NAS, Mac, iPad which way to go?

dbrewood

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 8, 2018
221
61
Manchester, UK
Okay guys I'm after some advice here. My current tablet is a 512Gb iPad Pro (2017 - generation 2) and my Mac is a Mac Mini 2018 (16Gb memory, 512Gb SSD).

The Mini is my day to day machine and the iPad gets used while on holiday or for occasional web browsing when not in the dining room (where the Mac lives).

The Mac Mini is connected to a 34" UW monitor (3400 x 1440) via HDMI and uses a 6TB external sea gate hard drive for media storage and Time Machine backup.

The quandary I have is where to go next with the technology. The choices I have considered are:

1) Shell out and buy a NAS for hosting my ripped movie collection, working as a Time Machine backup and acting as a Plex server. The thought here is that when I get my good lady to move to a Mac then she will be able to use that too for backups & storage etc.

2a) Forget about the NAS and continue to use my Mini as a Plex server and go with BackBlaze as a backup solution.

2b) Spend the money and move my lady to a 21.5" iMac (Retina 4K, 3.2GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz, 16GB DDR4 memory, 512GB SSD storage). This is looking to cost circa £2,000 so a lot of money to spend when gossip says a new iMac may launch soon?

3) Upgrade my iPad (and give the current one to my lady to replace her laptop) and buy a new iPad Pro. The questions here are:

3a) Size - do I go for an 11" or 12.9" model. The current 12.9" iPad is a little heavy at times (it's fitted with a folio keyboard and rubberised cover), so would the 11" model be better, or would it feel too small compared to the current machine? It is used mainly for email, web browsing, ebook reading, editing photos.

3b) Storage - I have 512Gb now and then gets filled with movies for when away on holiday. I'm thinking that a downgrade to 256Gb might work just as well?

3c) Connectivity - At the moment I have a Wi-Fi only model, Cellular would be nice, but is it worth the £150ish additional cost when 99% of the time it is used at home?

3d) (Corporate) Cost - 12.9" 256Gb Wi-Fi would be £1047.60, 11.0" 256Gb Wi-Fi would be £852.00. Of course on top of these costs there would be and extra £130 for AppleCare+ and then the Magic Keyboard for £250-ish.

3e) Refresh - the gossip mills are saying there may be another iPad refresh towards the end of the year using mini-LEDs, so is this a bad tiem to consider buying?

4) Of course I'd also love to replace my Mac Mini with an iMac but I am holding off on that one until a refresh happens. :)

Should we hold off moving the lady of the house to a Mac? Should I upgrade the iPad or not? Is this a poor time to spend?

So any and all thoughts would be appreciated folks.........
 

Northern Man

macrumors 6502a
Aug 25, 2013
915
1,311
Okay guys I'm after some advice here. My current tablet is a 512Gb iPad Pro (2017 - generation 2) and my Mac is a Mac Mini 2018 (16Gb memory, 512Gb SSD).

The Mini is my day to day machine and the iPad gets used while on holiday or for occasional web browsing when not in the dining room (where the Mac lives).

The Mac Mini is connected to a 34" UW monitor (3400 x 1440) via HDMI and uses a 6TB external sea gate hard drive for media storage and Time Machine backup.

The quandary I have is where to go next with the technology. The choices I have considered are:

1) Shell out and buy a NAS for hosting my ripped movie collection, working as a Time Machine backup and acting as a Plex server. The thought here is that when I get my good lady to move to a Mac then she will be able to use that too for backups & storage etc.

2a) Forget about the NAS and continue to use my Mini as a Plex server and go with BackBlaze as a backup solution.

2b) Spend the money and move my lady to a 21.5" iMac (Retina 4K, 3.2GHz 6-core 8th-generation Intel Core i7 processor, Turbo Boost up to 4.6GHz, 16GB DDR4 memory, 512GB SSD storage). This is looking to cost circa £2,000 so a lot of money to spend when gossip says a new iMac may launch soon?

3) Upgrade my iPad (and give the current one to my lady to replace her laptop) and buy a new iPad Pro. The questions here are:

3a) Size - do I go for an 11" or 12.9" model. The current 12.9" iPad is a little heavy at times (it's fitted with a folio keyboard and rubberised cover), so would the 11" model be better, or would it feel too small compared to the current machine? It is used mainly for email, web browsing, ebook reading, editing photos.

