Seeking NAS Advice

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Mr. Glass, Jan 26, 2011.

  1. Mr. Glass macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2007
    Hello Everyone,

    After having multiple HDD's fail, I have finally decided to purchase a network attached storage device that will allow me to easily create backups.

    I am new to NAS', but here are my criteria:

    *Ability to stream MKV and uncompressed Blu-ray ISO's to my MacBook Air both locally and remotely, and possibly also to an Android phone and iPad

    --Note: I am attempting to migrate my DVD and Blu-ray collection to HDD, so that I don't have to carry discs & external drives with me when I travel.

    --If possible, I would prefer to accomplish this independently (ie: without needing to a computer to sit next to the NAS and render/convert/compress the video so it's watchable on the MacBook Air, Android Phone, or iPad. I want to be able to go over to a friend's house, with my MacBook air connected via HDMI to their TV and via WiFi to the internet, and locate a particular MKV file and play it with Plex or VLC on the MacBook air, without the file being present on the Air's internal HDD. If this is completely impossible, I'd like to at least be able to remotely copy the file to the Air's internal HDD, while at someone else's house, in a timely manner.)

    -Under $1200 (preferably, but I'm flexible here), including 2x 2TB HDD's

    -5 HDD bays

    -Expandable to additional units (not essential, but nice)

    -Mac friendly

    -The ability to easily backup and mirror one or multiple HDD's to another

    -Self scanning/"self healing" - if drive errors/bad sectors are found, a backup is initiated automatically

    After doing some basic research on Newegg, Amazon, and by word of mouth, these two are currently at the top of my list:

    Thank you for your help and I look forward to your recommendations!

  2. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    Consider ShareTool to get Bonjour access over the internet. It will make your remote system see everything on your home network. Whether or not you can stream will mostly depend on the "up" data rate to your ISP.

    I can't help with your NAS choice as I use a server computer here to hold all my media files.
  3. Mr. Glass thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2007

    Thank you for your reply! Pardon the noob questions, but what is the difference in functionality between a NAS and a server computer? I always thought of the more advanced NAS devices as basically being servers.

    What do you use for your server computer?
  4. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    You can think of a NAS as a server that only serves files.

    I've got a Mac mini with Snow Leopard Server. My story about installing it is
    here. 5 TB (plus the "toaster") on it now with an additional drive planned for later this year.
  5. kohlson macrumors 68000

    Apr 23, 2010
    Agree with Talmy. In general, anything a NAS can do, a server can do more/better. A mini is great: small, quiet, very expandable and configurable. May be pricier than a NAS, and may not hold 8+ TB's of storage, at least easily. I would add one more thing to consider -- that everything is Raid1/mirror, and the native file format is established (like HFS, Fat32, ext3). Here's why. In 5 years' time, it's likely your NAS will fail in some way. If one disk goes, no problem, you've got RAID1. If a controller/fan/PS fails, it may be more difficult to get the data from the NAS disks onto something else if they are "proprietary," and they aren't around anymore (bought by Cisco/Netgear/Huawei/...). But you could always take a disk formatted under Mac/Win/Linux and plug it into most computers and read the data. Something to consider.
  6. MSM Hobbes macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2006
    NE Hoosierana

    That is some story,,, please, put a disclaimer for the weak of heart and lack of patience! :D

    On more serious note - I've been kicking about different idea, and am still struggling over what is "best" for us, with my search / desire to have a "central" storage for all of our images, music, videos, and movies, so that the current 24" iMac (that is upstairs) and the MacBook (that is downstairs, same room as the modem/router {AirPortExpress}) can equally just as fast access all of these items,,, and once I acquire either a 27"iMac or MacPro for faster digital image processing, of course need that to be able to access all too. Anyhow, that is why reading with interest this potential option - but then realizing that I'd be insane(r) after just the first day :eek: So, search continues...
  7. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    I have three NAS's and I am not a fan of constructing a PC with hard drives as a NAS, as far as I am concerned a PC has too many points of failure over a NAS, such as power supply, OS, fans, etc. I have has a NAS up and running for over two years without a problem, not to say you can't also achieve this with a PC but I don't think the cost benefit of doing it with a PC is much better, as well most NAS's now have user friendly web gui interfaces and offer a ton of features such as, time machine support, ftp server, web server, iSCSI and more.

    Look at offerings from these companies: Thecus, Synology, Qnap and Netgear to name a few.
  8. Dalton63841 macrumors 65816


    Nov 27, 2010
    Been using freenas for about 2 years now...drop a bunch of hard drives into an old PC, install freenas onto an SD, CF, or USB flash drive, and call it a day. The only down time I've had out of it is once every 2 months it is down about 20 minutes while I upgrade to the newest nightly build.

    Best part is I built it with spare PC parts I had in a closet, so pretty much free.
  9. Mr. Glass thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 3, 2007
    This is precisely why I am a little bit anxious at the thought of putting together my own box (which is something I have given more thought to lately).

    The Synology DS1511+ is appealing to me as it has a decent warranty (3 years, although I would prefer the 5 year offering on some of Netgear's products) and it seems to be a reliable, turnkey solution.

