NAS or MacMini+disks

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Win-Mac, Sep 14, 2011.

  1. Win-Mac macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    #1
    Hi
    I am new to mac and looking for a fileshare solution for two iMacs working with a lot of photos. The need is 2TB today with a calculated need of 4TB in one year. I want Raid1 or 5. Would the best choice be a NAS (QNAP, Synology, Drobo, or Lacie) or should I choose a MacMini with some kind of disk exclosure (firewire)? I also need a backup plan for the "fileshare" solution but maybe some big usb disks could do the trick?

    Comments?
    Recommendations?
     
  2. satcomer macrumors 603

    satcomer

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    The Finger Lakes Region
    #2
    Before you buy (if you are using Lion) check that manufactures web site that in supports Lion. To try to sum up the long discussion Lion shipped with an updated version of Netatalk and most already shipped NAS devises used an older version of Netatalk. So when people first installed Lion (with testing with a test account first) complaining their NAS doesn't work in Lion.

    Since then several manufactures have issued NAS firmware or new devices that will support the new Netatalk and Lion. So check that manufactures web site before buying.
     
  3. Win-Mac thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Sep 14, 2011
  4. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #4
    Qnap and Synology are your best bets. I've not heard too many good things about drobo. Synology seems to be the more popular choice here at MR, though I went with Qnap. Their products and software fit my needs better.

    btw, both are compatible with Lion at this point should you choose to upgrade.
     
  5. Win-Mac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    #5
    So you would choose a NAS like QNAP or Synology over the MacMini+disks "solution"?
     
  6. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

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    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #6
    I would and I did ;) but then my needs are a little different, as I'm using my NAS with 3 different computers.
     
  7. firestarter macrumors 603

    firestarter

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Location:
    Green and pleasant land
    #7
    I'd recommend the opposite to maflynn actually.

    My brother in law had a Qnap that's just died - taking some data with it (he didn't listen to me before he got it).

    Here's my problem with cheap RAID (especially RAID 5) solutions:

    - The boxes are built down to a price
    They often contain cheesy power supplies, tiny and noisy fans, weak processors that won't get the most out of your network bandwidth.
    The box itself becomes a risk factor, and can itself corrupt the disk or die. At that point you'll be left with 4 drives probably formatted in Linux EXT3, with data spread randomly across them - that you can't read on your Mac.
    - RAID is not backup
    I'm not saying that you're doing this... but people spend for a RAID solution, when really they'd be better off concentrating on backup. RAID is good to stop downtime (if a disk dies during the day, you're not spending an age restoring from backup). It isn't a backup though - since RAID units can still loose data because of accidental deletion, theft, fire, virus, OS glitch, accidental damage etc. A proper backup provides two additional copies, one of which is offsite.
    - RAID 5 was the right solution for a past era
    RAID 5 cut down on the number of disks you needed to provide a checksum of your data, and enable a rebuild. Back when disks were small and expensive, this was great - you only 'wasted' one disk for every 2+ data disks. Nowadays the funky format is just a liability - especially with 2TB drives for < $100.

    Personally I'd go for a Mac Mini with 4 disks. I'd share 2 disks on the network, and the other two I'd use chronosync to mirror to during the night. I'd regularly swap out these backup drives and move them offsite - and swap in alternate drives.

    • I'd avoid RAID 5 completely, because when everything goes wrong it's good to have data that can be read by any machine.
    • I'd use chronosync (or maybe even time machine) to do timed backups rather than mirroring, because I think that accidental deletion of a file is a more likely data-loss scenario than a disk failure, and live mirroring mirrors your mistakes just as quickly as your data.
    • I'd use a Mac Mini, because the power of the processor is an order of magnitude higher than a cheesy Qnap.
    • I'd use Lion, because those backup drives could be whole-disk encrypted - and that would safeguard my personal information when my backup drives are off site and in transit.
     
  8. maflynn Moderator

    maflynn

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    May 3, 2009
    Location:
    Boston
    #8
    From my research I found Qnap to be extremely well built in fact between the two, Qnap's cooling was superior as was its power supply over Synology.

    I've been quite happy with my Qnap and it generally runs 18+ hours each day and so far no problems.

    I would recommend Qnap over any other NAS units any day.
     
  9. Sirolway macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2009
    Location:
    London
    #9
    I've done both - using NAS from ZyXEL, IcyDock, Thecus, & others before going 'the simple route' & just plugging external disks into the Mac mini

    I'd recommend keeping it simple & doing the latter

    In all things, there's "the Apple way" and the "non-Apple way." Life is simpler if you stick to the Apple way.
     
  10. Win-Mac thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2011
    #10
    Thanks for your replies. It seems that both ways have their own + and -. Maybe the MacMini would be the first choice but its gonna be much more expensive to get, but hopefully pay off in the long run.
     
  11. rubirock macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2009
    Location:
    Little Beirut
    #11
    thanks for this in-depth rundown, firestarter. I've been pondering a raid setup all day, but considering my uses, there doesn't seem to be any reason for me not to use my "extra" macbook1,1 to connect a couple of external drives to back up all three macs. you've made my life MUCH easier (not to mention saved me some $$$).
     
  12. reputationZed macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2011
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    34°55′42″N 80°44′41″W (34.
    #12
    I've been debating NAS vs Mac Mini + external drives solution myself and this was the best explanation I have seen why NAS might not be the best solution. I just picked up a Mac Mini sever the other day to replace my aging Mac Pro as my 24/7 machine, so why not use the mini as the basis of my storage solution. I do have a few questions though...
    1. External enclosures - following the 2 shared drive 2 back up drive model firestarter suggests would it be better to go with a stack of 4 single drive bay enclosures, a pair of dual drive bay enclosures, or a dual drive enclosure and two single drive enclosures?
    2. RAID 0 - use RAID 0 on the shared network drives or just avoid RAID altogether? My gut tells me stay away from RAID 0 but I'm open to hearing arguments for or against it.
    3. Chrono Sync - Would you recomend Chrono Sync on the server and Chrono Agent on the networked Mac's or Chrono Agent on the server and Chrono Sync on the networked Mac's.
    4. Enclosures 2 - Which enclosures are recomemded, which to avoid
     

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