3b) Storage - I have 512Gb now and then gets filled with movies for when away on holiday. I'm thinking that a downgrade to 256Gb might work just as well?

3c) Connectivity - At the moment I have a Wi-Fi only model, Cellular would be nice, but is it worth the £150ish additional cost when 99% of the time it is used at home?

3d) (Corporate) Cost - 12.9" 256Gb Wi-Fi would be £1047.60, 11.0" 256Gb Wi-Fi would be £852.00. Of course on top of these costs there would be and extra £130 for AppleCare+ and then the Magic Keyboard for £250-ish.

3e) Refresh - the gossip mills are saying there may be another iPad refresh towards the end of the year using mini-LEDs, so is this a bad tiem to consider buying?

4) Of course I'd also love to replace my Mac Mini with an iMac but I am holding off on that one until a refresh happens. :)

Should we hold off moving the lady of the house to a Mac? Should I upgrade the iPad or not? Is this a poor time to spend?

So any and all thoughts would be appreciated folks.........
I am not clear why you feel you need to purchase any new items now. Your Mac Mini and iPad are certainly not very old and should have lots of life in them yet. If it is only an itch to get new toys/tools and finances are flush then by all means go ahead. But if not, wait until your current tools stop doing what you need them to do.
 

Stephen.R

macrumors 68020
Nov 2, 2018
2,073
2,160
Thailand
For point 1 (NAS) I'm not sure of the advantage you feel you'd get from that? If you're running out of space, a larger external mechanical drive is likely to be simpler than adapting everything to use a NAS. A simple way to expand the available space would be to just use one drive for Time Machine and one for Media.

If you want to run backups from another Mac over the network, a Mac can share a folder for Time Machine as well as a NAS can.
 

nicho

macrumors 68040
Feb 15, 2008
3,103
1,718
I'm not interested enough in iMacs to make any suggestions about buying one... but if the time does come, your mac mini + directly attached external drive is more than capable of serving as a time machine server/destination for her.

what I would very very very very strongly recommend is picking up a second hard drive, as it sounds as if you don't have a backup of your media. you can never have enough backups. one single time machine backup is hardly a backup at all, either.
 

dbrewood

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 8, 2018
221
61
Manchester, UK
I am not clear why you feel you need to purchase any new items now. Your Mac Mini and iPad are certainly not very old and should have lots of life in them yet. If it is only an itch to get new toys/tools and finances are flush then by all means go ahead. But if not, wait until your current tools stop doing what you need them to do.
Yep for me it is the lure of new tech, plus also the need to get my good lady off the WinTel Workstation so we can go all in Mac as a family. May be cheaper for me to get a glide pad of some sort for the iPad though.

Her decision to go for an iMac was based on the fact that she wants one easy to move system (she uses the dining room table) and a screen bigger than a MacBook. I did suggest she went for a Macbook Air and used the external 23" monitor she has now but that was not an idea she wanted to go with.

For point 1 (NAS) I'm not sure of the advantage you feel you'd get from that? If you're running out of space, a larger external mechanical drive is likely to be simpler than adapting everything to use a NAS. A simple way to expand the available space would be to just use one drive for Time Machine and one for Media.

If you want to run backups from another Mac over the network, a Mac can share a folder for Time Machine as well as a NAS can.
I guess that would have to be a separate drive though for the other prospective Mac?

I'm not interested enough in iMacs to make any suggestions about buying one... but if the time does come, your mac mini + directly attached external drive is more than capable of serving as a time machine server/destination for her.

what I would very very very very strongly recommend is picking up a second hard drive, as it sounds as if you don't have a backup of your media. you can never have enough backups. one single time machine backup is hardly a backup at all, either.
I do have a 2 x 1Tb drives, one used for Time Machine, the other used as interim storage, the 6Tb drive is used as a backup for the 1Tb interim storage and media storage. I do hate though having the three drives on the desktop hanging out of the back of the Mini, this was one of the reasons I was considering a NAS. Adding another drive'd be worse, unless I removed the 2 x 1Tb drives and replaced them with partitions on the prospective new drive?

