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Need advice re: NAS purchase and backup strategies

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi folks. I've been getting by with my little 1TB MyBookLive for a while now but as I've lately started saving a lot more video files I'm starting to realize the need to upgrade to something that will not only give me more storage and fault tolerance now but that will allow some room for growth as well. After quite a bit of online research over the past week or so I think I'm leaning towards this Netgear ReadyNAS NV+ v2:


Basically I'm thinking a 4 or 5 bay that I can eventually have in a RAID 5 array is probably my sweet spot (although just for cost purposes initially I'll probably start with 2 3TB hard drives in a RAID 1 and then expand down the road). And no matter which NAS I do get I'm pretty sold on WD Red for the hard drives. My questions (beyond any feedback that anyone may have on this particular unit) fall in the following areas:

1) The value proposition of higher end NAS like Synology or QNAP? I've read a lot of raves about Synology particularly and am still tempted by their 1512 (5 bay) model but I'm not really seeing why I'd want to spend more than twice as much for it. I understand it's got a better processor but I can't see why faster read/write times should mean much to me if most of what I write to it will be regularly scheduled backups or video encodings that I'll leave running overnight and most of what I'll be reading off of it will be video files playing on my 1 living room blu ray player and TV setup that is also hardwired to the router. So what else would I be missing out on? I've read good things about DSM but am I really likely to notice that much of a value difference in the OS if most of what I want a NAS for is just dumb storage of video files to play on my TV? So far I'm not convinced that it's worth the price difference but I'm still open to being persuaded (in which case the Drobo 5N with a price point in between the ReadyNAS and 1512 might be an option too).

2) Cost effective backup strategies for a RAID array? It's a pretty decent investment already upgrading from a stand alone box to even a modestly priced 4 or 5 bay NAS like the ones I'm looking at and when on top of that everything you read about RAID cautions that you still need backup... well are there any services that provide that at a reasonable cost? I'd rather the backup not require more hardware in my house but so far I'm not seeing any where you could back up 5TB+ directly from a NAS without paying a fortune.

Appreciate any feedback or suggestions. Thanks!
post #2 of 13
I do not have any experience with the Netgear ReadyNAS but I recommend looking at smallnetbuilder for reviews and information on NAS equipment. You could do the homemade NAS method through the opensource options available, but that takes some time and patience I hear to do well. I think the WD Red drives are a good choice and what I would choose for my NAS as well.

For your first point a NAS from one of the dedicated NAS companies will provide some very proven software and some more features that you might find useful, but for your needs probably not worth the extra price. If you want to stream to multiple devices then it is worth the extra to get a nicer NAS. I am thinking of getting a QNAP 4 or 5 bay for the redundant ethernet (load balance) and high throughput so I can backup my systems, stream, and remotely connect to the NAS from outside my network without it slowing down as much. I also like the different connections (USB 3.0) and RAID options provided, some of the new ones even have hdmi out.

For your second point effective backup would be first to do RAID 6 for two disk fail over and then find a big USB 3.0 external drive to backup your NAS to (if you can get one big enough, or just big enough for essential files), or save for a second NAS to provide redundancy (buy a cheap NAS to backup to, format in RAID 0 or JBOD to make it large enough with less bays). Online is risky as security is a big issue and slow.

Hope it is some help and good luck.
post #3 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks herushon. I'll look at smallnetbuilder and I would have been tempted to build my own NAS except that I don't trust that I have nearly the technical wherewithal or the patience to pull that off.
And I appreciate the validation of my thinking on the NAS. I was thinking too that having to stream simultaneously to multiple devices would be one of the key reasons for others prefering a higher end model that don't apply for me. Although connectivity to the NAS for backup is something that I'd prefer to have (even though I'd rather not have to use it) and I like the fact that the ReadyNAS has 2 USB 3.0 ports + 1 USB 2.0.

Re: the backup though, I take your point about online services being a security risk and slow. However I can't say that I like the idea of backing up to USB drives or another NAS any more than that -- partly because they'd be subject to the same external risks as the NAS (theft, fire, power surge, etc) and partly becuase I'd just rather not have the extra clutter of more hardware, especially in my living room. If it comes to it though I guess I could put an extra drive or 2 in the back office in my house and probably that would be a cheaper and safer strategy than an online service. I was just hoping there might be a better solution.
post #4 of 13
Remember when looking at online backup is that you want it encrypted and available so hopefully the business does not go out of business. It is also only available with an internet connection as well.

You can get some external hard drives that are fire/flood and what not resistant/proof, which might serve you better for backing up to but still risk the being stolen part (unless you store it in a secured safe to help mitigate that). If you have a fast enough internet connection and have a friend/family member with an equivalent connection then you can setup a site to site VPN to provide you with an off site backup location but that is a big task to accomplish.

