Help With Unique Backup/Storage Solution

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by bizmark7, Feb 17, 2012.

  1. bizmark7 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    #1
    I have a unique situation that I would like your help with.

    I have two MacBook Pros in my family and I'm running out of hdd room. One is 250GB the other 750GB. I also have a WD 500GB Mybook for extra storage and back up of my most precious data. It also is full.

    I really need to invest in a larger storage device and also start running time machine backups. I've looked into several options and none seem to fit me precisely. I want to be able to have a large amount of expandable space for extra storage, do backup with time machine with both computers, and probably set up some sort of mirroring system, like RAID1, to give myself a little extra protection from drive failure. I know this would be just the start of backup protection, but I need to start somewhere. I also send maybe about 10GB of my "life and death" data to a cloud based storage. The rest of my data is precious, but not life and death. It would just be very inconvenient to loose. Thus, the desire for a little extra protection of RAID1. I would be using it for storage mostly and occasionally accessing files back and forth, and backing up a couple of times a week.

    My unique situation is that I live on the road in a fifth wheel. A NAS system like Synology DS411j sounds wonderful, but I don't have my own internet per say. I tether with my cell phone and wifi changes from place to place so nothing is constant. The other problem is power. We move from place to place so I'm not always connected into AC power. Now it doesn't bother me that it's not always on but when I was looking into the Drobo products I was reading about problems with people loosing there formatting and the machine acting up after power outages. The machine I get will need to be powered down without affecting it when we move and hardy enough to not go crazy with a accidental loss of power. Also, it will have to be able to take a little bit of jostling on the road.

    I'm leaning to some sort of 4-bay type storage system but i'm unsure how certain products will be affected with my situation. Any help and advice you can give me is greatly appreciated.
     
  2. marzer macrumors 65816

    marzer

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #2
    Don't know what your budget is but have you checked out the Time Capsule (TC)? probably 3TB for future growth? Then you could est. a private LAN in the 5th for untethered backups and data sharing. Not to mention shared internet when you have an access point available.

    Maybe upgrade the hard drives in the MBP's to larger drives (1TB? each) so all data could be spanned and shared between the two machines over the wifi LAN created by the TC. And both machines would be backed up to the TM, again, untethered and effortlessly w/Time Machine.
     
  3. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #3
    This is indeed a challenging situation. Let's break down some of the issues one at a time... in my priority order.

    1) Cloud based backup: The big issue is that you do not have a persistent internet connection... and also that you sometimes have a very expensive internet solution (when tethered). The cloud services that I am aware of (Mozy & Crashplan+)... are mostly configured for a consistent connection... or set to backup whenever there is a connection. It seems to me that you do not want automated backups to begin while you are tethered with your cell phone. I assume you would only want to do so when parked using more permanent infrastructure. I would look for a cloud backup provider that allows an easy on/off option. I know that CP+ does not do a good job with this... and if I remember correctly, Mozy did not either. However, it has been 2 years since I used it so it may have improved... or maybe it was there all along and I never noticed.

    2) Power: Surprise power losses are not good for hard drives and backup strategies. You could get a UPS... but that takes up weight and space... both of which are probably undesirable in a 5th wheel. Still... it is probably something that you should do.

    3) "critical backup": I would probably recommend that you use dropbox or equivalent. This would give you local copies of your data... and once you con net to the internet, it would synchronize to the cloud. Since this is your "life and death" data... if it changes, you would want it backed up even if it requires "expensive" tethering. Only data the changes would be synced... so if you keep it small... then you should be OK.

    4) Local backup: I suggest that you get a time capsule, and use it to form a local network within your 5th wheel. The local network will continue to run irrespective of a connection to the internet... so your computer will continue to be backed up locally to the TC.

    5) Local bulk storage: Personally... I would get a USB HDD and direct connect it to your laptop. This allows it to be part of your overall backup set so any changes will be sent to the TC. You could connect it to your TC and use it as networked storage... but then it does not get backed up. In my mind... this is the a chilies heal of NAS boxes. I do not like storage that is not getting backed up automatically... and most of the time, NAS devices are not automatically backed up. Personally... I would stay away from NAS boxes.

    I hope this helps.

