attached to that for ultra redundancy. Then something offsite (that's a whole 'nother can of worms for me). I'd also like a Maserati and a Disco ball, but all in good time :)

    Lots of good stuff in this thread. Thanks to all who chimed in.
     
  20. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    #20
    NAS = Network Attached Storage. You don't connect the mini (server? I guess) directly to the NAS, in fact the Mac mini server *is* a NAS. You would use a DAS (basically external drives for expansion) with that.

    Also you don't need "ultra redundancy" unless you are, say, a bank. What you need is *backup*. That means at least two additional sets of drives that you can copy from your masters (most people use CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper!) and keep at least one set offsite.
     
  21. seaneee thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #21
    Maybe I got my terms all messed up, plus I probably wasn't too clear.

    A server attached RAID array can be considered a DAS, no? The "ultra redundancy" would be that RAID array as a backup using Super Duper (over CCC, better luck with the former.) You're probably gonna say I just need a JBOD for that, but remember, this is ideal :)

    NAS seems the easiest and most economical route for now. The addition of a Mac mini might be overkill, but it would also be nice to have a native product that could run an itunes server and manage Time Machine backups (remember, it's also ideal, like the maserati and disco ball.) Additionally, more control over users in a mac environment is appealing. I just don't need that quite yet.

    I guess that's why I was asking earlier about just needing a DAS (or attached RAID array) over a NAS for extra storage on a mini and the response was:

    Having said that, if I could setup a Mac Mini with one or more raid enclosures. One for storage, one for backup, I would be into that as long as I could setup shared volumes for users.

    The money I don't have is burning a hole in my pocket.
     
  22. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    #22
    The RAID array would be a DAS. Note that you can't attach a NAS "to" the mini -- the mini can only share it's internal and DAS drives, not NAS drives or any drives on another system. So your idea of connecting your NAS "to" your mini server won't work.

    No reason to use a RAID array for backup. It's not ideal at all. You want to get the backup redundancy (multiple copies) by using separate sets of drives or separate backup methods (HDD and cloud, for example). A RAID array can fail (controller failure can cause you to lose everything) or be stolen. That's why you need two separate backups and keep at least one offsite. Note that the process of making a backup can fail if your master drive has a defect. That's why you need two backup sets. (Yes, this has happened to me!)
     
  23. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #23
    I'm just saying that many of us were where you are a year or two ago and got convinced that the NAS was more economical. But in the long run, we found it is not.

    You will be spending plenty of $$$ for that synology NAS now (they do make a good product) and then spending $$$ for that mini next year and pretty much set that NAS aside unused.

    A mini is a NAS plus more capability, more flexibility. Most economical for you may be to start with a base mini and add two external 4TB USB drives (or more if you like). Share one drive (NAS function) and use the other for backup. In a home NAS setup, there is no need for performance drives, reliable drive are good, however. As you get more $$$, buy more drives, or if you insist, a thunderbolt HW RAID enclosure... those things fly. Just my opinion.
     
  24. seaneee thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #24
    very determined crowd! :)

    I appreciate this. I think I was in an even worse state a couple years ago when I jumped into getting an inexpensive NAS. So I can see where you are coming from with "NAS round two."

    Couple questions then.

    • Is there any point to a raid with a Mac Mini? I sense some conflicting opinions.
    • What would be the best option for an archival solution (lots of writing, not a lot of reading)?
    • Would it make sense to separate the archival storage from more frequently accessed files? Fonts, Active projects, etc?
    • What's y'all's take on an older Mini? Someone mentioned refurb, but if I'm only using it as a server, do I need the latest and greatest?

    I'm guessing by now most of you can tell that decisiveness isn't my strong point. Thanks for all the patience and advice.
     
  25. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    #25
    1. RAID? Basically why? RAID isn't a substitute for backups. It will reduce downtime in case of a drive failure -- if you are a business, that could cost you money. It can improve performance, but you will be pushing up against the limits of gigabit Ethernet anyway.

    2. I use bare drives and copy using Superduper! which can clone the contents efficiently so speed isn't really a factor. CarbonCopyCloner is a viable alternative as is rsync if you are comfortable with the command line.

    3. I do only because some types of data need to be backed up more frequently than others.

    4. My mini server is a 4 year old model. I've upgraded it to 8GB RAM because I do run a Windows virtual machine on it, which takes space. RAM usage runs between 3.5 to 4.8GB. CPU usage rarely goes above 50% and most of the time is under 5%. Basically, it's completely sufficient for the task (see my post above for all that it is doing). A new one would give me USB3 and Thunderbolt, and much greater CPU performance. Mine has FW800 and USB2. So a new one would be more "future proofed" but wouldn't necessarily work any better for my needs. Certainly get a refurb (mine was refurbed of the then current model), but buying used won't really save you much -- these things hold their value.
     

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