Looking to build a NAS/combination DAS if possible

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by Anarchy99, Jul 2, 2014.

  1. Anarchy99 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 13, 2003
    I'm wanting to build a NAS to consolidate my tons of hard drives, and I need to know what NAS software to use
    I want it to be like a DROBO where it uses a portion of the space for parity but the drives can be swappable and I can mix-and-match drive sizes
    Seems pretty straightforward if anyone has a pros and cons on which software I should use for that let me know.

    If I could I would also want to be a DAS for faster file transfers at times either FireWire or thunderbolt (which in theory should be possible because either and can be a host device unlike USB)
    So far ive found zero pieces of software that claim to have that capability though but there's some smart people here that know better than me so I'm hoping someone can help

    thanks :)
  2. bradl macrumors 68040


    Jun 16, 2008
    Have a look at the FreeNAS project. That should be what you are looking for. You should be able to build this with any parts you would use for a normal PC, and off you go.

    You could, for example, get away with what you want with a Mini-ITX build. Something like:

    • Gigabyte GA-Z87N-WIFI Motherboard
    • Appropriate Intel Core Ix CPU
    • Appropriate memory (e.g., 4GB)

    onboard video would work here, so you don't need a discrete card (seriously; this is a NAS). So you could find a PCIe Thunderbolt card to drop in (if they make them) to get you what you're wanting as far as a DAS goes. Drop this inside something like a Bitfenix Prodigy case, which will give you ample room for multiple drives, and you're all set.

    Personally, I opted for space, so I went with a Synology Diskstation, and couldn't be happier. It also serves as a personal cloud for me.

  3. prostuff1 macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2005
    Don't step into the kawoosh...
    Check out unRAID from LimeTech. It is only a NAS and can not really be used as a DAS.

    Been using it as my server OS since about 2008. Works a treat for me and there are a lot of new things coming in version 6
  4. m4v3r1ck, Jul 3, 2014
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2014

    m4v3r1ck macrumors 68020


    Nov 2, 2011
    The Netherlands
    Synology EDS14

    Perhaps the Synology EDS14 is what you're looking for? USB 3.0 / 2x 1Gb LAN and DSM 5.0 is a great piece of software.

    Attached Files:

  5. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
    NAS ≠ DAS

    You will not find a NAS/DAS combination since they are fundamentally different in how you access them. A NAS serves you network file systems (AFP, SMB, CIFS, NFS, iSCSI) and a DAS provides you with direct access to the local file system (HFS+, NTFS, FAT32, ZFS, ext2, ext3, ext4, reiserFS, Btrfs) of the drive or array of the DAS.

    Do not confuse a NAS with USB ports as a combination NAS/DAS. If a NAS has USB ports they are for adding additional external storage and will not work as DAS.

    The OP is asking for a NAS/DAS combination and that is only a NAS. FWIW Synology only offers NAS solutions.
  6. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2013
    I recently had the same dilemma. I wanted to use my Mac Pro as a storage role and use the Mini as the actual computer that I interact with.

    You can certainly setup something like a NAS and you can use the Thunderbolt to Gigabit adaptor to have a dedicated connection between your main computer and the file server. The only thing that bothered me with using the Gigabit network is that you are in theory limited to about 120MB/s using Jumbo frames, but in reality you will be more around 60-100MB/s depending on the overhead and efficiency of you transport protocol (AFP, SMB, CIFS, etc).

    Firewire 800 will work, but you will be limited to about 80MB/s. But it's a fairly direct connection.

    Thunderbolt is the nice one. The problem is finding a computer that has Thunderbolt capability and can store some drives. You can buy thunderbolt equipped motherboards. But getting drivers outside of OSX that allows for networking in still up in the air. You could put OSX on it as a hackintosh and hope that the OSX Thunderbolt drivers work. Bandwidth will be very good on these, easily surpassing a SATA2 bus.

    The other option is to use iSCSI protocol that tunnels SATA commands through a network interface. You would need to run an operating system that provides iSCSI "Target" capability. You will then need an iSCSI "Initiator" client software on your Mac to establish the connection. I think it's about $80 for that piece of software, but there is a trial period to see if it works. This is very good option because it allows you Mac to actually control the drives as if they were directly attached to the computer, but they can managed by a separate computer so you can have a big RAID pool if wanted.

    So far OS's that provided iSCSI Target capability is Solaris and Windows Server (standard Win 7 & 8 can use the plug in from Starwind). Something to consider here though is that Solaris offers the very exceptional software RAID ZFS. Windows does not offer any native form of RAID, so you would probably be using whats built-in to your motherboard or a 3rd party dedicated board.

