NAS or Mac Mini? Starting from Scratch

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Val-kyrie, Jun 30, 2014.

  1. Val-kyrie macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2005
    OK, I need some guidance for a file server and how to back it up.

    Our family now has one MB, one MBA, one iPhone and soon an iPad. I would like to locate our music (most of which is ripped from physical CDs which we own) and podcasts (200GB total) in one location so that multiple people could stream files to their respective devices.

    I would also like to be able to access photos (115GB) and family videos for editing and management--now looking for a non-Apple solution :(.

    If possible, I would also like to be able to store documents which could be accessed via the web.

    We watch movies on our Blu Ray player; we have no Apple TVs, Rokus, etc., but I would eventually like to rip all of our DVDs and BDs for viewing and for the sake of preservation.

    Lastly, I need to be able to back up the file server and the MB and MBA. I have heard Time Machine is finicky with NASes despite TM support, but I do have Prosoft's Data Backup 3 as well.

    If you were starting from scratch, how would you set it up?

    I can handle a technical setup, but I need something simple in use because my wife and daughter will be using this too. Thanks in advance for any advice.
  2. spencers macrumors 68020


    Sep 20, 2004
    I'd go with a NAS.

    Stay far away from Drobo. I'd prefer QNAP.
  3. Val-kyrie thread starter macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2005
    I'd be willing to consider QNAP, Synology, and Thecus.

    What do you think about placing media on one volume of a 2-bay NAS and backing it up (not RAID 1, but actually copying VIP files incrementally) to the second volume and then backing that up to an external portable drive?

    Also, what is your experience streaming music from an NAS? backing up with TM to your NAS?
  4. D.T. macrumors G3


    Sep 15, 2011
    Vilano Beach, FL
    I’m a fan of Synology, their software is outstanding (however, see below).

    Doing some kind of drive-to-drive copy/backup gives you a little more redundancy - of course the NAS can crap out, but a discrete drive (vs. RAID) could just be pulled out, mounted in a new NAS, external enclosure, etc., for recovery.

    That being said, I +really+ like the idea of a full machine - it can serve up iTunes content, process videos, run all sorts of scripted//automated processes. A Mac Mini, with a big external drive (not a NAS) can also use some online backup services that don’t allow NAS (or network shares) to be backed up.

    Just an a FWIW:

    We have 4 (or more copies) of our biz and personal data. Everything is local (1), and on an external drive via TimeMachine (2), and on a offsite/online backup service (3)

    Then we have some content specific replication: source code is on GitHub/Bitbucket/SVN (4a), photos are on Flickr/Photobucket (4b), things like docs are replicated on various services like GDocs, iCloud (4c..z).

    The more failure points, the better.
  5. Val-kyrie thread starter macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2005
    Thanks for the comments.

    I'm curious, though, how to back up multiple computers to a Mac Mini with DAS. How is yours set up?
  6. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    After studying this for awhile, I went with a Mac Mini. But I wanted a solution that would work with an Apple TV. The NAS solutions don't really do that. There are some work-arounds, but nothing as straightforward as simply running iTunes on the Mini. I am really happy with the results; Apple has done a great job of building this capability into iTunes with home sharing.

    It works great with my MacBook Air and iPhone as well. My media library is about 600gb and is located on a 3TB USB 3 external drive. The drive clocks at around 180MB/s which is more than enough to saturate gigabit ethernet. I get around 100MB/s with Blackmagic disk test using file sharing on the mini over ethernet. I have two identical 3TB drives that I rotate for backups using Carbon Copy Cloner.

    At this point, I only use the Mini as an iTunes server, but there's certainly power to spare if I want to do other things. I have a Time Capsule in addition to separate USB hard drives that I use for backing up my MacBook Air. One of the external drives is for time machine and the other is a bootable clone that I periodically sync with CCC.

    I gather that time machine support on NAS devices is inconsistent. There has been a lot of discussion about this on the forums. Apple periodically makes changes to time machine that can break third party support, then you need to wait for your vendor to update their software. That sounds like a pain to me.

    Carbon Copy would be one way to backup your Macs on the network, it could be running on either the server or client machines. Have not tried to set up my Windows machine for network backup yet, but the mini can be an SMB server, so I'd guess any PC software could use it as a backup drive.
  7. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    I installed OS X Server and switched on the Time Machine Server service. That's it.
  8. Val-kyrie thread starter macrumors 68000

    Feb 13, 2005
    Do you back up to the Mac with OS X Server or to a DAS attached to OS X Server or to an NAS on the Network?
  9. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Consider making your own PC using this board:
    Here it is 70€ including fanless quad core processor.
    If you make a system with a 60GB SSD for software and booting, 8 GB ram, case, IR sensor and notebook PSU, you end up spending like 200 bucks.
    If you grab a bunch of 3,5 inch drives, you can store up to 12TB in the case itself.
    For backup I use loose 3,5 inch drives in a SATA USB3 dock. With movies you don't need to backup that often.
    It needs some software tinkering, but it is a HTPC AND NAS in one (hdmi out with HD decoding GPU), and the performance beats the crap out of any Synology or QNap.
  10. mcmul macrumors 6502

    Dec 14, 2009
  11. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    I have a 2TB USB disk connected to my Mini. So it's the DAS option.
    Purely out of paranoia, I also back up to a TimeCapsule and to another USB disk connected to AirPort Extreme :eek:

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