Educate me - should I buy these prebuilt NAS (which is better) or make my own?

arachn1d

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I'm trying to learn as much as possible, and I think I've learned quite a bit so bear with me here under my confusion.

I found a coupe NAS setups. I'm not sure if one is better than the other, other than the price being higher on some, and some coming with drives VS not.

Let me list my setup so you can get an idea of what I want to provide:
Macbook Pro
Macbook Mini for Media streaming (so far)
Windows 7 Gaming Computer
Xbox 360

I'd like to provide a storage system for all these devices so they can access files very easily, I'd also like any of these devices to be able to stream media from this storage system.

I'd like this storage system to be hassle free in terms of my confidence in the data integrity. If a drive fails, I want to know that I can replace the drive and all my files will still exist.

I'd like to access this storage system OUTSIDE of my LAN. If I'm out on a job for work I'd like to go in, or be able to have people DL some files. This brings me to a question, is this what iSCSI is?

I'd like this data system to be able to download torrents.

I want to mount any drive on this storage system onto my OSX laptop as if it were a local drive attached. (Is this with iSCSI is?)

I'd like this system to have a GOOD web based GUI. I don't want to install software to use it.

I believe those are the most of my requirements. If I'm missing something that I have no knowledge about, can someone educate me?

Here are the systems I found:

$729ish on Newegg Lacie 5Big Network 2 (comes with 5TB of space. iSCSI / mac compatible, torrents, nice ui, + others?)

Is this overpriced for what it provides? It almost seems like a great deal to me because of the 5TB of space it comes with vs the other NAS systems that don't come with storage but cost $600-700.

Should I get a different NAS system? Netgear? Others? Do they have same features? Better? Is it better to buy your own disks?

What about making my own? I'm tech savy all around. It seems cheaper to buy a premade one especially with the support/warranty it provides...
 

aphasia

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from my limited understanding of iSCSI, using this will violate your first prerequisite;
Let me list my setup so you can get an idea of what I want to provide:
Macbook Pro
Macbook Mini for Media streaming (so far)
Windows 7 Gaming Computer
Xbox 360

I'd like to provide a storage system for all these devices so they can access files very easily, I'd also like any of these devices to be able to stream media from this storage system.
you'll need to google/wiki to get more depth on the subject, but iSCSI lets you treat space on the NAS as if it's local storage (not talking about mapped network drives here). once the iSCSI initiator or pointer is loaded on the local pc, the os see this as unformatted space. once formatted on the local machine, the os assigns it a drive letter like any other hard drive. thus that space is only viewable by like os's (HSF only readable my mac and ntfs only by windows). you can sort of get around this as you can create multiple iSCSI volumes on the NAS, but it starts to get messy.

i don't know much about Lacie, but thecus has a very active mod community that will for fill any needs that falls outside what the manufacturer's unit provided out-of-the-box. thecus actually encourages the mod community to write extra 'modules' to add functionality to their NAS's. the boxes natively support these 'modules' without having to roll-up your sleeves to dig around in whatever linux distro runs behind the web interface.

have a look at both sites, if the out-of-box requirement isn't for filled by whatever thecus unit falls in you're budget, the usergroup will probably have something.
http://www.thecus.com/
http://thecususergroup.proboards.com/index.cgi

i any case i'm sure building you're own NAS from scratch will provide more functionality at a cheaper cost but i have no experience with it.
 

omniscence

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iSCSI lets you access remote harddrive space locally as if it was directly attached to your system. The iSCSI target (the NAS) has no knowledge about how the data on that volume is structured or how it is to be used, only the iSCSI initiator (the laptop/desktop client machine) knows this. Hence the NAS cannot share the same volume to multiple clients over iSCSI, only to one at the same time. Based on your requirements iSCSI is not what you want. It is for centralized but not shared storage. (actually shared is also possible, but it needs a special cluster file system like OCFS)

The NAS you mentioned supports SMB and AFP, which allows you to mount the network share locally. But for this case the case the NAS transports file data (and not raw block data like in the iSCSI case) and multiple machines can access the data at the same time. This is more like what you want. It also supports UPnP for streaming to Xbox360 or the Windows PC (not sure if MacOS supports that).
 