    Depending on your storage needs (like less then 10TB), you might be better off just getting a USB external enclosure that can hold 3-5 drives and provides RAID5 support built-in. But I would probably limit myself to 3 or 4TB hard drives at that point. With the new 6TB drives you can get a lot of space in a small enclosure, but I would really want RAID6 for those monsters. I do not think a lot of enclosures offer RAID6 at a friendly price point though. And USB3 can provide some pretty good bandwidth, for mass storage purposes. USB2 would be dreadful and you'd see a real world limit of 20-40MB/s.

    Good luck to you sir. There are a lot of choices, but not a lot of options :mad:

    EDIT: To get back to my opening remarks. What did I go with? Well in order to just get it up and running for the time being I decided to keep all my movies/tv shows on my Mac Pro with the big ZFS storage and have iTunes run on that. And then also have iTunes run on my Mini and serve just music. So at the moment I have two servers running in the house until I can figure out my plan. It's not a big deal since Apple TV shows both servers real easy.
  7. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    Sounds like you want the speed of a DAS and the software of a NAS, I'm not sure there's a product out there. If only need to use the product on one computer then go with a DAS, otherwise a NAS is the best solution.

    As for speed, you're hampered by the ethernet bandwidth for NAS units, there's no way around that.
  8. Anarchy99 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Dec 13, 2003
    Ideally ya i would want the speed of a DAS and the software of a NAS
    It's one of those things were and 80% of the time I'd be happy with a NAS but there are those times where you just need that speed that you're willing to bring your MacBook over to the thing and just jack in directly

    I'm probably going to settle on a NAS because it's got most of what I want
  9. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
    You could achieve what you are wanting by using a server with a DAS attached to it. The server could be a Mac Mini with the DAS attached and when you need to you simply eject the DAS from the server and plug it into the computer that you need the faster speeds on. While it is not a NAS/DAS combination like you are wanting It is the closest that you are going to get that that.
  10. lumencreative macrumors regular

    May 19, 2014
    As brand said, a server with a DAS connected would be the best option if money will allow.

    We've just has a similar decision to make where we were struggling to choose between a base model Mac Mini running OSX Server, with external storage or a NAS with internal storage. It really came down to the fact that if we went with the Mac Mini option, we could put things in place to be back up and running within minutes of something going wrong, whereas with a NAS, it's a bit more tricky.
  11. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
    That is a good point that I didn't make. If you take the DAS offline from the server to be used exclusively elsewhere as a just a DAS then there is downtime for the other devices that may depend on the server/DAS. Depending on the use of the DAS that time could be awhile.
  12. orpheus1120 macrumors 65816


    Jan 23, 2008
    In my limited understanding, the problem with with a DAS or any thunderbolt enclosure for RAID usage is the inability to dynamically scale your RAID volume as needed over time in a simple manner. You are stuck with your initial RAID size forever. Currently if you wish to scale your RAID volume, you would need to have a backup of that volume somewhere, erase the current volume, add in the additional drives and recreate the RAID. Then you will transfer the backup data back to the new RAID volume. Not a really efficient way to dynamically grow your RAID volume.

    Of course, if you aren't looking for RAID, but just JABOD, where your data doesn't need to be consolidated in a single physical/virtual volume, then it doesn't matter if it's NAS or DAS. However if the data in questioned is required for things like an iTunes Server, with future volume expansion in mind, then NAS is currently the best option you got. Synology is a good option.

    Never equate speed to NAS, because even with channel bonding, there won't be any speed increase if the data is normally only accessed from one point of your network.
  13. brand macrumors 601


    Oct 3, 2006
    DAS has nothing to do with scaling RAID. The issue is with standard RAID implementations not being able to easily be grown. Both DAS and NAS have these issues.

    A NAS still has the same limitations as a DAS if you use standard RAID implementations. Manufactures such as Synology (NAS) and Data Robotics (NAS or DAS) both have their own proprietary implementations of RAID to overcome the drawbacks for home users and small businesses. Since you can find comparable RAID feature sets on both NAS and DAS you can not say that a NAS is the best option if a DAS is what is needed.

    Additionally the acronym JBOD is almost always used over JABOD.

    I never did equate NAS to speed. In fact I said the opposite, that is when using a 1Gb connection. With a 10Gb connection speed is now a non-issue.

Share This Page