NAS for Mac?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by danielwerner, Mar 10, 2014.

  1. danielwerner, Mar 10, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2014

    danielwerner macrumors regular

    danielwerner

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2012
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    #1
    Hi,

    I have a Mac mini as a media server, and right now I'm having two external hard drives (via USB 3) plugged in. Now I want to have more space and have Raid 1, so I'm looking for a good NAS which works with mac.

    My biggest concern is noice, since I want it beside my tv in my living room (I don't have any space to hide a NAS away).

    I'm looking at the Synology DS414, is that a good choice? It was under 20 dB which is great.

    BUT! I read that it has Read Only support for external drives running HFS+, how will that work with my stuff? I want reading and writing to work just like the HSF+ attached USB drives are. I also want time machine backups to work.

    Also, can I use the NAS without wired internet connection, and only have it wired via ethernet to the Mac mini? I guess I could have the NAS connected via USB but I heard that wasn't the way to go.

    Anyone with experience regarding the Synology NASes with mac?

    PS. If I connect the NAS to the Mac mini, can I still just do backups to one of the drives, just like if it were an external drive? I prefer to have the Mac mini "native" time machine, not the NAS third party software. I just want to use the NAS for space.
     
  2. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    #2
    NASes commonly don't support write on HFS+ disk, and you're in fact lucky Synology gives read access to those partitions.

    However if you're ready to make to move to such a pricey NAS as the Synology, why wouldn't you consider a networked hard disk such as those from the MyBook Live series, from Western Digital? They come with integrated iTunes support, Time Machine support, AFP server as well, and are quite small (and hackable, if you know how, since it's Debian inside).
    Surely you won't be using your external drives for movies anymore.

    Of course if you still want to reuse your already-miled drives, you will have to transfer their content to another disk, install the newly-emptied disk in the NAS, and format it to a suitable filesystem.

    By the way you can't reuse an existing Time Machine LAD simply plugging the drive into a NAS. You'll have to recreate it.
     
  3. 960design macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Apr 17, 2012
    Location:
    Destin, FL
    #3
    I second WD's My Cloud ( the new name for the MyBook series ) for mac. Backs up three mac's at my house and tons of storage for pictures and movies. We actually, just had a 5 year old MacBook Pro freak out on us and would not boot. Restored it from the WD mac's time machine, I had to pick which backup source I wanted and it did everything. Got the OS back in order ( I wasn't even getting the startup chime ) and even had a pages document saved that I was working on at the time. Since then I bought a mac air, because its time and I just cannot have it keeling over on me.
     
  4. danielwerner thread starter macrumors regular

    danielwerner

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2012
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    #4
    I want a RAID 1-solution where I easily can see if one drive has failed. And I need to be able to switch drives easily.

    The WD Mybook has received pretty negative reviews, and many people say that it is slow. I will have HD movies on my drives, which I then will stream to my iPad and other devices, so it will need to be able to transfer via USB 3.0 or faster (can I transfer files via gigabit ethernet and still have internet access via wifi?).

    So I want a NAS with at least 4 bays, which needs to be very silent (preferably below 20 dB). And it needs to be simple, just like having a connected external drive. I don't want any fuss on the NAS interface (except for the initial setup), I want all access to be done from the Mac mini.

    What is the solution for me? :)
     
  5. danielwerner thread starter macrumors regular

    danielwerner

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2012
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    #5
    ... On a second thought, maybe what I want is an external hard drive with Raid 1, preferably with 4 slots.

    Lacie has one but it's like 1200 dollars. Hmm...
     
  6. CAWjr macrumors 6502

    CAWjr

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2010
    Location:
    Atlanta, GA
    #6
    Have you looked at the Drobo? It uses proprietary software, but it's very mac-like in it's "set it & forget it" ease of use.
     
  7. bobnugget macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2006
    Location:
    Kent, England
    #7
    Hey, I've got a Synology 411j and use it with two MacBook Pros and a couple of old Dells. It's great for time machine backups over gigabit ethernet, and also copying files over and streaming. The Time Machine integration is great, but I have had trouble with corrupted backups over WiFi - this hasn't happened recently so they've probably fixed it. I back one Mac up using Carbon Copy Cloner (works better for me) and this is also reliable. The 414 should be much quicker than a 411j.

