Synology NAS or DAS for Mac Mini 2012

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by noahmateen1234, Jul 17, 2015.

  1. noahmateen1234 macrumors member

    Oct 2, 2008
    I currently have my Mini serving as my HTPC running Plex on it with external HDD's connected. I want to set up a RAID5 array with 4 drives in the future. Here are some questions I had

    1) Should I just get the Synology 414j or 415play and hook it up to my router? I would initially have a 2TB and a 4TB, and eventually add more 4TB as time goes on.

    2) I could get a OWC 4bay Qx2 4-bay and hook it up to my Mini via USB3.0. Could I start with 2x4TB drives in RAID 1, then later on add a 3rd and do RAID5, then eventually add another? Could I do all this without having to format?

    #2 is the cheaper route, but I want to know if I can change the RAID array as time goes on. I have heard great things about Synology, but since I have the Mac Mini would a NAS be necessary? If I went with the second option, I would install OSX Server and set up file sharing.

    This is mostly to stream my library through Plex to my Fire TV, Chromecast, and my Macbook. Also I would use it to back up my 2 laptops.
  2. Cassady macrumors 6502a


    Jul 7, 2012
    I've started a similar thread a few days back – and am completely new to this as well. I'm going with DAS, connecting a Vantec usb enclosure to the back of my Mini using USB 3.0.

    I have only heard good things about Synology – the only thing that had me looking elsewhere was the price. They are not cheap – but then, you get what you pay for, which is obviously a good thing.

    That all being said – whereas I don't profess to know much about anything – I specifically checked on your question as well, since I too will have to start with RAID1, and then change over to RAID5, as I add drives 3 (and later, 4). I too am only starting with 2x2TB WD Red's.

    From what I have been told/have found and read, the 'rebuild' to convert from RAID1 to 5, is a "nuke and pave". As in, everything must be done from scratch. That will involve first copying everything that is on my RAID1 disk, over to different externals (thankfully I have plenty lying around – since I won't be using them when I setup the RAID disk with internal drives) – then formatting/erasing the RAID1 (thereby wiping everything), rebuilding to RAID5, and then copying everything back to the new RAID disk, off those externals.

    It's a PITA – but from what I gather, the only alternative is not to start with anything, until I have all three disks, and then beginning with RAID5 from the outset. Bottom line, the changeover from RAID1 to 5, sees a complete wipe and new set-up.

    Hopefully others will confirm the above, but figured I just throw this out there!
  3. noahmateen1234 thread starter macrumors member

    Oct 2, 2008
    Thanks for the help. So if I get 3 drives to begin with and set up RAID 5, can I add a 4th later on without having to wipe everything again?
  4. Cassady macrumors 6502a


    Jul 7, 2012
    That's how I understand it - but I'd ask you to check with someone/somewhere else!

    I'm just starting out as well, so this is all new to me.

    Google RAID setups, there are some good guides out there. Pretty sure that's what I saw - but maybe it's dependent on whether it's Hardware or Software RAID, so I'd rather you confirm independently.
  5. nebo1ss macrumors 68030

    Jun 2, 2010
    Here is a link to the process of Upgrading Synology.

    I started off very much like you with a bunch of external drives hanging off the back of the Macmini. These were all 1gig 2.5 drives and to save money what I did was the buy the Synology 414Slim with no drives and break open the existing externals and use the 2.5 inch drives in the synology.
  6. ixxx69 macrumors 65816

    Jul 31, 2009
    United States
    Just a few things to consider based on my experience (and what I've read)...

    Synology units are awesome... in a Windows world (where I've set up a few of them over the last few years). They (and all the other NAS units I'm familiar with) work "okay" with Macs, but I found file transfer performance to be extremely hit and miss. Macs just don't seem to handle the SMB/AFP very well with anything other than other Apple devices, which meant occasionally ridiculously slow file transfer performance with certain file types (e.g. 1MB/s speeds compared to the normal 80-100MB/s). It drove me nuts, and I never found a good solution, and so I returned the unit I tried out, and now use a separate Mac as a "server" with external drives hooked up to that, which has consistently worked very well and trouble free (p.s. despite others mentioning "OS X Server", that is not needed for basic network file sharing).

    Individual USB3 external enclosures work great. Multi-bay USB3 external drives have a really spotty track record from everything I've read in user reviews... which I usually I would be very skeptical of, but in this case, I've read enough from knowledgeable users that I would take seriously. Overwhelming complaints are random disconnections, an issue you rarely see for single drive enclosures. Thunderbolt really seems the way to go for multi-bay enclosures... in this case, it sounds like you get what you pay for.