    /Jim
     
  4. bizmark7 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 7, 2009
    #4
    Thanks for your replies. I have thought about TC. My wife actually bought me one for Christmas, but I was unsure if it was my solution and hadn't thoroughly researched at that point so I took it back, unopened, while I could. I wasn't sure if I could create my own network with no internet. It sounds like I can. I like the idea of wireless as it would be a lot easier with laptops but I'm not opposed to plugging in (preferably firewire as it's faster) if the price/solution is right.

    The other thing with TC is I've read a lot of reviews of hard drive failure 1 - 3 years later. I know these are older versions and it's supposed to be fixed but time will tell. It still makes me leery. That's why i'm interested in a multi-bay set up with RAID.

    I will be getting a UPS. I believe that will be necessary for my back up system. Any good suggestions?

    Does anybody out there that has a Synology type system know if it also works offline? In other words, if I set up a WIFI network with no internet would the Synology work? Also would it be able to be powered on and off with no adverse affects?

    Thanks for all the input. I'm still listening and digesting/researching. :cool:
     
  5. wrinkster22 macrumors 68030

    wrinkster22

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2011
    Location:
    Toronto
    #5
    this is just really random- but if you end up buying harddrives (wether it be for externals, NAS, etc.) I have had terrific luck with Western Digital (WD) Hard drives.

    Good luck :)
     
  6. bizmark7 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    #6
    Thanks a lot! I'll keep that in mind.

    I've been looking at some in preparation for my big plunge. My old WD mybook has been doing wonderful bouncing around in my trailer for years. A little slow with USB 2.0 but it does very well. I've been pleased with it.
     
  7. monsieurpaul, Feb 17, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2012

    monsieurpaul macrumors regular

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    Oct 8, 2009
    #7
    Do you need to share data between your 2 macbooks ? If not you could plug external USB drive to both of your macbooks. you could get 1 TB 2.5" external USB drive which doesn't need external power.

    In addition, you don't need Internet to use a NAS. You can create a local network using a router (WiFi or Wired) and plug a NAS or a TC and both of your mac on it. Wired will be faster than wireless and IMHO, you won't notice speed differences between Gigabit ethernet and Firewire.

    Last but not least: RAID IS NOT FOR BACKUP.

    RAID gives you drive redundancy = if one of your drive fails, you can replace it without rebuilding the whole file system for all the others drive, but:
    - If the NAS fails, you lose your data;
    - If you get a virus or a corrupt file system, you lose your data;
    - If you mistakenly erase some folders, you lose your data.

    Of course, RAID is not bad, and RAID with backup is better than no RAID with backup, but if you can't have both you should choose backup over RAID.

    In practice, if you have for example 4 Hard Drives of the same size you will be more secure choosing a 2 bay NAS no RAID with 2 additional drives hooked to the NAS as USB backup than a 4 bay NAS in RAID 1.

    You should also get a smart UPS: it's plugged to the Synology with an USB (in addition to the power plug) and it's able to tell to the Syno to shutdown before the UPS batteries are depleted. I found mine for 50$ in a Costco.
     
  8. bizmark7 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 7, 2009
    #8
    OK, so let me get this straight, and I apologize for being technologically dense I only know enough to get myself into trouble, if a NAS system fails, not the hard drives, then the hard drives wont have my data? If that's the case then I can see their problem but it doesn't quite make sense to me.
     
  9. monsieurpaul macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2009
    #9
    Sorry, my answer wasn't very clear. It depends if your hard drives are configured in RAID or not.

    Let's say you have 2 physical drives of 2 TB configured in RAID1. The RAID controller in the NAS does its sauce on them so that computers connected to the NAS "see" only 1 virtual drive (or volume) of 2 TB and that all data uploaded to this drive is automatically copied between the 2 physical drives in the NAS. If the NAS fails, you still have the data on the physical drives but you loose the controller. Getting back your data from RAID drives is not a trivial thing. You can't, to my knowledge, just take one of your RAID drive and plug it in another computer just like that.

    On the other hand, if I have 1 2 TB drive no RAID in my NAS and the other as backup in a USB enclosure, I still have a usable storage of 2 TB, with the same amount for backup, and if my NAS fails I just take the drive and plug it "wherever" I want.
     
