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Hi all.

I'm doing my research for a fast storage device / NAS to be shared with 3x Macs via an Airport Extreme.

Here are a few requirements, I'm sure I've missed plenty. But these are the basics.

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1) At least 4TB space
2) Fast transfers over wireless/LAN
3) Simple setup
4) Remote torrent access
5) Remote access that's easy to set up
6) Photo sharing which syncs with either Aperture/Lightroom
7) Shared and editable music library for iTunes (need to be able to add ratings)
8) Allow media streaming to/from multiple Macs at once
9) Automatic syncing of some sort
10) Automatic backup

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Some background. Mac Mini is connected to TV, and is used as DVD/media player. Macbook goes with me, and I'm not always there (hence why photo library/sync required). And then there's an i5 which will do the heavy work. Anyway, all computers will need to have access to shared photos, music and movies.

Also, would USB be any faster? Have used a Synology CubeStation in the past which was a nightmare to get working and networked. Ethernet and USB transfer speeds weren't spectacular.

I'm after a simple, powerful, expandable and futureproof setup. Price will be a consideration but I'll weigh it all up when I know what you guys approve of.

Thanks!

I'm after a simple, powerful, expandable and futureproof setup.

Doesn't exist.

1) At least 4TB space
Plenty of NASes support that. Be sure to use disks on the NAS's compatibility list if you purchase them separately.
2) Fast transfers over wireless/LAN
Wireless N should be no problem for most NASes that are any good. If you want to saturate gigabit LAN you'll need to pay more. Ideally combining two gigabit NICs using 802.3ad LACP connecting to a managed switch, would be good.
3) Simple setup
Sometimes setting things up can take time.
4) Remote torrent access
So long as the torrent manager is web based you can setup port forwarding on your router and things should work fine.
5) Remote access that's easy to set up
Varies depending which NAS brand you buy.
6) Photo sharing which syncs with either Aperture/Lightroom
Don't know about that.
7) Shared and editable music library for iTunes (need to be able to add ratings)
Typically the iTunes feature of a NAS will be a Firefly Server. The iTunes will appear as a shared library, with no ability to add ratings or edit the library. If you want full iTunes, you can setup a Mac with iTunes installed which uses a library stored on the NAS and share the library from there.
8) Allow media streaming to/from multiple Macs at once
Provided you get one powerful enough you should be fine.
9) Automatic syncing of some sort
What do you mean by syncing? Do you mean RAID?
10) Automatic backup
You should be able to schedule automatic backups using the web interface.

Also, would USB be any faster?
No. Certainly not if using USB 2.0 (less than half the speed of gigabit ethernet). For backing up the NAS using gigabit ethernet would be quickest. USB 3.0 may change things a little. If you want a NAS use a proper one, not a Drobo with a DroboShare.

I'm after a simple, powerful, expandable and futureproof setup.
Simple, powerful and expandable are good. Technology is not futureproof. The more you spend the more likely you may be happy with the product for longer, but great NASes sold 5 years ago, are now discontinued and considered old and slow.

Take a look at the performance numbers for the NAS you are interested in and perhaps ask questions on the forum.

Some choices include NetGear ReadyNas, Synology, QNAP, Thecus, Buffalo, to name a few.

I'd get a UPS from the compatibility list for your NAS and use that with the NAS as well.

Yeah, I realise nothing is futureproof, but powerful enough to outlast my 27 inch i7 iMac would be a good thing.

As mentioned I've already experienced Synology and support is pretty bad. That's why I'd like to hear from people who've tried and tested their NAS extensively with Macs. I'd rather not go to the expense and time spent with support which I've been through in the last year. So I'd rather solid suggestions than me doing a whole lot of research and ending up with another dud. I'll do my research once I've got a few leads.

Good idea re shared library on Mac. I had the ratings issue my Synology (on the days it works that is).

The QNAP TS-210 would satisfy most of those requirements as far as I can see and clocks in at around $850 with two 2TB drives..

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I have two Win 7 boxes and one OS X all in one box (iMac) and these are attached to a Windows Home Server. (HP ex470 Medisamart) I currently have 5TB of storage in the device and have the capoacity to swap out the smaller drives and install up to 8TB.

My iMac is attached via wireless connection, and it works supremely well with the WHS's network shares.

The advantages of a WHS is that you can utilise drives of various make and size, and WHS simply adds their capacity to the storage pool (uses a technology called Drive Extender) Also you can easily flag a folder to be duplicated, and this causes the WHS to mirror a copy of the data onto a physically different drive in your server in case a drive suddenly fails for whatever reason. Another advantage is the ability to log in remotely and access files from anywhere in the world where there is a net connection.

