New iMac enroute, many configuration questions...

Discussion in 'iMac' started by MendotaMike, Nov 28, 2011.

  1. MendotaMike macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2011
    Twin Cities, MN
    I made the leap to buy a new iMac on Black Friday (click here), and have spent much time since trying to figure out how to integrate this machine into my heavily Windows-based household. I currently have 3 desktop machines running Windows 7, plus my Windows 7 notebook for Work, and then a bunch of iOS devices - iPad, iPod Touch, 2 iPhones, and an Apple TV. The real complicator is my media and backup server, a custom built machine running Windows Home Server V1 that currently sports a touch over 19TB of storage (mostly DVDs and Blurays, but plenty of pictures, home movies, iTunes files, etc.).

    I've already figured out that there is no simple way to back up the new iMac via WHS, so I'm figuring that I'll probably pick up a Time Capsule. The current question I have is how best to integrate the Time Capsule into my network. My network architecutre has my cable modem feeding a Linksys E4200 gigabit and WiFi router which in turn feeds a gigabit switch that hooks up to Cat-5 cables run throughout my house.

    The iMac will sit on a desk in our great room, where I will also keep one of my Core i7 Windows 7 machines (this machine will be hooked up via a DisplayPort capable video card and cable to one of the DisplayPort connections on the back of the iMac for occasional use in Target Display Mode for applications that I absolutely need a dedicated Windows machine to run, i.e., Windows Media Center hooked up to my HDHomerun Prime network cable card tuner). I only have a single Cat 5 cable run to this location.

    So where should I put the Time Capsule and how should it be configured as far as networking and WiFi is concerned? Should I continue to use the (relatively new) Linksys E4200 router as the router and primary WiFi access point and locate the Time Capsule at the same desk with the iMac and the Windows 7 machine to act as a gigabit switch? What about wireless? Can the Time Capsule "extend" the Linksys wireless signal?

    And then what should I store directly on the iMac as opposed to on my server? I currently store all of my family pictures and home movies on the server, and notice a fair amount of network lag when browsing pictures. I intend to use the iMac for photo editing, home movie editing, and other multi-media stuff. I suspect that the performance would be much better if I stored that stuff locally, and backed it up to the Time Capsule.

    Suggestions and comments apprecicated.
  2. flynz4, Nov 28, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 28, 2011

    flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I'll predict that over time... your mix will move away from Windows and more toward OSX. That is exactly what happened in my case.

    Like you, I also have a WHS (v1)... and I am using it less and less over time. The biggest problem with it is that it is difficult (and expensive) to back-up to the cloud. Instead, over time my WHS has been relegated to be more of a mass storage device, that contains data that would not bother me if it was to go south. For the most part... these are ripped videos that are relatively easily replaced.

    For all data that is important to me: Pictures, home camcorder movies, documents, etc... I have a methodology of keeping the primary copy all on one machine (2TB i7 iMac) which is doubly backed up. Primary backup is to the cloud (Crashplan+), and secondary backup is made locally to a Time Capsule using TM.

    Given that CP+ is very inexpensive... I also let it back up my entire music collection... plus the H.264 versions of my music library. Realistically... this is of secondary importance since the content can be reproduced if necessary. Still it is nice to have it backed up. Now with iTunes Match/iCloud... backing up the music is especially unimportant... but it has already been uploaded so there is little reason not to.

    If it is not obvious by now... my #1 priority is to protect my data. If any of my machines is lost, stollen or destroyed... it can be recreated in a few hours. Even if all of my machines were simultaneously destroyed (fire, natural disaster, theft)... I could have all my computers restored within a couple of days.

    My WHS is not backed up... except for the redundant nature of Drive Extender architecture. Since I only have backup copies of music, docs, pictures, etc... there is no significant exposure to those data types since they are all backed up at least in 2 other places (including the cloud). My WHS is my primary storage location of a video library... but as I said earlier, that is easily re-creatable if necessary. Also, the physical size of the video collection is too unwieldy to back up to the cloud right now.