Critical smaller files are also backed up to Onedrive and Dropbox. Backups are carried out using Sync Folders Pro automatically.
 

dbrewood

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 8, 2018
221
61
Manchester, UK
Okay I'm now thinking of going with the NAS cost looking as:
  • Synology DS218play 2 Bay Desktop NAS Enclosure @ £209.99
  • Synology DS218+ 2 Bay Desktop NAS Enclosure @ £299.00
  • 2 x Seagate 8 TB IronWolf 3.5 Inch Internal Hard Drive for NAS Systems @ £232.32 = £464.64
  • Total prices: £674.63 or £763.64
The 'critical files' on the NAS will be backed up to my current 6Tb external drive (using Sync Folders Pro) and that in turn will be backed up using BackBlaze.

A magic Mouse has been ordered so my good lady can try out my Mac Mini and see if she likes the world of MacOS :) It'll also be used with my 2017 iPad Pro and the folio keyboard I have to give added life to the iPad.

A viable solution guys?
 

hobowankenobi

macrumors 65816
Aug 27, 2015
1,136
330
on the land line mr. smith.
As a Synology user (both at home and managing one at work), I would submit that it would be the best bang for the buck, and offer the most flexibility. You can backup all your devices (all platforms) as well as sync data if you like with Drive. Lots of other functionality including remote access to your files from anywhere on the internet (via Quick Connect). Advanced file system features help safeguard data more than most desktop OSes can offer.

Two bay models are smart, both for drive redundancy to protect against HD failures, and the ability to grow the volume on the fly by swapping out a single drive at a time with a larger one.

I would go with the 218+ for the Btrfs file system as well as the upgradable RAM, plus better overall performance.
 

akash.nu

macrumors G3
May 26, 2016
8,071
9,077
Yep as a NAS user myself I’d suggest to go with that solution as well. I’m on a netgear NAS with seagate drives.
 

dbrewood

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 8, 2018
221
61
Manchester, UK
Well I’ve ordered the NAS and drives. Upped the capacity a little and made sure that the drives were on the compatible list, as the original ones I considered weren’t.
  • Synology DS218+ 2 Bay Desktop NAS Enclosure
  • 2 x Seagate 10 TB IronWolf 3.5 Inch Internal Hard Drive for 1-8 Bay NAS Systems (7200 RPM, 256 MB Cache, 180 TB/year Workload Rating, Up to 210 MB/s, Model: ST10000VNZ004/VN0004)
Now feeling pleased but very nervous over getting it all set up! All the assistance appreciated guys.
 
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hobowankenobi

macrumors 65816
Aug 27, 2015
1,136
330
on the land line mr. smith.
Enjoy it.

If you have never set up a Synology NAS before...don't feel compelled to use everything it offers. The number of possible features and options can be overwhelming.

The first thing after the drives are installed will be to setup a volume. You will have several choices. I like the Synology Hybrid RAID as you can easily grow it later, swapping drives (any new drive has to be equal size or larger)...although with 10 TB drives, that will not likely happen for years.
 

dbrewood

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 8, 2018
221
61
Manchester, UK
@hobowankenobi I will, looking forward to it very much. I was an IT Admin until I retired 18 months ago but in that life we used QNAP devices to host our VMWare systems. A different ball game it seems. I've been reading up on what the Synology NAS's can be used for and I look forward to being impressed.

I've already had a chat with Synology support who advised me that the drive wizard should run as part of the set up and that hybrid raid is the way to go. Good news as I was wanting a RAID1 mirror in place to give some redundancy. Heck if I was rich I'd have gone for a 4 or 5 drive system and gone RAID5 but this is expensive enough as it is:)

The setup plan is to go with:
  • Get the drives set up with SHR
  • Set up a 1.5Tb quota folder for Time Machine backups (my Mini has a 512Gb SSD)
  • Set up a 512Gb quota folder for my wife's Window 10 backups
  • Copy my ripped movies to the movie folder
  • Download and set up Plex on the machine to serve films to Apple TV
  • Wipe my 6Tb external drive after movies and other files have been moved.
  • Set up the relevant shares on the NAS
  • Reconfigure Sync Folders Pro to mirror files from the NAS shares to the 6TB drive (work docs, critical movies, music etc)
  • Set up BackBlaze to backup the 6Tb drive to the cloud
Any other suggestions, or anything I should consider?
 

nicho

macrumors 68040
Feb 15, 2008
3,103
1,718
@hobowankenobi I will, looking forward to it very much. I was an IT Admin until I retired 18 months ago but in that life we used QNAP devices to host our VMWare systems. A different ball game it seems. I've been reading up on what the Synology NAS's can be used for and I look forward to being impressed.

