NAS (network-attached storage) on Mac and iOS? Drobo FS?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by Maxi86, Jan 27, 2011.

  1. Maxi86, Jan 27, 2011
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2011

    Maxi86 macrumors regular

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    #1
    Until recently I'd never heard of NAS (network-attached storage). I'm used to putting a lot of data on external hard drives, and carrying those with me when travelling or sharing stuff. Since we got 2 iPads and some iPhones at home, I started using Air Video and Zumocast to stream to those devices. Besides that, I use PS3 Media Server to stream to the big screen in the living room. But I noticed my brother asking me to turn on the external HDD, cos he wanted to watch some movies...

    Then it hit me... what if got myself a NAS, so I can put everything on it and keep it on all the time. It's the best way to share files on a network. I started to surf around the web, and watched some tutorials etc. But I got a few questions left, which are probably better suited for this forum.

    As you might know, I've an iMac with Mac OS X and Windows 7 via BootCamp. Alongside that, I've created a third partition called Media (exFAT) to share it between both OS'es. Now I'm wondering about the NAS and the file system of it. Can you format the internal HDD of the NAS in any desired file system? Like in my case that would be exFAT... Or do you have to use NTFS? In that case, is it still possible to read and write from Mac OS X?

    Regarding streaming to iPads and iPhones. Does a NAS support that? I know some NAS support game consoles like the PS3.
    All in all, I think it would be a great solution for me and stop the need for using multiple external HDD and servers like Air Video and Zumocast.

    Btw, some NAS have iTunes support. Does anyone have any experience with this? Does it work appropriately? Is it easy to set up?
     
  2. smirk macrumors 6502a

    smirk

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    #2
    The file system of the drive is usually whatever the OS of the NAS requires. But it doesn't matter, because it is transparent to you when you connect to it. You'll connect via SMB or AFP so you as a client won't be affected by whatever file system your data happens to be stored on.
     
  3. Maxi86 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    I'm not familiar with SMB or AFP... but does it mean I don't have to worry about the file system? I mean when the description of the NAS says it supports Windows and Mac, that's suffiecient?
     
  4. smirk macrumors 6502a

    smirk

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    #4
    You got it...

    What I was trying to explain is that you don't directly connect the NAS' hard drives to your iMac, so the file system of those drives is irrelevant. Your iMac connects over the network to the NAS, which feeds it the data and acts as a go-between between the iMac and the NAS' hard drives.
     
  5. Maxi86 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5
    Great! So that's solved...
    btw do you have to two identical internal HDDs if you have a NAS with 2 slots? and what about partitioning? is it out of the question?
    The reason I ask this is because I have a partitionized external HDD, which I would like to simply remove out of its case and put it in the NAS...
     
  6. smirk macrumors 6502a

    smirk

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    #6
    As far as having identical drives, it sort of depends on the NAS but that usually is only a requirement for some RAID setups. Generally, you're going to place one or more hard drives into the NAS unit and then it will format them, erasing all prior data and partitions in the process.
     
  7. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #7
    SMB/CIFS is what is usually known as Windows File Sharing. Both Windows and Mac OS X (and pretty much any other OS thanks to the samba folks) can access the files that are shared this way, this is enough to claim "support" for Windows and Mac.

    AFP (Apple File Protocol) is specific to Apple, and may be required for some Mac applications that use extended features of the file system. So if you spend a lot of time in Mac OS X, make sure your NAS supports AFP as well as SMB/CIFS.

    The actual file system the NAS uses internally is largely irrelevant, but it might matter if you want to connect an existing external drive to the NAS. (e.g. if the NAS only supports FAT/NTFS connecting a Mac OS X HDD won't work.)

    B
     
  8. Maxi86 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #8
    I reckon it's possible to connect your NAS directly to your PC/Mac to put data on the HDD of the NAS. Doing it over the network is of course possible, but much slower.

    My brother had a Sitecom NAS (MD-253, dual slots) with only one Hitachi 1TB internal HDD laying around and gave it to me. Unfortunately this one couldn't connect directly to PC. Transferring over the network was slow, at a max of 1Mb/s. This is not user friendly and it will take ages to transfer all my data to it.

    Now I'm thinking of one of these 3:
    - Conceptronic DualBay €110
    - Netgear ReadyNAS Duo RND2000 €140
    - Synology Disk Station DS211J €185

    As internal HDD, I was thinking of getting 2x 2TB Samsung Ecogreen HDD, each €72...

    Any thoughts one which NAS to choose?
     
  9. Maxi86 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #9
    Is it possible to use symbolic links with a NAS?
    I would like to put all documents in one folder on the NAS, and a symbolic link to it via both OS'es...
     
  10. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #10
    The Synology units consistently get good reviews.

    I haven't played with remote symlinks in a while. It should work, but your mileage may vary.

    B
     
  11. MasConejos macrumors regular

    MasConejos

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    #11
    If you are comfortable configuring *nix systems, the D-link DNS-323 and DNS-321 are robust, low cost (~$130) NAS boxes. By default they only support SMB (which is compatible with Mac), but you can add AFP and Bonjour support to them if you like (*nix configuration required for these).

    I have the DNS-321, which has a built in iTunes server and a built-in media server, no configuration required. (I believe the DNS-323 does this as well). iTunes has no problem playing music from it. And while I haven't uploaded any media, my PS3 auto-detects it on the network as a media server and lists it in its menus.