There is never a perfect solution but just make the one that makes you most comfortable.
post #5 of 13
There is no reason for you to get a higher end NAS. Raid 6 is not a backup solution just an availability strategy. I have looked at most of the online backup systems. Crashplan is the one that I recommend to my clients. It has the best value ratio and has no upload speed limits unlike carbonite, mozy, opendrive, elephantdrive and others. I currently have over 22TB stored on their system so far.

Crashplan also backs up to locally attached storage (usb/esata/firewire/etc.) and to friends who are on their system. I do recommend that you back up to a smaller locally attached hard drive any important files (photos, home video, data backups) and store that in a safe deposit box for quick access when needed.
post #6 of 13
Originally Posted by mlknez View Post

... has no upload speed limits ...

However, your Internet Service Provider (e.g., Comcast, Time Warner) usually has your upload speed throttled so that you are very limited in how fast you can upload data - generally, to a small fraction of your download speed.
post #7 of 13
$199 for a true 4TB single external hard drive is not a bad backup solution. I plan to pick up one of these soon. I'm using a much smaller drive at the moment. It would take three of them though to hold everything I have on my DS1511+. Or two 4TB's and one 2TB.

Raid is not a backup!

post #8 of 13
Thread Starter 
mlknez - thanks for the tip on Crashplan. I'll check that out.

fasterthanlight - you're right that $200 for a 4TB external drive is a pretty economical backup option and the more I think about it that's what I'll probably do. In fact I recently got a 3TB Toshiba Canvio which I've been using in my back office and though I'd planned to return it when I bought the NAS I'm now seeing that I should keep it (or something like it). For one thing I'm realizing that I won't have to backup everything that's on the NAS (files for BD/DVDs that I own and just prefer to stream since the disks themselves are backup, backups from our 2 laptops, etc) so even when I start to get above the 5TB range on the NAS doesn't mean I'll need the same capacity on the backup drive. But the other reason is the USB 3.0 speed connected to the laptop that I do I'll my video encodings on compared to the bottleneck I have to deal with writing the files to the NAS in my living room. I'm at the edge of my wireless range so I've been using a powerline adapter which I may upgrade to coax, but even then it would be a lot more convenient to use the USB drive as kind of a staging area for the video files I'm working on and then just use SyncBack or something to backup from that drive to the NAS. So yeah, the more I think about it that would make a lot of sense.

And I forgot who said it but yes, I totally get that RAID is not a backup.

Thanks folks. Really appreciate the feedback so far.
post #9 of 13
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by fasterthanlight View Post

$199 for a true 4TB single external hard drive is not a bad backup solution. I plan to pick up one of these soon.

FYI, I just bought a 4TB Seagate Desktop Plus for $189 from Best Buy and although the read and write speeds seem to be a little slower than the 3TB Toshiba Canvio I had been trying for the past couple weeks before, so far it's working fine. (I didn't install the software though and don't intend to so since for now I prefer using SyncBack to back up only the files I want.)

As for the NAS, I'm pretty clear now what I'm looking for but I think I'm going to try to hold out until later this year before I buy one. I read that WD is planning to roll out 4TB Red drives in Q3 and maybe even 5TB Red in Q4 and if I can get a Black Friday deal on those or on the NAS that would really be sweet. Until then I'll just wishlist stuff and see if anything goes on some crazy sale I can't resist but otherwise I think I'll be able to hold out until then.
post #10 of 13
Some thoughts:

1) One thing that really matters is the processor type. Most low-end NAS devices use ARM processors, which are generally fast enough these days, but fairly basic. That ReadyNAS you're looking at has a single-core ARM CPU at 1.6GHz, which isn't terrible, but isn't incredibly fast, either. Buying a NAS with an x86 CPU is more expensive, but gives you access to higher speeds and more features (mainly video transcoding). There are in-between options; some Synology models have Freescale CPUs, which are faster than ARM but cheaper than x86, but they have some problems (such as not supporting Plex Media Server on DSM).

2) Every Synology 5-bay NAS has an x86 core, which is one reason they're more expensive. But they also have expansion ability; the 1512+ can connect to one or two 5-bay expansion units and give you up to 15 drives. Having an x86 CPU helps manage a large number of drives and the multiple users that typically go with them. Basically, it costs so much more because it can do so much more, well beyond what it sounds like you personally need. Unless you really forsee expanding to 5 or 10 or 15 drives down the road, Synology does make less expensive 4-bay units that compete with the likes of the ReadyNAS, both in features and in price.

3) The user interface matters a lot. I bought a QNAP NAS and I really, really hated the GUI. I hated it so much that I returned it and bought a Synology NAS instead, and I've been so much happier. DSM 4.0/4.1 is really solid and polished. I've never used a Netgear NAS, so I can't speak to the user interface.