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arachn1d

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iSCSI lets you access remote harddrive space locally as if it was directly attached to your system. The iSCSI target (the NAS) has no knowledge about how the data on that volume is structured or how it is to be used, only the iSCSI initiator (the laptop/desktop client machine) knows this. Hence the NAS cannot share the same volume to multiple clients over iSCSI, only to one at the same time. Based on your requirements iSCSI is not what you want. It is for centralized but not shared storage. (actually shared is also possible, but it needs a special cluster file system like OCFS)

The NAS you mentioned supports SMB and AFP, which allows you to mount the network share locally. But for this case the case the NAS transports file data (and not raw block data like in the iSCSI case) and multiple machines can access the data at the same time. This is more like what you want. It also supports UPnP for streaming to Xbox360 or the Windows PC (not sure if MacOS supports that).
I see thanks. But I don't necessarily want to share the whole 5TB as "shared space." If only an allocated amount can be a iSCSI target that sounds fine. The main reason I want this is so I can store my iPhoto library/Aperture Library on a offsite volume. I think iSCSI is the only way to do this (requires blocks, I think).

Either way as long as it supports both I guess I'm ok.

Thanks!
 

aphasia

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iSCSI lets you access remote harddrive space locally as if it was directly attached to your system. The iSCSI target (the NAS) has no knowledge about how the data on that volume is structured or how it is to be used, only the iSCSI initiator (the laptop/desktop client machine) knows this. Hence the NAS cannot share the same volume to multiple clients over iSCSI, only to one at the same time. Based on your requirements iSCSI is not what you want. It is for centralized but not shared storage. (actually shared is also possible, but it needs a special cluster file system like OCFS)

The NAS you mentioned supports SMB and AFP, which allows you to mount the network share locally. But for this case the case the NAS transports file data (and not raw block data like in the iSCSI case) and multiple machines can access the data at the same time. This is more like what you want. It also supports UPnP for streaming to Xbox360 or the Windows PC (not sure if MacOS supports that).

hi omniscence, i thought iSCSI was a little more flexible than that. i assumed you could view the formatted volume with other os's that share the same file system (formatted with ntfs -seen by win2k, xp, vista, win7...?).

i'm in the process of adding another NAS to my network. it has iSCSI support, if it can only be seen by the pc that formatted it, guess i won't be using it either.
 
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OldSchool

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Hmmm never really read about iSCSI before, is it me or does that idea sound kinda... dumb? Why would you want to have remote space that can only be accessed by one machine....
 

aphasia

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I see thanks. But I don't necessarily want to share the whole 5TB as "shared space." If only an allocated amount can be a iSCSI target that sounds fine. The main reason I want this is so I can store my iPhoto library/Aperture Library on a offsite volume. I think iSCSI is the only way to do this (requires blocks, I think).

Either way as long as it supports both I guess I'm ok.

Thanks!

why not use the NAS as a regular networked RAID volume. Most NAS's have a ftp service. also most have some form of folder, user authentication & permissions that can be setup.
 

omniscence

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hi omniscence, i thought iSCSI was a little more flexible than that. i assumed you could view the formatted volume with other os's that share the same file system (formatted with ntfs -seen by win2k, xp, vista, win7...?).
It is possible, just not simultaneously. Filesystems used by multiple instances need a locking mechanism which is not provided by iSCSI.

Hmmm never really read about iSCSI before, is it me or does that idea sound kinda... dumb? Why would you want to have remote space that can only be accessed by one machine....
This is not meant for home use but for datacenters. It is just that, SCSI protocol over IP. There has been dedicated communication hardware like FibreChannel for a long time, but ethernet has become orders of magnitudes cheaper than that and iSCSI allows the use of ethernet infrastructure for storage.
This way datacenter operators can concentrate storage into storage servers and build diskless file or webservers. It would just be dumb to run 500 webservers, each with its own disks in RAID5.

