Managing multiple macs in single household

Discussion in 'iMac' started by blulegend, May 25, 2015.

  1. blulegend macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2008
    Hi guys,

    Any tips for efficient management of multiple macs in one household? Been building up to it and now have the retina iMac, retina Macbook, and older MBP.

    Would like to centralize more things to the desktop and use the laptops more like workstations with some duplication of data but not much.

    How do people centralize photos for things like lightroom? What about music?

    The macbook goes to work everyday and I do mostly word processing on it with google docs, some pages and keynote, and some MS Office for Mac 2011.

    The MBP stays at home too and is mainly the better half's main computer. Mainly used for photo reviewing and face booking, so would like access to a central photo bank without too much duplication.

    Do I need to complicate things further and get a NAS?
  2. Pieterr macrumors regular

    Mar 22, 2015
    The Netherlands
    We have a Mac mini in our household that acts as a media-server. Music, movies and photos are centrally stored on the Mac mini. We also use a NAS that has backups of that data.
  3. blulegend thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2008
    I currently use crash plan for remote backups. One possibility is to use the iMac as an always on server (keep photos and music on the iMac) and connect a DAS to it for local backups.
  4. Fishrrman macrumors P6


    Feb 20, 2009
    Four Macs in this house:
    - Mini (my "main" computer
    - iMac (my "music" computer)
    - MacBook Pro (my "travel" computer)
    - MacBook (sister's computer)

    The easiest, simplest way:
    Let each Mac, BE "it's own" Mac.

    That is, I don't try to "synchronize" things amongst my own Macs -- each has its own specific purpose and tasks, and I just let it go at that.

    I do have mail setup (POP3) so that ONLY the "main" Mini will remove mail from the server when it is read. On the others, I can read and send mail, but they leave "read mail" on the server (again, until it is read on the Mini). This way, I don't get into circles wondering "where the incoming mail is"...

    (I realize that some environments, such as business situations, would indeed require more synchonization between Macs...)
  5. EnesM macrumors 6502


    May 7, 2015
    We all hit the sync wall at one point (once we reach more than 2 Macs in the house). I have decided to go for a Mac Mini that will hold all photos, videos and music. iTunes media sharing is as simple as 1-2-3. If you manage your photos with the new Photo app, on the client side you have to tell your Photos to use a different library (the one shared on Mac Mini) by holding [Option] key and opening the app. Of course, the library file should be first shared on the Mac Mini to be accessible on the network.

    As for the NAS, don't do it, I'll spare you a lot of internet searching and reading, I've read nothing good about it, low speed, bad integrity, data loss are the comments you'll find. Even using NAS just as a Time Machine is not perfect, it is better and faster if you use a Portable USB 3.0 drive, you can use it for all machines in the house (unless you have more than 2TB of data, you should add another USB drive then).

    I hope this post can help you a bit.
  6. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    Can't agree with this, sorry. Perhaps you've been reading about poor NAS solutions. NAS is the way to go for significant central backup. I have four drives in a Synology DS413 set up as RAID 5, totalling 9Gb usable. This serves music, photos, video, long-term storage of rarely-used data, and backups for all machines. It also can be set up to do all sorts of other things, and is running HD CCTV security too.

    You should also have secondary backups, perhaps to an external USB drive which you can move off-site. But a decent NAS is the way to solve storage issues with multiple machines.
  7. blulegend thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2008
    I was actually looking into the DS415+ I think. It looks like it would be awesome.

    I don't know if I should just run the iMac like a server and serve off it to my retina macbook and MBP when I need. Unfortunately, I only got the 1TB fusion drive in the iMac. I could also consider adding a direct attached drive to the iMac.

    So difficult.
  8. ApfelKuchen macrumors 68030

    Aug 28, 2012
    Between the coasts
    This is what the cloud is made for. I can appreciate the desire to avoid subscription fees, but the time and effort that goes into configuring and running your own server can be substantial. Life gets more complicated if you need remote access, and integrating mobile devices into the setup adds another set of issues. The cloud, on the other hand, will give you cross-platform support, easy access from anywhere, browser-based access if you're away from your regular machines...
  9. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    I tend to centralise my backup on a NAS - yes they do work very well and I've used them for years not just read about them. I also use the NAS for Media serving to a PS3.

    I used to use the NAS for files but I tend to use dropbox for that now as it just syncs to the multiple laptops and desktops I have running both OS X and Windows. The NAS was very good at file serving however and has a network recycle bin so if you delete a file, it's not really deleted.

    I tend to edit my 'real' photography on one machine. There's only me doing this in our family and I only have one monitor that is colour calibrated. So I have the Lightroom catalogue on the internal SSD of my nMP and the RAW files on an external thunderbolt array (Promise Pegasus 2). For our family snaps I just use photo's and iCloud. We can all share things and it's an easy platform to use for everyone in the house including the kids.

    For offsite backup I also sync my RAW files using Dropbox so I have all my important data stored in at least 2 locations. I also have file history in dropbox so I can get older versions back if I need them.

    Why don't I use the NAS for everything? Yes it's capable, but I don't like having my data and backup on the same device and these days I find cloud to be more suitable for some of my data. I had the power supply on my NAS die a few months back, and while I didn't loose any data the message was loud and clear. Keep backup and data separate.
  10. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Hmm quite a bit of discussion on the use of NAS vs DAS.

    I use both and each has their place. For some, NAS may have an issue of waking up the drives if their spin down. The time is not all that much but it can certainly get things out of synch if trying to access files that are in the "iTunes Library" on the NAS. For me, this is a trivial issue that I resolved long ago.