If you get a HP Medisamart, you will get version 3 of their software that is the most Mac friendly yet and will work with Apple's time machine.

As mentioned I've already experienced Synology and support is pretty bad. That's why I'd like to hear from people who've tried and tested their NAS extensively with Macs. I'd rather not go to the expense and time spent with support which I've been through in the last year.

I use the NetGear ReadyNas NV+ (the NVX and Pro are much quicker). Apparently that has had some issues with AFP compatibility with Snow Leopard, but 4.1.7 (currently in beta) by including netatalk 2.0.5 should fix that.

My NAS has a 5-year warranty. Support may take a while to respond, but I can post on the forums and PM a NetGear guy if I really need to, to get help.

I have 3 Macs, 1 Macbook using Leopard, 1 Mac Mini using Leopard and 1 Mac Mini using Snow Leopard.

There's also another Macbook used by someone else. All except the SL machine I backup using Time Machine to the NAS.

I backup my main NAS to another NAS which I bring on-site just for the backup and leave it off-site most of the time.

Since you already have a Synology if you can you may wish to find a way to include it in your backup strategy at least for some of your files.

Windows Home Server
Windows???????

I'd far rather run a Linux box as my NAS.

The advantages of a WHS is that you can utilise drives of various make and size, and WHS simply adds their capacity to the storage pool (uses a technology called Drive Extender)

The ReadyNas NVX and Pro (Pro if using single-redundancy) using X-RAID2 only require two disks to be replaced to expand the volume (to maintain redundancy).

A NAS runs RAID unlike the WHS.

Windows???????

I'd far rather run a Linux box as my NAS.

Does it matter what the OS is, so long as it is capable of doing the job, all fanboyism aside? A NAS/WHS is really setup to be used as an appliance.

The ReadyNas NVX and Pro (Pro if using single-redundancy) using X-RAID2 only require two disks to be replaced to expand the volume (to maintain redundancy).

Drive Extender is superb technology and really reduces the complexity/limitations of running RAID

A NAS runs RAID unlike the WHS

WHS uses Drive Extender, unlike a NAS running RAID

How is it different from RAID solutions?

•Any hard drive, any time. You are not restricted to simply adding more hard drives of the same type and size. When you want to grow your home server storage, you just buy whatever hard drive you like and add it.
I have a 2TB, 1.5TB, 1TB and 500GB drive installed into my four internal drive bays. Drive Extender shows this storage as a single pool of storage. The WHS Control Centre makes it very easy to turn folder duplication on or off at the folder level, thereby giving the user control over the data on the server that needs to be mirrored to a separate drive for added data security in the case of sudden HDD failure.

•Internal and external hard drives can be used to grow your storage. No space in your home server case? No problem, plug in one or more USB 2.0 or FireWire hard drives.
HP Mediasmarts have four internal bays and four USB and one eSATA socket for the connection of 5 external drives.

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•Hard drive removal, as explained above. With time, it will be important to remove the older smaller hard drives and put in new larger hard drives so you can store more stuff.

Taken from here: http://windowsteamblog.com/blogs/windowshomeserver/archive/2009/11/03/windows-home-server-grows-as-your-needs-grow.aspx

if the OP considers a Synology box to be a nightmare to configure, then i sincerely doubt that WHS is going to be a happy alternative...

and is Drive Extender just a glorified software-controlled concatenated JBOD kind of thing?

if the OP considers a Synology box to be a nightmare to configure, then i sincerely doubt that WHS is going to be a happy alternative...

If one is purchased from an OEM like HP, then the OP will experience something akin to buying a Mac. i.e. bring it home, unpack it from the box, plug it in and turn it on. The only thing special is running the connector software on your client computer (Mac or PC) in order to get access to the server. Once this software is installed, you are then asked a number of questions to help configure things in your server like 'server name', 'remote access' etc. These are all done via simple wizards. Once you have made your selections, you are good to go.

Also the advantage of going with HP is that they enhance the base server OS with their control center software. This is very Mac compatible, and works with Time Machine

If the OP wanted to build their own WHS, then of course the complexity increases exponentially, but there is nothing wrong with one of the various turnkey solutions currently on offer, but as far as I am aware, only the HP Mediasmarts are Mac friendly.

and is Drive Extender just a glorified software-controlled concatenated JBOD kind of thing?

