What is the best route: a Mini connected to a Raid, wifi or wired, both, etc?

Discussion in 'Mac OS X Server, Xserve, and Networking' started by olindacat, May 3, 2019.

  1. olindacat, May 3, 2019
    Last edited: May 3, 2019

    olindacat macrumors regular

    olindacat

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    Greenwich
    #1
    My wife and I have 2x iPhone 6s', 2x older iPads, 2x iMacs and 1x MBP. We have an OWC raid 5 eSATA 4-bay unit (eSATA/FW connections), two Lacie 1TB Thunderbolt silver externals, one Lacie TB Rugged external, a Dropbox account, and two iCloud accounts.

    What is the best way to set up a home network were we can centrally back up each workstation and access one or two drives as shared storage?

    I'm envisioning the OWC as a main storage and TM archive device, to support the external drives attached to iMacs and MBP, maybe raid for redundancy?

    The two Lacie 1TB Thunderbolts could be TM backups to the iMacs, the Lacie Rugged as a TM back-up to the MBP (is it wise to replace the old HD drives in these with SSDs)?

    Would I want to archive these three to the OWC, as in partitioning the OWC to have Lacie I, Lacie II, MBP, and a 4th for 'Storage'?

    Then, get a back up HDD, say a big one like 8TB, to be a redundant back up for the OWC?

    How would I connect these devices so they could work with as little wiring or tethering as possible?

    Is distance a concern? Meaning, can I stow the OWC in a basement plastic container, or does it need to breathe? My basement has moisture.

    Do I need another machine, e.g., a server of some kind, like a Mini?

    Or, can I run all of the storage devices through some kind of hub, attached to one of our iMacs?

    Shooting for economy, safety, and so forth. We are undisciplined creatives so need something to protect our files from us!

    Thanks for any input.
     
  2. osxster, May 6, 2019
    Last edited: May 6, 2019

    osxster macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    #2
    There are long Thunderbolt cables, but I don't think that is what you are asking. I use a Mac Mini with a Thunderbolt RAD Array and a SAS expander for storage of Data, Media, and TM. It works very well for that, but it is ethernet attached. Granted the Mac Books it is backing up are Wifi though. I have a very good Wifi network, but for servers, AppleTV, and other stuff like that I always use Ethernet.
     
  3. olindacat thread starter macrumors regular

    olindacat

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    Greenwich
    #3
    I'm realizing it might have been better to break this one apart into about seven threads....
     
  4. osxster macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    #4
    Instead of going with NAS, I went with a Mac Mini Server. I use that for Media, data, videos, TimeMachine, and I have test VM's on it. For optimal performance, I always use Ethernet when I can. My philosophy is if it is a device which requires a power cord to operate, you should keep it on Ethernet. Especially with TimeMachine, why use Wifi bandwidth to go to the HotSpot and then go back to the server, when you only need to go over Wifi once. Plus if you are using Video, Streaming, things like that, Wifi isn't always optimum for that unless you really have a really good Wifi network. Keep all of that off of Wifi if you can.

    You can go with NAS as most NAS support TimeMachine these days. That might be cheaper than buying a Mac Mini and external hard disk for the Mac Mini. You could attach hard disks to your iMac and use that as your 'server', but if you reboot it, turn it off, and do other more workstation type stuff like that, it might not be the best 'server'.
     
  5. olindacat thread starter macrumors regular

    olindacat

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    Greenwich
    #5
    Ya, I had a mini eons ago. Must have been from the mid 2000s, can't recall. I never made the best of it as we didn't have to worry about access so much. Now we live on four floors so a different animal. I pulled a lot of cat 6 thinking the same thing. I know the basics, but as tech is evolving so fast, I posted this to defer to smarter people. So, file sharing from drives attached to a mini and connected via ethernet my best bet, right? Is there any difference if I have more than one router? Say one router in my basement, to send data by ethernet to other routers (wired or wireless) on different floors. Then have the desktops hard wired, laptop, Apple TV, iPads, iPhones get fed wireless. Is that the plan?

    I never was able to figure out (here right now in my own home) if I connected my iMac to an ethernet wire running off of my wireless router, which was working, but suspect the ethernet was not, because when I turned off my wifi kaput!

    Is an ethernet connection to a router as fast as any other means, e.g., TB2 or USB3? Thx.
     
