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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 8:54 pm 
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Hi everyone, I thought it might be useful to start a thread about NAS (network attached storage) units in relation to backing-up our digital photo collections. Does anyone use one or have any recommendations - or warnings!

What I'd be interested in knowing is the ease of setup, the capacity, ease of adding or swapping drives, RAID support, and of course any software which makes it easy to automatically backup folders on your PC / Mac.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 10:25 pm 
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I have some HP mediavault. It's an obsolete model with 500GB hard disk in it, and room for one more in a removable caddy.

It has a gigabit network connector on it but rendered a bit moot since the embedded processor lacks the power to shift data as fast as the disk can cope.

Built in software does the job. You can use a web interface to monitor and configure it. Didn't take long to get it on my windows network and have drives mapped. I added a second drive easily. Didn't take many clicks to format it and share it.

The computer software bundle includes a backup utility but I never got round to using it. Here is where my intentions diverged from how I actually use it. My main computer has mirrored hard disks, so I'm not concerned with mechanical failure. I manually backup important files to a USB hard disk. I originally intended to use the NAS for automated backups, but I ran low on space on my main computer. Instead, I have moved low importance files on it, freeing the mirror for more important stuff.

All considered, the only reason I bought it was it was cheap in stock clearance. It cost about the same as a USB drive of the same capacity so I thought I'd give it a try. If it costs any more, I would have just got additional USB drives for manual or semi-manual backup. To me most NAS boxes seem excessively expensive that you could build a PC dedicated to the task for similar money, although at the cost of bigger space and maybe power usage.

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:01 pm 
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I've been eyeing the Buffalo-Linkstation Duo pro 1TB or 2TB on and off but could not decide for it. That may have to do with my dual PC setup where I have a clone of my main PC sitting in the living room with backups every once in a week.
But now that laptops entered our family, the idea of having one centrally maintained data-server tucked up somewhere (for noise and ventilation reasons) seems to have some appeal. But again: With a laptop, where are you going to have your important files? On the laptop, of course!
So, well, then, yes: If I had not cloned my PC I would naturally have a NAS as backup.
But in my situation: I've put a 32GB USB-Stick in the back of my internet-router (Fritz!box 7270). This comes in handy, if some of our family-members want to put some important files from their laptops away for backup (later on the main PCs) without those PCs running. But it has only 3MB/sec transfer rate (and this is not the fault of the USB-stick) :?

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PostPosted: Tue Jan 13, 2009 11:50 pm 
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I've been a fan of NAS for some years now, ever since tape based solutions became too expensive for the amount of data I needed to back up. I do a weekly full backup (all files plus the "system") to my NAS of two computers and the one that runs 24/7 additionally gets a daily differential backup.

Some may argue that all you need to back up is data but, except for the simplest scenarios, I'll respectfully differ. My little machine that runs 24/7 (consumes about 40W when active) started suffering intermittent failures of the file system a few weeks back. Very frustrating as the failures would typically result in a crash but only occurred every day or two. Unfortunately one failure resulted in an unbootable system and the XP install CD-ROM wouldn't even offer me an option to repair. To cut a long story short I was forced to re-install XP from scratch and then download and install SP3 and the various updates. I then ran the XP Backup utility to restore everything from the latest backups, including system files. At that point I was up and running again - no additional drivers or programs to install, no data to restore and with my familiar Desktop environment in place. Result!

The beauty of NAS is that keeping up to date backups is painless and over the years it's saved me from disaster three times now. I also run an occasional backup to a separate external USB drive which is kept in a fire safe but that's just healthy paranoia. :lol:

Bob.

P.S. The failures did continue. Turned out to be an intermittent SATA or IDE data or power connector as I've had no trouble since reseating those items about a week ago. 8)

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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 12:37 am 
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Hi folks,

There've been a few changes here with the retirement of my little "Always On" machine and a substantial upgrade to my main computer. That upgrade was in hard disk space as well as speed and my NAS (Network Attached Storage) backup and media solution became the weak link. So I'm retiring the two LaCie Ethernet Big Disks (one 2TB and one 1TB) to offline duties in favour of a QNAP TS-639 Pro, which is filling with data as I write.
    Image
The initial cost is pretty steep but it's fast (more than four times as fast as the LaCies over my gigabit network) and it's upgradeable. For instance, I'm currently only using four of the six bays and they are set up as RAID 5. I can increase the capacity by upgrading the drives one at a time and allowing the TS-639 to rebuild and/or I can add disks to bays 5 and 6 and the TS-639 will add the extra capacity to the array. Both these methods are actively supported by the firmware and the capacity increase is courtesy of off the shelf HDDs which get ever more cost effective. I won't dwell on the myriads of features the TS-639 offers, as this isn't a review, but you can always read the QNAP product page blurb and various reviews if you are tempted.

And talking of reviews, if you are looking for reviews of NAS devices to suit all budgets then you could do a lot worse than check out SmallNetBuilder.