    Keep in mind fan noise. Almost all NAS devices and most multi-bay enclosures have cooling fans. This is very subjective based on personal sensitivity and environment and the unit itself, but a lot of people find such a unit sitting next to their Mac/tv to be annoying. One of the nice things about a NAS is that you can often stick them in a more remote location where the fan noise won't be a bother.
  7. dvdchance, Jul 23, 2015
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015

    dvdchance macrumors regular

    Jun 21, 2012
    I will also sing the praises of Sinology units. With a big but however.

    I am running an always on Mini as a Plex server. With Lion and Maverick it was awesome. With Yosemite, however, shares are consistently getting unmounted. Causes nightmares with Plex. I have tried 4 or 5 third party utilities and nothing will keep those shares always mounted.

    Outside of that...they are awesome devices.
  8. petvas macrumors 601


    Jul 20, 2006
    Mannheim, Germany
    I have a Synology DS214play and I love it. Works fast and reliable, and the additional capabilities are well worth it (Video streaming, iTunes server, webdav sharing, picture sharing, etc).
  9. CUDA_Switch macrumors newbie

    Jul 23, 2015
    I just registered so I could respond to this post. I have a Synology NAS for backup and a 2012 Mini running Plex, so I thought my experience could be useful. The TL;DR version: it really depends on your needs, your priorities, and your budget :rolleyes:

    But seriously, these are the things I would consider. Since I don't have too many specifics about your situation, I'm going to talk about options primarily from a cost perspective...

    • I think you're going to get the most bang for your buck using internal 3.5" SATA drives. External drives are usually more expensive for less storage, and they tend to pile up. You mentioned you're already using externals on the Mini anyway.
    • Synology is not a cheap solution, but a very flexible one. You can do so much with those boxes and they have a decent app selection, as well as really active community support. You can even run Plex server on it if you like. I only use mine as a Time Machine and rsync backup box right now because I have solutions for the other stuff I want to do. So I'd say the NAS is worth getting, especially if you plan on taking full advantage of it. It should also support your expandable RAID volume requirement. I can't remember the specifics but Synology (and really most any decent NAS these days) can do a RAID hybrid volume that is more flexible than standard RAID 1/5, and should be expandable as long as you're using supported drives.
    • Personally I'm not a big fan of DAS. I don't like hanging a bunch of externals off the Mini, and solutions like Drobo are too much for what you get. I looked at that OWC device and holy crap, that thing is expensive! If you're spending that kind of money, get a NAS and make the most of it.
    • I got a relatively cheap 413j NAS last year because I already had supported hard drives and didn't need a powerful NAS for backup. I found that Plex works great as well, except for the fact that it's too underpowered for transcoding. That's why I use the Mini, that and the fact that you can do anything on the Mini's Plex server you want. Customizing Plex on the NAS (like setting up ATV3 as a client) is doable but more difficult.

    So all that having been said: if expandability of the volume is key, you don't mind shelling out a little more $, and you could benefit from the features the NAS can do, Synology would be a good way to go and you could probably get by with a low-ball 4-bay model. Especially if you want to run Plex off it instead. But if you just need the storage and a NAS seems like overkill, another option to consider could be to just drop an additional internal drive in the Mini if that can get you by for right now. It's cheap and you can always expand further down the road. If you like, you could even mirror them with software RAID-1 but remember that any RAID is less important than a solid backup strategy.

    My 2¢,
  10. dapitts08 macrumors regular

    Jul 1, 2009
    I am actually thinking about selling ds414 that i bought at the beginning of the year. When I bought it I was using my mac mini as my primary machine for work so getting it made sense. Now I am using my macbook pro as my primary workhorse so thinking about using my mac mini as a server with connected drives instead.
  11. SDAVE macrumors 68040


    Jun 16, 2007
    I have an HP MicroServer with 4Bays (Raid 5 supported) running Windows 2012 R2 and it's great. This little bugger can do anything. I run iTunes as a server on it, Plex (with realtime HD conversion) and as a file server (SMB) for work related stuff off gigabit network.

    It's been working flawlessly for years and I can keep upgrading the drive capacities as they get bigger. Needs a little tinkering like adding a RAID card (instead of using the onboard RAID) and adding a nice NIC, but its great.

    I was going to go to Synology but I need the control of Windows if I want to expand features later in the future.

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