Synology NAS for Time Machine Backup

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by andyd409, Mar 26, 2016.

  1. andyd409 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #1
    Several years ago there were posts which said "Do not use any 3rd party NAS" for Time Machine.

    I went against the common (?) knowledge of the day and got a DS213j and to my knowledge it has been working fine. Is my experience not consistent with what is really happening or have things changed since 2013.

    The reason I am asking is I find myself in need of additional backup.

    My current system on my iMac is to clone the internal and external drives and back them up to TimeMachine on the NAS.

    I am starting to do more video work (hobby, but still important to me) on my MacBook Pro and I am wondering if the same backup would be fairly good. I already have the drives for clone of the internal drive and the external drive, but I am considering another NAS (not enough room on my current DS213j) for both computers.

    Has the state of 3rd party NAS changed in 3 years or am I just asking for trouble with my backup solution?

    Many thanks,

    Andy D
     
  2. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #2
    I don't think you will get a clear answer on this. Apple previously said networked Time Machine backups only worked properly with a target Mac running OS X Server edition or a Apple Time Capsule, or the new 802.1ac Airport Extreme with a USB drive attached. More recently that support document changed and it now says it will work on a network volume connected using AFP (which is what your Synology is doing). So for some reason Apple loosened up a little here.

    So with that said, what often happens is Apple will release a new OS version that has some changes to either AFP or the way Time Machine itself works, then that breaks things with some of these third party NAS solutions. You see posts here about it with every major OS release. Then you have to wait for the NAS vendor to release an update to make the NAS compatible with the new OS X version.

    I think if you stick with major band name NAS vendors like Synology or QNAP you will be okay until there is an OS X update. Then I would be very careful about updating the OS until you make sure that update won't break your Time Machine setup. So bottom line, I think it is a bit more risky than using say a Time Capsule, but the risk can be managed. Sounds like you are cloning in addition to the NAS, so all your eggs are not in one basket anyway, which is a good thing.

    https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT202784

    Screen Shot 2016-03-26 at 10.51.55 AM.png
     
  3. DFWHD macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2011
    #3
  4. deeddawg, Mar 28, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2016

    deeddawg macrumors 604

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    #4
    The biggest challenge in evaluating anecdotal reports is not knowing the specific circumstances and how they compare to your setup. Synology, as with the others, offer a variety of different units with a variety of performance capabilities. Individuals networks will vary in terms of quality and speed due to myriad factors.

    Another significant challenge, as you suspect, is that things change over time. What at one time didn't work well might today actually work reasonably decently.

    I used a Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra for several years, it did okay with TimeMachine. Not perfect, but okay. The one instance when a MBP drive died the TM restore worked fine, though I had the MBP hardwired for that restore as I figured it'd be faster than wifi. Individual file/folder restore performance seemed okay over wifi, though I never had to do much of that. I think only on one occasional was there an issue with an OSX upgrade breaking the TM; didn't really affect me as I typically will wait a couple months post-release before applying any OSX upgrades.

    I've just put in a Synology 216j as a replacement for the Netgear. In quick testing last night it was a bit slow to open up Time Machine from my Mac mini over wifi. I was also in the middle of syncing 40GB of stuff, including Aperture and Photos libraries, that I'd moved into the CloudStation synced folder, so likely had an effect. I'll try to remember to report back in a few days after I've had a chance to do further testing.

    My recommendation is three-fold. First, test whatever you try. See how it behaves in your own environment. Maybe even install OSX to an external drive and test out a TimeMachine restore. Second, if all you're after is TimeMachine backups and if compatibility is of utmost importance, it's likely safest to just go with a TimeCapsule. While Apple is by no means perfect, single-vendor solutions avoid finger-pointing when needing support. Third, and most important, do NOT rely on TimeMachine as your sole backup mechanism. It's a great component of a multi-tier schema, but shouldn't be the only backup.

    Note: I've also never used an actual Time Capsule so I can't offer a comparison either objectively or subjectively.
     
  5. arggg14 macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2014
    #5
    I've used a Synology NAS as my TM backup for a while now... Here's my experience.

    • Backups are slow, but they are consistent. The first one is an overnight project, the incremental backups move along quickly.
    • Restoring the backup is again, slow, but this does depend somewhat on your network. I average 100/mbps.
    • I've never had a failed backup or lost data. That said, all network setups are different and YMMV. I tested the TM backup on the NAS extensively and always had another backup on an external just in case.
     
  6. andyd409 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #6
    Thanks for the replies. I thought that my Synology NAS and clone backup approach was sufficienc, but now I feel better about it.
     
  7. davidcafor macrumors member

    davidcafor

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2014
    Location:
    Spain
    #7
    I have another question about Synology and OSX Backups.
    I've bought a 216Play and my plan is to backup the macbook pro using Time Machine. The main problem is that I'm out from home all day, so is there any way to "block" minor backups until I arrive home? For me, one backup-a-day is enough. If i have to upload by network conection every minor backup TM makes during the day I will spend hours xDD

    The next question is... do you use another software to have a full backup of the osx like the synology backup software?

    My plan is to make a backup in the NAS and another from the NAS to a external HDD with the synology special app.
     
  8. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2010
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    US
    #8
    Time Machine only looks for its destination on the local network; it doesn't seek it out over the Internet. Thus it'll run when you're home and not run when you're away from home. No actions needed on your part, it seems to figure it out on its own. Do note that you can set TM to not do a backup if on battery power; so depending on your home usage pattern you may want to adjust that setting.

    Personally, I use CrashPlan for my disaster-recovery offsite backups (e.g. house burns down or someone breaks in and takes everything). It works quite well. You can set your own private encryption key (443 bits), preventing anyone else from accessing your data unless they can figure out the key.

    I also use Carbon Copy Cloner to do drive-clones to an external HDD every now and then, typically if I'm about to do something like an OS upgrade or make major changes of some sort.
     
  9. andyd409 thread starter macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    #9
    I leave Time Machine turned off, and use the "Back Up Now" feature in TimeMAchine when I have made changes that I need to make sure get backed up, usually once a week.

    I also use SuperDuper to backup my internal drive and all connected drives on the same schedule as my TImeMachine backup (once a week). I have one drive as a clone of my internal drive and one drive to backup each of my external drives. I also have much of my iTunes content on one of my external drives as well as my internal drive. I should have two drives for each for backup, so I can use rotating clone backups of my internal and external drives, but it seems to me that the clones and TimeMachine backup might be sufficient, I guess I will find out one day.

    I have not yet gotten into backing up my NAS as I ONLY use it for backup (not active use storage). So in this case I do believe my RAID is backup.

    Just MHO, YMMV,

    Andy
     
  10. davidcafor macrumors member

    davidcafor

    Joined:
    Jun 2, 2014
    Location:
    Spain
    #10
    Thanks so much for the tips!
    Will go using TimeMachine as my main backup process from the mac to the Nas and then I will use Synology Backup app to make a backup from Nas to an externas HDD.
     
  11. deeddawg macrumors 604

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2010
    Location:
    US
    #11
    Personally I wouldn't do it that way. You're still utterly depending on your TimeMachine backup to be complete, correct, and uncorrupted. Also, a backup of a backup inherently adds a layer of risk.

    Better to use CarbonCopyCloner or SuperDuper to perform the HDD backup directly from your computer. If you can truly keep a reasonably current backup HDD offsite to protect against catastrophic loss (fire/flood/theft), that might be workable. Personally, I tried that with many great intentions and found the reality was that I rarely actually did the backups and rotation. That's when I bit the bullet and bought a CrashPlan subscription and now my offsite backups occur regularly without me touching a thing. ;)
     

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