Need advice on setting up home network.

Discussion in 'MacBook Pro' started by Lpeds, Feb 18, 2013.

  1. Lpeds macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2013
    Hi guys, as the title suggests I am in need of some advice regarding my home setup (I regard myself as a complete novice when it comes to hardware and therefore apologies if this becomes strenuous).

    I am aiming to create a setup in which I can wirelessly access my usb printer and back up to two seperate hard drives using time machine (it is ridiculous how many times i decide not to backup my macbook pro because i have to move it from being connected to my tv). I already have a 1tb external hard drive that contains my music production and photos etc and would like, if possible, to save money by incorporating this into a new setup.

    Despite spending about 3 hours researching the most reliable and cost effective way in which to achieve this, I've only come up with a few options, all with inherent drawbacks.

    1. use a mac compatible NAS such as the Qnap t212 (however with the internal harddrives included this amounts to about £240, slightly more than I'm willing to pay to ease my paranoia.) Equally I do not need to access my files any where in the world and I feel most of the features will go unused.

    2. Buy another 1tb ext hard drive, powered USB hub and AirPort Extreme. Issue with this option I gather is that time machine is not supported by apple via this method and again, pretty pricy.

    3. Wireless USB hub and buy another 1tb ext hard drive, connecting them both and my printer. Ive read that it is very rare for a set up like this to function reliably but almost tempting due to the price.

    Ultimately I wanted to know whether I can avoid paying the rather unjustifiable amount for the NAS and the 2x 1tb int hard drives (as this seems to be the only decent option).

    All I'm after is a simple set up whereby one tb hard drive is used as the main time machine back up for my macbook pro as well as holding my current single copy files (photos, films, logic files etc) and the second tb hard drive is set to mirror (or some other more reliable way to copy over files) the first drive.

    Again, I am sorry if this thread is incorrect, lacks enough detail or is written in a convoluted way. I am trying to get my head around the situation without having the basic knowledge and so would like someone to tell me what to do!

    Any information required please ask and any advice would be greatly appreciated.
  2. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    If your backup doesn't need to be done hourly, you could mount the drive on the Extreme and use Carbon Copy Cloner with a scheduled task to backup all the files to the shared drive. Maybe do just a nightly backup when you're asleep.

    While TM is not supported on a drive attached to the Extreme, some people have been able to make it work. YMMV. Requires periodic verification that the backups are ok.

    I prefer the NAS or server solution to shared storage and backups.
  3. idunn macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    Simple ... or possibly not

    Unfortunately there may be no truly simple (as well perfect) solution. If of course you can achieve all fully backed up on two separate drives.

    Look into it in any depth and you'll quickly discover that NAS systems can work great, but require a good deal of technical skill to pull of correctly. Entirely aside from the cost of the equipment.

    For now, the simplest solution may prove best. Meaning not all that automated, and requiring periodic assistance from you. To begin with, 1TB might be insufficient storage. For some, more than they'll ever need; but begin storing much video and you'll quickly run out of space, and may as well with high res photos or uncompressed music. As few of even the most modern Macs sell with 1TB or internal storage, it can seem all one would need for Time Machine backup. And true, as long as confined to only that. But collect any amount of data and the excess will soon overlap onto the external drive. Which seems to be the position you are presently in, and thus need of backing that up, as many files exist only there.

    Assuming you can live with only 1TB of storage for the foreseeable future, then at minimum you'll need but one more external hard drive of that capacity. Time Machine by design will overwrite an entire drive continuously. But you can partition the drive towards Time Machine with just the amount of internal storage you have; the remainder, presumably the majority of space, is reserved for strictly external storage. The second external drive then backs up that; that of Time Machine is backed up on the internal.

    Time Machine will write to that dedicated partition. I am unsure if it will do so automatically on its own. Possibly, but then of course that external drive would need to remain wired or via wi-fi for access. As for the rest of the external data, the simplest method is manual. Whenever transferring a file from internal to external, then manually transfer two copies, one to each external drive; then presumably permanently removing the file from the internal drive. Not all that elegant, but it works.

    If you have not, you may wish to consider a Time Capsule. It can be a more expensive solution towards wi-fi and storage, but relatively simple. Ideally you'd dedicate the Time Capsule solely to Time Machine backups, and what it is designed for. It cannot be partitioned, so the warning that its Time Machine backups would in time overwrite any other data you place there. The least expensive iteration, at $299 for 2TB, will more than do for most applications of Time Machine backups alone. But in this scenario you'd be purchasing not only the Time Capsule but at least one other external hard drive.

    Alternately, the Time Capsule will work fine as a wi-fi enabled external hard drive. In which case you'll need to use the Time Machine function on a different external drive, partitioned. Why? Because, as said, Time Machine will overwrite all, but without it you've got nearly 2TB (or for this consider 3TB) for easily accessed data via wi-fi. The wi-fi transfer speeds are even fast enough for 1080p HD video. If doing this, then the other external drive acts as backup to all the data on the Time Capsule. You could access that external via wi-fi as well (and I think via that of the Time Capsule), or just plug it in via USB when transferring external data off the internal drive.