I've already had a chat with Synology support who advised me that the drive wizard should run as part of the set up and that hybrid raid is the way to go. Good news as I was wanting a RAID1 mirror in place to give some redundancy. Heck if I was rich I'd have gone for a 4 or 5 drive system and gone RAID5 but this is expensive enough as it is:)

The setup plan is to go with:
  • Get the drives set up with SHR
  • Set up a 1.5Tb quota folder for Time Machine backups (my Mini has a 512Gb SSD)
  • Set up a 512Gb quota folder for my wife's Window 10 backups
  • Copy my ripped movies to the movie folder
  • Download and set up Plex on the machine to serve films to Apple TV
  • Wipe my 6Tb external drive after movies and other files have been moved.
  • Set up the relevant shares on the NAS
  • Reconfigure Sync Folders Pro to mirror files from the NAS shares to the 6TB drive (work docs, critical movies, music etc)
  • Set up BackBlaze to backup the 6Tb drive to the cloud
Any other suggestions, or anything I should consider?
In this setup you seem to have many copies of your "important files" but only one full backup of your system in case the worst happens. I'd suggest maybe keeping that 1TB time machine drive you mentioned earlier dedicated to that function to and letting time machine rotate backups between the two devices.
 

dbrewood

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 8, 2018
221
61
Manchester, UK
In this setup you seem to have many copies of your "important files" but only one full backup of your system in case the worst happens. I'd suggest maybe keeping that 1TB time machine drive you mentioned earlier dedicated to that function to and letting time machine rotate backups between the two devices.
Grin yep important files such as spreadsheets, wallets, etc.
Ah ha I was not aware that Time Machine could do that. In that case I will create a partition for it on the 6Tb drive and use that as well as the current 1Tb drive. I assume all three would work together?
 

nicho

macrumors 68040
Feb 15, 2008
3,103
1,718
Grin yep important files such as spreadsheets, wallets, etc.
Ah ha I was not aware that Time Machine could do that. In that case I will create a partition for it on the 6Tb drive and use that as well as the current 1Tb drive. I assume all three would work together?
Yep! I have 3 backup destinations for my mac mini - a local hard drive, a networked one on my old mac mini/home server (which does the reverse, and backs up to a shared folder on my new mac mini and a local HD) and a 3rd backup to a portable HD i plug in from time to time but generally store in the safe. (I also have a bootable clone of each from CCC, I may have gone overboard...)

One thing I can't recommend enough is Timemachineeditor. Scheduling it to kick off backups at specific times is awesome. https://tclementdev.com/timemachineeditor/
 

hobowankenobi

macrumors 65816
Aug 27, 2015
1,136
330
on the land line mr. smith.
Sounds good.

My opinion: TM is great when it works, but occasionally users of all third party TM destinations tend to report errors at some point. Did you use TM with QNAP? Any issues?

I switched over to the Drive client, and although not perfect, I like it much better for granular control and reporting (both client and server side).

Pros:
  • Control of number versions of files kept
  • Control of time to keep copies of deleted files
  • Can backup reliably over WAN via Quick Connect
  • Cross-platform
  • Same client for both Backup and Syncing
  • Continuous or scheduled backups

Cons:
  • Permissions problems with some things in the ~/Library
  • Drive client needs to be set up from the user accont...not good for multiple uers systems
  • May be issues with system files and folders
  • Not as easy/obvious to first-time users how to set up some Drive options and file paths
I use Drive for User data only, so the Cons are manageable. I also do an occasional bootable local clone for redundancy and for the ability to restore an OS, Applications, or anything else. Drive is set for continuous backup of user data only.

Try TM and see what you get. You can run TM and Drive at the same time...only the downside is the duplicate space used.
 

dbrewood

macrumors regular
Original poster
Jun 8, 2018
221
61
Manchester, UK
Okay guys ref the Time Machine utilities if the inherent system does not cause any issues for me is there a ned to run any of them?
 
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