I honestly have no idea what it is Yes it is a JBOD. It works, and works extremely well. If you are interested to know more about it, the people behind the technology have blogged about it here: http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=40c6c9cc-b85f-45fe-8c5c-f103c894a5e2&DisplayLang=en

Microsoft also have published technical brief for Drive Extender here:
http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyID=40c6c9cc-b85f-45fe-8c5c-f103c894a5e2&DisplayLang=en

Gizmodo Australia discusses the HP Mediasmarts that are available in Australia here: http://www.gizmodo.com.au/2009/10/australia-finally-getting-an-hp-mediasmart-home-server-or-two/

For people with an iPhone or iPod Touch, they can use an app called iStream to access their server remotely, either over WiFi or 3G and stream photos and videos to their portable devices:

The HP software can also convert media files into h.264 on the server so that it can be viewed on devices such as Apple TVs, iPhones and iPod Touches.

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There are also numerous add-ins to enhance a WHS's utility. One of which is a uTorrent client since the OP is interested in torrents.

@Decah: +1 to WHS, it does work rather well.

is Yes it is a JBOD. It works, and works extremely well.

Also unlike hardware JBOD if you unplug any disk and plug it in elsewhere its just an ntfs formatted disk with your files on it.

If 3 drives fail you are likely to still have something left on the 4th one you can save.

Drive extender also lets you set replication at the folder/share level instead of the whole drive. So you just select replicate backups and pictures, don't replicate tv shows for example.

Upgrading hard drives you select a drive and click remove; WHS copies the files onto the other drives, you unplug it and put in a bigger one then click add to pool, and it re-balances files across all drives.

Drive extender also lets you set replication at the folder/share level instead of the whole drive. So you just select replicate backups and pictures, don't replicate tv shows for example.

Whilst I can see in principal this would be good for most people, it's very easy to get sucked in to the trap of RAID being backup. It's not. It's drive redundancy.

Selecting folders to mirror within the same enclosure is pointless as a power supply failure could take out the drive and its mirror.

To properly replicate/backup the folders/files it should be moved off to another independent drive. Time Machine lets you select folders to be backed up.

If the OP is this serious about the NAS setup (and why not be), then 2 NAS devices should be on the shopping list, one for primary use and the other as a redundant back up of the primary.

EDIT: Typo

it's very easy to get sucked in to the trap of RAID being backup.
I agree. RAID (except RAID-0) is first-level protection though. If a disk fails data should remain intact.

I backup my main NAS to another one and keep the backup off-site most of the time.

A cheaper alternative to backing up NAS to NAS may be to backup to USB disk, but I prefer NAS to NAS backups.

Whilst I can see in principal this would be good for most people, it's very easy to get sucked in to the trap of RAID being backup. It's not. It's drive redundancy.

Windows Home Server uses Drive Extender not RAID

Selecting folders to mirror within the same enclosure is pointless as a power supply failure could take out the drive and its mirror.

There are two issues to consider with that statement. Firstly each independent drive in the drive pool mounts independently as an NTFS drive when attached directly to a computer. So assuming there was a power supply failure, and you needed data off the server, then you can remove the relevant drive from the server and directly attach it to a computer and read it as a standard NTFS drive and still retrieve the data just like any other external HDD.

The only hassle is that when attaching one of these drives to a Windows machine, the data on the drive is hidden by default. Once you unhide it, you will also need to 'take ownership' of the data to be able to access its contents. I have not attached one to my Mac in this way, so I do not know if you need to take ownership on a HPFS based computer.

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If the power supply failure also physically damaged the internal HDDs in the server as well (power surge), then you can protect yourself against that scenario by using a large capacity external HDD attached to the server, that would use an independent power supply.

When you add a new drive to the server (either internal or external) you have two options, one is to add that drive's capacity to the drive pool, the other is to add the drive as an independent storage source. You can therefore connect a large capacity external hard drive to your WHS, choose to keep it independent of the drive pool, then you can set WHS to mirror to that drive. Since each drive has separate power supplies, the likelihood of both dying at the same time is lessened.

So just to be clear, HDDs that are added to the storage pool mount on any computer as a standard NTFS HDD with the data intact. You can then retrieve that data even though your server is offline. You can also keep critical data on the server duplicated on an internal or external drive that is kept outside of the storage pool. The choice is left up to the operator. The advantage of the external drive option is that you can store critical data on a drive attached to an independent power supply.

The Western Digital options would cover most, if not all, of your requirements. http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=584

They also have support for Time Machine.

I have the model below and it's brilliant.

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The Western Digital options would cover most, if not all, of your requirements. http://www.wdc.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=584

The WD Sharespace has a very limited feature set. I considered it, but decided against it. I believe also that using the Sharespace you would be tied to using WD disks. I don't know is Sharespace volumes can be expanded either.