    DAS with a Mini is a great option with some excellent benefits but also can have timing issues if the Mini goes to sleep or a spin down of the attached drive.

    For the OP, either will work but you want to explore the difference of what each can do for your needs.
  11. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    We have an Air, a rMBP, a retina iMac, and a cMP, with a r Macbook soon to arrive.

    The laptops back up to a 3 TB Time Capsule, using Time Machine. The iMac has its own TM disk, as does the cMP.

    We have a Synology DS412+ with 2x4 TB and 2x2 TB. It has iTunes libraries on it and we use it for deliberate backups and synching of important folders, to share data, and as an archive.

    Just as an example, we run a small book publishing company. I do the design and production tasks on my iMac, but I keep my press folder synched to a folder on the NAS. That way, anybody on the network can see what I'm doing, at least as of the last synch. Under other circumstances I'd want the synch to be done automatically, or perhaps work entirely on the NAS. But we're small, we rarely have looming deadlines, and so the current setup is fine.

    Dropbox is always in the mix as well, and everything really important is in at least 3 places.

    It's a very workable solution and doesn't require that any of the Macs be always awake or wakeable. If the DS412+ has spun down, it does take time to get everything spun up again. But once that's happened, it's very fast.

    I'll say that I had two prior NAS units (D-Link and Iomega/Lenovo) before the Synology, and they were both annoyingly hard to use. The Synology isn't.
  12. nydennis macrumors regular

    Dec 21, 2011
    Long Island, NY
    I have a DS1515+. I went with this over the DS415+ because it includes an extra year on the warranty, user upgradeable RAM slot(Although you can upgrade it on the 415+) and an extra drive bay.

    I bought 5 WD 5TB element drives which housed 5TB WD reds in them. Got them for average of 119.00. Gave up year of warranty for it but oh well.

    I also have a DS411+ which still works perfect. I setup Kodi. No HDD ever went bad in them yet.
  13. blulegend thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2008
    Do you have anything encrypted?

    Also, does the synology allow you to run your own private dropbox sort of thing to keep things in sync across multiple devices?

  14. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    I use bittorrent sync to synchronise certain directories across various machines. There are some Synology models on which you can run this too, should you wish to (although it's not really necessary). Using this, my documents are constantly up to date between backup machines, rMB, and iMac. You could use different combinations of folders between different machines should you wish to.

    The Synology will allow you to set it up as your personal cloud, accessing folders in the same way as Dropbox or Google Drive. But for local use bittorrent sync is faster as it uses multiple machines and multiple routes to keep files up to date. You can use both, of course.
  15. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    Nothing is encrypted.

    I don't know of an automatic dropbox-style procedure, but tillsbury might. If we kept all the material that needs sharing on the NAS only, that wouldn't be an issue -- the working folders would be there, and there wouldn't be a need to worry about synching (let's ignore what would happen if two people needed to be working on the same time at the same time).

    I like to keep my working folders on the iMac. So I have to take some steps to get them synched on the NAS (and other Macs). In case I wasn't clear about what we do:

    -- iMac has a folder "SRP" which is the press folder
    -- Synology has a folder SRP
    -- my rMBP has a folder SRP

    When I finish working on something in SRP, I run a ChronoSync procedure that makes the Synology SRP = iMac SRP. If I want to work on the rMBP, which is only an occasional task, I run the ChronoSync procedure on the rMBP to bring the rMBP up to date, and then I run it again when I return to the house or am finished.

    The NAS disks are in RAID 1 so the data's a bit safer than on a single disk.

    I haven't come close to exhausting the Synology's possibilities. It's extremely useful. For example, although we have no reason for private password-protected volumes, if we did, it would be easy to set them up.
  16. tillsbury macrumors 65816

    Dec 24, 2007
    There are two better ways to do that. One is to use Bittorrent Sync (as the updates are immediate and automatic and use multiple sources if available), or the other is to use the Synology Cloudstation app on the NAS:

    You don't need a static IP nor a DNS router, as the cloudstation software deals with all that whether you're on OS X or Windows. It's just like using Google Drive or Dropbox, except that the data is stored on your NAS not someone else's.
  17. monokakata macrumors 68000


    May 8, 2008
    Hilo, Hawai'i
    Thanks! I'll explore that. As I said, I haven't come close to exhausting all the things the Synology can do.

    For the OP, then -- I'm evidence that you can stuff in some disks and start doing useful things without going too deeply into what's possible. The Synology has been extremely helpful to our operation, even using it in the simplest manner.
  18. dagamer34 macrumors 65816


    May 1, 2007
    Houston, TX
    My recommendations:

    1) Back up data to a NAS. Synology DS415+ is a good choice. If there's any hope of you filling up 10TB (4x4TB with 1 disk fail-over), then buy the 8-bay model instead. It's cheaper to buy more hard drives than it is to replace all of them at a larger capacity.
    2) Lightroom on a single external 2TB hard drive. This allows it to be portable from 1 Mac to the next. Use something like Bittorrent Sync to keep it in sync with your Synology NAS (but only read-only).
    3) Music has gotten to the point that you should leave it to a cloud service: iTunes Match, Spotify, Rdio. etc.. Unless you are OCD about your collection, it's not worth your time to manage anymore.
  19. blulegend thread starter macrumors regular

    Apr 15, 2008
    Great discussion guys! Keep it coming. Part of why I waited so long to upgrade from my early 2011 MBP is because of making things more complicated. But man the 27" retina is glorious!

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18 May 25, 2015