I see thanks. But I don't necessarily want to share the whole 5TB as "shared space." If only an allocated amount can be a iSCSI target that sounds fine. The main reason I want this is so I can store my iPhoto library/Aperture Library on a offsite volume. I think iSCSI is the only way to do this (requires blocks, I think).

Like I said, iSCSI is most probably not what you want. A normal NAS which provides its storage space as network shares would do exactly what you want. After all you are storing files and nearly all NAS run a file server. To say it bluntly, if you don't know what iSCSI is or how it works, there is a high probability it is not what you want or need. If your scenario were "I want to remove all drives from my desktop machines and use a centralized disk server", then you can look into iSCSI.
 
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Ryom

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Creating an encrypted container on the NAS with Truecrypt and mounting it will also have in show up as local storage, at least in Windows. This has the side benefit of encrypting your files if that is at all desirable. And if I recall correctly, Truecrypt can be used by most popular OS's.

I've tried a pre-built NAS, a Buffalo Linkstation. If I had to do it again, I'd probably try setting up an Atom powered server with FreeNAS first. The Buffalo is slow and loud and the web interface takes forever to respond.
 

Lazn_Work

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iSCSI's main use is for clustering, really. Sure it can be used for other things, but if you are not clustering servers, don't bother. There are other easier and more flexible solutions for other needs.
 

pjkenned

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How un[H]ard of you....

Well... he has a point since unless someone is booting thin clients at home, or is trying to build a test environment, I have a hard time figuring out why one would not be OK with file v. block access.
 

omniscence

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How un[H]ard of you....

I'm not saying iSCSI can't be put to use at home, but just look at his use case. I can't really imagine using iSCSI for mobile computers and the Xbox360 has no support for it at all.
Of course there are some crazy people (count me in) that use a SAN infrastructure at home, but the OP seems to want something that just works.
 

parityboy

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I'm not saying iSCSI can't be put to use at home, but just look at his use case. I can't really imagine using iSCSI for mobile computers and the Xbox360 has no support for it at all.
Of course there are some crazy people (count me in) that use a SAN infrastructure at home, but the OP seems to want something that just works.

Exactly. Even if he had an ISCSI box, he'd still need to front it with a NAS system anyway.

@OP

A good option would be to roll your own, and use an OS like FreeNAS or OpenFiler. They both support NAS protocols like SMB and NFS. However, you might also want to look at Amahi Home Server.
 

arachn1d

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I'm not saying iSCSI can't be put to use at home, but just look at his use case. I can't really imagine using iSCSI for mobile computers and the Xbox360 has no support for it at all.
Of course there are some crazy people (count me in) that use a SAN infrastructure at home, but the OP seems to want something that just works.

Exactly. Even if he had an ISCSI box, he'd still need to front it with a NAS system anyway.

@OP

A good option would be to roll your own, and use an OS like FreeNAS or OpenFiler. They both support NAS protocols like SMB and NFS. However, you might also want to look at Amahi Home Server.

Thanks guys.

I just thought I wouldn't be able to mount a drive locally on my Macbook Pro and treat it as if it were an external hard drive.

As long as just "mounting a drive over lan ftp" works as an external hard drive I'll be okay. I really just want to put my photos onto the file server and have iPhoto/Aperture be able to read the library. I tried to do this with Amazon S3 but it didn't work. This didn't work because it wasn't "block level storage" and I'm not sure what the data protocol is for FTP mounting vs iSCSI mounting.

I'm leaning towards buying a prebuilt NAS still as those solutions have nice warranty / designs / hot swap drives. I truly do want something that "just works."

I'm looking at the following brands:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822108059
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822122062
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822107059
http://www.lacie.com/products/product.htm?pid=11481

Those are all iSCSI capable though - maybe I can find a NAS solution cheaper if it doesn't support iSCSI. Before I was looking for iSCSI only because of the reasons stated above.

Remote Storage / iTunes / Photos / Sharing between media / Streaming / Torrent Downloading / Good Web Browser UI

Whichever has the best of that wins.