    I've found the user interface is great over the web and also really like the VPN add-on you can get - you can then remotely access your home network using OpenSSL (using an app like Tunnelblick on your mac).

    The disk handling is also good, it has alerted me to one drive going bad via skype and I swapped it out.
     
  8. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #8
    Playback of media doesn't require a super fast connection to your Mac Mini. USB3 is more than adequate and even FW400 or FW800 would work. The advantage of faster connection is getting items onto a given target drive faster.

    You may want to look at smallnetbuilder site that has lots of reviews on various NAS units.

    In your situation, I would strongly suggest you also consider a DAS set up. - Directly attached storage. This makes all the drives attached directly dependent on your Mac Mini (it really is no different than an external drive via USB as you have now). There are many units out there that can do this and its a matter of your needs and wants and of course, budget.

    As for NAS - you have to think of them as a computer that is dedicated to storage first then some bells and whistles. This means it has its own computer, its own operating system (most are Linux based) etc. Synology is one of these types of units and they have a very good reputation. As long as your MAC is networked to the Synology, and you set it up correctly, you can read and write to the NAS. The NAS file format will be different but it doesn't matter with respect to being able to read and write etc. Just be aware, its adding a new "system" into your set up.

    I use a Mac Mini, 2 NAS units and also external drives attached to my Mac. I use NAS because I have other devices that exploit the storage and also put my second back up of my MAC on both NAS units. Just know that NAS is not considered a "back up solution" though I find having spare back up copies on them as a bonus.

    DAS - There are multi-bay DAS units that connect via FW, eSATA, and USB 3 or 2. Some perform better than others. Most importantly, many USB3 units don't provide full USB3 goodness due to their chipset and some do extremely well (case and point - Firmtek's single 2.5" enclosure via USB3 performs similarly under various tests to Thunderbolt and typical USB3 enclosure don't even come close).

    The advantage of DAS is that it is just treated as another drive by your Mac Mini or set of drives (depending on how you set it up). This reduces in some respect challenges when things go wrong. If your Mac dies, you could hook it up to another MAC with little if any issues. When drives fail in a NAS that are in any RAID set up, there always will be a risk that the repair/replace does not go smoothly and remedy might require a bit of knowledge in Linux.

    As for WD's USB external drives etc., I have heard both raves and jeers. It is just another typical love it or hate set of devices so don't be too discouraged.

    LAST - While there are many DAS type units that have hardware built in to do RAID (0 or 1 or 5 or 01 and 10), you would be wised to check how easily drive swap for failed drive works and the success rate. I personally prefer treating each drive as its own entity and running via schedule backup of the drive to another drive (rather than mirror). Remember, a mirror can copy messed up data blindly on the fly giving you two copies of rubbish. While I admit I am no fan of Drobo, there are many that are and like them. Perhaps in your case the biggest drawback is many of the lesser Drobo units (according to Drobo users) are noisy.

    Hope I didn't make this too confusing as I admit to being rather terse in offering up info and ideas at times.
     
  9. danielwerner thread starter macrumors regular

    danielwerner

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2012
    Location:
    Stockholm, Sweden
    #9
    I think I was way off when wanting a NAS. What I want is a something which behaves just like an external USB drive. Drag and drop etc.

    So right now I'm choosing between the Western Digital My Book Live with Thunderbolt, and the LaCie 2big Quadra. Both should behave the same way, and both support raid 1.

    So the most crucial thing is noise. It needs to be VERY silent, just like the Mac mini and the external 2,5" drives I'm using now.

    Anyone with experience regarding these two? Or any of 'em? How are they noise-wise?
     
  10. jimthing, Mar 11, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2014

    jimthing macrumors 6502a

    jimthing

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Location:
    London, UK
    #10
    I have two 24TB (Raid 5 20TB) Promise R6's (on 1-10 noise scale they're about a 6 or 7, hence stored using an 10m optical Thunderbolt cable in a closet), with an extra 8TB WD Thunderbolt MyBook for additional backup (Amazon.co.uk had for a very reasonable price a couple of days ago at £430 or just £54 per TByte!), and it's about a 3 or 4 – ie. they're really pretty quiet for spinny HDD's in a small enclosure.