    And of course, with AFP installed, I use it as my time machine backup location.

    From your posts, it sounds like you might not have the background for setting one of these up, but if you do, the features vs cost ratio is very hard to beat.
     
  12. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #12
    I neglected to mention that earlier. Typically "iTunes servers" on NAS devices are music only, so they only do a fraction of what is capable with a full iTunes 10.

    Mainly you can't stream video from it and you can't connect to the NAS server from an Apple TV.

    There are UPnP clients for both Mac and iOS that can leverage the UPnP server that helps serve music and video to the PS3/Xbox/...

    B
     
  13. Maxi86 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #13
    I'm thinking of getting the Synology unit... either the DS211J or the DS211.
    And indeed, I don't have the background to setting a *nix system up...
    Regardings the iTunes server, listening to music is by far the most important feature. Does anyone know whether the playlists, ratings and play counts are saved?

    One more thing, I would like to get myself 2 x 2TB Samsung Ecogreen HDD... is it possible to set it up like this:
    500GB in RAID1 for backup
    the rest in RAID0 for fast performance
     
  14. fhall1 macrumors 68040

    fhall1

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    #14
    No....you can't mix RAID types within a 2 volume NAS. The two disks will either be RAID 0 or RAID 1.
     
  15. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #15
    I'm not sure if Synology provides and kind of media collector/import/migration tools to facilitate this, but generally:


    B
     
  16. Maxi86 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #16
    that's too bad..
    I got a dilemma though... the best things about a NAS is being able to backup everything this easily.

    but at the same time, I would like to have more than 2TB of storage...
    perhaps I should go for a 3 or 4 slots NAS...

    with one of those, would it be possible to mix things up?
    for example 1 slot for backup and the rest for storage
     
  17. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #17
    Depends on the NAS and RAID controller it uses.

    Drobo and Windows Home Server 1.0 have more flexible RAID-like features that don't have the same requirements as traditional RAID.

    B
     
  18. MasConejos macrumors regular

    MasConejos

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    #18
    On a NAS, you are limited by network throughput rather than hard drive speed. I think any improvements you'd see with RAID0 over RAID1 or just a single non-raid hard drive would be minor at best.
     
  19. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #19
    I agree with you 100% over a wireless link, but over wired Gigabit and with the right NAS you could get a benefit from RAID0 or RAID10 just as you can in a FW800 enclosure.

    B
     
  20. Maxi86 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #20
    I found the Drobo FS, with 5 slots! Apparently you can put HDD of different sizes in it without a problem. It automatically backups and recreates your data too, in case one drive fails. Time Machine compatible!

    This really sounds like exactly what I'm looking for... it's very easy to use. Anyone any experience with it?
     
  21. fhall1 macrumors 68040

    fhall1

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    #21
    Do a search here - there are already threads talking about the Drobo and then read the reviews on Amazon. From what I've seen the reviews are pretty mixed - enough negatives that, to me at least, don't justify the high cost of the unit.
     
  22. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #22
    I have the same reaction as you. Conceptually it looks like a great idea, but enough people as dissatisfied that the cost of entry is questionable. Performance is the metric that bothers me as, until recently, many have complained that they don't get good throughput with the Drobo FS.

    I ended up going with the HP mediasmart EX 490 Windows Home Server box. If HP and Microsoft hadn't just killed this paltform I'd recommend it in a heartbeat. At least it's basically a full PC and I can just throw Linux on it.

    B
     
  23. Maxi86 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #23
    The reviews on Amazon (.com &.uk) are 4 out of 5. But it will cost me €560 without any HDD...

    now I'll explore the HP MediaSmart EX490
     
  24. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #24
    Look around on WHS related sites like http://www.wegotserved.com/ and http://www.mediasmarthome.com/ before you pull the trigger on obsoleted > 1 year old technology. In particular the EX490, which is underpowered due to the Celeron processor. (It's somewhat upgradable if you're feeling adventurous).

    Windows Home Server 2.0 (Vail) is scheduled for release in the near future and will support Time Machine out of the box. Unfortunately the Microsoft "Drive Extender" feature that made WHS interesting was removed recently.

    Hopefully some OEM will take HPs place in making some decent WHS hardware to go with Vail.

    B
     
  25. fhall1 macrumors 68040

    fhall1

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    #25
    I'm in the hunt for a new NAS....although my Thecus N2100 has been rock solid for 4+ years, I need more capacity than 320GB (RAID 1).

    I could put two 2TB drives in the N2100, but the reviews of pretty much all makes of 2TB sounds like it's a crapshoot as to whether you can get two that will actually not be DOA or not die within the first month or so. So, I'm looking to keep the N2100 as-is and get something new - maybe even a 4 bay NAS.

    Drobo - too expensive and has performance and reliability issues (from what I've read)

    WHS - Microsoft has pretty much abandoned it

    Build a linux box and run FreeNAS - don't want another whole "computer" running 24/7 wasting energy

    dedicated NAS - some are slow, some are unreliable, some seem ok.....couple those reviews with those of the 2 TB drives and it's pretty sad.

    One of these days I'll find a NAS box that's cheap enough and get some 2TB drives on sale and just go for it....just haven't reached that day yet.
     

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