[Solved] NAS Newbie Questions
My long-standing method of backing up, using CCC to a series of HDDs daisy chained off an old Time Capsule, is finally going to get the boot, as one of the drives is reporting errors. Now that I'm seriously considering a proper NAS, I find I have newbie questions. I use my current setup solely for backups, and don't see that changing.
I think I'm starting in the right place, on the Synology web site. Going through their NAS Selector, they recommend the DS218j, a two-bay setup. I'm thinking a couple 4TB drives will be good. We are backing up two MacBook Pros, one with a 1TB SSD, the other with a 512GB SSD and a 256GB flash drive that never leaves.
1. Drive formatting - does the NAS handle that, or do I need to choose a format when I'm setting the system up?
2. RAID type - I want mirrored drives; I'd assume that choice will also be made at setup?
3. My current backups are in sparsebundles, each on a separate drive (four bundles from two MacBook Pros). Is there any need to partition the new drives, or will the sparsebundles coexist without issue on one partition?
4. Am I missing any major considerations?
hey @bkmiller, I've had a NAS for about 5 years now, and at some point, I did use it as a TM backup destination. BUT, like it's Time Capsule counterpart, backing up often results in errors, or more often than not, everything will look okey dokee until you have to restore, which is what happened to me. The TM backup was corrupted and it stopped in the middle of the recovery process saying it couldn't continue. So, I went back to an external drive connected to my Macbook Pro for TM, and to another external drive for a clone. Of course, YMMV but if the ONLY thing you want to do is backup your machines, there are less expensive way to do it than a NAS.
Thanks for your answers. For clarification, I do not use Time Machine, as in the past I too had regular issues backing up to networked storage. I've been using CCC for years without issue, and somewhat regularly mount the sparsebundles and view/retrieve data. Thus far, I've had no issues whatsoever using CCC. I understand I don't get a bootable clone this way, but in the one instance that I needed to replace a failed SSD, I was able to install the OS from a flash drive, and then clone the data back over.
The main reason I don't back up to a locally-attached drive is simply that our laptops don't typically reside on a desk where a permanently attached drive makes sense. In my mind, backups work best when they don't require user interaction to occur. I'm willing to forego the convenience of a bootable backup for that.
Again, I appreciate your input.
The only time my CCC backups have failed in the past have been when I fail to plug my MacBook Pro in overnight (when they run). I get a message saying the backup failed because the Mac went to sleep. 🙂
I used to use a TimeCapsule. The processs wasn’t very reliable and I had to restart TimeMachine every month or so. I found the same when I ran TImeMachine to Synology. The problem is that TimeMachine only works to HFS file systems. Any networked device is accessed using a network file system (APS, SMB/CIFS etc.) irrespective of the file system natively runjing on the server (TimeCapsule, Synology etc). To get round this a disk image is created on the server which, when mounted presents itself as an HFS volume. This adds another layer of complexity. If the network connection should fail the open files risk corruption. In this case the open file is the whole disk image .i.e. the while TimeMachine backup!
For a long time I have been running TimeMachine to a locally attached USB Bus powered hard drive. I can’t remeber haveing any issues with this.
TimeMachine isn’t my only “backup”. I also do a run Carbon Copy Cloner every night to a locally attached drive and once per week over internet to my brother’s Mac (and at same time he backs up to me). My files are also backed up (proper backup including versions) to a 1TB cloud drive provided as part of my internet service provided by British Telecom. My Dcouments, Desktop and Photos are stored in iCloud. (Which doesn’t prevent them from being backed up locally).
Glad to hear it, @bkmiller — you effectively have a mirrored setup, in that either drive could fail and the other has enough data to recover everything. But SHR is not RAID 1, and it's not "just" a mirror. Because you could take those two drives and put them in a 4-bay NAS, for example, and then add a third drive to the volume and SHR would expand to use it.
Which raises more questions... I understand (I think) the advantages of SHR - the ability to mix and match different size drives, and to expand across additional drives - but on the other hand, this seems to permanently tie the drives together. Am I correct in assuming that in a traditional RAID 1 setup, either drive could be removed, mounted on a computer (assuming a compatible file system) and read independently of the other?
@bkmiller Assuming you like the other Synology features, the next Synology purchase should be a 4-bay or Larger unit with the ability to add expansion bays. That way you can use RAID5 where, assuming equal sized drives, only the storage capacity of 1 drive is lost to redundancy protection and you can lose 1 drive and still have all your data or RAID6, where you dedicate the equivalent of 2 drives to redundancy, but you can lose 2 drives and still have your data.
The Synology will attempt to compensate for the lost of a drive, by re-balancing the storage to get redundancy back if there is enough free space, or it will wait for you to replace the failed drive.
But drives in a RAID are generally not able to be taken out of the Synology and plugged into a disk enclosure and read by a non-Synology computer. Even plugging the drive into another Synology would require the minimum number of drives to re-establish the RAID configuration. The files and data are spread out across all the drives for both the redundancy and performance by not hitting just 1 drive constantly.
That would be something I'd consider down the road, and I'd do so to merge my wife's and my photos and music libraries. But for now, we have different approaches to managing both, so it's better we leave that alone... 🙂
For now, I only needed the NAS for a backup destination, to replace a stack of disks daisy-chained off an old Time Capsule. Since one drive was reporting errors, I took the opportunity to chuck them all and set up a proper system.
I've learned a lot already in the process, so it's all good.