(Edit: another reason why I don't want to do freeNAs is that it requires a monitor to setup. I don't want to hook it up to a monitor).
 

fatguy

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For a turn-key NAS solution, I highly recommend QNAP. I've used a few of them personally and they are simple to setup and maintain, and come with all the built-in features you need.
 

arachn1d

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For a turn-key NAS solution, I highly recommend QNAP. I've used a few of them personally and they are simple to setup and maintain, and come with all the built-in features you need.
Thank you. Do you have any recommendations for a model? What drives would you put in them?
 

_Gea

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Have you thought about buying a read to use NAS-Server like
a HP Microserver, It comes without OS and has much more options
than the similar ready to run Qnap or .. NAS-boxes at the same or a lower price.

You have 4 bays for disks, a sata boot drive and a dvd drive.
You could either use any Windows version, if you are familiar with
or you can use a ZFS-OS with a web-GUI with much better data security.

The price
about 300 Euro/$ for the HP Microserver
add 200 Euro/$ for Disks and RAM Upgrade
opt. add a Windows licence, ZFS OS (Free-BSD/ Solaris*) are free

there are threads here about the HP Microserver and the ZFS Options


Gea
 

sniggle

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I'm running a Synology DS410 and I believe it does everything you listed in your requirements. The web GUI has a pretty nice desktop style and is every easy to use. Performance is also good, as I saturate my gigabit network with reads and hit about 40MB/sec with writes. The only thing I haven't experienced is a drive failure, so I don't personally know how it would react to that. I am running 2TB Hitachi drives in it and I have a cold spare on hand, so I'm ready when it does.

Overall I'd definitely recommend this unit or any other Synology unit if you have the cash.

I should also mention that prior to owning this I ran a 3.4TB "hardware" raid 5 on Windows Server 2008 with a HighPoint RR 2320 and 6 WD 750GB RE2 drives. The reason I moved to a NAS is because I was running out of space and just didn't feel like the hassle of building another raid in another machine or the same machine to migrate all that data. I also didn't like the inaccessibility of the data when the server was offline for maintenance. However, I also never once had a drive failure with that setup either.
 
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fatguy

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I would consider QNAP and Synology to be in the same class - both are excellent and would suite your needs very well.

I've used the TS-219 and TS-419 pro QNAP appliances with 1 & 1.5 TB WD Black drives, and 2 TB WD Green (4K) drives. Everything work without any problem, though I did have to upgrade to a recent firmware before installing the 4K drives.
 

Hallis

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I'll toss in my vote for a Thecus unit. I've been running a 4100pro for over a year now with 4x 1.5tb drives in RAID-5 with absolutely no headaches. Didn't even require a monitor to setup. Just toss the drives in, plug it into your network, load up the discovery software that comes with it and configure, easy peasy. And as others have stated they have a huge following and 3rd party support.

Now that said I am upgrading to a 12-bay server style unit which will be running either Freenas or openFiler. Just waiting on my 2tb drives and the actual server to arrive :)

But for what you need I think a stand alone Thecus, Qnap, etc. will be fine.
 

arachn1d

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I'm running a Synology DS410 and I believe it does everything you listed in your requirements. The web GUI has a pretty nice desktop style and is every easy to use. Performance is also good, as I saturate my gigabit network with reads and hit about 40MB/sec with writes. The only thing I haven't experienced is a drive failure, so I don't personally know how it would react to that. I am running 2TB Hitachi drives in it and I have a cold spare on hand, so I'm ready when it does.

Overall I'd definitely recommend this unit or any other Synology unit if you have the cash.

I should also mention that prior to owning this I ran a 3.4TB "hardware" raid 5 on Windows Server 2008 with a HighPoint RR 2320 and 6 WD 750GB RE2 drives. The reason I moved to a NAS is because I was running out of space and just didn't feel like the hassle of building another raid in another machine or the same machine to migrate all that data. I also didn't like the inaccessibility of the data when the server was offline for maintenance. However, I also never once had a drive failure with that setup either.
I was going to get this exact unit. I worry that the read/write speed may be too slow though. What do you think? 410+ can do 100mb/sec no?
 

arachn1d

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Also, I'm curious - how do you "back up" a NAS?