  6. osxster macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    #6
    Well, I run 802.11r which is a roaming protocol for Wifi. So I have a large home as well, but I use 802.11AC NetGear Wifi Routers using LEDE firmware which I flashed into them, which has support for 802.11r. So both routers / hotspots have the same SSID, and any Wifi devices connect to the first hotspot they see and if they feel that another hotspot within the same roaming group has stronger signal above a threshold, it will switch to the stronger HotSpot automatically. So I have CAT5E going between floors and the hotspots to switches (I have two switches, one in the basement, one in the third floor / attic. Then a hotspot off of each of those switches. I would not advise WIFI bridges or anything, rather run CAT5/6 directly to the LAN ports on each hotspot. Then if you are using a hotspot as a router, then connect your cable modem or whatever to the WAN port on that one hotspot / router only. You are probably going to have to run each hotspot with a different SSID unless you load a firmware on it which supports 802.11R as the WIFI devices may not connect to the stronger signal automatically. You can try it and see how it works with the same SSID.

    1 gig ethernet is not as fast as USB3 or any thunderbolt, but you can't share a usb3 disk with multiple computers except when that USB3 disk is attached to a server which is on the network and you connect to one of its network shares. If you are only reading that disk with one computer, fine usb3 would work, but if it needs to be accessed by multiples, your best bet is sharing it via network shares from some type of server.

    Osxster
     
  7. olindacat thread starter macrumors regular

    olindacat

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    Greenwich
    #7
    Soooo OSXTER: thanks. I found this: https://www.reddit.com/r/openwrt/comments/515oea/finally_got_80211r_roaming_working/

    It was just a search result on how to get access points (APs) to do as you said, but I don't get it. This link looks more like code whereas you are talking about flashing firmware, which I have done on my camera, like once in 20 years (ha ha). Does the flash firmware live on the support sites of the router makers? What confuses is you said you had two routers, and this poster in the link says he has one, with a switch, and two "APs". Does he mean two more routers?

    I'm getting lost in nomenclature and can Google my brains out but ask you for clarification as you've done it (successfully).

    In terms of workflow: is there a standard among Mac users now? I'm specifically talking about internal>directly attached working file/back-up SSD (I'm assuming that's the best route)>networked mass storage?

    I see a lot of threads here for TC for TM but then it seems limited or wonky. I see some with 6x bay boxes which I assume they have on servers? When one (in this section of the forums) refers to 'server', is that a mini or other computer that is not a workstation, per se (I think I know this is the case, but not a network guy so just checking)?

    I'm basically trying to make any spend I do a good one, as money is always tight. I have really old old gear. Spent the last 25 years doing media and have my life all over the place and have had disasters losing 10+ years of work. So, have drives everywhere and no rhyme or reason.

    I am hoping to use my big storage box attached to a 'server', only if I must have a 'server'. I think this is where I'm confused: why can't I just use one of my iMacs? Is it to avoid 24/7 wear and tear? Or, because it slows down when my wife is accessing files 'through' my machine (if my machine is the server)?

    I can buy a mini and attach my old OWC Mercury 4 bay box, replace the mechanic spinners with SSDs, and attach that to a router, try to set up the two APs (one on each floor), and hardwire the desktop iMacs to the 'server' (read: Mini) via the router next to the Mini, is that right? Then, attach back up ssds to each workstation to back up (TM) each machine locally, and also provide working space. Lastly: can I carbon copy cloner to the big box on the server nightly? Is that what everybody is doing? Then, if I were to do the Lloyd route (macperformanceguide.com), have a back up of the big box off site, or just for redundancy, is that about right?

    Much appreciate your help and advice. Any pointers, although you've done enough already, gratefully acknowledged.
     
  8. osxster macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    #8
    A HotSpot is the same thing as an Access Point. It is a wifi device which sits on your network and it allows wireless clients to get into your wired network. You can buy Access Points, but you can also buy routers and use them as access points. In the corporate environment you generally would only buy Access Points and deploy them around your network. You would also deploy your own switches, routers, and firewalls on your corporate network. In the consumer market, many of the Access Points are low-end and thus you are best off buying higher end routers and use them as Access Points. Or in my case, I have two routers, one is used as an Access Point, one is used as a router and access point. The FW, DHCP server, and everything else is shut off on my router which I use only as an Access Point.

