Picking the best mirrored backup... Which one?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Wishbone17, Jan 7, 2010.

  1. Wishbone17 macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2010
    Okay, so let me explain my background before I get to what I am looking to do. I recently accepted a job at a company that would allow me enough money to replace the PowerMac Dual 2.0 tower with a nice new iMac 24", AND get that nice MBP that I have been need/wanting for a while.

    I have worked as a freelance commercial director and photographer for several years and still use Aperture for much of the photography work I do on the side.

    All told I probably have 750 GB of information that I want to back up currently.

    That said, I am looking at turning for a nice simple way to backup all this information in a streamlined way. I want to eliminate the (literally) SIX HDs that I have that are all running through hubs to my mac. They are successfully backing up my info, but I want to get something that can do it automatically so I can just tell it to update "Photos" folder every Sunday night at 1.00am and it will.

    I am also looking for a system that I can store a HD remotely (at my parents house across town) or at my friend's so that I have a save backup that is away from the rest of the mess.

    I am fairly tech savy, but don't want to worry with running a bunch of cables and routers and such. I looked at a DROBO but saw the reviews on NewEgg were not so good.

    Any ideas? In a nutshell, I am looking for a redundant backup drive to connect to my new computer (iMac) and, if possible, something I can access over the internet so that I can have a backup that is safe from a break-in or house fire.

    Also, is there a way that I could connect said local drive to a network so that I could access files from my MBP if the drive is connected to the iMac on the other side of the house? Lazy I know, but sometimes it helps.
  2. milbournosphere macrumors 6502a


    Mar 3, 2009
    San Diego, CA
    Check out western digital's mirrored hard dives. I use two. One for time machine backups, and one for other data(long term storage). The enclosure is nice; if one drive in the set dies, it is easy to pull it out of the enclosure. You can send the bum drive in and wd will send a new one. One of these, in addition to time machine should do what you want. I also have my data drive shared using samba so that my other macs and windows box can see it on the network. I am happy with the setup. I have always had good luck with wd drives; I would not use anything else. I have their 1tb mirrored mybook model. Hope this helps!

    Edit: it should get you going; you'll have o look elsewhere for the remote backup solution
  3. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    Assuming you mean 27" iMac?

    Heres what I would, and do, do. =)

    3 drives: a 1TB USB 2 drive as a bootable backup for your internal drive using Superduper. Next a 2TB FW800 drive, and a final 2TB USB 2 drive.

    Store ALL of your working files on the external 2TB FW 800 drive. Also use Superduper to clone that drive to the 2TB USB 2 drive.

    We sorta use the same setup in my studio. Each Mac in my studio only has the basics on it. System, apps, fonts. All working files are stored on a external FW800 drive that we share over a gigabit network. File access is seamless and quick.

    Each machine has/needs a small drive to use as a bootable backup if any whole machine were to suddenly fail. A little different from your setup.

    We have Superduper set to do incremental backups 2X a day, at noon and 9PM. If our main drive were to fail at 11:59 am or 8:59 pm, the worse that would happen is that we would lose 1/2 days of work. Of course I could increase the regularity of the backups if that was a concern.

    I would go with single bay cases from OWC myself. No fans = no noise.

    Prices are a touch high, but worth it.

    Any dual bay or multi bay case will have fans, ugh.

    Having your MBP access the files on the iMac or the external FW800 drive is easy, just add a wireless router and turn on file sharing. Accessing files is simple enough, but, working on them might be a touch slow, even via wireless "n".

    As for accessing files over the net, well, that really depends exactly what you mean by "access". If you just want to look at files, well, thats not a problem. But if you plan on "working" on files or doing anything else along those line, I would say thats not really feasible. Not that it cant be done. But its sloow. Maybe knowing exactly what you expect from that might help us.
  4. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    What you really want is called Network Attached Storage. Drobo is one of those, and I'm surprised to hear of the bad reviews - everything I have ever heard about them has been positive. They are expensive, but offer some nice options. You don't necessarily need to go that route, however as there are plenty of other less expensive NAS units on the market. Many of them support RAID 1, but honestly, if you are using it as a backup device, RAID 1 gains you very little - really only the uptime of replacing a failed drive. So long as it is in fact only storing backups the RAID gains you nothing, and costs you 1/2 your disk space.