    This means that it may or may not be TOO noisy for same-room usage depending on your sensitivity to noise (this is a personal thing, depending on the person concerned). I personally find it fine mos tof the time. But if you didn't, then my advice if using one is to perhaps put it into an under-TV small cabinet with doors, then you'd be very unlikely to hear it, to be honest.

    The thing is, just BUY ONE, test it, then simply return, it you can't make it work for you as you want it, or if it's too loud for your setup. Returns are a great thing to the tech buying public! ;)

    Also, I went with WD over the Lacie as various reviews said the were (a) very reliable, (b) much quieter than Lacie ones, (c) more TBytes for your money, and (d) used WD small-Raid Red drives, which they did on the one I got.


    EDIT: I should add here, that you should ideally be buying TWO separate external storage devices (hence why I have two R6's and not just the one, plus the WD as an additional overkill!), as if the whole enclosure fails, data is likely to be lost, and this is more true on these small 2-drive all-in-one units.

    Hence, if you only need for the next 2-3 years usage, say 4TB's in your estimate of your storage needs over that timeframe, then it may be more affordable to buy two of the smaller models, rather than one bigger one. Though to be honest, the WD 4TB on Apple's site is £360 vs just £470 [or £430 on Amazon b4 they sold-out yesterday!] for the 8TB one (thus DOUBLE the space for little more), so you may feel like spending the extra anyway. http://store.apple.com/uk/product/HB988ZM

    Oh, and the 8TB model I got had WD Red HDD's in it, which work a lot better compared to the older Green's the previous model had.
     
  11. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    #11
    Some confusion here. The MyBook may not be the fastest of the bunch, but on a budget, that's probably a very valid choice. Internally, it may not use RAID1, or HDD fast enough to saturate the gigabit connection. Maybe they are reusing slower drives that wouldn't be fit for high-performance desktops, but perfectly acceptable in a NAS. And why wouldn't you be able to access those files over wifi, even if the NAS is cabled?

    As an alternative you could always build one yourself. There are tutorials around the Web for that. I can't advise reading my own article on that very topic yet since it's not finished :(

    Sure, if you only stream one file to one screen at a time. In a multi-screen household, this bandwidth simply isn't sufficient.
    Not sure I would advise this site anymore. It seems not to have been updated in ages, and existing reviews may not cover existing products.

    True, if the machine doesn't move from its spot behind the TV, DAS would work quite fine, and you can still share it to the other machines via the Mac Mini.

    Why so?

    Indeed. The MyBook, for example, isn't made for tinkering, and there's a high bricking risk if you do an incorrect manoeuvre. Not to say it's unrecoverable, but a pain in…some dark place.

    Huh, you can't easily do that with online resellers, the ones most likely to have your fit. They may charge a restocking fee, and paying for all these back-and-forth shipping quickly becomes costly.

    If it's not too personal, what's your use for so many TBs of storage? Download junkie?
     
  12. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #12
    Again, USB3 in full implementation can handle multiple calls and thus feed multiple items around the house for media streaming

    As example the Firmtek USB3 2.5 enclosure with SSD

    Samsung 840 Pro 512G 443MB/s Read/433MB/s Write

    Samsung EVO 1TB 435MB/s Read/424MB/s Write

    A read of 435 is MORE than enough for 3 or 4 devices for streaming.

    Using 7200 rpm drives striped also can serve up more than enough speed via properly implement USB3. For those that say otherwise, I guess my home system must be an "exception."
     
  13. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    #13
    Sure, if you want to spend tons of money to store very large but easily-replaced files, then SSD is the way to go. For the rest of us who don't make $5k a month, RAID0 is the way to go. Remember that in a cabled home network your limitation would either be the wifi or Gigabit link, which are far below USB3.
     
  14. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2013
    #14
    just a note RAID is NOT a backup! Even with RAID 1 you need a good backups solution!
     
  15. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #15
    There are USB3 RAID units that will take your larger drives, let you stripe them and they will work just fine for multi-streaming. I do agree with your point about SSD and their pricing/size making them less a candidate.
     
  16. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    #16
    Also. But in the end, content will need to travel over the network to the other devices, and the same wifi or Gigabit bandwidth limitation applies.
     
