NAS or MacMini+disks - MacRumors Forums

NAS or MacMini+disks - MacRumors Forums

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Old Sep 18, 2011, 07:57 AM   #7
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firestarter's Avatar

Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Green and pleasant land
I'd recommend the opposite to maflynn actually.

My brother in law had a Qnap that's just died - taking some data with it (he didn't listen to me before he got it).

Here's my problem with cheap RAID (especially RAID 5) solutions:

- The boxes are built down to a price
They often contain cheesy power supplies, tiny and noisy fans, weak processors that won't get the most out of your network bandwidth.
The box itself becomes a risk factor, and can itself corrupt the disk or die. At that point you'll be left with 4 drives probably formatted in Linux EXT3, with data spread randomly across them - that you can't read on your Mac.
- RAID is not backup
I'm not saying that you're doing this... but people spend for a RAID solution, when really they'd be better off concentrating on backup. RAID is good to stop downtime (if a disk dies during the day, you're not spending an age restoring from backup). It isn't a backup though - since RAID units can still loose data because of accidental deletion, theft, fire, virus, OS glitch, accidental damage etc. A proper backup provides two additional copies, one of which is offsite.
- RAID 5 was the right solution for a past era
RAID 5 cut down on the number of disks you needed to provide a checksum of your data, and enable a rebuild. Back when disks were small and expensive, this was great - you only 'wasted' one disk for every 2+ data disks. Nowadays the funky format is just a liability - especially with 2TB drives for < $100.

Personally I'd go for a Mac Mini with 4 disks. I'd share 2 disks on the network, and the other two I'd use chronosync to mirror to during the night. I'd regularly swap out these backup drives and move them offsite - and swap in alternate drives.
  • I'd avoid RAID 5 completely, because when everything goes wrong it's good to have data that can be read by any machine.
  • I'd use chronosync (or maybe even time machine) to do timed backups rather than mirroring, because I think that accidental deletion of a file is a more likely data-loss scenario than a disk failure, and live mirroring mirrors your mistakes just as quickly as your data.
  • I'd use a Mac Mini, because the power of the processor is an order of magnitude higher than a cheesy Qnap.
  • I'd use Lion, because those backup drives could be whole-disk encrypted - and that would safeguard my personal information when my backup drives are off site and in transit.
I've been debating NAS vs Mac Mini + external drives solution myself and this was the best explanation I have seen why NAS might not be the best solution. I just picked up a Mac Mini sever the other day to replace my aging Mac Pro as my 24/7 machine, so why not use the mini as the basis of my storage solution. I do have a few questions though...
  1. External enclosures - following the 2 shared drive 2 back up drive model firestarter suggests would it be better to go with a stack of 4 single drive bay enclosures, a pair of dual drive bay enclosures, or a dual drive enclosure and two single drive enclosures?
  2. RAID 0 - use RAID 0 on the shared network drives or just avoid RAID altogether? My gut tells me stay away from RAID 0 but I'm open to hearing arguments for or against it.
  3. Chrono Sync - Would you recomend Chrono Sync on the server and Chrono Agent on the networked Mac's or Chrono Agent on the server and Chrono Sync on the networked Mac's.
  4. Enclosures 2 - Which enclosures are recomemded, which to avoid