    Regarding placement of your TC. I prefer to keep it in a different physical location from the computer(s) it is backing up. Ideally, it would be in a locked location or completely out of sight. In the event of your local junkie doing a smash and grab... you would not want both your iMac and your TC to be stollen together.

    BTW: Even though I consider CP+ to be my primary backup... and my TC's to be secondary... almost all data restores are done via the TC's because of convenience. If you have not used TM/TC before... it is wonderful to use. When I have had equipment failures and Apple replaced my computers... or when I upgrade my equipment... it is just a few key clicks and your entire computer is completely restored, apps, data, settings, everything. I have not seen anything close on PCs. Also... TM/TC does full versioning, so you can restore any files that were inadvertently deleted or modified.

    Crashplan+ is "almost free" to use. If you buy a multi-year plan, unlimited backup of a single computer is only $3/month. I use the "unlimited family plan"... which which allows us to back-up all of our computers (including 2 daughter away at college) for just $6/month. I think I am currently backing up seven computers, the largest of which has 1.1TB of actual data backed up. It is the best deal on the internet and works on both PCs and Macs.

    Our family of five used to have 6 windows laptops, 3 windows desktops, plus the WHS (and tons of decommissioned equipment in the boneyard). Now we are down to 3 iMacs (soon to be 4), plus we each have a MBA, iPad, and iPhone. We have a single windows desktop (mostly as a front end for the WHS) and I do have a backup Windows laptop for work... since I cannot carry my MBA into Microsoft and expect to have a productive meeting.

    I think it is just a matter of time before I shut off the WHS for good.

  3. MendotaMike thread starter macrumors member

    Aug 1, 2011
    Twin Cities, MN
    Thanks for the great reply. I haven't yet managed to make myself comfortable with back up in the cloud. Seems like every other week or so there is a data breach somewhere. Probably not rational on my part, but I'm still squeamish about it. I will have to look into crash plan - those prices sound pretty compelling.

    Any thoughts on use of the TC's networking features?
  4. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Aug 9, 2009
    Portland, OR
    I believe the TC offers the same networking features as an Airport Express... which does support extending wireless networks etc.

    In my personal case, I use an Airport Express as my main router coming into the house. My Time Capsules are connected via an ethernet cable in a different part of the house (for security reasons). I once had the wireless enabled on one TC in bridge mode, and it act as a secondary access point to the home network. I no longer do this because the newest Airport Extremes have spectacular range and it is not necessary in my setup.



    Most of the good backup services (Crashplan+ included) do 100% of the encryption on your own computer. The only data that ever leaves your computer is encrypted with 448 bit blowfish encryption. It will never be cracked in your lifetime... or that of your kids and probably grandkids. There are an infinite number of ways to get your data easier than cracking your cloud backup.

    CP allows three levels of security. From least secure to most secure:
    1. Your generated key is kept under their control. An operator who has access to your keys, theoretically can access your data. You are trusting your data to the integrity of the company.
    2. Your key is initially generated on your computer, and then encrypted with a secondary password. They have no access to your key... hence they have no access to your data. This is very secure, and the option that I use.
    3. You specify your own 448b key... and you need to use this key every time you use the program. This is tedious to use, and offers no better security than option 2 IMHO. In some ways, it is worse if you happen to be sloppy with they key.
    Bottom line: Even if you were to take your backup files and make them publicly available... they would probably never be hacked. I hold the premise that if you do not have a fully automatic (with no human intervention) offsite backup strategy... your backup strategy is flawed.

  5. colonelbutt macrumors regular


    Nov 14, 2007
    I am not a cloud truster.
    It doesn't make sense with all my pictures and videos and current bandwidth anyway

    I have an iMac in a household of Windows PCs

    For backups I use WDs "my life book"s on the network
    they work fine with time machine and are the best (IMHO) network backup sources

    2tb ones seem ridiculously cheap at the moment

    BTW my iMac can se all my windows PCs and laptops and visa-versa. The integration was a non-event ;)
    Think a version of Linux on steroids :)

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