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McQ

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Before you buy a NAS plan how you are going to back it up.
I currently back it up to a standard external hard drive, via Time Machine backups.

I honestly don't know anything about NAS (other than a general overview) and am just now starting to read up on them to learn more. I assume I can still use Time Machine somehow though. Or am I mistaken?
 

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I currently back it up to a standard external hard drive, via Time Machine backups.

I honestly don't know anything about NAS (other than a general overview) and am just now starting to read up on them to learn more. I assume I can still use Time Machine somehow though. Or am I mistaken?
A quick Google gave me this example of what not to do:
https://www.zdnet.com/article/a-nas-is-not-enough/

This link gives a useful description of what you can do sensibly - but note that this sounds more like the job for an IT employee of a business, and note the need for more boxes than one:
https://www.synology.com/en-us/knowledgebase/DSM/help/DSM/Tutorial/backup_backup

Instead of some simple drives which can be transported and rotated offsite, you have a complicated box which you cannot understand with a huge amount of data in it, perhaps 28TB of data (sometimes used as an example). Don't fall for the idea that because it uses RAID it will never lose your data. All that happens is that the device itself fails and you lose the lot.

Perhaps you could buy two NAS boxes, and keep one offsite.

Relying on Cloud backups has other issues - how long to download your 28TB after the NAS fails?

I like solutions that I can understand and maintain and are completely backed up. NAS has its uses, such as for users in businesses where many users need to share the company data.

You can now buy individual drives with 16TB each if you need that much (I'm on 8TB drives still) so why do you want a NAS?
 
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I'l give a quick reply then i'll just answer questions as they arise.
  • A NAS is simple to set up, there are plenty of instructions online you can follow to get it up and running.
  • There is a bit of trial and error at first as you figure out how you want everything to work. If you don't like this, either get someone who knows this stuff to help you or forego it completely. However, this isn't "IT only level" type stuff. The new systems from synology are geared to the home user.
  • RAID is not a "backup plan". It's a data redundancy plan. A NAS *can* be a backup plan but it will always be a local backup (assuming backup from computer to NAS). If you're just storing files on the NAS it's up to you to decide if you want to do backups or not. There are many options: You could get a portable drive the size of your NAS, hook it up to the onboard USB, take a snapshot whenever you want and put it in a firebox. This is what I do. You can also backup to other NAS's (say you have a friend down the street that has the available space, you can share space on your NAS's and do encrypted backups between each other). You can also do cloud backups to something like backblaze and so on (I haven't look at this in a while so don't quote me on what is/isn't available, they were at the onset of my NAS setup).
  • I would trust a NAS to store files any day over a dongled portable drive. They sell network storage drives (which I recommend) that are server grade to hold up to the needs of what a NAS provides. A portable drive is one of the weakest and least trustworthy drives on the market, even the SSD versions (though i'm sure it's negligible these days).
I won't sit here and say they're for everyone, but if your data is important and your only method to preserving it right now is to hang it off the USB port of your computer you should look into one and see if it fits your needs.
 

McQ

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A quick Google gave me this example of what not to do:
https://www.zdnet.com/article/a-nas-is-not-enough/

This link gives a useful description of what you can do sensibly - but note that this sounds more like the job for an IT employee of a business, and note the need for more boxes than one:
https://www.synology.com/en-us/knowledgebase/DSM/help/DSM/Tutorial/backup_backup

Instead of some simple drives which can be transported and rotated offsite, you have a complicated box which you cannot understand with a huge amount of data in it, perhaps 28TB of data (sometimes used as an example). Don't fall for the idea that because it uses RAID it will never lose your data. All that happens is that the device itself fails and you lose the lot.

Perhaps you could buy two NAS boxes, and keep one offsite.

Relying on Cloud backups has other issues - how long to download your 28TB after the NAS fails?

I like solutions that I can understand and maintain and are completely backed up. NAS has its uses, such as for users in businesses where many users need to share the company data.

You can now buy individual drives with 16TB each if you need that much (I'm on 8TB drives still) so why do you want a NAS?
Richard, the short answer to your last question is that I don't know that I actually need a NAS. I'm just wondering if continuing to use external hard drives is still the best way to utilize my Time Machine and for storage of photos/videos/files, etc.

External drives still work for me but I just don't know if they're the best way to do what I'm doing.
 