    I use Netgear NightHawk AC2600 routers. However I re-flashed them to use LEDE (OpenWRT) firmware. So I am not using NetGear firmware at all on them, just the NetGear hardware. This firmware is not from the vendors support site and would probably void any warranty. That article you linked is a very good starting point, and that got me started in setting this up. Unfortunately 802.11r in the consumer field is a little complicated and not supported out of the box. This is what I needed to do to make my Wifi network strong and robust. LEDE had just gotten 802.11r support, perhaps it has better out of the box support now, but that article I used to help setup my network.

    I went with a server because I do more with it than just filesharing. I have a Plex Media Server setup, the Mac Server tools, some Virtual Machines, home automation stuff, Time Machine, iTunes backup, fileshares for video editing, and other things running from this machine. Yes you could use an iMac for this, but if someone were playing games, doing something CPU intensive on the iMac when someone else was trying to play media, the two things could clobber each other causing slow response for both. Plus a workstation sometimes you reboot when things aren't working right. Rebooting a server could impact users who are using the server to do a backup for example.

    Yes you could use your iMac, it depends on how reliable you want your stuff to be. The other option is to buy a multi bay NAS device and use that as your 'server'. NAS boxes really are servers under the hood and there are a lot of server type applications available for them.

    I use TimeMachine to backup my MacBooks (everyone has one in my household) and this is backed up to a RAID 6 array on my MacMini server. Then on my server I Time Machine backup that RAID 6 array to another RAID 6 array on the same machine. So I have two copies of my data on the server. Important stuff on that array I backup again offsite using a Cloud Service.
     
  9. olindacat thread starter macrumors regular

    olindacat

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2011
    Location:
    Greenwich
    #9
    Thank you, OSXTER!

    I've been using RAID 5 for like 8 years, but the box has been so loud (fan from OWC replaced and just awful) I was going to update that and maybe stow away (maybe not basement, but...).

    So, when you say "strong and robust" is that bandwidth and security, or security (with speed being similar across most networks nowadays)? It sounds like you did research and just DIY'd it, did you search here for help?

    I see countless threads drilling down but not too many where the whole workflow is discussed, and that is what imagine a lot of us are faced with, hence my thread start.

    Just to be clear: you use one of your RAID 6s for both PLEX data and TM, and a second for basically a mirror? Is that the back-up and data access plan then?

    It sounds good to me. I was under the impression TM would just hog on a drive until its available space was totally depleted. So, doubling up, or in my case, quadruple TM'ing (iMacs x 2, MBP x 1 but planning on x2) might mean a really fast loss of space. I was looking at spinning vs SSD and thought I'd dig deep to go all SSD as I understand they are more reliable.

    Well, thank you for sharing your hard work. I know.
     
  10. osxster, May 16, 2019
    Last edited: May 19, 2019

    osxster macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2012
    #10
    Well my SAS expander isn’t quiet, but not Data Center loud either. I am using a NetApp DS4246 plugged into a Thunderbolt HighPoint 6328. It’s from an enterprise NetApp NAS system, but with the right cables and raid controller, it can be hooked up to a Mac. Enterprise hardware can be more robust than consumer, but there are also trade offs with them too. A lot of good hardware shows up on EBay when the vendors drop support or maintenance expires for them, so you can pick up some really powerful deals for cheap. As far as I know, I am the first one to run this combination, but it works great!

    Strong and robust, I was referring to my WiFi signal and performance. While it is over 5G which sucks with wall penetration, I have no dead zones in my entire hour. Full signal in almost the whole house. It just works, never have to fiddle with anything.

    I’m not mirroring but technically I am. So my main raid 6 array is what most stuff goes (Plex, videos, photos, important data, etc.) on except TM on my Macs. I have another raid 5 for just TM of computers in the house and then another Raid 5 that is a TM of my raid 6 array. So I am not mirroring the raid 6 array in terms of raid, but the data is backed up in a separate TM volume on the same server. Works great and gives me extra redundancy. If my raid 6 array gets corrupted, I can restore it via my TM backup. Plus I have versioning and stuff with the TM backup in case files need to be recovered from say a virus or something.

    You need to run TM on separate volumes and TM will keep filling up the volume because it also backs up versions of files. So you can go back to a version of a file from last year if you wanted to. If your data doesn’t change much, it won’t eat up extra space. But let’s say you are working on a movie, it’s 5 gb in size. Every time you resave it, TM keeps track of the changes, so it will have many copies of that 5 gb file. Then you delete it from your main volume, it will remain in TM.
     

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9 May 3, 2019