TimeMachine and home server: Mac Mini, FreeNAS, NAS or Windows?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Vinxi, Oct 7, 2014.

  1. Vinxi, Oct 7, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014

    Vinxi macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #1
    Hi everybody,

    I need your help, I am sorry for my english, it's not my first language.
    I'd like to set a low power comsumption home server for sharing files between 2 macs and a PC, apache/mysql server, iTunes server and Time Machine backups. (with redudancy)

    The solutions I found so far are:

    1) DIY FreeNAS box (I'm not a "terminal lover" and I'm "scared" about Linux and about TM reliability not using Apple products)
    2) NAS (same as FreeNAS)
    3) DIY Windows 8 with Storage Spaces + Airport Extreme as router for TM backups
    4) Mac Mini + external enclosure (very expensive solution)

    What do you guys think?
    Thanks!
     
  2. rctlr macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    May 9, 2012
    #2
    Windows and an external drive seems the simplest solution if you already have the kit.
    Set up shares, and backup from mac to windows.
    It also runs iTunes, so you can access content via iTunes home sharing on Macs, and apps on iOS devices.

    The Airport Extreme can be used as NAS Storage, and accessible over AFP to other macs and iOS devices using good player or files

    There are a few off the shelf things you might like to try
    - WD my cloud external drive
    - Seagate Central

    I have used the macmini method with an old 2007 model. Works a treat. Used iTunes and AirVideo from it to iPads and iPhones. I had old kit, so it cost me nothing to set up. You can find a 2007 model quite cheaply on ebay now, as they cannot get upgraded past Lion (mine still runs Snow Leopard).
     
  3. Vinxi, Oct 7, 2014
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2014

    Vinxi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #3
    Thanks for your answer.

    The only problem with Windows is that TM over SMB shares seems not so reliable (I read a lot of threads about corrupted backups), so I should buy an Airport Extreme too for backups of my 2 macs. (I don't have a router yet since I'm moving to a new house)

    I read about My Cloud and Seagate Central and they seem not able to do apache/mysql server. :(
     
  4. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

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    Location:
    California
    #4
    You are correct about this. Do not trust your Time Machine backups to those hacked solutions or an unsupported configuration.

    That said, the only two supported TM solutions on your list are backup to an external disk on the new tower shaped 802.11ac Airport Extreme, or backup to a Mini (or any Mac) with OS X Server running. You just add the $19.99 server package to an existing OS X install.

    Since you don't have a router, the Airport Extreme with a USB external would work well for your TM backups, but will be horrible for the other items on your list.

    If it were me I would buy a more full featured router (look here for good reviews) and use that with a Mini for all your server and TM needs. A low end refurb. Mini would be more than enough for this.
     
  5. Vinxi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #5
    Thank you for your answer. I always used an Airport but I would love to have more configurable feature, like firewall rules, schedule, "more precise" guest network or URL filtering. My only fear is that while the Airport seems "designed to work with Apple", I don't know if routers of other brands will work "flawlessly" (no connection issue, always online etc..) as the Airport does.
     
  6. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #6
    I get your concern, but there is absolutely nothing special about Apple's routers that make them work any better with Apple products than any other router* (beyond the Airport Utility configuration software). They even use the exact same Broadcom chip used in other brands.

    I am not saying there is anything wrong with Apple routers, I just do not buy the idea at all that they are any more reliable than other established brands. If you look at online reviews for any popular router you will find some bad reviews/experiences.

    Now stand by for all the posts from users saying how router brand X sucks and their Apple router is better. :D

    This is kind of like going to a BMW forum and asking what members think of Audis.

    I use a Time Capsule only because of the easy builtin backup solution it provides, but if I did not need that capability there is no way I would buy an Apple router simply because of the lack of even the most basic features.

    * I realize Apple's routers support Time Machine and things like Back to my Mac, but I am talking about non-proprietary router functions.
     
  7. Vinxi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #7
    Thank you again. It seems that a Netgear R7000 + Mac Mini + external enclosure is the perfect solution for all my needs and beyond. Now I need to find a good external enclosure under 200€ for my HDDs. :D
     
  8. spatlese44 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 13, 2007
    Location:
    Milwaukee
    #8
    So by adding OS X Server, an external connected, shared drive, connected to a Mac Mini becomes a viable TM option, but without it it's not? Does OS X Server use SMB? I'm asking because I have this configuration and use to backup the Mini and a MB with the MB utilizing the shared drive. I have added a TC as I heard this was unreliable, but wouldn't mind having a secondary backup and if all I need to do is add Server, I might do it. It's the first useful function I've heard that would justify adding it.
     
  9. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #9
    Yes exactly. TM to OS X server is officially supported by Apple and would be reliable. OS X server would be using AFP for TM backups.
     
  10. Vinxi thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    #10
    Time Machine needs AFP and Apple kept that way even in Mavericks where SMB2 became the perferred sharing protocol. You could enable TM to backup to unsupported volume like the SMB share but it's not reliable, people lost their data that way because of corrupted backups.

    Linux has Netatalk that can emulate AFP and that's way routers, NAS, Freenas boxes and others have TM support, but I don't know if they are reliable like the backups made on Apple official products.
     
  11. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2010
    #11
    I run a Synology NAS a 412+, although that doesn't matter as they all run the same software.

    I use it for Time Machine and it works fine with several Macs running Mavericks. I've also used it with Windows 7 and 8 as a backup destination and it's fine with them too. It might not be supported by Apple, but it does work.

    It has the ability to install apps, Apache, etc. and it's quiet and energy efficient. It's not as cheap or flexible as a DIY NAS, but it 'just works' and in daily use I don't even think about it. If you need high performance then Synology make some more powerful NAS appliances, but they aren't cheap, this is where a DIY solution might be better.

    I personally think a time capsule is too limited in it's functionality, for my needs but if you need something that is simple to use and is 100% supported then this is the way to go.
     
  12. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #12
    The issue with these NAS devices is it seems like every time there is a new OS X version it breaks connectivity with the NAS until the NAS manufacturer can release a software/firmware update to fix it. I recall last year when Mavericks came out it had a bunch of AFP changes that really messed things up for NAS users for a while until the NAS devices got updated, then all was well again.

    At the time there were quite a few forum posts about it.
     
  13. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2010
    #13
    I had this problem with a QNAP NAS when Lion was released, but with the Synology I've had no problems upgrading from Mountain Lion to Mavericks. I guess we'll see in a few weeks whether this is the case with Yosemite.

    This is the same with any solution that's not from Apple, but for me a NAS is much more flexible than a time capsule and I won't upgrade to Yosemite until I see the bugs anyway. If there are NAS issues then I'll wait until they are resolved before upgrading.
     
  14. nfable macrumors regular

    nfable

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2007
    #14
    +1 for Synology... I've been using for awhile now, got three Macs backing up w.TM, media server, iTunes service, bit torrent downloaded, and there are apps for iOS that give you some access to the custom local network web interface it has.

    My PS3 can use the media folder as well and playback MP4s and .Avi.

    Happy guy, simple quiet little box next to my older AE.

    -nf
     
  15. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #15
    Oh I agree some of those NAS devices have some very nice features and I am tempted myself.

    I think you hit on the key there though, not to upgrade the OS until making sure things will keep working.
     

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