McQ

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I'l give a quick reply then i'll just answer questions as they arise.
  • A NAS is simple to set up, there are plenty of instructions online you can follow to get it up and running.
  • There is a bit of trial and error at first as you figure out how you want everything to work. If you don't like this, either get someone who knows this stuff to help you or forego it completely. However, this isn't "IT only level" type stuff. The new systems from synology are geared to the home user.
  • RAID is not a "backup plan". It's a data redundancy plan. A NAS *can* be a backup plan but it will always be a local backup (assuming backup from computer to NAS). If you're just storing files on the NAS it's up to you to decide if you want to do backups or not. There are many options: You could get a portable drive the size of your NAS, hook it up to the onboard USB, take a snapshot whenever you want and put it in a firebox. This is what I do. You can also backup to other NAS's (say you have a friend down the street that has the available space, you can share space on your NAS's and do encrypted backups between each other). You can also do cloud backups to something like backblaze and so on (I haven't look at this in a while so don't quote me on what is/isn't available, they were at the onset of my NAS setup).
  • I would trust a NAS to store files any day over a dongled portable drive. They sell network storage drives (which I recommend) that are server grade to hold up to the needs of what a NAS provides. A portable drive is one of the weakest and least trustworthy drives on the market, even the SSD versions (though i'm sure it's negligible these days).
I won't sit here and say they're for everyone, but if your data is important and your only method to preserving it right now is to hang it off the USB port of your computer you should look into one and see if it fits your needs.

Thanks. There's a lot for me to unpack here, so I'll continue to do my due diligence and look into other methods of storage and backups, like this.

I appreciate your expertise and the knowledge and expertise of others like you here and the willingness to share it.
 

Growltiger

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Richard, the short answer to your last question is that I don't know that I actually need a NAS. I'm just wondering if continuing to use external hard drives is still the best way to utilize my Time Machine and for storage of photos/videos/files, etc.

External drives still work for me but I just don't know if they're the best way to do what I'm doing.
I'm not against NAS at all, and tenplanescrashing has given an excellent summary.
It's just that sometimes people buy one and think that it makes a complete solution, whereas it needs to be a part of the whole approach to storing and backing up data.
 
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Richard, the short answer to your last question is that I don't know that I actually need a NAS. I'm just wondering if continuing to use external hard drives is still the best way to utilize my Time Machine and for storage of photos/videos/files, etc.

External drives still work for me but I just don't know if they're the best way to do what I'm doing.
External SSD's are fairly reasonably priced right now if you are concerned about the backups being stored on spinning drives.
 

McQ

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External SSD's are fairly reasonably priced right now if you are concerned about the backups being stored on spinning drives.
Yes, they have come down considerably in cost. I currently use one SSD and one spinning drive as storage, and the spinning drive is my Time Machine backups.
 

McQ

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I'm not against NAS at all, and tenplanescrashing has given an excellent summary.
It's just that sometimes people buy one and think that it makes a complete solution, whereas it needs to be a part of the whole approach to storing and backing up data.
I understand, Richard. And your tech knowledge has proven over and over again to be valuable here. I'm all ears when you "speak". :)
 
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Yes, they have come down considerably in cost. I currently use one SSD and one spinning drive as storage, and the spinning drive is my Time Machine backups.
I use two spinning drives as well.
I need to make the investment and buy some SSD's.
I use one for Time Machine the other for Super Duper.
I run both backup programs separately.
From what I understand if you ever have to completely restore the drive Time Machine restores all the important data file but you still need to download a lot of the system files which I have read takes a few hours. With Super Duper it creates a complete image file which can be restored and you're completely up and running once complete.
 
Back in 2015 I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 21.5 iMac, the first one of that model to have the retina screen. (The 27" iMac is just too darned big for me to handle physically and I don't like that large of a screen.) Well....when the announcement finally came and I viewed the specs I was disappointed, as there would have been a lot of things I would have wanted to change, meaning that I'd have to do a CTO (configured-to-order) and all of that..... Well, around that same time I'd been noticing that the 13" 2013 MacBook Pro I had really ran circles around my 2012 iMac (not surprisingly, since the former had an SSD and the latter still was stuck with the old dog-slow 5400 rpm platter). I loved that 2013 MBP, I appreciated the mobility and portability....and got to thinking about the situation, and found myself looking at the specs for the 15" 2015 MBP. BINGO! That machine was spec'd almost exactly the way I would've wanted to do the iMac. I could walk into the Apple store and pick one up, bring it home and get right to work on it. I could add an external monitor and that would be that. Hmmmm..... I weighed the pros and cons, and conducted an experiment by setting the 13" MBP up on a stand, utilized a spare mouse and a spare keyboard as peripherals just as I'd use with an iMac, and, hey this worked a treat!