I understand that a RAID 5 setup or similar is not a backup solution. It will protect against a drive failure, but if the whole system is corrupted you're fked.

So, how do you back up a NAS? Do you buy another one and copy it?

Are you pretty safe overall with a Raid 5 setup? Can you trust all your data will "live on" in that setup?
 

aphasia

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i originally made the recommendation for a Thecus NAS. after doing a fair bit of reading, i take that back now.

i have 2 Thecus NAS's, a 'n5200BR' and a 'n5200BR Pro'. i've had the 'n5200BR' for a few years now and has worked very well. it's fully loaded with 5 Seagate 750GB drives in RAID 5 and has been on 24/7 since the day i bought it. the only issue i had was a failed PSU. i fixed this with a PSU from a 'n5200BR Pro' which i bought middle of last year.

i'm almost out of space on my original 'n5200BR' and now in the process of getting my new 'n5200BR Pro' back in working order (bought a new PSU online last week). whilst looking for a set of 2TB drives to install in the newer unit, i've come across a problem. i had a sneaking suspicion that the new 'advanced format' or 4K block drives might be a problem.

i went to the thecus website to see if there was a new firmware update & check the HD compatibility guide and find that the last firmware was released over 6mths ago and the HD compatibility guide hasn't been touched in almost a year. i head to the forums and my fears have been realised, the 'n5200BR Pro' & the original 'n5200BR' is no longer supported.

too say i'm a little pissed off is an understatement. the web interface (os) was always a little buggy but i wasn't too worried as at the beginning thecus was releasing updates fairly regularly. now the final firmware update still has some fairly large holes and no support for new HD's. i could grab the last few large capacity TB drives (think hitachi is the only company that still makes 512k drives from the 7K2000 range but they're nearing EOL) but somewhere down the track i'll need to replace 1 more HDs but can't b/c they're 4K block drives.

anyway don't get a Thecus NAS, you'll never feel secure b/c you don't know when they'll pull support for your unit, leaving you in the dark with a expensive door-stop to stub your toe on.
 

sniggle

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I was going to get this exact unit. I worry that the read/write speed may be too slow though. What do you think? 410+ can do 100mb/sec no?

I'm not sure about the 410+, but as I said mine does 40MB/sec writes, 100MB/sec reads. They have pretty extensive performance information on their site. Using their built-in encryption will hinder both speeds quite a bit, which is why I use TrueCrypt as my encryption layer instead of theirs, so I can rely on my server CPU to do the cryptography and not the weak CPU in the Synology unit.
 

arachn1d

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I'm not sure about the 410+, but as I said mine does 40MB/sec writes, 100MB/sec reads. They have pretty extensive performance information on their site. Using their built-in encryption will hinder both speeds quite a bit, which is why I use TrueCrypt as my encryption layer instead of theirs, so I can rely on my server CPU to do the cryptography and not the weak CPU in the Synology unit.
I see.

100MB/sec reads sounds good. Getting 100MB/sec writes would be good too with the 410+ but I dunno if I want to spend that much.

How do you back up your NAS?

I see that Synology offers Amazon S3 as a backup solution. I wonder how you recover it in case of failure. Just copy Amazon S3 Back to a recovered Nas?

Other solution is to buy a duplicate NAS and have it back up to that. Egh.
 

fatguy

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Also, I'm curious - how do you "back up" a NAS?

I understand that a RAID 5 setup or similar is not a backup solution. It will protect against a drive failure, but if the whole system is corrupted you're fked.

So, how do you back up a NAS? Do you buy another one and copy it?

Are you pretty safe overall with a Raid 5 setup? Can you trust all your data will "live on" in that setup?

You're never safe without data backup - and RAID is not a replacement for data backup.

