Moving User Data to a NAS

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by drsox, Feb 15, 2012.

  1. drsox macrumors 65816

    drsox

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Location:
    Xhystos
    #1
    I want to do what the thread title says. This way I can access the same user files from whichever Mac I happen to be using at the time.

    I have several Macs in different parts of my house. I have each one run the same app (easy) but accessing the same data files (not so easy).

    The apps would include Office2011 (with Outlook). Do I have to use OS X Lion server ? When I used Win7 all I did was use Mapped Folders (easy). How do I do this in OS X ?

    Thanks.
     
  2. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #2
    There are several options for this. You can drag the contents of your Documents folder to a folder shared by an NAS. You can then mount that folder on each machine and you will be working with the NAS copy of the file on each machine. Just make sure you look carefully at any save dialogs because many apps will insist on saving to the Documents folder on the machine you are sitting.

    There is a way to make it "look like" the NAS folder is local using sym links but you have to make a brief trip to Terminal.

    Say your NAS shared folder is called "docs"...
    1) Mount the NAS shared folder so it shows on your desktop.
    2) In terminal do the following...
    Code:
    Cd ~/Documents
    ln -s docs /Volumes/docs
    
    This creates a sym link in your Documents folder. "~" is a Unix shortcut for your home folder. I have found that if I log off and back on, my network drives "come back by themselves" but if you notice the folder isn't mounted (it should show on your desktop), go ahead and browse to it in finder and double click it and it will show up and the sym link will work. The sym link is a special Unix file that is a pointer to another file. If the file it points to is missing, things can get a little weird so if files you are expecting to be there aren't showing up, glance at your desktop and make sure the NAS drive is currently mounted.
     
  3. drsox thread starter macrumors 65816

    drsox

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Location:
    Xhystos
    #3
    Thanks. I'll try both options.

    In other forum posts I have seen that Microsoft Office2011 doesn't like working with symlinks and will reset the link to a local directory.
    Have you direct experience of this approach working with Office2011 ?

    I had thought that something a bit more couple would be required, such as putting the user folder on a NAS. I've tried this, but it doesn't work with my ReadyNAS. That's why I had thought that some sort of server approach might be required.
     
  4. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #4
    I admit that I have found problems with sym links on OSX when some applications "go behind the back of the OS" to locate the underlying file. MS never has and probably never will understand the value of sym links nor how they should work so if Office 2011 refuses to work properly with Sym Links it won't surprise me one bit.

    To move your docs to a network folder, the sym link is only a convenience and is not required. You just have to remember to never be complacent about where new files are being saved. Make sure. Every time. Make sure they are going to the "docs" folder on the NAS drive and you never have to bother with the sym links. I had Office 2011 for a few months. I paid 10 bucks for it through a "home use" program at work. After seeing how it behaved on my wife's Mac, I felt I had spent 10 bucks too much on that particular software. I haven't had much use for MS Office since version 97. Everything after that added exponential bloat that outstripped useful new features by about a 100 to 1 ratio. After my wife's HDD got wiped, I accidentally-on-purpose forgot to reinstall Office 2011. She uses LibreOffice and iWork and is quite happy.

    If you have an old Intel Mac lying around, you could turn it into a "super NAS". OS X Lion server is only 50 bucks. This should allow you to put users' home folders on the server and might work out better than an NAS in your situation.
     
  5. drsox thread starter macrumors 65816

    drsox

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Location:
    Xhystos
    #5
    Further question :

    My NAS Documents folder is actually called : <NASname>/<username>/<foldername>/Documents.
    How much of this list do I use in the command : ln -s docs /Volumes/docs
    ?

    ----------

    Thanks. One of the best reasons to use a NAS is that there is an automatic level of data integrity due to the RAID feature of the NAS. Maybe I'll try just that and then put the user home folders on a NAS share directly.

    I've looked at other Office suites and used to use OpenOffice, but the quality of the layout and typography was just not as good. Similarly I've got used to Outlook so other options don't seem as good (even Mail).
    Maybe it's time to have another look again but I wasn't impressed with iWork last time I looked.
     
  6. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #6
    Take a look in /Volumes and see what shows up when you have the NAS folder showing on your desktop.