  17. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #17
    Any distribution of data will be subject to hardware. We concur on this matter.
    It seems that most people who want to have available a centralized store of "movies" such as iTune purchases and have multiple ATV units access at once will have to optimize whatever their system is to get the best "clean" play on their respective ATV units working at the same time. ATV streams don't require too much bandwidth but at least consistent. When people are distributing very high bandwidth media (equivalent to blu ray level high bitrate) then it is very important to make sure that routers and the like are set properly for uninterrupted play. There are WiFi routers that may boast fast speeds but do poorly when there are multiple requests (different users at the same time) wanting WiFi access with consistent streaming.
     
  18. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    #18
    I think the Apple TV only has a 100Mbps connection, so really it mustn't be too demanding.

    However my personal experience differs, and streaming a high-bitrate movie (not from iTunes store) from the MacBook to the MBP requires more bandwidth than 802.11g can provide. Since I can't max out the gigabit link when cabled, I assume one, or both machines have a bottleneck somewhere in between.
     
  19. phrehdd macrumors 68040

    phrehdd

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    #19
    If your devices don't have anything above 802.11g, consider plugging them into a router via Cat5e or 6. If the distance is long, consider to routers with N or AC and use in bridge mode and also use cable to each router. Then there is powerline and other options.
     
  20. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    #20
    I di have cabled gigabit I only use as a backup since it's awkward to have those cables running. All devices are 802.11n compatible except the iPhone and the router itself, which still needs a gigabit switch. Still, even cabled I don't reach giga speed, far from it.
     
  21. jimthing macrumors 6502a

    jimthing

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Location:
    London, UK
    #21
    What on earth are you talking about – yes you can, I do it all the time for legitimate reasons: tech is difficult/often incompatible.
    I returned to Amazon FOUR things in a row that either failed technically or failed to meet expectations, and another THREE things in a row to Apple similarly: ALL free returns.
    I know some smaller stores sometimes have a restock fee, but usually not for devices that failed to meet requirements, but in the States it's even better service than we get here in EU, so unlikely most of the time.

    Hence just go for trialling it! Like, keep; don't like, return! (after packing back nicely into box, of course.) ;)
     
  22. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    #22
    Well Amazon actually pays for return shipping? And the US having better service than in EU? A link would be welcome about the former.

    I learned something new tonight.
     
  23. jimthing macrumors 6502a

    jimthing

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Location:
    London, UK
    #23
    Yep they certainly do, as do Apple. Amazon use several methods for return depending on what it is, here in the UK... Collect+, Royal Mail, Courier pick-up (big items like TVs).

    Although I always select the "doesn't work as expected" (or similar) option, rather than "I just don't want it" – which is pretty much accurate as they don't work as expected.

    As for service, of course it's subjective depending on each person, but I've always found US companies very willing to please their customers perhaps a little more so than over here sometimes, lol!
     
  24. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2010
    #24
    After the initial set up of the NAS it behaves exactly like an external USB drive with Drag and Drop etc. I see my NAS as a shared drive called "Diskstation" and you treat it just like a drive.

    Of course there is a lot more you can do like run applications have your own Cloud network etc but you don't have to go that way.
     
  25. Cubytus macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2007
    #25
    I'd still like to have a link I could use in the unlikely event I buy something from Amazon and need to return it.

    We could use the "doesn't work as expected" option for a lot of technology-related items as this retailer is rife with low-cost chinese knock-offs that may not work well with the standards-compliant Linuces.

    As for US companies, I've had many bad experiences, a few good ones, but one remains in my head for the particularly bad service: ten years ago I bought a killer 17" PC laptop (Radeon 9700 dedicated, 512MB or 1GB RAM (can't remember), Athlon 3000+, 60GB 7200 rpm drive with room to grow - 5kgs+, $2.2k of happiness), because they were the only ones not to charge the so-called Windows tax (I had a legitimate license at that time and refused to pay twice) and that it was fully Linux-compatible.

    In two years, I had to return it five times for hardware failures, and as I prepared for a 6th shipment late 2006 and kindly asked them to pay for back-shipping or otherwise make what I called a "commercial move" (leaving that open to proper interpretation), they flatly refused. In the end, UPS stole/lost the item 50km away from its destination, and denied insurance claim until I threatened them with court action. And they have, and still had an A+ BBB rating.

    Since that day, I vowed never to buy a laptop PC again that wouldn't have decent return policy, and cut ties with all companies relying on UPS as sole carrier.
     

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