I struggled with this for a very long time, and never really had a satisfactory solution until I needed to put another NAS in my wife's office. Now I have my home NAS and her work NAS doing incremental cross-backups every night. At least this way, if our home burns down or is broken into, we won't lose our pictures and home movies. It would take a natural or man-made disaster in NYC for us to lose our stuff - and at that point I probably have bigger things to worry about anyway.

I used to keep an external usb hard drive at work, and bring it home every so often to backup pictures and movies only. That was ok - when I remembered to bring it home...
 

arachn1d

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Any guys try Synology NAS before ?
One guy in this thread with the 410.

I'm going to buy the Synology 410 as well I think.

You're never safe without data backup - and RAID is not a replacement for data backup.

I struggled with this for a very long time, and never really had a satisfactory solution until I needed to put another NAS in my wife's office. Now I have my home NAS and her work NAS doing incremental cross-backups every night. At least this way, if our home burns down or is broken into, we won't lose our pictures and home movies. It would take a natural or man-made disaster in NYC for us to lose our stuff - and at that point I probably have bigger things to worry about anyway.

I used to keep an external usb hard drive at work, and bring it home every so often to backup pictures and movies only. That was ok - when I remembered to bring it home...

Yeah, I don't like the idea of buying two NAS systems though. I think I'm going to take advtange of Synology's Amazon S3 backup. I'm just not sure how you recover it if it fails. At least it'll exist in some form redundantly.
 

pjkenned

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One guy in this thread with the 410.

I'm going to buy the Synology 410 as well I think.



Yeah, I don't like the idea of buying two NAS systems though. I think I'm going to take advtange of Synology's Amazon S3 backup. I'm just not sure how you recover it if it fails. At least it'll exist in some form redundantly.

Just wondering... how much data are you storing? How much would be going to S3? Have you looked at the S3 storage/ transfer costs? Who is your ISP and will this backup put you in their top 5%?
 

wonSR4

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OP, did you end up buying the Synology 410? If so, I'd like to hear how it is for you. I was looking to build a WHS to do nearly the same things that you want, but the 410 seems like an easier solution for me although I do wish it had hot swap bays for easier access and changing drives.
 

arachn1d

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I haven't bought it yet. I'm waiting for a reply from the support team on how I'd recover the automated backup system to S3 (which is freaking awesome).

I have done a lot of research over the weeks. Let me know if you have any questions and I'd love to help.

Overall it makes a lot of sense to buy a Synology NAS over WHS/Building your own, and even vs other competing products.

Main reasons include: overall warranty, quality, UI, software/firmware/bang for buck

Peace of mind is nice.
 

wonSR4

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I haven't bought it yet. I'm waiting for a reply from the support team on how I'd recover the automated backup system to S3 (which is freaking awesome).

I have done a lot of research over the weeks. Let me know if you have any questions and I'd love to help.

Overall it makes a lot of sense to buy a Synology NAS over WHS/Building your own, and even vs other competing products.

Main reasons include: overall warranty, quality, UI, software/firmware/bang for buck

Peace of mind is nice.

Yeah for sure. Right now, I'm using a PC but I'm going to forgo the PC and get a macbook air as my main PC in like 2-3 months or so, so I was looking for something that would do the things I want and be compatible with a mac. I noticed there's also the

DS410j & DS411j; is the DS410 that much better and worth it over the DS410j & DS411j?
 
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jalaj

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One guy in this thread with the 410.
I'm going to buy the Synology 410 as well I think.
Yeah, I don't like the idea of buying two NAS systems though. I think I'm going to take advtange of Synology's Amazon S3 backup. I'm just not sure how you recover it if it fails. At least it'll exist in some form redundantly.

I have the DS210+ with two 2TB drives in raid 1. It's routinely backed up to a 2TB external drive via eSATA. So you can definitely use an external drive (with size permitting) for a local backup.
 

Red Squirrel

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I'd build my own, hands down. Cheaper once you get into the multi TB storage, and also easier to work with should something go wrong. Appliances that use proprietary algorithms will be next to impossible to recover should something go wrong. Something that uses something standard like Linux md raid will be easy to recover should the hardware fail. Throw the drives in another system that you build, and you are back in the game.
 
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