NAS vs Thunderbolt RAID... Need advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by rock15478, Sep 15, 2011.

  1. rock15478 macrumors member

    Feb 8, 2007
    So here is my dilemma...

    I have 2-3 active computers, and 1-2 that I am getting ready to retire soon.

    Anyway, over the past 10 or so years of my digital life, I have accumulated TONS of hard drives. About 5 years ago, I had a major hard drive failure and I have become pretty obsessed with backing up data ever since. Anyway, the disorganized mess of files and hard drives I have is getting ridiculous. Obviously, the amount of storage available keeps increasing these days but I've never gotten rid of any of my smaller hard drives, which makes maintaining a backup schedule a nightmare because I have 20+ drives. Anyway, I have the following:

    Drives with Data:

    Mac Mini Server 2011 500 GB + 500 GB
    Macbook Pro 500 GB Internal
    Dell Dimension 60 GB Internal
    Lacie 1 TB External
    Lacie 600 GB External
    Lacie 500 GB d2 Quad External
    Western Digital 640 GB My Book External
    Iomega 120 GB External
    Seagate 160 GB External
    Power Mac G5 200 GB + 250 GB
    Western Digital 60 GB Portable (Old Macbook Clone)
    Seagate Portable 160 GB
    Western Digital Black Caviars 1 TB (2 of these for Power Mac)

    Drives used for Backups:

    Lacie 500 GB d2 Quad External
    Western Digital Elements 2 TB External
    Western Digital 2 TB Green Drives (2 of these for off site backups)
    Western Digital My Book 250 GB

    So, as you can see, that's a lot of drives (more than 20) to try to keep under control and backed up at all times. I have about 6 TB of non-redundant data that I need to back up and then need room to grow as well.

    I've been considering a Synology DS1511+ NAS and literally making a master archive of everything on this, along with Time Machine backups, etc... Part of my problem is that a lot of my data is simply for archival purposes. It's non-changing data but I want to keep it. However, I do have a lot of active files as well.

    I run a recording studio in one half of my house... Running Logic Pro and Pro Tools and these files can get pretty big... It would be nice to have a centralized place to dump "finished" projects when done for archival and only keep "current" projects on the internal drives.

    Anyway, I recently bought a Mac Mini Server which has thunderbolt so I can't help but wonder if the Promise Thunderbolt RAID enclosure would be worth checking out... I could then have much much faster transfer times as it would be directly connected to a computer. Then, I could just share it on the network... but I do feel like there are certain advantages to the NAS. For one, I wouldn't have to have a computer running at all times just to access it. Also, the software of the Synology seems to be great.

    My original idea in my situation was to get a Drobo and literally just dump a bunch of my current drives into it. That idea seemed appealing to me because I already have a TON of drives and I would hate for them all to just go to waste if I move to a big RAID solution. However, the more I read about the Drobo, the more I tend to think I need to stay away from it. For one thing, most of my drives are many years old. It doesn't seem wise to continue using some of them. Also, I wouldn't be getting as much storage as I could be if I went out and bought 3TB drives and put them into a 5 bay Synology.

    Thoughts? Mainly, I'm trying to SIMPLIFY my life here. Trying to get rid of digital clutter. Any advice would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

    Thanks so much!
  2. aarond12 macrumors 65816


    May 20, 2002
    Dallas, TX USA
    I was going to suggest a Drobo, but you already thought of it. Being able to use drives of different sizes, yet still retain fault-tolerance seems like just the ticket for you.
  3. Eddyisgreat macrumors 601

    Oct 24, 2007
    I don't think you'll be able to find what you want for not a lot of money (though that might be ok with you :D ).

    The deal with TB enclosures is that you're paying for speed and convenience over anything else. What I would do is get a nas w/ about 8 or so bays, such as the netgear readynas, then use iSCSI and chop up the array to appropriate sizes. For backup I guess you could dump it all to a dual 2 or 3 TB disk drive and take off site. With this option you could stuff it full with the disks you currently have, then as time goes on, fill it with standard server (or consumer) grade 2-3 TB disks.

    Of course a decent NAS w/ iSCSI (or even fiber chan?!?) will cost several thousands, with the fiber chan requiring it's own HBA.

    That's just what I would do for the most convenience. If you're willing to pay TB prices you might as well go ultra premium NAS solution.
  4. nuckinfutz macrumors 603


    Jul 3, 2002
    Middle Earth
    8 bay NAS chassis running RAID-10.



  5. duervo, Sep 15, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2011

    duervo macrumors 68020


    Feb 5, 2011
    I believe the Synology product that you mentioned supports up to 15 drives if you buy up to two expansion units (5 more drives in each expansion unit.) However, I have read that if you initially go with the first unit, fill it with 5 drives, and find that you want to expand the array on the first unit, to drives in an expansion that you might purchase later, that's something that you cannot do. You would have to either create a new array on the expansion, or backup everything on the original unit, attach the expansion to it, then blow away the config on the first unit, and recreate your arrays and logical drives across both units.

    Obviously, that would be a rather painful process to go through. So, if you feel that you might need to purchase an expansion unit within the next year or so, it might be worth your while, long term, to get one up front to save you that headache, or purchase the expansion later on but live with two or more arrays (one or more in each 5-drive chassis).

    Personally, I would go with Synology, and probably get one expansion unit at time of initial purchase. You mentioned a lot of it is for archival purposes (I'm assuming multimedia-type data here), so RAID10 is probably overkill. RAID5 + 1 Hot Spare in each unit is what I would do, but I'm not sure if it will let you assign more than one hot spare. If it doesn't, then I would probably go RAID6. If you plan on using it to run virtual machines (i.e.: VMware with iSCSI or NFS datastores) then RAID10 would be my recommendation, but you only mentioned it being used for mostly archiving and backups.

    Edit: Not sure what type of files you consider "active". For me, I would call virtual machine files active. Everything else I would classify as "non-active", and would therefore be a prime candidate for RAID5 or RAID6.

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