  10. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #10
    Several people have suggested that you focus your solution on backup. My personal suggestion is to focus on dual backup... one locally, and a second off-site.

    RAID is not backup. It offers some protection against individual device failure, but it also introduces its own set of issues and failure mechanisms. If you are obsessed with RAID, then go ahead and buy one... but do not think that you are getting backup in the process.

    Once you have a viable backup strategy... the value of RAID diminishes significantly. I have spent a small fortune on RAID devices over they years. Back then... offsite cloud backup was impractical... but for most people, that is no longer true. I have turned off the power on all of of my NAS RAID devices. To me... despite spending a lot on them... their residual value is zero.

    /Jim
     
  11. bizmark7 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    #11
    First, I want to thank everyone for their help. Second, I want to make it clear that I'm by no means set on using any certain system including a RAID/NAS set up. I'm quite ignorant and unexperienced when it comes to these things as I've posted earlier.

    You all know my situation from my first post and I'm trying to learn from you folks and your experience/knowledge so I can make the best choice for my situation. I'm very open to hear ideas from anyone as to what has worked for them.

    I'm trying to keep things compact and not cluttered, if possible, and still acquire more storage and some backup with redundancy.

    From my point of view, coming from very little knowledge of backup and storage, the amount of new terminology and the multitude of different setups you can buy is very daunting. :confused: I've done a lot of searching hear on the forums, but it's taking a while to understand everything and know what is right for me in my situation. Please bear with me! :)
     
  12. monsieurpaul, Feb 19, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012

    monsieurpaul macrumors regular

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    Oct 8, 2009
    #12
    No problem. There is a lot of marketing smoke around RAID, NAS, Drobo and the likes: put your disk in our box, we'll do our magic on them and you'll never have to worry about losing your data again. Unfortunately, the reality is more complex.

    Considering your problem, IMHO the most important part, which also the more difficult, is to identify your need.

    Do you need to share data between your macbooks? Would you be fine with just Time Machine backup ? Because the most simple and sturdy solution (for local backup) would be to have USB powered external HD, one for each of your macbook, with Time Machine. The disks would be always plugged to the macbooks, no need of network configuration, backup schedule or UPS. It would be the cheapest solution also, with 1 TB 2"5 USB HD around 100 $
     
  13. Revelation78 macrumors 68000

    Revelation78

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    North Carolina
  14. bizmark7 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 2009
    #15
    I do share data between MacBooks. Not a ton, where I couldn't just physically move it over, but it would be easier to do it over a network. The other thing is that I do need more storage as well as backup. Also if I'm physically plugged in, I wouldn't be able to keep it plugged in all the time. I have two laptops that are moved around the house, truck, and business meets, so I just would have to backup periodically.

    Drobo, well, I've looked at them and they seem pretty neat, but I have two problems. First, for the most part, the reviews aren't that good on here and most people seem to have problems with them. I also don't feel comfortable leaving my info on a machine that, if the machine fails, my info is up a creek. A lot of things seem good about the Drobo but what happens a few years down the road when it fails?
     
  15. Revelation78 macrumors 68000

    Revelation78

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #16
    I have yet to see a poor review of a Drobo. I know when the first came out there were a few issues but those got worked out a long time ago. If you leave your info on your laptop, it fails, your up a creek.

    The Drobo will store and backup your data, it will protect it against hard drive failure. Depending on the model you can enable protection against 2 or more hard drive failures. Wen it comes to a Drobo failing, the same can be said against ANY backup solution...
     
  16. monsieurpaul macrumors regular

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    Oct 8, 2009
    #17
    The key here is that drive redundancy (RAID or Drobo) and backup are not the same thing.

    But you are right, when a Drobo or a NAS RAID fails, you're in for a lot of pain to get back your data. Just take a look at the Drobo or Synology forums about this topic.
     
  17. bizmark7 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 7, 2009
    #18
    Well, in my searches on here I saw several. Now, maybe they were older posts. The search engine on here kinda sucks, so like you said, maybe they've fixed a lot of their problems.

    My thought, at the moment, is to get a simple 4-bay hard drive array system. Set up two drives for more storage and backup then mirror those to the next two for redundancy.