I believe also that using the Sharespace you would be tied to using WD disks.

I was thinking if that would be the case. Also, I am no RAID expert, but does a RAID 5 configuration require identical disks? If so, say you have 4 500GB drives, and then at sometime down the track you wanted to increase the storage capacity, do you need to replace all of them with 4 larger identical drives, or can RAID 5 tolerate individual HDDs being swapped out for a larger capacity one? Do you need to completely rebuild the RAID array each time a drive(s) is swapped in or out of the array? If that is the case, then that is a severe limitation in my opinion over the alternative.

as i mentioned in another thread, the Synology boxes now have a 'Synology Hybrid RAID' mode which will automatically utilise disks of varying sizes, i guess in a similar way to the Drobos... there is a small performance hit, but i expect that would be unavoidable...

apart from redundancy, the other advantage of RAID 5 is better storage efficiency...

i agree there are much better options than what WD offers...

Does anyone have experiences or onpionions with these?

I was thinking if that would be the case. Also, I am no RAID expert, but does a RAID 5 configuration require identical disks?

RAID-5 does require the same capacity disks.

If so, say you have 4 500GB drives, and then at sometime down the track you wanted to increase the storage capacity, do you need to replace all of them with 4 larger identical drives

Perhaps. You probably can't expand the volume. So you'd need to create another one to use the extra space from replacing disks, or backup and start afresh.

Do you need to completely rebuild the RAID array each time a drive(s) is swapped in or out of the array?

There'd be a resync and then the volume would be redundant array. Don't replace a disk in the RAID array unless you don't wish to use the disk you removed any more. Swapping disks around for the fun of it (or naively thinking it's a backup method) is not a good idea.

as i mentioned in another thread, the Synology boxes now have a 'Synology Hybrid RAID' mode which will automatically utilise disks of varying sizes, i guess in a similar way to the Drobos... there is a small performance hit, but i expect that would be unavoidable...
NetGear released the ReadyNas Pro in 2008. It utilises X-RAID2 (similar in many ways to RAID-5). If drive bays are full with disks of the same size you need to replace two disks to be able to expand the volume (to maintain redundancy).

The NVX, 2100, 3200, 3100 and 4200 all support X-RAID2 as well.

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The Pro, 3200 and 4200 also support X-RAID2 dual-redundancy (protects against two disk failures, so similar to RAID-6). This requires a minimum of four disks and if drive bays are full with disks of the same capacity, four disks need to be replaced with larger capacity to get expansion.

I wouldn't be surprised if some of the other NAS vendors have their own proprietary RAID that does kind of like a hybrid RAID-5, RAID-1 volume as well.

Of course RAID is great for protecting against disk failures, but don't let that get you carried away into thinking that backups aren't important.

Swapping disks around for the fun of it (or naively thinking it's a backup method) is not a good idea.

I agree, but in the case of WHS and Drive Extender, currently in my WHS I have the following four disks:

1. 2TB
2. 1.5TB
3. 1TB
4. 500GB

The 2TB drive also houses the system partition (20GB). So as my storage needs increase, I have the option to retire my 500GB drive by simply choosing to remove it from the storage pool via the control panel, and then once it is removed (i.e. the data is moved onto one of the remaining HDDs), I can remove the drive and insert a bigger one, e.g. a 2TB drive. This drive is then flagged in the control panel as available. I then can choose to add it to the pool. This only takes a few seconds, and then my total WHS storage pool increases by the extra storage of the new HDD over the old HDD.

Eventually all four drives in the server will be at least 2TB as my needs increase. It would appear that a RAID solution would be significantly less flexible than this, and much more of a hassle to increase capacity.

I'm running a Qnap TS-509 Pro. I'd highly recommend it.

7.5 TB (Running RAID 6 so 4.5TB usable space) This allows for a two disk failure without data loss.

Running Transmission torrent client on it. Twonky Media server, iTunes server.

Time Machine backups to it over network, wired or wireless.

Easy administration.

Damn, sounding like a salesman now... oops.

It would appear that a RAID solution would be significantly less flexible than this, and much more of a hassle to increase capacity.
It's the price you pay for the protection against any single disk failing or any two if using RAID-6.

Using X-RAID on either of my NV+ I'll need to replace all four disks to get expansion.

If I had a NVX using X-RAID2 I'd only have to replace two (two need to be replaced so that redundancy can be maintained i.e. any single disk fails and data remains intact).

