NAS Server/RAID backup drives

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by 7enderbender, Mar 30, 2014.

  1. 7enderbender macrumors 6502a

    7enderbender

    Joined:
    May 11, 2012
    Location:
    North East US
    #1
    I'm looking for a suggestions from people who have been through this process already.

    I'm still new to all things Mac and Apple so bear with me. I'm in the process of switching everything (with a few exceptions) over to Macs in the house. Started off with a Mac Mini for myself and just ordered a Macbook Pro 13" retina for my wife's work related stuff. Next will be another desktop (probably an iMac for her) and a MacBook for myself at some point.

    Long story short: I'll soon need a new backup solution for those 4 Macs (plus other non Macs occasionally). What I want is something with a RAID system for redundancy, 4 bays would be a good start, and at the same time something that would allow for remote access as basic server solution.

    With that I'm looking to have one pair of bays to back up the time machine backups from the Macs and a second pair to give myself and a good friend remote access to for storage from outside the network (he'll do the same on his end so that we both create additional redundancy for the very very important files in case of theft, fire, etc).

    Synology seems like a good company. The 411slim looks appealing as a value solution but I'm concerned if the 2.5" drives have enough capacity in those. The 414 seems good but is more than I wanted to spend on the device (not considering the drives themselves).

    Any suggestions? And does a device like that even do what I want it to do? Important are 100% TimeMachine compatibility, reliable RAID redundancy, at least four bays and easy to use server/cloud functionality (via FTP is ok also).
     
  2. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    #2
    You still have to backup the RAID array. RAID is not a backup.

    How much space do you need? A DS214play is a nice media NAS. It also has a esata port for easy backup to an external drive.
     
  3. 7enderbender, Mar 30, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2014

    7enderbender thread starter macrumors 6502a

    7enderbender

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    #3
    I understand this. One of the reasons I'd want 4 bays so that I can have a backup of the backup (plus another backup of crucial data off site as described).

    I looked at the DS214. That would be in the budget and I could then still add one of my existing USB drives for now as the external storage that doesn't necessarily have to be in a RAID (because it already lives outside the house).

    I'd say I need at least 4TB per RAID pair.
     
  4. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

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    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #4
    You often see the comment "Raid is not a backup" posted over and over on these forums. This is true if the RAID array is your main storage and you think the disk redundancy gives you backup functionality. I don't think that is your intent from your original post.

    However, there is nothing wrong with using a RAID system AS your backup using Time Machine as you suggest. This gives you the potential to recover the Time Machine history in the event a disk fails ... something you wouldn't have if you used a large single disk as your backup drive and it failed. Either way, you still have your original data on the computers and the "backup" is a second copy of that data (and, yes, even a 3rd or more copies are desirable depending on the importance of your data).

    If you want to keep a backup of your backup, I suggest that using 2 separate backup systems with Time Machine alternating between them from the original source data is better than making a backup of your backup where you don't really know that the first backup data isn't corrupt in some way (disk error, hardware fail, etc.).

    Sharing your disk with a friend who returns the favor is also a great plan to protect in the case of fire, theft, or other local disaster. Your initial lengthy load can be performed locally, then the disk can be transferred to the friends house where only incremental updates will occur. In the event you require a full restore, you can simply retrieve the remote disk and quickly restore your computer locally. I believe "CrashPlan" has a provision to do this for you without paying for their hosting service.
     
  5. ColdCase, Mar 30, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2014

    ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    NH
    #5
    I've been where you are about two years ago, got caught up in all the NAS and RAID nonsense. If I had it to do all over again I'd bite the bullet and buy a refurbbed mini and run a OSX server. In the end it is less trouble and may even cost less. The server, being a real computer, provides one heck of a capability and tons of flexibility, especially if you start getting into sharing an iTunes library and streaming video with AppleTVs. If you are enamored with a hardware RAID, connect one to the server as a DAS, and let the server share it just like a NAS.

    That comes back to why exactly do you think you need RAID? As a DAS for working storage, RAID makes some sense for performance... but not as much for a backup solution. The climate is changing, low cost larger drives make RAID not as attractive as a few years ago. Folks have found that it takes annoyingly long to rebuild a RAID 5 when one disk fails (think in terms of days). A few here do need RAID 5 for everyday working storage, but I don't think thats the OPs situation.

    1) If you are using TimeMachine to back up those Macs, Apple only has TimeCapsules, Airport Extremes (with attached USB drives), and OSX server or another Mac on the approved list. Many here have no issues with third party devices, many have. There is alternative backup software, like Carbon Copy Cloner, that can be used reliably, however.