Bought that 15" MBP along with a shiny new Apple BT external keyboard and a shiny new Magic Mouse, set the 2015 MBP on the stand and indeed that was the death knell for iMacs for me. At that time I wasn't doing much photography so kept putting off purchasing an external monitor, as the 15" MBP's screen was perfectly fine for reading text, participating in forums, and the editing of an occasional image. Come 2018, I didn't even hesitate when I got that "new Mac itch," and didn't bother looking at the specs on the iMacs as I was no longer interested in those. Went straight to the specs on the 15" MBP, and my timing was good because right about then was when Apple offered the VEGA 20 option for the discrete graphics. Bought my 2018 MBP spec'd again just the way I wanted, with an eye to eventually making some changes in my photography gear which would require a more powerful MBP than the 2015 one was. I've been very happy with her and she has handled my latest gear and editing software very well. About a year or so ago, after I'd gotten the new photo gear and was doing more editing, I finally bought myself the external monitor, and I absolutely love it. 24" LG 4K Thunderbolt 3, just plugs right into the MBP, and as mentioned earlier in this thread, also provides the power for both itself and the MBP. One cable, takes up just one of the 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, and that's it. Unplug it, grab the MBP and take her somewhere? Not a problem! Returning home or back to the computer workstation, simply plugging the MPB back in takes care of everything again. I do occasionally unplug it in order to also run the machine on battery power alone for occasional periods of time in order to keep the battery in good condition.

I have been more than happy with this setup and the next time I need or want a new computer, again it'll be an MBP (or whatever Apple names the new ARM-based versions)-plus-external monitor situation, as this really works so well for me. It offers flexibility when needed and it provides the comfort and convenience of using a desktop with peripherals, plus the LG 4K display is absolutely wonderful and the colors are very accurate for photo editing. A win-win situation!

As for backups and such, I use external SSDs primarily, with a couple of external desktops that are still spinning platter drives as they are larger in capacity than I can get with the external SSDs so far. I use the desktop drives primarily for archiving and the external SSDs for current backups (past calendar year) and supplementary storage of files, especially my photo files. I have two machines in the house, the 2018 MBP and a 12" 2017 MacBook, so I don't feel the need for a NAS system. It's easy enough to plug an external SSD into one machine, grab files, then stick them in the other machine, although I actually don't keep much on my 12" MacBook anyway, it's. primarily for travel. I don't keep my external drives hanging off my machine, I don't need to do that. I plug them in when I am ready to use them for something. My external SSDs are Samsung T 3s, several T5s and a couple of Samsung T7s plus a couple Samsung X5s, and I also use G-Drive Mobile External SSDs as well. I love the versatility and portability, not to mention the speed, of these external SSDs and have been using them for several years now, adding and accumulating them as needed.

I'm definitely fixated on redundant storage, and I have backup, supplementary and archived files here at home, but also in my bank safe deposit box. This past several months, though, with bank lobby hours being restricted to by-appointment-only, I was not able to get to my safe deposit box -- kept putting off arranging an appointment -- so was very happy when I learned this past week that the banks have been going back to regular lobby hours again, customers could just walk in and conduct their business. Perfect! I promptly went to my safe deposit box and extracted the drives that had been sitting in there since March and with a sigh of relief stuck in the current, updated ones. Whew!!! Now I've just got to update those other drives, which I haven't gotten to yet. It will be so nice to be able to resume my regular routine again!
 
Last edited:

McQ

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Back in 2015 I was eagerly awaiting the arrival of the 21.5 iMac, the first one of that model to have the retina screen. (The 27" iMac is just too darned big for me to handle physically and I don't like that large of a screen.) Well....when the announcement finally came and I viewed the specs I was disappointed, as there would have been a lot of things I would have wanted to change, meaning that I'd have to do a CTO (configured-to-order) and all of that..... Well, around that same time I'd been noticing that the 13" 2013 MacBook Pro I had really ran circles around my 2012 iMac (not surprisingly, since the former had an SSD and the latter still was stuck with the old dog-slow 5400 rpm platter). I loved that 2013 MBP, I appreciated the mobility and portability....and got to thinking about the situation, and found myself looking at the specs for the 15" 2015 MBP. BINGO! That machine was spec'd almost exactly the way I would've wanted to do the iMac. I could walk into the Apple store and pick one up, bring it home and get right to work on it. I could add an external monitor and that would be that. Hmmmm..... I weighed the pros and cons, and conducted an experiment by setting the 13" MBP up on a stand, utilized a spare mouse and a spare keyboard as peripherals just as I'd use with an iMac, and, hey this worked a treat!