The Synology DS413j, at $379, compares pretty well to the ReadyNAS you're considering. Like the ReadyNAS, it has a single-core 1.6GHz ARM and supports up to 4 drives. The Synology has more RAM (512MB vs 256MB) but only USB 2.0, not 3.0 ports. (That said, USB is a CPU-driven bus, and I think you won't hit anywhere close to true USB 3.0 speeds on an ARM device.) So you have a Synology model to consider that's in the ReadyNAS price range, with similar features. Or you can splurge for substantially higher-end hardware. The choice is yours.
post #11 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks shelbystripes. You raise some excellent points that I'm still been mulling over a bit too -- things that I put in the category of trying to future-proof my investment now (that always elusive goal). Particularly the thought about the processor. Because although it seems almost unimaginable to me now that I'll want a NAS that can re-encode video on the fly to stream to multiple devices (it's just my wife and me and neither of us even owns a tablet right now much less has any desire to watch video on one), I also recall that when I bought my laptop a year and a half ago that I never thought I'd have any real uses for a quad core i7 either. I only bought one because I found a screaming deal on it. And now that I'm working with video files I'm damn glad that I did. So a better processor is still a consideration for me even if right now I can't see exactly what I'll need it for. What I'm hoping is that when I am ready to buy I'll find a 4 or 5 bay with an x86 processor at basically the same price point I've been looking now. (ex. I just saw the Netgear ReadyNAS Ultra 4 with an x86 Intel Atom processor and 1GB RAM drop on Amazon to the same price as the NV+ v2, so something like that would be probably be the ideal if I can find that again when I'm ready).

As for storage space though, I did consider the Synology 1512 for the ability to add expansion units as part of the same array. But then I remember you can also expand storage vertically and as hard drives come out with more and more capacity, could I ever imagine needing more space than a 4 or 5 bay could still offer down the road? I'm not enough of a purist with video to feel I have to save all my rips and Tivo recordings uncompressed. Not when my experience so far is that I get exactly the same quality (to my eyes anyway) converting them all to H264 at 1/4 to 1/2 the file size. So sticking with that how long will it take me to fill up 15TB? (I'm assuming per the WD marketing info that was leaked that 5TB Red drives are coming soon -- certainly within the next 2-3 years if not by the end of 2013 -- and that being WD most NASes on the market now will see updates to support them). If just that turns out to be the max future capacity of any NAS I buy today I don't see how I could fill that up in any less than 5 or 6 years and that's adding about 50GB a week and never deleting anything. So it is another thing I'll consider also but probably less so than a better CPU.

Finally I did look at the Synology DS413j and as stupid as this will probably sound, I would be a lot more tempted by it if it didn't look like a bread maker. smile.gif

Anyway, thanks for your input. Lots to chew on there and I'll certainly be thinking about those things right up until I pull the trigger.
post #12 of 13
The DS413j is ugly, yes. I wouldn't want one for the same reason, to be honest. I suspect they do that on purpose to make people want their higher-end models more. tongue.gif

Since I've already outed myself as a Synology fanboy, I may as well point out the Synology DS713+.

Since you're considering starting with only 2 drives, this might be the ideal device for you. It has a dual-core 2.13GHz x86 and 1GB of RAM, so it's just as fast as the more expensive models like the DS1512+. It only has 2 bays to start out, but like the DS1512+, you can expand it with either a 2-bay or 5-bay add-on later if you want to go up in number of drives. With a 5-bay expansion, it supports a total of 7 drives.
(A short guide to Synology model numbers:

The last two digits are the model year, so x13 are the 2013 model year and x12 are the 2012 model year. The number before the model year is the most number of drives it'll support. So the DS713+ supports 7 drives total, even though it only comes with 2 bays, because it also supports the 5-bay add-on. The 1512+ supports 15 drives total, because it has 5 bays and can support two 5-bay add-ons.

A "Plus" model, like the DS713+, usually has an x86 CPU. A "j" model, like the DS413j, is a budget model with a lower-end ARM.)

The DS713+ is also a lot cheaper than the DS1512+ too ($599 vs. $839 on Newegg). Or you can get last year's DS712+ (same specs, except with a single-core 1.8GHz x86) for $499. I actually bought a DS712+ a year ago, and I'm very happy with it. The dual 3TB drives in RAID 1 are incredibly fast, and since I've been mainly storing MKVs it's all I need at the moment.
post #13 of 13
Thread Starter 
Thanks again shelbystripes. The primer on Synology's model numbers is particularly helpful. I think if I go with a Synology though it will be the 1512+ or 1513+ (not out yet?) rather than any 2 bay model. But that gets to the other reason that I'm trying to wait on buying a NAS now, which is that working with video files is a new hobby for me and until I've been at it a few months longer I'm not sure I know yet what my storage needs are going to be over the next 5-7 years. Right now I'm pretty set that 2 bays is too small and more than 5 would be overkill however I'm also still open to the idea that the longer I do this I could find out that my current thinking on that is wrong.

I'm alright with fanboy-ism BTW. It's very helpful on forums like these when you're trying to learn the differences between products to hear from the enthusiasts too. So thanks for sharing.
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