    My recommendation would be that you use something like this with Time Machine backing up your computers. This means that any computer connected to your network is automatically backed up every hour that they are on. Don't underestimate the importance of this detail. The Synology device can also be configured to give you remote access over the Internet, although the restrictions noted above are certainly applicable. Make sure that you buy a large enough hard disk in the iMac to store a local copy of all of your data there so that you can use the NAS for backup ONLY. If necessary, you can share certain folders on the iMac so that other clients have direct access to the original (not backup) data. (Or, as Badger^2 notes above, store all the working data on an external, shared drive, and then backup that as well as the clients to the NAS.)

    Next, for the remote storage, the most ideal system would also be automatic, and while there are cloud storage providers that will backup even 750GB of data for reasonable cost, the limiting factor is that it would take weeks or months to make the initial backup. One option would be to use Crashplan and use their 'seed your data' option where they mail you a 1TB drive, you make the initial backup to that drive, and then mail it back to them. At that point you then need only to backup the changed files, which happens automatically every day, and is manageable even if you have gigabytes of new or changed files at times.

    Another remote option is to set up a remote drive (either connected to a friends or family's computer, or better yet, another Synology device) and then use Crashplan or similar to backup to that location. Frankly though, the first option is more reliable, likely to be faster, and probably cheaper in the long run. Either of these options is far preferable to the other option which is keeping a pair of usb or firewire external drives that you manually back up and manually rotate off-site.

    Regardless, if you go any of these network routes (which I'd strongly encourage you to consider) you will want the fastest local network possible. If you don't already have a N router with gigabit ports, get one - it will be worth it.
  5. mondesi43 macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2007
    I have a Drobo, no issues whatsoever over the year I've owned it. If you figure out the simplicity of using it, upgrading it, and having true backup even if a drive fails....it's soooooo worth it.
  6. Wishbone17 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2010
    I did mean 27" iMac. To clarify that.

    Ideally what I would like to do is to have a home network connected HD that I can access from either iMac or MBP. The idea would be to have iTunes, and all my, legally acquired, movies and other media files on that drive so that my wife can play music, but if I want to get a movie from my folder I can. I wouldn't be streaming movies from the HD, more so using that HD as a store house for media files. If I wanted to watch a movie on my MBP I would just copy it to the HD. The idea being that it frees up a lot of space on the actual computer HDs for apps and such.

    I would then need a HD that automatically backs up my iMac and MBP, as well as any changes made to the "Media Drive" so that I can have a back up for that as well.

    To better explain what I am looking for, I just want a remote backup system in the event of an "act of God" were to destroy the "media drive" and the back up at the house, I would have my butt covered. I don't want to access the files over the internet, or work on them. I just want to back it up so that if my backup, and media drive fail, i can drive across town (or get from wherever) a copy of my backed up files.

    All that said, I am looking to get 3 two-four TB drives. 1 to connect to my iMac, or router as the "media drive" and 1 to connect to either the computer or router with the "backup drive". The third one would be an offsite drive that is nothing more than a "Plan Z" where all my files backup to an offsite location.

    As for routers, I don't have a "N" router at the moment but have been eyeing some. Since I am a Mac person should I go ahead and get the airport extreme router from Apple? or is there a better one?

    I am sorry for making this so confusing. I am just sick of having 6-8 harddrives connected to my Powermac that range from 250gb -1TB that are all used for back up or bootable media drives. I want to get some drives that are big enough that I can rest easy for a couple of years.
  7. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    It sounds like what you want to do and what I laid out for you in the above post mesh pretty well.

