SAN, NAS, Raid drives?

Stinja

Member
Can anyone recommend storage for Macs?

My girlfriend works from home quite a bit, and we have a number of computers, and she would like a mechanism to store data centrally. Pinning down a definitive answer wasnt very helpful... :rolleyes: So on the one hand she says she'd just like backup capacity (easy buy a bunch of USB HDDs), but i think what she'd really like is a separate file-storage system, essentially allowing all data to be saved not on local machines but with more redundancy elsewhere, and available on the network to all our PCs (personal computers that is, not PC-windows computers).

I've only worked with Windows servers (Raid 1 and 5) and only use OSX for websurfing, so dont really know what options and suitability there is for Macs, but i'm not incompetent when it comes to computing (i think). Budget would be around £500, and we have spare old powerbooks (G4s) and an iMac (G3 DV SE?) as a potential (crappy) base for a file server.

So what's the best way of getting 1TB+ for OSX with decent data redundancy? Do you need OSX Server?
 

richard plumb

Distinguished Member
and still consider having a separate backup you take offsite. No point having redundancy if you get burgled or there is a fire.
 

Chester

Well-known Member
I have to agree with Richard here. You're looking for a solution that can give you storage available on a network, and then I advise you duplicate this off-site. Incidentally, you didn't say what your content was or what version of OS X your day-to-day Macs are running.

I think your most powerful Mac should be nominated as a host. I'd go for 3 USB attached terabyte drives. One holding your current/live backups through a sharepoint available on your network, and the other two for off-site swaps that you copy the incrementals from the live backups to. Not sure what software you could use to do this - anyone make any suggestions?

Also, if the configuration of your day-to-day Macs is important to store for recovery purposes (and if you're going to these lengths then I'd suggest it is), you need something that's going to perform imaging/cloning/system backups. SuperDuper is recommended by many users here and is certainly something I will be adding to my software collection.


Off at a tangent, I've just been looking at the Drobo site. I remember when the product was launched that we (at work) were very interested in its ability to offer scalable redundant storage in a small office, but it wasn't available as a NAS solution at that time, and we were a little worried about how to back it up. Things have moved on a little since then as their Roboshare product makes a NAS box out of Robo. It does this by offering gigabit Ethernet access, I'd guess authentication protection, and then attach the USB connection to the Drobo. That's quite a few topology changes there and I wouldn't be convinced about performance until reading some results. I don't think their claimed 20MB/sec could be sustained and largely falls down to the drives used unfortunately, leading to lots of caveats.

The one thing that would have changed my mind about using this product would be the ability to temporarily load a large capacity drive to copy the entire data set for keeping off-site. This is particularly important for a much more complete contingency solution.

As drives get ever larger, a single drive failure now can be responsible for losing a lot of data. Also, any backup device kept on-line is at risk from failure itself; either mechanically, electrically (lightning for example), human error (deleting files you didn't mean to for example) or software (malicious viral damage, or mis-configuration for example).

Therefore don't dismiss off-line storage. The only trouble there is that as hard disks increase in capacity, without resulting to very expensive tape backups, it's hard to suggest anything else apart from Blu-ray, and that at the moment is a bit expensive and possibly technically prohibitive at this stage. DVD-R DL is much smaller but is relatively cheap and easy for anyone to access.
 

Stinja

Member
I have to agree with Richard here. You're looking for a solution that can give you storage available on a network, and then I advise you duplicate this off-site.
Yes i intended to do that also; up until last year i was involved with my work's backup solution, with all the associated offsite contingency planning too - i work in a law firm so it's essential we keep data for 7 years (legally, and longer for our own purposes), if anything we're over-anal and do full backups everynight, no incrementals here :devil: we had three tape libraries and must be needing a fourth soon :rolleyes:

Incidentally, you didn't say what your content was or what version of OS X your day-to-day Macs are running.
Yeah that's where my knowledge runs out, i just dont care once i get home :suicide: But they are all OSX 10.4.11+ for the ones we care about.

I'll have to look into this Drobo, but i laughed at their website that keeps saying "the complexities of RAID" :rotfl: and i worry if it's too simplified you might not get much say in configuration - as Chester said, it would be nice to fill three drives, but load a fourth in for an offline backup every once in a awhile (along with offsite optical/tape). I cant see if that DroboShare also acts as a print server, many NAS do now?

Anyway, cheers for the suggestions!
 

Chester

Well-known Member
Something else did cross my mind after writing that. What about a Drobo on an Airport Extreme? Not sure if that would work but don't see any reason why not.

Of course the Drobo could be hosted via the best Mac in the fleet, and backed up to another USB 2.0 or firewire removable disk. I believe that will blow your budget though.


This article from Apple does make a case for using a Time Capsule. Although it doesn't offer disk redundancy, it does offer an 'archive' solution, or off-site copy via USB connected hard disk. It's nice and simple (which I too prefer when I come home after working with networks, telephony, servers and PCs all day).
 

Chester

Well-known Member
Cool. It makes sense on an AEBS, but not really the TC as you primarily want disk redundancy on the NAS device, not on the backup device. Now, if you could use the base stations to 'archive' the material on the Drobo to another USB device (connected to an AEBS via a quality USB 2.0 hub), well, there's your solution.
 

richard plumb

Distinguished Member
I think you could have two Drobos attached to a Time Capsule via a USB hub, then use Time machine to back one drobo up to another. Although when you get there, why not get a NAS that can do it automatically? Many of them can automatically back themselves up to another drive attached via USB or across the network.

Do you need redundancy for minimised downtime at home, or just for safety? If you had no disk redundancy as such on the NAS (eg just a single 1TB drive) but instead had redundancy via several discs across your network, would that be enough? eg you have one main NAS that you use to host your documents, then have that automatcially back itself up to two other similar NAS on your network. then if your main NAS goes down, you can easily switch in one of the backups and still have rapid access to your documents, then replace the dead one at your leisure and make that one of the backup units.

Do you actually need hotswap RAID redunancy for your home is I suppose the question?
 

Tenex

Novice Member
I think you could have two Drobos attached to a Time Capsule via a USB hub, then use Time machine to back one drobo up to another. ....

Do you actually need hotswap RAID redunancy for your home is I suppose the question?
Ooooh this is getting expensive ;)

Drobo's methodology is supposed to be better than RAID for SOHO uses apparently. It would be good if it dumped to an external for offsite as part of its regular routine.
 

Chester

Well-known Member
Agreed. One Drobo + disks is stretching the budget! But there definitely needs to be a backup of that. The archive function on the AEBS could be just the ticket.
 

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