NAS for 25+ PCs and Macs network

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by La Chupacabra, Jun 22, 2014.

  1. La Chupacabra macrumors newbie

    La Chupacabra

    Jan 21, 2014
    Hi Everyone

    I’m looking for a NAS that will be used for storing shared data (mainly MS Office docs and PDFs) and backups of 25 computers (both PCs and iMacs).
    So far I’ve been using WD external hard drive connected to a Windows 7 PC enabled for sharing in the network. It works fine with PCs but it keeps disconnecting every couple of hours from iMacs which makes it impossible to use.

    I have few questions regarding NAS:
    1. Which is the best brand of them? In one of the stores I was recommended these ones:
    @ Seagate
    @ Qnap
    @ Synology.

    2. What are the important features that NAS should have?
    I’ve seen that Seagate 4TB for £180 which looks fine to me. Is there any reason I should pay almost twice as much for Qnap or Synology. Do they have any features that would be useful in my case? If they do I’m happy to pay extra (i.e. if they are faster).

    3. Can anyone recommend me NAS for scenario described in the beginning which will be:
    - compatible with both iMacs and PCs (my main concern)
    - as fast as possible
    - most reliable
    - with most stable connection
    - have mirroring option
    - have at least 2TB of storage
    - could work with more than 25 computers
    - ease to install and configure
    - up to £350

    All I really need is to have NAS that will be ease to configure on 25 computers and will be easily and fast accessible like a local drive.

    Any advice would be much appreciated
  2. ColdCase, Jun 22, 2014
    Last edited: Jun 22, 2014

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

    Feb 10, 2008
    Synology makes a good NAS, many here use them. I use one in a mixed Mac/PC environment without issue, but 25 computers reading or writing at the same time is going to be slow. One reason to get a Synology would be for more responsive when faced with multiple users. One or two users is as fast as your network. Another reason is with a more feature rich NAS you can set up a RAID mirror, to give you some data protection when one drive fails. How are you backing up the shared files and folders?

    If you are going to use time machine to backup, only the TimeCapsule and AEBS are approved by Apple. Both can also be set up a NAS's and files share (by disabling the routing function). The Synology may work for you, but I'd use another backup program with it, like CCC.
  3. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    Your budget and expectations seem out of line if you're expecting this NAS to feel like a local drive for 25 users.

    I'm not sure you'll accomplish that with any budget.
  4. MRrainer macrumors 65816

    Aug 8, 2008
    Zurich, Switzerland
    25 user and £350 don't go together at all.
    You will need up to 25 times the I/O of a local drive - upgrading the network to full Gigabit is a must, too.
    To achieve that level of I/O on the server-side, you'd need a massive disk-array or some SSDs.
    I'd go Intel DC-series, 4*800 GB (you could get by with 4*480 GB in a striped RAID1-setup). You can use FreeNAS on it.
    But if I spec-out such a server, I end up with a price-tag that is 12 times your budget ;-)

    But I can't imagine sharing a file-server with 25 other users that sits on a Qnap or Synology, either.

    So, out of curiosity, how did you arrive at your £350 budget?
  5. killerwhack macrumors regular


    Aug 5, 2004
    Los Angeles, California
  6. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    "NAS" and "feel like a local drive" is generally unobtainable with even 1 user.

  7. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    Well that depends on what kind of local drive you want it to feel like. My inexpensive bus powered USB 2 drives, like the WD Passport, clock around 35MB/s

    I get about 48MB/s with 802.11ac wifi on my MBA connecting to a Mac Mini on the LAN. With gigabit ethernet I get around 100MB/s, which is the same as my direct connected USB 3 Passport ultra.

    Of course the MBA internal SSD is 700MB/s, and I have some larger USB 3 drives that clock around 180MB/s. :)
  8. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    One of my biggest disappointments in HDD/SSD performance measurement techniques is measuring bandwidth. It seldom matters. IOPS is what really matters... especially low queue depth IOPs. Bottom line: The latency that the network stack imposes on NAS storage is what kills IOPs, and makes NAS devices so slow. They are fine for large block transfers... (like transferring a movie)... but put something with a billion little files (ex: Aperture library) on a NAS and it is worse than death.

    Obviously... NAS devices are important... nothing compares when you need to share data across a network. I have owned several, but my last remaining dedicated NAS just died a couple of weeks ago. I think I am going to buy Mac Mini and use it as an OSX server... I am done with stand alone NAS machines. I'll wait till the Mac Mini is refreshed (the current model is from 2012). My wife hasn't used her 2012 MBA in months... so I might just wipe it and try Mavericks Server on that machine... and buy some more Thunderbolt storage.

    Does anyone know of any downsides to using a MBA as an OSX Server? I really do not want to buy a Mac Mini prior to its refresh.

  9. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816


    Apr 19, 2014
    Best thing I can think of in your budget is to buy or build a fast desktop with a big hard drive (or several in a RAID array), install a stripped down Arch Linux or BSD operating system, make it an SSH server on your network, then use SCP or SFTP to send files to and from the server. There are graphical clients avaiable for SFTP if you don't want to use the command line. Performance depends on how fast the hardware is, but you should be able to build a fast enough PC with your budget. It should be compatible with Windows and OS X.

    Finding a NAS that can do what you want is going to be tough for that budget.
  10. La Chupacabra thread starter macrumors newbie

    La Chupacabra

    Jan 21, 2014
    I'm not sure which solution will work faster; external drive connected to the laptop (i3 M370@2.4GHz and 4GB RAM) which acts like a server or NAS like My Cloud Mirror (1.2GHz and 512RAM). If the first solution is faster would it speed it up if I buy more RAM for the laptop?
    Like I mentioned before there are around 25 users but the shared drive is mainly used for storing and accessing Office files on it. There is very little copying across the network.
    What sort of NAS, with what specs (CPU, RAM), would be fast enough for this kind of use?

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