    BTW, I'm not a big believer in RAID. I'd rather have two similar NAS drives sitting side by side and copy stuff to each one. This way if one dies, I have a good copy on the second one. No tinkering required. I simply unplug the one that died and replace it. Some RAID implementations are proprietary and it is exceedingly difficult to add or replace drives that have gone bad and this is the part that is most problematic. These things are advertised as fault tolerant but I've read posts in forums from users who lost data when a drive in their RAID array went bad. I also avoid NAS drives that come with built in drives. If the controller goes bad, you have to send it back with your data and more often than not it comes back empty. That's not what I call a backup. So my Time Capsule internal drive is just a dumping ground for big files while my real TM backups go to a usb drive plugged in to my TC. My main NAS drive is a Synology DS212j which I put in my own drives and I can take my drives (with my data) out if there is ever a problem and those drives are a standard Linux format I can recover without proprietary hardware or software.
     
  7. drsox thread starter macrumors 65816

    drsox

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Location:
    Xhystos
    #7
    FYI I have had ReadyNAS units for 6 years now with no loss of data. I now have 3x 6bay ReadyNAS ProPioneers with 2drives, 5drives and 6drives. The 6drive NAS is an offline mirror of the other two that are online.
    Time Capsule points to the 2drive NAS which is where all my active Win7 mapped drives used to be located. This is where I now want the OSX user data to be located.
    I have had drive failures (Samsung and Seagate), firmware failures and hardware failures (power supplies).
    Each time I have been able to move RAID sets from one NAS to another and kept on working without problem. Plus it has been real easy to go from 4x250GB drives up to 5x2TB drives over the years with minimal hassle.

    So my experience has been pretty good with NAS units so far.
     
  8. r0k macrumors 68040

    r0k

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2008
    Location:
    Detroit
    #8
    Glad to hear that. I've been guilty of "bottom feeding" when it comes to NAS and I've had a string of turkeys. The first was a Buffalo Linkstation. The second turkey was an Iomega Terrastation that made started making funny noises just after the warranty was out. I thought the drive was failing but it turns out the noise was a failed cooling fan. I ran the unit without its case and it ran well but like those before it, it never came back on after a power failure. We had 10 power failures in 2011 alone so you can imagine having an NAS that behaves gracefully after a power failure is important to me. The next turkey was a first gen Apple Time Capsule that died taking my data with it. Apple replaced it for free but my data was gone. The most recent bad experience was a firmware update that failed on my LaCie Network Space 2. For this reason, I don't recommend "low end" NAS units from any manufacturer. I took a quick look and the ReadyNAS look like they are higher end units from Netgear so I'm thinking they would work fine. I've made the jump to "higher end" NAS and I now have a Synology DS212 which is low end for Synology but costs 200 bucks plus drives.
     
  9. drsox thread starter macrumors 65816

    drsox

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Location:
    Xhystos
    #9
    Gee, bad luck !

    I too have had some bad experiences with the 2 drive versions of ReadyNAS. They attempted to build some cheaper "consumer" versions - the Duo and the Ultra2. I had one of each over time and they both failed. So when I got the replacement units (RMA is very good with these), I sold both of them.

    As I have bought better units over the years it was not that expensive to replace the poor 2drive units with a new 6drive ProPioneer (actually an Ultra6Pro - but the same box/processor etc). That's why one of my units only has 2 drives.

    One other comment about ReadyNAS - Netgear did have a home built NAS - the Stora - it was such a turkey that they bought a company - Infrant - for their NAS designs. The ReadyNAS range are all designed by the original Infrant people who are still with the company (they call themselves the Jedi Council or some such). Infrant grew out of another computer Mainframe company where they were the disk subsystem team.

    A word of advice - get a good UPS and run the NAS from that. I have 2x APC UPS units and run the 5drive and 2drive on one and the 6drive on the other. The sole objective is to allow for graceful shutdown not to continue operation.
    If you need to, you can also have the UPS shutdown PCs - as long as they can run nut (probably only for Win or Linux)
     
  10. drsox thread starter macrumors 65816

    drsox

    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2011
    Location:
    Xhystos
    #10
    UPDATE : seems that nut can run on OSX and can listen to a NAS connected UPS (at least for the ReadyNAS range)
     

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