    Here's what I'd buy:

    - Airport Extreme (considered to be one of the better consumer grade routers)
    - 3 identical external hard drives
    • 1 as the Network Share for your working files and media, connected to the iMac. (This share could also reside internally to the iMac, which are available with 2TB drives, but in case of drive failure, an external drive would be easier to deal with).
    • 1 as the local backup for that drive and for the other clients in the house, connected to the Airport Extreme.
    • 1 as the offsite backup, mirroring the backup drive to preserve the file versioning of the TM backups. I still think an automated cloud solution is a better remote backup system, but this will certainly work ok. Mostly I worry about constantly forgetting to bring the drive home to update it.
  8. Wishbone17 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 7, 2010
    In that case, do you still recommend the Synology DS209 Diskless System Disk Station 2-bay SATA NAS Server or do you think something else would work?

    Ideally the two that would be at my house I just need to be able to access over a wireless (or wired) network from either computer.

    I looked at the WD Digital My Book Studio 4TB version and the WD World Book drives as well. I really am not partial to any brand or price (within reason). I just want drives that all match and are easy to work with.

    Thanks for all the good advice.
  9. Badger^2 macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2009
    For me, the problem with any multi bay case is the noise.

    I have also heard many negatives with Drobos.

    My opinion is that single bay 2TB drives are the only way to go.

    Problem with most NAS setups is speed. In my experience inexpensive NASes are really slow. They can only be used for backup, file access just isnt their forte.

    I think the whole idea of "offsite" backup is a good one, you could easily just buy another USB drive take it wherever you want. Heck, they even have portable 2.5" 1TB drives that dont even need a power plug.

    I have looked at the online backup as well, but only Crashplan, which has the 1TB drive and the ability to have multiple macs backup to it is the only one to
  10. flottenheimer macrumors 65816


    Jan 8, 2008
    Up north
  11. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    The Synology offers the ability of RAID 1 if you are looking for redundancy, RAID 0 if you are looking for speed, or Just a Bunch of Disks if you are looking to span a couple of drives as 1 volume. It also offers a bunch of cool management features and different 'apps' if that stuff interests you. It is not, however, completely necessary for what you are looking to do, and would be significantly more expensive than just buying an external drive.

    I use a NAS as a combined backup device and storage of stuff that I don't backup - things like movies, television shows, large program or OS installs, etc. that I want to be available to any client in the house, but are not worth backing up. In fact, the NAS has far more disk space than I am easily able to backup, but that's ok - I just backup what is important.

    If any of that appeals to you, go for something like the Synology, otherwise, the simplest system is that which was laid out for you above - 3 usb drives and an Airport Extreme. Three of these drives would do you nicely, although don't sweat the specific drive selection too much - if you do everything that has been suggested here, you are going to be very well backed up, so any drive failure would be an inconvenience, nothing more.
  12. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    Yes, noise is an issue for me as well, but the great thing about NAS is that you can put it anywhere in the house. My 6 drive server hums away in the basement where it is kept cool and well out of sight and mind.

    NAS doesn't have to be slow. Those based on RAID 5 often are, especially for writes, but a dual drive NAS in any RAID mode should not be appreciably slower than a directly attached drive, provided you are connected to it via Gigabit Ethernet.
  13. ABG macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2003
    United Kingdom
    +1, although I've only had mine for about 4 months. Was able to slot in an external 1Tb WD external drive that had failed (but the HDD was still OK) and have a 1Tb, 1.5Tb and 2Tb installed. The only downsides I've had are the fan can be noisy (in comparison to the iMac) and even on FW800 I takes a second to load up files etc. I just got fed up with all the external drives I have cluttering up the place, so upgradablity when needing more space was key.

    I much prefer to to the 1Tb (4 drive) raid 5 Buffalo Terastation I got a few years back.
  14. ABG macrumors 6502

    Oct 5, 2003
    United Kingdom
    I just had a 2Tb WD MyStudio die after 5 months use. Stripped it down but it was the HDD not the interface. First I'd had a problem with so I wouldn't necessarily say avoid, but WD seems to have some problems of late.

    The 1Tb MyStudio we have connected to the 24' iMac is still fine (although full despite just being used for TM for 18 months)

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