Which home NAS with online backup for 2013?
February 10, 2013 8:58 AM   Subscribe

I have a mess of ad-hoc backup systems, none of which “just work”. I would like to have a NAS that quietly backs up the cross-platform content I have, and also mirrors it online securely. I should probably budget for about 1-2 TB. I have no problem doing geeky setup stuff, but the less routine stuff I have to remember, the better. System details follow.

These are the computers we have:
  • My MacBook, with about 300 GB on it. Backed up locally to a USB Time Machine (desperately, annoyingly slow) and mirrored to SpiderOak.
  • ms scruss's iMac (200 GB). Only locally backed up to a FireWire Time Machine.
  • An mp3 collection of about 300 GB, currently living on 6 year old USB drive connected to a SheevaPlug.
  • An old Linux box with pretty much my entire (online) life from 1991–2010 on it (300 GB).
  • Many little Linux boxes, from Raspberry Pis up to a ThinkPad, running various video/audio/multimedia/radio control applications around the house. Probably no more than 50 GB on all of them.
  • A D-Link DNS323 two-bay NAS running 5+ year old 1 TB WD drives. These drives are likely about to conk out any time now. Mirrors the music backup, and haphazard bits of everything else (when I remember). Likely has about 100 GB of stuff that's nowhere else
There's likely a ton of duplicate files on all of these. I'm unlikely to be bothered to go through and clean them up manually.

I have 25/10 DSL, and no bandwidth cap. I'm not wild about staying with SpiderOak; while its de-duping and security is rather good, its pricing and cross-platform/architecture support isn't. I would like to have occasional online access to files should I need them when I'm away.

The NAS would be on our wired network, and powered through a UPS. Swappable drives would be good; are home/office NASs there yet for seamless redundant drives? I'm not looking to run a desktop machine as a NAS, as they're too loud and draw too much power.
posted by scruss to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
I'm investigating something similar for a client. I'm currently looking at synology nas units, with a java client for CrashPlan.
posted by Wild_Eep at 9:12 AM on February 10, 2013

Best answer: First, a backup of a backup is not a second backup. If something goes wrong or gets corrupted on the primary backup, its mirror gets the same problem. So an offsite backup system should back up not from your consolidated onsite storage, but from each device individually.

Speaking of the onsite solution, either get something like Synology/QNAP that lets you run at RAID 5 (or 6) so you can withstand a drive failure and pool the storage and then Time Machine your Macs to that. Rsync or rdiff-backup your Linux boxes to that. If any hardware fails, you can do a local restore over a gigabit network, 1000mbit/s is worlds faster than 25 mbit/s.

Avoid a Drobo like the plague, the performance isn't there for the price and it won't work with my next suggestion...

Crashplan is $150/yr (if you sign up for a year) for up to 10 devices and unlimited storage. (I know, I'm wary of the entire unlimited/overselling thing.) Pretend to be a Carbonite user and the first year is $50. It runs on Windows, Mac and Linux (which those Synology/QNAP devices are anyhow).

If you don't want a small computer with an Atom CPU or something, buy an appliance like Synology/QNAP, put four large hard drives (different batches!) in, call it a day. That's what I would have done if I didn't build a Linux box.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:43 AM on February 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Oh, and Crashplan does dedupe, so if it backs up one file on one device, it shouldn't waste your bandwidth backing it up on another device.

Plus, it can be configured to keep files you delete on its servers for a certain amount of time, giving you a grace period to realize your mistake.
posted by Brian Puccio at 9:59 AM on February 10, 2013

Best answer: I have a Synology DS212J, and I have been very happy with it (I had asked a similar question on here a while back).

I have a Mac that uses Time Machine to back up to a volume set aside just for its time machine backups on the Synology.

I have an HP laptop that also backs up to a separate volume on the Synology.

I also use Crashplan to back up the Mac and the Synology.

AND, I have one volume on the synology that is really important things -- I have an encrypted backup running for that to Amazon S3 as it fits within their free 5GB and is really easy to set up on the Synology (the Amazon backup settings are built into the OS).