I'm after a simple, powerful, expandable and futureproof setup. Price will be a consideration but I'll weigh it all up when I know what you guys approve of.

Everything you are after.

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Selecting folders to mirror within the same enclosure is pointless as a power supply failure could take out the drive and its mirror.

You can also select which ones to back up and plug in a hdd and it will back it all up, unplug the hdd and then put it in a closet somewhere for safe keeping. or off site.
External hdd that is, i haven't tried with an internal one..

If the power supply failure also physically damaged the internal HDDs in the server as well (power surge), then you can protect yourself against that scenario by using a large capacity external HDD attached to the server, that would use an independent power supply.

Yeah, but for the time that the drive out of the pool is down, you lose access to that drive's 'group' of files. What's the point of that?!

With a RAID (5) setup, if you lose a physical disk all of your data is still available athough you lose the RAID protection. The disadvantage of this, of course, is that if you lose another disk before you replace the first one, the array fails and you lose everything.

I can see some attraction of a WHS device but on a Mac playing with NTFS makes it a touch painful. For the OP, I would not go with this and go with something that has native Mac support and can be formatted in HFS (unless you wish to connect Windows and Mac computers to the same storeage).

RAID-5 does require the same capacity disks.

I've not tried this but this is one advantage of a Drobo – it can take disks of any size and build a RIAD-esque redundant array. I assume it uses matching parts of disks i.e if you had 3x 1Tb a 500Gb, it would create an array of 1.5Tb, leaving you with a further 2Tb of space. What I don't know is how this 2Tb is treated.

I assume it uses matching parts of disks i.e if you had 3x 1Tb a 500Gb, it would create an array of 1.5Tb, leaving you with a further 2Tb of space. What I don't know is how this 2Tb is treated.

If you can have more than one volume you can create another volume to use the remaining space e.g. another RAID-5 volume, depending which NAS you go with.

Having said that using X-RAID2 you can have 2x 500GB and 2x1TB disks and get a 2TB volume.

Yeah, but for the time that the drive out of the pool is down, you lose access to that drive's 'group' of files. What's the point of that?!

The load is balanced by the server to keep discreet folders collected on the same HDD wherever possible. It is only if you choose the 'duplication' option that a mirror of that folder is placed on a different disc in the server. So you never actually lose access to the drive's group of files. If you were to remove the HDD from the server and directly connect it to a computer, after you unhide the data and take ownership, you will find the folder of files there pretty much how it was on the server.

With a RAID (5) setup, if you lose a physical disk all of your data is still available athough you lose the RAID protection.

You get this with Drive Extender as well, especially if you have the folder in question duplicated. You can retrieve that critical data either from the main folder, or its duplicate by simply attaching it to a computer like a standard NTFS drive.

The disadvantage of this, of course, is that if you lose another disk before you replace the first one, the array fails and you lose everything.

You could lose everything with Drive Extender if you had simultaneous physical failure of the HDD that hosted your main folder, and the separate HDD that housed the duplicate folder. Duplication is really there to protect critical data against the sudden failure of a single HDD. If two or more die simultaneously, then all bets are off.

However as mentioned in an earlier post, you have the option to attach discs (either internal or external) tot he server and chose to keep them as independent storage, that is kept separate from the storage pool. You can give critical data a third level of protection.

In fact with WHS, you can have critical data stored in four separate places on you network. You can have the master folder on your Mac or PC, a primary mirror on your WHS, you can then set the WHS to 'duplicate' this mirror to a separate HDD in the storage pool, and you can have yet another mirror stored on yet another HDD that is not part of the storage pool, but kept separate.

I can see some attraction of a WHS device but on a Mac playing with NTFS makes it a touch painful.

I have experienced no pain whatsoever on my mixed network. The WHS is attached like a router or hub, in other words it is an appliance. OS X is very NTFS aware, and can easily read data of NTFS disks that are attached to it. Drobo's don't use HPFS, neither do just about any other smart NAS on the market, and they work fine with OS X

The HP Mediasmart Home Servers are very Mac friendly. There is Mac compatible connector software, they work with TIme Machine, and you can set the server up to run uTorrent, and automatically convert media files it downloads to H.264 for playback on an Apple TV or a Mac. You can also get a free app for the iPhone and iPod Touch that gives you remote access to the contents of that server from these devices, and can also allow you to stream images and videos. Finally the HP Mediasmarts will automatically collect media files of your network and place them into the appropriate shares and perform the conversion to H.264. You also get an iTunes server built in.

I've not tried this but this is one advantage of a Drobo – it can take disks of any size and build a RIAD-esque redundant array.

