Network storage advice please! External raid or TimeCapsule

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by Braydonowen, Jun 14, 2017.

  1. Braydonowen macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2017
    So my home network storage is in need of an update - I currently have a qnap NAS which results in 4 finder sidebar locations all for the same drive - which is ugly.

    I currently have a Mac mini used as a media server, connected to a qnap nas where my media is stored - however streaming can be slow and the drives often disconnect. I also use the nas for time machine backup. I need to upgrade and so I have two options, I think:

    1) connect a new external HDD to the Mac mini and use macOS Server to allow time machine back up to this

    2) Connect a new external hdd to my AirPort Extreme to serve as network storage and TM backup

    Are there any benefits or cons to each of these options?
    And which will show up as the 'tidiest' option within finder - (I currently despise 4 icons for one storage unit I have with the qnap nas)

  2. Mikael H macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2014
    I have a hard time seeing why you'd see four network shares representing the Qnap unless you've misconfigured it in some way, but then again I've never used Qnap NAS boxes.

    Of the two alternative solutions you present in your post, connecing and sharing an external drive or drive cabinet from the Mac is the one that is most likely to give you good throughput, if that's required.
  3. Braydonowen thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 14, 2017
    Yes - annoyingly the qnap shows one drive for time machine (required for TM to work on any drive), one drive in AFP, one drive for PCs and then shows up as a PC itself - horribly cluttered.

    But Yes - I think I agree with you that external hdd for the Mac mini is best for speed, rather that a NAS. Thanks!
  4. techwarrior macrumors 6502a


    Jul 30, 2009
    I am speculating that Time Machine backups from APFS drives (High Sierra) may not work correctly with third party NAS solutions... but we should see soon.

    A drive connected to the Extreme or Mini is more likely to support Time Machine going forward. I have used QNAP NAS for TM in the past with mixed results, since switching to Time Capsule, TM has worked flawlessly.

    I suspect using Airport for shared drives is going to be favorable to QNAP in that the "share" is going to show up once in the Finder sidebar, TM mounts the sparesbundle when needed, so no separate permanent mount. Same with a direct attached USB drive to the Mini.

    As for speed, there are several factors including the network speed, drive speed, USB speed, etc.
    • USB Speeds: USB2 = 480Mbps, USB3 = 5Gbps (bus speeds are faster than drive speeds).
    • External HDD Read\Write Speeds (avg) = USB2 ~ 240Mbps, USB3 ~ 2.4 Gbps
    • LAN: Assume 1Gbps
    • AP Extreme USB = USB2
    • QNAP USB = USB3 (or USB2 depending on which port\model you are using).
    • Mac mini USB = USB3 (2012 and later) or USB2 (older models or slower hubs)
    AP Extreme (USB2) may be slower than the USB3 on QNAP. Your Mini may have USB3, which theoretically makes the direct attached option favorable, but this also depends on the drive itself. If the drive is USB2, then speeds for QNAP\Extreme\Mini will not really matter.

    Then there is the network speed which could negate the USB3 speeds. If LAN is 1Gbps, the difference in speeds will be limited by the network speed meaning the difference between USB2 (240 Mbps) versus USB3 (1Gbps - limited by the LAN link) will negate much of the difference (2x versus 10x).

    Finally, there is drive read\write speeds or the drive itself, if the drive is SATA3, then 6Gbps, but the drive read\write speed over USB3 is likely to be in the 300MBps range, which equates to about 2.4 Gbps, but the same drive on USB2 would max out around 30MBps or 240 Mbps.

    So, clearly the Mini will benefit from faster speeds with a direct attached USB3 drive (assuming it is 2012 or later model).

    So, if the Mini is the only consumer of media, the direct attached USB3 route is best. If multiple computers and\or streaming devices are accessing it, USB3 on QNAP, or USB3 on Mini (assuming it is always on) are going to be best. Airport is not really going to be your best bet in any of the speed scenarios given it's USB2 port limitation.
  5. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    As only the TM program is accessing the files (and may not be directly interfacing with it at that low level), the client's filesystem shouldn't have a bearing on NAS selection. The NAS only sees a network protocol with data inbound and knows nothing about the client. According the NAS, they are just files it stores on its filesystem, which could be something different (XFS, btrfs, ext4, etc).

    Of course, if the TM program is updated, that will likely alter the landscape of what the NAS has to do to allow TM to connect. TM has always been finicky like that.

    On an unrelated note, I used to backup using TM to another Mac (10 years ago or more), and TM was always slow in scanning through the backups and restoring. Anyone know if it works any better?
  6. Mikael H macrumors 6502a

    Sep 3, 2014
    With APFS we will hopefully see filesystem snapshots and deltas trickle over into TM, which may affect how TM servers work. Depending on how quickly they implement the changes, legacy reverse-engineered implementations may be left hanging.

    TM is still slow in scanning through backups and restoring. Again; with a better underlying technology, this may (and hopefully will) change.
  7. Longer Lane macrumors member

    Longer Lane

    Oct 30, 2015
    I concur with Mikael H: use a mini. The future of the Airport base stations is currently under review.

    In terms of your 4 versions showing up: Time Machine - afaik - is still relying on AFP, whereas SMB is the standard file sharing protocol for anything Sierra and upwards.

    My $0.02

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