    You'll undoubtedly receive some helpful advice in posing this question here. But let whatever provided only serve as a beginning point. There is a great deal more information on this subject throughout these forums and elsewhere. A good deal may seem confusing, but let it. In time some sense will be made and you'll have all the better idea of how you wish to proceed. There is no one right way, and you'll find may solutions used and proposed.

    If money were no object, you might well be advised to consider only Thunderbolt enabled storage. Very fast, and still quite expensive. A big step down in cost as well as speed, but modern, would be USB 3.0. There are many good USB storage options available from sources such as Amazon for external storage of 3TB and less. Beyond that prices go up and options down. But in buying anything now it should at least be USB 3.0 compatible. Aside from the issue of Time Machine, you could purchase two USB 3.0 external drives of 3TB and even more at a fairly reasonable cost. If truly on a budget, an external of but 1TB is almost cheap, especially if only USB 2.0 compatible.

    As for the printer, I'm not sure, although feeling this the least of your worries. It would likely easily connect wirelessly via any wi-fi device you have. Newer models offer that capability on their own.

    Naturally a good idea to keep all that data backed up in two different places. In the short term you should be able to do so fairly inexpensively, and simply, if not as elegantly as it might be. Then take the time to read up on better solutions. Although do consider, now, if 1TB will suffice.
  4. Lpeds thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2013
    Thanks for taking the time to respond to my dilemma, very much appreciated.

    Hadnt thought of partitioning a new 1tb hard drive with enough space to hold one backup of my MacBook and the rest of my external data to stop time machine from cannibalizing my other files - is this what you meant?

    If wiped clean would my existing hard drive automatically backup the first (newest) drive with the contents of the partition, or would I have to do something in the formatting of the old drive?

    Also what would be the best way to connect these wirelessly? I see the time capsule as being slightly redundant and so am I just destined to have to buy a NAS? I dont mind having to be periodically involved in the backup process, as long as its not alot of hassle having to transfer the computer to plug them in. Equally having to manually copy one hard drive to another isn't a problem for me if it can be done from any location in the house.

    In relation to storage capacity, I believe 1tb will be enough for a long time as most of my data can be deleted as time goes on.

    You're right about the printer, I think I can live with having to plug it in.

    Thanks again.
  5. Orlandoech macrumors 68040


    Jun 2, 2011
    Salt Lake City, UT
  6. e²Studios macrumors 68020


    Apr 12, 2005
    I've had great luck with QNAP products.
  7. Lpeds thread starter macrumors newbie

    Feb 18, 2013
    I've read good and bad things about both but I'm attempting to avoid a NAS if at all possible, I won't use most of the functions.
  8. idunn macrumors 6502

    Jan 12, 2008
    In part and answer

    In partitioning, yes. If, for instance, your internal drive backed up with Time Machine was 256GB, one might allot a partition of, say, 300GB (or a bit more than needed) for that. With the remainder, 700GB (minus the inevitable small loss for overhead), for any external data storage you like.

    Would mention that I've had Time Machine later insist, after having successfully completed a full backup, there was not sufficient room on the partition for further backups. Without exactly knowing, believe that may have been because of the periodic connection; which would make a strong case for a full time wi-fi connection of same. Otherwise nonsense, as Time Machine will always eventually fill any space and then overwrite existing data.

    Not entirely sure of the question, but no drive is going to automatically do anything, unless so designed. In the given scenario one external drive would have two partitions: one smaller for Time Machine backup, the larger remainder for external storage. The second external drive would be used to mirror, or backup the data of the second partition of stored data (with obviously some extra space, as no partition itself). That backed up by Time Machine need not be on this second drive, as already in essence backed up on the internal of the computer itself. In all cases, all data in two separate places.

    There should be no reason why both external drives could not be accessed via wi-fi; I just haven't done it. You needn't delve into the complexity of a NAS system just to accomplish that. As far as I know, one wi-fi point should be able to connect various devices: your printer, for instance; as well as two separate external drives. There are other options, but something like an Apple AirPort Extreme Base Station should serve that purpose. The Time Capsule basically offers the same functions, only with addition of storage designed for Time Machine backup.

    1TB (x2, of course) may prove sufficient storage. Will it be adequate in a year or two?

    Would reiterate that any of this but a suggestion. With time and thought one can come up with something best suited to their individual needs. Automation would be an aspect of that, and there are certainly more elegant solutions than having to manually shift files to external storage. But at a basic level is it simply understood and accomplished.

    The main thing, for now, is that all the data is backed up. Towards prevention of loss, of course. So to throw a kicker into this equation, two separate drives prevents data loss if one fails, although a Drobo or Raid system can as well. None of it will towards fire, flood, theft and so forth, unless accounted for. One external might be kept in a fireproof safe, etc. Off-sight providers also offer the option of data storage and all backed up with them. The cost can be relatively minimal, yet only a feasible option if one has truly fast broadband. Any of this, something to reflect upon.

    But to begin with, not trusting important data to the whims of a single drive.

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