The Drobo is very similar to a WHS in that respect. Both devices utilise JBOD rather than RAID

The Drobo is very similar to a WHS in that respect. Both devices utilise JBOD rather than RAID

i think you'll find that Drobo's 'BeyondRAID' and Synology's 'Hybrid RAID' are very different to the way the WHS system (as you've described it) works...

as far as i am aware, the Drobo and Synology systems both use striping and parity, although they are not straight up RAID as they both allow the use of different sized disks...

You get this with Drive Extender as well, especially if you have the folder in question duplicated.
That's the thing. With RAID unless using JBOD or RAID-0, all data is automatically duplicated. There is no need to select folders. All data is protected from a single disk failure.

Drive Extender appears to me, to be a cheap and not so good alternative to RAID. Though I guess for home use where uptime is not so important this isn't necessarily the biggest of issues.

In fact with WHS, you can have critical data stored in four separate places on you network. You can have the master folder on your Mac or PC, a primary mirror on your WHS, you can then set the WHS to 'duplicate' this mirror to a separate HDD in the storage pool, and you can have yet another mirror stored on yet another HDD that is not part of the storage pool, but kept separate.

That is good. Backing up to external disks, another NAS, the cloud and preferably storing a backup of critical information off-site at all times is advisable.

I have experienced no pain whatsoever on my mixed network. The WHS is attached like a router or hub, in other words it is an appliance. OS X is very NTFS aware, and can easily read data of NTFS disks that are attached to it. Drobo's don't use HPFS, neither do just about any other smart NAS on the market, and they work fine with OS X

If it's accessing the data over the network, the filesystem is irrelevant. My NAS uses EXT3. I don't have EXT3 drivers on my Mac and it has no problems reading and writing to it, just like a Mac has no problem writing to a PC that has enabled file sharing over the network, even though the Mac doesn't have NTFS write functionality enabled. The data is transmitted over the file sharing protocol, the NAS handles reading and writing to its disks.

Thanks for clarifying. I have no idea what striping is, but I assume it is a good thing. Both the Drobo and Drive Extender have major advantages of conventional RAID, at least in a home use environment.

That's the thing. With RAID unless using JBOD or RAID-0, all data is automatically duplicated. There is no need to select folders. All data is protected from a single disk failure.

This is also possible with WHS's Drive Extender, you can simply choose to select duplication for all of the folders on the server. But it is nice having the option to easily pick and choose. I personally prefer keep my Documents and Photo files on my main computer (actually I have to because my offsite backup service only works on locally attached storage drives), and I use synctoy to sync them nightly to their respective shares on the server. I therefore choose not to duplicate those folder on the server, simply because they are already duplicated (the master copy on my computer, and the duplicate on the server) My Wife's computer and my kids iMac can then access all the photos off the server.

My media files are only housed on the server, so I therefore choose to duplicate those folders to give me protection from a single sudden HDD failure.

Drive Extender appears to me, to be a cheap and not so good alternative to RAID.

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I fail to see what is cheap and not so good about it? It has all the advantages of RAID without the limitations of RAID. So how is it inferior?

Though I guess for home use where uptime is not so important this isn't necessarily the biggest of issues.

Drive Extender is developed for home use, hence it is used in Windows Home Server. But according to Microsoft, many small and SOHO businesses are seeing it as a valuable tool to add to their IT infrastructure. Uptime is not an issue for me, mine runs happily 24/7, and services three computers and an XBox 360.

That is good. Backing up to external disks, another NAS, the cloud and preferably storing a backup of critical information off-site at all times is advisable.

I completely agree. My most precious data are my photos. As a dad, I would hate to lose the photos of my kids as they are growing up. So I keep a master set on my main computer. Synctoy syncs this nightly to the appropriate share file on my WHS, and I have every photo backed up automatically with Carbonite. So I am protected from fire or theft. I would hate to ever have to retrieve all my data from my Carbonite backup however, it would take weeks of constant downloads, but I will take that anyday to the alternative of losing that data forever.

I fail to see what is cheap and not so good about it? It has all the advantages of RAID without the limitations of RAID. So how is it inferior?

as you've explained it, the Drive Extender is not really a RAID-like system, it's just a JBOD system with ad hoc mirroring of folders...

depending on the type of RAID, the advantages include potentially faster disk access through striping, full automatic redundancy allowing continued data access with one or more drive failures, running a hot spare, and better storage efficiency...

of course the above are competing aims, so you choose the best balance and therefore RAID type accordingly...

that is not to say that RAID is necessary or preferable depending on the scenario, but it is not correct to say that Drive Extender trumps RAID (otherwise everyone would be using it, no?)...

as you've explained it, the Drive Extender is not really a RAID-like system, it's just a JBOD system with ad hoc mirroring of folders...

depending on the type of RAID, the advantages include potentially faster disk access through striping, full automatic redundancy allowing continued data access with one or more drive failures, running a hot spare, and better storage efficiency...