    I see this helping a lot of my issues, of course I could be totally wrong, but first I will get a backup of my critical data plus more storage with redundancy. I know there should be another backup after that plus probably cloud backup of everything but I personally have to stop somewhere and just do that, for now, with my critical data. Eventually I hope to get additional back up features for everything.

    I would also, if something went wrong with the box, still have the data on my hard drives unlike a NAS/Drobo set up.
     
  18. Revelation78 macrumors 68000

    Revelation78

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #19
    So let me get this straight... If my data is on my MBP; I then have a "copy" of said data on an external source, such as a Drobo, is that not the definition of a backup?

    I have never before visited the Drobo forums, so I'll give a look over there to see.
     
  19. monsieurpaul macrumors regular

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    Oct 8, 2009
    #20
    You can configure your NAS without RAID, It's what I did with my DS212j. That way, if one of the disk fails, the NAS still works (but with less data available of course). And if the NAS fails, I can remove the disks and plug them to another computer (it has to be ext 4 compatible though)
     
  20. monsieurpaul, Feb 21, 2012
    Last edited: Feb 21, 2012

    monsieurpaul macrumors regular

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    Oct 8, 2009
    #21
    Indeed it is a backup, because your data are on 2 differents "systems": the MBP and the Drobo. My concern is when data are only on 1 system: a Drobo or a NAS for example. Even if this system has drive redundancy, your data are not backed up until there are also present on another system.

    What I found on Synology forum is that if your NAS, with a RAID1 configuration, fails, the way to get back your data is to put your disks in another Synology NAS.

    That sound very simple, but what happens if your NAS fails 5 or 6 years after you bought it? Will it be still commercially available ? Will the new NAS OS be still compatible with yours, with the same filesystem ? My guess is that it could be worst with Drobo, as Drobo system use a proprietary system. If you pull all your disk from your Drobo and put them in another, will it work ?
     
  21. TwoBytes macrumors 68020

    TwoBytes

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    Jun 2, 2008
    #22
    As along as you have two copies, on two systems you're ok. What are the chances of both failing at the same time? I would keep one offsite in case of fire though..

    And yes, I've transfers a disk pack from one drobo to another.

    If its a backup, as long as it does it's job and expandable, you can't go wrong. Drobo is simple and works. Slow, but works. Get a FW one
     
  22. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #23
    The OP lives on the road in a 5th wheel. Physical separation of backup and primary data is more difficult. Personally... using cloud backup is the most practical, and safest solution. The biggest challenge is limiting backup to only times when he has a broadband (vs tethered) connection. It seems like a solvable problem.

    /Jim
     
  23. bizmark7 thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Jan 7, 2009
    #24
    Not sure how excited I am about Drobo being RAID proprietary. Also, I have two MBPs to back up. With the Drobo I wont be able to stay plugged in and I'll have to be switching plugging in two computers.

    Right now I'm looking at setting up a Synology NAS system and setting up a Crashplan+ for a backup in another location. Being on the road a lot something like Crashplan is the only way I see to go. I'll just have to periodically backup when I get good internet.

    flynz4: My only issue is that you mentioned that Crashplan+ doesn't play well with NAS. Why? Also, you mentioned using a "dropbox" that would backup to Crashplan. What is that and what plan would I need? Just the single computer plan that backs up my backup/storage system?

    So, what's my best plan? I have two computers backing up to a partitioned hard drive in a NAS/RAID setup. (I think, unless you guys show me a better solution that doesn't involve to much cords and boxes moving around.) This system will also be used for storage and then will be backed up to Crashplan periodically.

    Thanks
     
  24. flynz4 macrumors 68040

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    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #25
    Dropbox is a great program that synchronizes data between multiple computers. The data lives on the cloud... as well as on each machine. 2TB is free. If you need more than that, then they have paid plans.

    The only problem that I can see with CP+ is that it pretty much always backs up whenever you are connected to the internet. It does not have an on/off switch... so it will try to back up when you are tethered. If you are mostly connected to broadband, with just brief tethered connections, then maybe this is not an issue.

    For the life of me, I still do not see why you want a drobo, Synology, RAID NAS box, etc. Just get a TC and let it work. The other devices are for hobbyists. I thought you wanted something that is simple and just works.

    /Jim
     

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