Bob.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 4:58 am 
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I've messed around with an old PC and loaded freeNAS onto it. I recommend that if you don't have any money to spend on a NAS. It's a good way of putting your old PC to work!

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 6:33 am 
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Just an update: I finally decided to get a Atom-based NetTop box (MSI Wind PC) with 2TB (and our family printer) attached to my GigE-network. Nothing running on it apart from my printer driver.
Set aside 50GB for the Windows XP system and cloned it to the second HD. It's always on so everybody can access e.g. our photos and music from the home-network. Very convenient.
I only use it for manually started backups (with Allway Sync, recommended!).
Have a look at the machine here. And read the whole story of this DIY project over there.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 8:42 am 
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I'd love to have a small form factor pc like that sometime. I bet it's good on power. Perfect for a NAS. Thanks for the huge guide though, it's going to help me whenever I get around to building a backup/media center NAS.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:14 am 
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Hi folks,

Home Cinema Choice magazine has released the article How you can build a media NAS for next to nothing...or even less which may be of interest in the context of this thread.

Bob.

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PostPosted: Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:27 pm 
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Apple's solution is Time Capsule.

It gives you 1TB or 2TB of single disk storage, a wired 3 port Gigabit Ethernet hub, simultaneous dual band (2,4GHz and 5GHz) wifi (802.11n) base station and a USB port for connecting additional disk drives or a network printer. Not bad for 300 US Dollars.

If you are going to use NAS then a fast network is a must, especially in a wireless environment. Backing up files over wifi from my 802.11a PC laptop can be painfully slow (I usually resort to a USB data stick or moving the machine to a wired connection).

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 13, 2009 9:07 am 
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I have used a D-Link DNS323 for the last year. I just back up my main machine to a single Samsung 1TB drive (no raid or complications) using synctoy. All the other computers in the house do the same. It also acts a iTunes streamer + media streamer too and has a build in FTP server. Best bit is power consumption is only around 8 watts when idle even though it has a (quiet) fan inside.
It doesn't get rave reviews but it does the job just fine for me. The unit (w/o drive) cost $200 SGD (= ~£85) at the time which i thought was good value.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 05, 2009 7:55 am 
I was going to get a NAS, but ended up building myself a server instead. The thing about a NAS solution is you are usually limited to a maximum size. While that can be a few TB, if you're backing up everything in RAW, plus all your edited images and maybe your psd's, you can fill up a couple TB without THAT much trouble.

That being said, I have several friends with NAS solutions. The Buffalo Linkstation is very good. Something you might consider is DROBO. While it technically isn't RAID, whats nice is that it allows you to use mismatched HDDs - so if you have a couple 500GB drives lying around, and then a 750GB drive, you can throw them all in. I think their newer version also has built in Ethernet (which their first version didn't, which could be a problem for some people.)

The thing I personally like about the server solution is that it is expandable, its easy to use it for other things (I use it as a media server as well as storage backup). If you get a good RAID card, you can run multiple arrays for extra security. The downside is that, at least initially, it can be more expensive than a NAS solution. That being said, some of the more flexible NAS are well over $1000, so you aren't paying much more, even with an expensive RAID card. And, in the long run, it will probably be cheaper. While the NAS will max out at 4xHDDs, I can keep adding more - up to 16 with my current RAID card. All I need to do is buy more HDDs, instead of whole new enclosures. My 2.75TB RAID 5 array is more than 3/4 full.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 06, 2009 10:11 pm 
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Well firstly it depends what your doing with the NAS...

I know Gordon said about backing up to one, but what about actually storing your photos on one to work off that.

For Backing up, most are fine if your just doing incremental backups, unless your punching through 50GB+ of data a day... which unless your shooting tethered your no doubt not gonna be doing.

For working off... well i've not seen any hard numbers or examples, but I'm gonna hazzard a guess it'd suck.

As for servers. Yeah I'd go with that myself. Hooking up either direct pc-pc link using 10Gbit if I was actually working off it, or 1Gbit if it was for backup only.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 4:05 am 
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Working as a Mac user:

seagate 1Tb drive hooked up to my cisco w160 router conducting daily incremental backups wirelessly vie time machine, the secondly onto mobile me, absolutely flawless.

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PostPosted: Sun Nov 15, 2009 9:35 am 
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My very personal take, and I haven't bothered to try it out, is that while working on photos stored on a NAS device mightn't be too bad so long as the editing software (PhotoShop?) was configured to use a local disk as its cache doing so rather obviates the point of a NAS. So long as you can connect storage directly to a PC that should be both cheaper and faster and that allows NAS to be relegated to a backup role and/or a means of sharing data when you can't guarantee that the computer which would otherwise host that data will be switched on.

Bob.

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Leica D Vario-Elmar 14mm-150mm f/3.5 - f/5.6 ASPH.
OM-D E-M5, H-PS14042E, Gitzo GT1541T, Arca-Swiss Z1 DP ball-head.
Astrophotography: TEC 140 'scope, FLI ML16803 camera, ASA DDM60 Pro mount.


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