Thanks again for clarifying. I did a google search on striping and realised that an appropriate RAID setup is likely to offer greater disc access/throughput. All I can say is that in my circumstance, in a home environment where all I want to do is let my kids watch shows, play music and look at silly pictures that they have taken, the data throughput of Drive Extender is perfectly fine. We also have a significant number of HD movies and TV shows in h.264 format on the server , and these stream beautifully across our LAN to our XBox 360 and our computers, including the Mac.

The big benefit for me is that they have made it very easy to swap out my smallest drive and replace it with a larger drive and thereby increase the total amount of storage. It would be more fiddly to do the same on a typical RAID setup

that is not to say that RAID is necessary or preferable depending on the scenario, but it is not correct to say that Drive Extender trumps RAID (otherwise everyone would be using it, no?)...

Sorry if that is how it sounded, that was not what I intended to say. Rather I am saying that I have the benefits of RAID with the ease of swapping out HDDs to increase storage capacity as my needs/budget dictate.

Knowing a little more about striping than I did 30mins ago, I can see why it is important in a corporate environment where data throughput speed is critical. In a network attached storage scenario in your typical home, this is not as crucial. Remember WHS is limited to only permitting 10 user accounts, so the demands on the server are significantly reduced compared to a server at a major enterprise with hundreds/thousands of simultaneous users

Yeah, but for the time that the drive out of the pool is down, you lose access to that drive's 'group' of files. What's the point of that?!

You would mirror the data onto the external, not have the only copy on the external, or else it has nothing to do with a backup.
Also when upgrading disks the only down time is if your server doesn't support sata hot swapping, otherwise it will be up the whole time you upgrade disks.

justin8,

OK, that's a different view to the one I formed about how Drive Extender works. I suppose it depends on how you set it up.

I can see how Drive Extender could provide a more home-user friendly solution to RAID but I feel that RAID better protects your data out of the box without having to think about what to mirror/protect.

Thanks for all the replies, still digesting all the info. I've heard good things about Qnap... might look into them when the Synology gives me a hard time.

What I've done for now is connect the Synology CS407 directly to the Airport. Apparently it doesn't like to be directly connected to the actual computer via Ethernet whilst wireless is on. So for now, it's actually working!

Problem is I've got no more free slots on the Airport. I hear you can get an Ethernet Switch. Has anyone tried this with an Airport? Any suggestions on a fast one?

I've also managed to set up Transmission, but I'm scratching my head as to how I get a torrent to open via a web address (http://192.168.1.8:9091/transmission/web/).

Still trying to decide between Lightroom and Aperture. I like the idea of Aperture, but the one file storage has me worried. I will want to set up web access for the Synology, and say download the original file on a computer which doesn't have the DAM installed. On this point alone, I assume Lightroom wins?

And how does it work if I have the Lightroom library on the NAS shared by multiple computers? Is there any risk of corruption when two people access the same file?

What I've done for now is connect the Synology CS407 directly to the Airport. Apparently it doesn't like to be directly connected to the actual computer via Ethernet whilst wireless is on. So for now, it's actually working!

oh, well then it's your networking that is the problem, not the Synology. i think you would have similar problems with any NAS if you connect things up like that...

oh, well then it's your networking that is the problem, not the Synology. i think you would have similar problems with any NAS if you connect things up like that...

Sure it is. Probably a decent product too, but support didn't ever pick up on this. Wireless connection + ethernet NAS isn't too much to ask is it?

oh, well then it's your networking that is the problem, not the Synology.

Huh? Why can't you have a nas connected to a wireless and wired network at the same time? Of course you can and many valid reasons to have it done this way.

Why can't you have a nas connected to a wireless and wired network at the same time?

I would suspect that most NAS devices don't like having 2 IP addresses assigned to them. They would need to have 2 NICs in.

Surely a much better solution would be to plug the NAS in to a switch and also have a wireless access point (in bridge mode) to reach the addresses on the switch. This will achieve the same goal without any IP address conflicts.

I would suspect that most NAS devices don't like having 2 IP addresses assigned to them. They would need to have 2 NICs in.

You would have to have two NIC's in them if they have a wireless option and an wired option :LOL...