I have moved all my music to the Synology and that is now where iTunes sees its library, and you can use Synology's own Audio Station app to play music from it as well.

I have not tried using my Raspberry Pi in the mix yet, but I bet I could pull it up over the network on the Mac and have it backed up as well.

I have been pretty happy with everything, and just had to test it out yesterday. I was playing around with Hazel on the Mac and tried to sort a bunch of image into subfolders based on date. I somehow created an infinite loop of folders and the images seemed to disappear. I was able to open up Crashplan and restore the entire folder very easily.

I have not tested the Amazon encrypted backup much yet, though. It was originally unencrypted and worked well and I had tested the restore ability there. I originally had it set to back up too often at first and I got charged $0.12, so I had to change that to back up a bit less.

So: Very happy with the Synology as the main hub, and very happy with Crashplan as my remote servce, and Amazon S3 as a secondary remote for a portion of the data.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 8:33 PM on February 10, 2013

Best answer: I also have a Synology and love it.

Here's my setup:

- 2 Macbook Airs
- 1 home built media server / DVR / shared drive w/ a 3-drive RAID
- 1 NAS (Synology 1512+)

I use the Synology for:
- backing up my server (media files, documents, program installs, etc)
- time machine backups
- serving files via iTunes
- virus scanner

Things that I'm going to try out on the Synology:
- Plex server
- Photo station / photo sharing
- Cloud backup; they have a few integrated providers

Things I currently do on my server:
- AirVideo for offsite video viewing, which I might be able to replace w/ Plex
- Upload music files to Google Music & iTunes Match
- Sync my iPhone and iPad (I just got my Air and haven't decided on whether to switch those to it)
- SageTV DVR
- PlayOn for web content for my DVR
- Downloading photos from my photostream and adding them to my photo library
- FingerPrint, an app that lets iOS devices do AirPrinting

I also run Backblaze on my server as an offsite backup. I was looking into Amazon Glacier, but I think for my purposes, it'd still be ~$750 / year. I really like Backblaze b/c they are committed to storage efficiency, so much so that they designed and built their own storage servers and open sourced the design.

I've been very impressed with the stability and speed of the Synology. Plus, the web interface is super easy to use and they update it pretty frequently. I also love how they have a product for any price range. At a prior job, we had a ReadyNAS, and it was slow as hell and the web interface looked and performed like I had coded it. ;)

So, I love my Synology, but I don't think that I can use it as my primary data storage device, and I don't think it's wise to do so, unless you also hang some external drives off it to back it up locally in addition to an off-site storage provider.
posted by reddot at 9:19 AM on February 18, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks! Looks like the QNAP + 4x WD Reds + Crashplan it will be. The choice even passed the sniff test at my local Linux user group, so it can't be too bad.
posted by scruss at 9:38 AM on February 23, 2013

Response by poster: Ended up with the Synology DS413, as no local suppliers had QNAPs. It's very nice, and Crashplan was remarkably easy to set up. It looks like I won't be able to use Time Machine, as my macs don't recognize the NAS as a Time Machine destination.
posted by scruss at 7:04 PM on March 21, 2013 [1 favorite]


What OS are your macs running? My wife's is on Snow Leopard and mine is on Mountain Lion, and time machine works for us.
posted by reddot at 5:28 AM on March 27, 2013

Scruss, you might try setting up Time Machine with the AFP protocol instead of SMB, which is what (I think) Synology recommends. SMB would ordinarily offer better performance, but on my Mini (which is still on Snow Leopard) Time Machine won't accept an SMB volume as a valid destination. I switched it to AFP and it works fine.
posted by $0up at 7:02 AM on March 28, 2013

Response by poster: I'm connecting to the special Time Machine user/share (which has a quota to stop TM taking everything) using AFP, and none of the Macs see it. It's reported as an occasional thing in the Synology forums. We're running 10.6 and 10.7.

I'm considering switching to rsnapshot over TM for the local backups, as at least it uses standard tools and protocols. Sure, it might not understand all of Apple's file attributes, but it also won't fall over in a proprietary heap like TM can do sometimes, and claim that a TM volume is blank.
posted by scruss at 9:29 AM on March 28, 2013

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