Home file server for laptop and PC

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by ElGrecus, May 4, 2014.

  1. ElGrecus macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2011
    I have a Macbook Pro with Bootcamp set up using Windows 7 Pro. My hard drive is almost full.

    I would like to put my music/movies, family pictures and work files on a file server. About 2TB of space would be sufficient for my needs.

    I would then like to back up those 2TB of data to two additional hard drives. Basically triple identical hard drives. Hopefully synching the data across all three hard drives would be automated so I don't have to remember to do it.

    I am probably capable of running the file server off a Mac or PC. Either is fine to me. Does anyone know the best way to do this? I've done a bit or research, but if someone could point me in the right direction it would be greatly appreciated... not sure if this is the best place in the forum for such a question but I couldn't find a better place. Thanks.
  2. ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Many folks discuss peripherals here:


    You need to decide how you want to stream video as the way you use iTunes leads you down different paths. A mini running OSX server would certain cover all bases well, but may be more money than you want to spend or overkill.
  3. leman macrumors G3

    Oct 14, 2008
    From your post it was not very clear to me whether you want a dedicated server box, or just want to run a server on one of your machines. In the later case, I recommend you the OS X server - its dirt cheap and very easy to set up. If you want an autonomous storage server, then there are a number of solutions. You could have a energy efficient custom-built PC running FreeNAS; also, companies like QNAP and Synology offer a range of well-priced file server units which support OS X and Windows with services like Time Machine, media streaming and more...
  4. thejadedmonkey macrumors 604


    May 28, 2005
    A Synology NAS is probably the easiest way to go.
  5. ElGrecus thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2011
    Thanks for the responses. The Synology and FreeNAS options look interesting. Just to clarify, right now we have two MBPs (one from 2009, the other from 2011). I am about to buy a PC because a lot of the design work I do at home requires Revit or Solidworks.

    Since all the laptops (and my other LaCie external HDs) are max'd out, we need a lot more storage and backup capabilities on our life's worth of files. So, a couple further questions:

    1. Can a NAS machine also be the new PC?

    2. Or, can I buy a really powerful PC (need it for 3d modeling) with a lot of slots for HDs, dedicate one drive to the PC and then the other 3-4 to run a NAS (FreeNAS or otherwise)? Is that possible or do I need two separate systems?

    3. How do the laptops, which typically run wirelessly through and Airport Extreme, access the data? Does the NAS just appear as a Device in the Finder/Explorer window?

    4. Does this type of setup work well with iTunes over AppleTV?

    Lastly, I am willing to pay a small premium for ease, i.e. buy a pre-built system rather than build my own PC. I am just running out of free time given my workload. Thanks again.
  6. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    1. Not really. The NAS is an appliance with slow processor and small memory.
    2. You could but unless you virtualize you can only run one OS at a time. Freenas is a Linux based file server.
    3. Yes, the NAS shows up in finder as another device. I prefer having fixed devices like servers and NAS hard wired instead of wireless. Better performance and reliability.
    4. There are limitations. You can stream music directly while video requires going through one of your Macs.
  7. ElGrecus thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2011
    Thanks for your help. I will keep the PC separate from NAS and make sure there is a hard wired connection. I am hoping there is no latency when connecting to the files using a laptop over the wireless connection. Thanks again.
  8. MH01 Suspended


    Feb 11, 2008
    Synology NAS gets my vote.

    Hardware wise most of the offerings are the sameish. The synology software is what sets them apart, really easy to get up and running , and compatible with most of you living room and PC/MACs
  9. ElGrecus thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2011
    Can someone please recommend a Synology NAS model? They have a lot of models. After a bit more research I think two 4TB drives would be good.

    Is RAID 1 what I am looking for? That mirrors drive #1 on drive #2, is that correct? That should give me sufficient redundancy I think.

    At first glance, the DS213j looks like it might work, or the DS214+. I would be doing a fair amount of 3d modeling so read/write speed would be important I believe. And I would like low energy consumption when not in use since it will only be used in the evenings, so no point in a fan running all day long. Any thoughts?

    Lastly, what about hard drives? Is the Western Digital 4 TB WD Red (#WD40EFRX) a good choice for this setup? Thanks in advance.
  10. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    Remember - RAID is for fault tolerance, not backup. You will need a separate backup of what's on the Synology. I have mine mirrored but that's because I travel with it in my RV and want it to keep working if one drive fails. Everything on it is backed up to two other places.

    Main difference in the models is processor speed and memory. If you want to run a lot of the available add-on apps then get one with more cpu and memory. If just doing file serving then the cheaper models are fine.

    For best throughput make sure everything is connected with gigabit ethernet. In our house the only wifi devices are our iPads and iPhones. Since all the computers sit at fixed locations, they are hardwired.

    The WD red is an excellent choice for a drive.
  11. Mac.User macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2013
    I took 2 3TB drives and put them in a Sans Digital USB NAS, set for RAID1, then connected it to my Airport Extreme. Now my PC and Mac can get to it.
  12. ElGrecus thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 29, 2011
    Thanks for the responses.

    Glennthompson: your comment about backup vs. redundancy sent me into deep research. I understand better now. The NAS will help free up much needed space on our laptops, however, I still need a better backup solution. If you don't mind, what do you use for backup?

    Right now I have two LaCie desktop external drives (1.5TB and 1TB) that I use with Time Machine. Unfortunately I am lazy about pulling them out of the closet, setting them up, backing up... and they sit in the house. If there is a fire or earthquake (I live in LA), the laptops are destroyed AND the external hard drives, so that could be it for years worth of pics of the kids and work files. Music and movies I can replace. Work files and photos, I cannot. Also, I am using Bootcamp more and I have never backed up the PC side of the Mac, so, a disaster waiting to happen. If I put the Bootcamp files on the NAS, and then backup the NAS to an external drive which is kept at work, I guess that will work but it will take a lot of dedication that I haven't necessarily had recently. For example...

    Last year my internal hard drive failed and my last Time Machine backup was nine months old (we had moved, got a new job, new house... and lots of other excuses). That took A LOT of time to recover the data, and it was very lucky that I did. Not sure how to resolve the dilemma yet...
  13. magnumpi macrumors member

    Sep 24, 2012
  14. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    I use multiple methods. I have both a Synology NAD and a Mac mini server. Both are setup for time machine backups. The Synology goes with us when we're on the road for any length of time for both backup and access to all our media files. Both those devices are backed up to bare drives via a USB dock. The bare drives are stored in a fire file.

    I also use Carbon Copy Cloner to maintain a bootable copy. I have two portable disks I use for this that I rotate.

    Finally, I use Crashplan for cloud backup. I have a family plan so every computer gets backed up. I also use Dropbox and OneDrive for making certain files available online.

    My philosophy is that disks are cheap but my data is invaluable. It's cheap insurance.

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