Surely a much better solution would be to plug the NAS in to a switch and also have a wireless access point (in bridge mode) to reach the addresses on the switch.

Sure but you shouldn't have too.

his will achieve the same goal without any IP address conflicts.

There should be no ip conflicts at all. What you are seeing is a bug in the firmware. A case they did not test.

Huh? Why can't you have a nas connected to a wireless and wired network at the same time? Of course you can and many valid reasons to have it done this way.

there are myriad possibilities if you know what you are doing, but i assume the OP is talking about having the Mac connecting to the LAN and internet through a wireless router, and having the NAS connected directly through the same Mac's ethernet port.

you need to work out how the subnets are going to work, and which device is going to be providing local IP addresses, otherwise the whole LAN is not going to work. it is certainly not a 'plug and play' setup.

and if the NAS is supposed to be accessible by other machines on the LAN, then it makes no sense to connect it directly to one of the Macs instead of into the main router (in this case the AEBS)...

You would have to have two NIC's in them if they have a wireless option and an wired option :LOL...

Yeah, but not if the NICs are designed to be either/or, not both. Admittedly, it could be a firmware bug that allows both to be selected, rather than either.

and if the NAS is supposed to be accessible by other machines on the LAN,...

Exactly!

Before I had a BaseStation the only way I knew how to share the NAS was via my Dynalink router. Not ideal, but otherwise the only way to do it was connect it directly up via Ethernet to one computer at a time. The Synology Assistant software wouldn't locate the NAS, and when I don't know where to find the IP, I basically couldn't find the NAS to fix the settings. Support restored it from there it showed itself in Finder, but not in the assistant. For a while it seemed to randomly lose connection too. As I said before, support really didn't know what to do and they did use TeamViewer to take a look.

Anyhow, moving forward. I am still looking for a NAS. It may be sooner or later depending on how hard the Synology makes me work this time. I know I ask a lot, and I seem lazy but I did ask the original question because I don't have a huge amount of time to waste on a complex setup with my level of knowledge.

you need to work out how the subnets are going to work, and which device is going to be providing local IP addresses, otherwise the whole LAN is not going to work. it is certainly not a 'plug and play' setup.

Assigning IP's aint rocket science. :LOL:.

As for subnets how about we stop sounding knowledgable because it's a non issue. It'd be the same deal he uses for all his other PC's and nics :LOL.. probably 255.255.255.0 like everyone else who isn't a commercial ISP is usuing ;). There isn't any black magic to invoke to work out what it should be.

If that is his problem then lets explain to him how to do it rather than imply that you shouldn't be running a wireless and wired connection together at the same time eh?.

and if the NAS is supposed to be accessible by other machines on the LAN, then it makes no sense to connect it directly to one of the Macs instead of into the main router (in this case the AEBS)...

Sometimes your router is not in a handy position to situate near the nas to directly plug it in. Hence you hook it directly to the PC you use most. You then enable wireless to cater to the other PC's that may require it on the odd occassion.
It's what I used to do before I wired my whole house in cat6.

Assigning IP's aint rocket science. :LOL:.

It isn't. But it does require a tiny bit of knowledge. I'd put money on OP's issue being one of 2 things:

1. Directly connected NAS would have no DHCP, let's assume nas is on say.. 192.168.0.2 or similar, auto ip would be 169.254.x.x, and unable to access each other due to being in seperate subnets without a router.

As for subnets how about we stop sounding knowledgable because it's a non issue.

Oh wait. it is an issue.

2. The other option would be if he is using static IPs or the NAS IS a DHCP server, then i would put money on both wireless and wired being in the same subnet. i.e. 192.168.0.x on both, it won't know which device to send to, and therefore won't be able to access it.

Assigning IP's aint rocket science. :LOL:.

have you ever done this with Mac OS X?

would you like to tell the OP where exactly he/she should be setting these IPs to make their whole LAN work with the NAS directly attached to one Mac???

have you ever done this with Mac OS X?

Not the person you're commenting to. but i have.

would you like to tell the OP where exactly he/she should be setting these IPs to make their whole LAN work with the NAS directly attached to one Mac???

Network section of preferences.

Not the person you're commenting to. but i have.

Network section of preferences.

i've never said it's not possible, just that you need to understand the basics of networking, subnets, and DHCP servers if you want the NAS to be available to the whole LAN.

with respect, the Network preferences alone is not sufficient to do this.

either the Mac needs to be bridging the wireless network to its ethernet port so that the NAS can get an IP from the DHCP server, or the NAS needs a static IP which needs to be reserved on the main router.