    2) You have an internal drive in the mini and can also attach a broad range of external media, and use OSX software to do either RAID 0 or 1 if you so desire. But if you don't need a volume more than 4TB, its a lot less money and trouble just to buy two 4TB USB drives and mirror them or use something like CCC to copy one to the other (as a backup) periodically. If you need more performance than USB3, theres always thunderbolt.

    3) Instead of one Large volume/disk for all the household backups, think about individual drives for each (hanging off the server).


    Anyway I suggest you look through some of the threads here and over in the server forum, there are a dozen ways to skin this cat and NAS boxes and RAIDs tend to not be scalable unless you spend more money than a mini server.

    There are quite a few here over the past 6-9 months that have come to the same conclusion, but every situation is different. Just saying to think more about the best way to solve your problem, don't go in with a preconceived solution (RAID/NAS) in mind. The landscape has changed over the past couple years.

    Oh, by the way, you don't really need to backup the TimeMachine files. Time machine allows you to backup to one, two, or more different destination drives. So you just need two independent storage devices (disks) and TimeMachine will take care of it for you. You can even sequence one on and off site without issue.
     
  6. 7enderbender, Mar 30, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2014

    7enderbender thread starter macrumors 6502a

    7enderbender

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    May 11, 2012
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    North East US
    #6
    Thanks for the replies so far. Maybe I really need to rethink all this. I'm trying to kill several birds here at a time and that's not always possible - certainly not on a budget.

    Maybe I'll just keep my current backup solution for my own Mac and get the silly old Time Capsule thingy for the wife. Easy to use it seems and I don't have to worry about compatibility issues or (what would have been my next question) how the Macbook reacts with regard to backing up to TimeMachine when it's on the network or outside of the house.

    Other than that I'm probably better off building my own server with ample storage from various parts lying around and some Linux distribution or so.

    I'm not into iTunes sharing or Apple TV or stuff like that so it should actually be straight forward. Just need a set it and forget it backup for the wife. And some large storage device for my photos and stuff plus access for the friend in exchange for access to his for redundancy. Probably better than RAID locally.


    Edit:

    After reading a bit more this seems more of an issue than I thought. What options do I really have for the wife's Macbook to automatically make a TimeMachine backup when on the network? The Apple Time Capsule or Airport solutions seem silly since they'd create a separate wireless network when she really should be on the existing (running with Cisco routers). So I do need something hooked up to the current network that would allow for her Macbook to create TimeMachine backups (unless I abandon another Apple service that is supposed to work flawlessly and without hiccups such as iCloud on our iPhones that I already took off and replaced with MS Exchange).
     
  7. mneblett, Mar 30, 2014
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2014

    mneblett macrumors 6502

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    Jun 7, 2008
    #7
    I have a "needs" situation not unlike yours, and after a lot of 'what should I do" I believe ColdCase has it exactly right -- I'm waiting on the next (now quite overdue) MacMini, which will be a server on our network, likely with a 3-4-bay DAS attached.

    As to the Time Capsule route, I currently use one for TM backups. While it is perfectly serviceable, 10-20 MB/s can feel a bit slow when TM is backing up a 40+GB Parallels Win 8.1 file (I know I can exclude the file from TM, but I don't want to do so).
     
  8. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

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    Jun 2, 2010
    #8
    You are starting with two computers and mentioned getting up to four. eventually. You should look beyond just thinking about backup solutions but also about sharing data.

    This is where a NAS really comes into its own. You think in terms of putting all data on the NAS and creating a resilient system with a Raid array. The NAS will also have an integrated backup solution using an external USB drive.

    I would not recommend the 411slim for two reasons it can only be populated with 1Tbyte drives and hence will be limited as to max size. In addition it does not support USB 3 and hence will reduce the speed of backup and recovery.

    You can create separate volumes on the NAS. One for your data and another for time machine backups. It is also possible to use Synology Cloud station to keep a copy of critical data on your laptop that you may require when not plugged into your home network. The files would then be automatically synced when you return.

    As you already recognize it is a complex issue but the right decision now will save a lot of time in the future.
     
  9. 7enderbender thread starter macrumors 6502a

    7enderbender

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    #9
    I see what you're saying. I didn't want to bore people with even more detail. So right now it's a Mac desktop and a laptop. Second Mac desktop will happen very soon. Second Mac laptop not sure when and if. Existing machines also include two more Win laptops (one of which will certainly remain). One Windows machine is already running as remote machine. Network has existing storage that is shared between devices.

    So my main concern at this point is to have a) something that will take the wife's Macbook TimeMachine backups automatically while on the existing network.
    b) provide additional secure backup storage (bigger is better) with (additional) remote access (FTP or else).
     