Bought that 15" MBP along with a shiny new Apple BT external keyboard and a shiny new Magic Mouse, set the 2015 MBP on the stand and indeed that was the death knell for iMacs for me. At that time I wasn't doing much photography so kept putting off purchasing an external monitor, as the 15" MBP's screen was perfectly fine for reading text, participating in forums, and the editing of an occasional image. Come 2018, I didn't even hesitate when I got that "new Mac itch," and didn't bother looking at the specs on the iMacs as I was no longer interested in those. Went straight to the specs on the 15" MBP, and my timing was good because right about then was when Apple offered the VEGA 20 option for the discrete graphics. Bought my 2018 MBP spec'd again just the way I wanted, with an eye to eventually making some changes in my photography gear which would require a more powerful MBP than the 2015 one was. I've been very happy with her and she has handled my latest gear and editing software very well. About a year or so ago, after I'd gotten the new photo gear and was doing more editing, I finally bought myself the external monitor, and I absolutely love it. 24" LG 4K Thunderbolt 3, just plugs right into the MBP, and as mentioned earlier in this thread, also provides the power for both itself and the MBP. One cable, takes up just one of the 4 Thunderbolt 3 ports, and that's it. Unplug it, grab the MBP and take her somewhere? Not a problem! Returning home or back to the computer workstation, simply plugging the MPB back in takes care of everything again. I do occasionally unplug it in order to also run the machine on battery power alone for occasional periods of time in order to keep the battery in good condition.

I have been more than happy with this setup and the next time I need or want a new computer, again it'll be an MBP (or whatever Apple names the new ARM-based versions)-plus-external monitor situation, as this really works so well for me. It offers flexibility when needed and it provides the comfort and convenience of using a desktop with peripherals, plus the LG 4K display is absolutely wonderful and the colors are very accurate for photo editing. A win-win situation!

As for backups and such, I use external SSDs primarily, with a couple of external desktops that are still spinning platter drives as they are larger in capacity than I can get with the external SSDs so far. I use the desktop drives primarily for archiving and the external SSDs for current backups (past calendar year) and supplementary storage of files, especially my photo files. I have two machines in the house, the 2018 MBP and a 12" 2017 MacBook, so I don't feel the need for a NAS system. It's easy enough to plug an external SSD into one machine, grab files, then stick them in the other machine, although I actually don't keep much on my 12" MacBook anyway, it's. primarily for travel. I don't keep my external drives hanging off my machine, I don't need to do that. I plug them in when I am ready to use them for something. My external SSDs are Samsung T 3s, several T5s and a couple of Samsung T7s plus a couple Samsung X5s, and I also use G-Drive Mobile External SSDs as well. I love the versatility and portability, not to mention the speed, of these external SSDs and have been using them for several years now, adding and accumulating them as needed.

I'm definitely fixated on redundant storage, and I have backup, supplementary and archived files here at home, but also in my bank safe deposit box. This past several months, though, with bank lobby hours being restricted to by-appointment-only, I was not able to get to my safe deposit box -- kept putting off arranging an appointment -- so was very happy when I learned this past week that the banks have been going back to regular lobby hours again, customers could just walk in and conduct their business. Perfect! I promptly went to my safe deposit box and extracted the drives that had been sitting in there since March and with a sigh of relief stuck in the current, updated ones. Whew!!! Now I've just got to update those other drives, which I haven't gotten to yet. It will be so nice to be able to resume my regular routine again!
Connie, this is quite the system you've got going for your backups and storage! I enjoy seeing the different solutions people use for this and it's helpful to see what works for everyone.
 
It took me a while to develop a system which works for me, with some fine-tuning and tweaking along the way. I initially began doing this because the 2015 MBP only had a 500 GB SSD internal drive, and my 2012 iMac had had a 1 TB drive, so I knew I'd need to be mindful of space on the new machine's internal drive. I did some significant paring-down and deleting of old software that I wasn't using much or at all, and made other changes in that shift from iMac to MBP. Now with my current 2018 MBP I have a 1 TB SSD, but I still need to be mindful of space because the files from my A7R IV are pretty large and can take up room very quickly.

My process now is to go out with the camera, take photos, transfer the files from the memory card to the computer, review the images, process and edit any that I am going to, and then move the RAW files and copies of the edited files to my external drives dedicated to photos, keeping only the current year's edited images on the computer, plus a separate folder of favorites and such from previous years. I also copy many of my current edited images to my Zenfolio gallery, having set up a specific gallery for my 52 Weeks project.

Of course all of this takes more time than it would if I simply backed everything up to Time Machine and/or Copy Copy Cloner or SuperDuper, but since I'm retired, I've got plenty of time to mess around with this stuff! LOL!
 

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