I'm Looking for an All-Singing, All-Dancing Storage, Backup and Streaming Solution

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by farleone, Mar 6, 2012.

  1. farleone, Mar 6, 2012
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2012

    farleone macrumors newbie

    Mar 6, 2012
    Hello community,

    This is my first post and I would like to apologize for any overlap with content on other threads! Like many, I have been sitting around deciding how to approach my increasing data storage and retrieval needs and for me, it has taken yet another failed external hard drive for firm action to be taken. I realize that this thread is more to do with data than Apple, but I hope that there are members of the community who have the same problem or search and so would really appreciate any help that I can get. Please excuse the length, the amount of questions I ask, any ineloquent terminology and the frequent use of the phase ‘central hub’ :eek:

    Broadly speaking -

    1. What I am looking for is a central hub that backs up data from multiple macs, works as an external hard drive for these same macs and acts as a media server streaming music and HD videos wirelessly to compatible devices around the house.
    2. I would like the hub to protect its own data
    3. I do not mind if the central hub is made of one or many devices chained together, but I am looking for performance and reliability over value for money.
    4. I need an initial 4tb of writable space, and want it to be reasonable future proof / extendable
    5. I do not want speed issues and want the hub to do be able to do more than one task at once fairly efficiently.
    6. My budget is up to £1000 or $1400

    A. I guess the first question is what should the central hub look like? Is NAS the way to go? Some say that NAS at the consumer level is not quite there yet in terms of ease of use. I would not consider myself to be anything other than a novice when it comes to technical prowess. For reference, my greatest technical of the last few years has been downgrading my 2011 MBP to Snow Leopard – i.e. I can follow lengthy tasks in a step-by-step manner, but have not broader understanding of such things as servers etc.

    Some things I would like

    B. I have a Macbook Air running Lion and a MBP on Snow Leopard. I would like to be able to have them both access and write files to the central hub / NAS and use it as their Time Machines. Does having two differing OS matter? (Especially re Q below)

    C. I would like the hub to stream iTunes music and videos to both MBs. I use VLC for video content and would like to keep doing so. I’d also like to stream iTunes music to my iPhone. For both is it possible to stream when outside of the home using a NAS?

    D. What is the best way to go about protecting data on the hub / NAS? As mentioned above there is a requirement for it to act as an external drive and media server, meaning the content will not be anywhere else. Should I be looking to connect and external hard drive to the hub / NAS and / or configure with Raid?

    E. If raid is necessary, is Raid 1 the best way to go for a NAS setup if you have drive bay space and cost is not an issue? I’ve seen many people write that raid-enabled NAS is not a backup drive itself and that both drive fail...

    F. Finally, in an ideal world I want to get away from iTunes and rip my entire music collection again at FLAC quality. As a result I would like to be able to get something like Media Monkey working with the central hub, using parallels to host it on the MacBooks. Is possible to have 2 OSs on the same device accessing the central hub / NAS in different ways?

    G. At the moment, if NAS is where I should be then I'm thinking of something like the DS411+II from Synology but I like some of the consumer-aimed features (iTunes server etc) of the more basic QNAP TS-410 as well…. With the Synology I would like to fit it with 4 2tb hard drives with raid 1… As a NAS newbie I am worried that the 411 might be too complicated but I guess I'm more worried that the consumer/entry level boxes are less extendible, more limited and much slower... thoughts?

    Anyway that’s quite enough now :) Any help on any of it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you again!
  2. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    This would be my approximate chain of reasoning if I was in your shoes.

    • If you want a single "hub"... then some type of network attached device is probably necessary.
    • One problem with NAS boxes is that they are often hard to backup up... especially if you want dual backup... with one to the cloud. Personally, cloud backup is my #1 priority... and I also want a local backup.
    • A good way around the backup problem is if your "hub" is actually a full functioning computer. A Mac mini is probably a good choice. You could run Time Machine to an external drive, and you could run cloud backup software.
    • If you go with a mini (or any other Mac for that matter)... then relatively cheap direct attached HDDs would be fine. You can also direct attach a RAID box if you so desired.
    • RAID is not a substitute for backup. There are many types of errors that are unrecoverable. A simple example is the fact they do not save versions. Hence, if you accidentally erase a file, or if one gets corrupted, then you cannot revert to an earlier version. There are dozens of other examples where you could end up with data loss. However, RAID is fine, as long as your data is truly backed up through traditional backup programs.

  3. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Dec 24, 2010
    Winnipeg, MB
    HERE is a review that I wrote about the Synology DS411j. The DS411+II that you mentioned uses the same software/firmware as the 411j. It's just much faster - my router maxes out at about 100mbps read and write.

    Included stock are a DLNA server (for PS3, Xbox, and other set-top devices), an audio streamer that supports FLAC, and the ability to install other program packages onto it. Plex is one example - you'll need a receiving unit (like a Roku or jailbroken Apple TV 2) to use that with your TV.
  4. monsieurpaul macrumors regular

    Oct 8, 2009
    It doesn't even need to be a mac.
    You can find a windows netbook with Gigabit ethernet and USB 3.0 + a 4 bays USB 3.0 drive enclosure for less than a Syno DS411+ II.

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