  10. treestar macrumors 6502

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    Feb 28, 2010
    #10
    I've been struggling for the smartest backup solution for a few years now. I don't use Time Machine, I do all my backups manually, so my advice might not to compatible with automation. Here it is: forget about an NAS device or a hardware RAID device that is costly. Get two 4TB external drives. They are cheap now, around $100. Either mount them to your Mac mini (which is probably stationary) and share them over the network or connect them to your router if you have one that allows connecting drives over USB (like the Airport Extreme). You should be able to use them as Time Machine volumes.

    This is best in my opinion because it is cheap, and redundant. Other options are much more costly because they are standalone devices, and they become outdated. I don't worry about speed for backups that get automatically written in the background. You can get a third to do off-site backups, hire a service, or find a friend that wants to exchange off-site storage with you.

    Like I said, I've been struggling. I have a G-Tech G-SPEED Q. I'm looking to retire/sell it if you are interested, but it's not in line with my suggestions.
     
  11. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    #11
    I use a DS214play with one drive setup for media and the other for everything else including TM. An external USB drive backs it all up on a schedule. Critical files are backed up offsite to a friends Synology.
     
  12. hfg macrumors 68040

    hfg

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    #12
    What program do you use to remotely access your friends Synology?
     
  13. blueroom macrumors 603

    blueroom

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    #13
  14. 7enderbender thread starter macrumors 6502a

    7enderbender

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    #14
    Sorry if I further complicate this and jump between seemingly unrelated items - but it actually is related:

    Could it be that downloading Mavericks Server for $20 bucks and use my existing backup drive that is connected to my Mac Mini might be the key to happiness for the initial task of giving my wife a location to wirelessly have the Time Machine backup from her new MBP?

    Will the MBP then automatically connect to the server location for the TM when at home while otherwise not cause issues when outside the network?
     
  15. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #15
    Your mini, OSX server with a backup drive attached is a perfect way to provide backup for your spouses MBP. Many here have put their retired Mac to similar use with great success. When she is within range of your private wireless network, time machine will automatically find the drive and proceed to backup every hour. When not connected, there will be no intrusion, just an ! in the time machine symbol. If she doesn't leave the MBP on long enough to complete the backup, you could go awhile without. I usually use the finder weekly to check the dates of the backup files, just to double check things are working fine. Your mini and drive need to be awake (or set to awake on network activity) for the MBP to find it.

    Again, the mini is a computer that can easily be set up to work like a NAS along with a number of other services. A single purpose NAS may no longer we the smartest solution over a mini server. Prices of feature rich NAS boxes have skyrocketed.
     
  16. CHNO-Chris macrumors newbie

    CHNO-Chris

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    #16
    I have another suggestion - look at either a ToughTech Duo directly attached to your main machine (for larger configurations an RTX220) from CRU and use a rotation of 3 disks for redundancy and offsite backup (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MipztLcoSOE for a quick demo)
     
  17. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

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    #17
    Have you successfully used a USB drive connected to an Airport Extreme as a Time machine backup. I found it very unreliable. It would work for a few backups and then it would suddenly not see the previous backup and start a whole new one again..

    I gave up after the fourth or fifth attempt at starting a new backup. Never really found out the reason for the problem but some suggest it is to do with the drive spinning down and the extreme unable to control it.

    ----------

    My NAS is also a computer and cost considerably less than a Mac mini. The drives are going to be required in both cases so compare cost of NAS without drives vs MacMini.
     
  18. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

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    #18
    The one item that few seem to address in discussions of backup is what are likely failure scenarios. Common ones are hardware failure, dumb user mistakes, fire, theft, and natural disasters. You have to decide if you want to be protected against those failures and how to handle them. If you lived in New Orleans before Katrina, a NAS as your only backup wouldn't have done much. Even if you had an offsite backup at your office, it might have been flooded too.

    If your main concerns are hardware and user mistakes, a time capsule works well. If you maintain critical files, offsite is imperative.

    Since going paperless, all my personal documents are on my computer. In addition to multiple local backups, I keep the files on Dropbox and Crashplan in addition to a USB drive on my keychain. I'm fairly confident I can survive most disasters.
     
  19. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #19
    You get what you pay for, most NAS have less processing horsepower than an iPhone. Unless you went for a high dollar NAS (more cash than a $400 mini), the computer within it struggles to boot, let alone run any worthwhile services at an acceptable clip or recover from a drive failure if set up as a RAID. But when all you need is to share files, a NAS can do that job well enough.... but a cloud drive will also do that just fine for much less money.
     
  20. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

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    #20
    You must tell me where you get your $400 Mac mini from I want to buy one.

    http://store.apple.com/us/buy-mac/mac-mini
     
  21. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #21
    You need to look at the refurb store when they show up there, and the older models work well as a server/NAS. Folks here rarely buy new minis for this purpose. But you need to be quick as they are typically sold out quickly at that price.
     

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