    Some of these newer, more powerful NAS', like the Drobo FS and the Synology DS1511+ appear to act more like servers and less like a NAS.

    Bottom line: will a premium NAS have enough horsepower to stream to a device like an iPad or Android phone over a cellar network? (I have a 20Mbps upload rate, so bandwidth on my end is not an issue.)
  10. reebzor macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2008
    Philadelphia, PA
    Another +1 for a server.

    I owned a Qnap NAS for a couple of months and despite it's crappy hardware/price ratio, it was decent. The biggest problem I had with it is that there is no local console. If, for whatever reason, you can no longer connect to the NAS's web interface or SSH in, you are SOL. I needed to reset the thing constantly, which kept me wondering how safe my data was.

    I recently built a hackintosh with a raid card in an 8bay hotswap server chassis. Built the machine for about $700 sans harddrives and it can do so much more than my NAS ever could. The hackintosh is kind of a PITA sometimes, but its much more hassle free than my Qnap was.

    Price difference:
    $450 - 4Bay Qnap, 800mhz ARM cpu with 256mb of ram
    $700 - 8Bay 6gbps SATA/SAS hardware RAID 5 2.93ghz dual core cpu with 4gb of ram

    On just price alone, the server will win. Software is sometimes an issue, there is FreeNAS and stuff which I used and didn't really like, it is almost identical to the Qnap's interface. Using some version of Windows, WHS, Ubuntu, or OS X, you have many more options.
  11. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I got the Mac mini server because I wanted a pure Apple solution, but prior to that I used an old Dell desktop computer running Windows XP Pro as the server. It ran 24/7 for 8 years and 1 month before decommissioning without any repairs or OS reinstalls. I hope the mini does as well.

    One thing to keep in mind for file servers is that just about any old system will do, and the more rugged (rather than cutting edge) the system is the better. Old servers or commercial-grade desktops work best. They can be bought for next to nothing and you can always install Linux for free. And any server will be more flexible than a closed NAS solution.
  12. AppleMatt macrumors 68000


    Mar 17, 2003
    Drobo FS all the way.

    You said you wanted network attached, but linked to the standard Drobo (which you would need to share via a computer). The FS you can share via a router, and even have it hosting a shared iTunes library, FTP etc.

  13. Brettla macrumors regular

    Apr 28, 2004
    No matter which NAS you are looking at it will still have these same points of failure that are brought up here, they all have power supplies, OSs, and most likely fans, so I really don't think this is a good argument for not building one yourself. I've been looking into this idea recently and it seems like many people are very satisfied with open source NAS software like Open Filer and Free NAS. One of the reasons that pushes me to go this route is that I can use better parts when I build one myself and avoid the chance that the off the shelf NAS has a few cheap parts in it because they wanted better margins. The best part of building one is that down the road if a part fails, go to Newegg, order a standard PC part and you are done, if a part goes on a drobo or something like that you will have to go through the manufacturer, and if its out of warranty, good luck with that.
  14. ashman70 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 20, 2010
    I hear what you are saying but NAS's are built for one thing, to provide 24x7 storage, so the components are built for that, the three NAS's I have are a testament to that, I've never had one die on me or crash at all, and they range from 2-5 yrs in age. Certainly you have more freedom and choice in building one yourself, but remember, you are your own support, whereas while mine are under warranty, I can call or email someone for help, you are on your own, or can go to forums for support. In the end, I think you get what you pay for, the NAS's I have have a ton of functionality built into them, they have small footprints and suit my needs, they certainly cost more then DIY solutions, but for me, personally, its what I prefer.
  15. melagodo, Jan 29, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2011

    melagodo macrumors newbie

    Nov 14, 2010
    Trento, Italy
    I have had a Qnap for 1 years, and I'm completely satisfied with it (it's the 459 Pro).
    You DO have a local console, you just need a monitor and a keyboard!
    And I've never had to reset it, since the last firmware update I have a 4 months uptime ;)
    I'm just using everything of it: from Torrent client, to Mysql server, uPnP with Twonky, SAMBA and AFP sharing, actually 4 computers + 3 xbmc clients are using it.

    So, I highly suggest it!

    I'm not saying NAS are always the best solution. But I'm not such a linux expert, and would be difficult for me to configure a decent machine.
    With Qnap you get everything out of the box; if you need upnp, one click and it's done; same for mysql, sharing, users, installing new applications (the 459 it's not ARM cpu).

    And if you're in trouble, you can skype Qnap! I had a network issue (yeah, my fault, was just messing around) and the guy from qnap solved it with Teamviewer.
    Plus, there are also dedicated forum, where everybody is sharing (almost) the same platform.
    Plus the disks are just ext3, so in case of hardware failure it would be easy to back up all data.

    As for your question, you can stream MKV and uncompressed Blu-ray ISO, but forget about Qnap to transcode your video to something smaller!

    Just my 2 cents

  16. Superman07 macrumors 6502a

    Aug 28, 2007
    I put the following question in this thread ( a few weeks ago, but didn't get an answer. Perhaps somebody here could lend some input.


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