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NAS / Backup Design Questions

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July 7, 2011 11:48:23 PM

I'm trying to come up with a strategy for backup of general files and media. Here are a few notes and requirements:
  • Need bility to take backup of everything (preferrably on single hard drive) to safe deposit box. I will use online backup for only most critical of documents due to bandwidth limitations.
  • I have about 800 GB of videos and pictures and another 50+ GB of documents, program data, etc. This is expanding at 100+ GB per year (almost all pictures).
  • I currently have a 1 TB main drive in my system plus 2 1.5 TB drives that I manually backup to, then open the case and swap out every 3 months or so. One of theim is starting to tick, so it may be failing.
  • I use Acronis backup to image primarily the system drive. I believe it is limited to only system drives (non-networked) for the protected zone feature (which I use).
  • My wife, myself, and the TV would currently share a NAS, though my 2 kids are approaching the age they would benefit as well.

    My thought is that I could put the 2 1.5 TB drives into a NAS and use it to store all of the media files, plus have a "backup" area for the 50 GB of other documents in standard format. Then, I would buy/find another drive to keep in the computer at all times for the Acronis Zone and possibly to back up the media files. If I went with a RAID configuratin on the NAS, then I would need a 3rd drive there as well to be able to put one in the Safe Deposit box now and then. So now a few questions:
  • Does this seem like a good approach? It seems inefficient to me, but I'm not seeing better options.
  • I tried a D-Link DNS-323 (I think...it was 2 bay) around Xmas and it was so slow that video streaming via an ethernet cable on my Gigabit router failed or was very choppy. I've found various performance data, but it differs broadly and is inconsistent in use of Mbps and MB/s (8x less than Mbps in my mind).
  • I would like a NAS that is scalable. Most say the max size is 2 TB, but won't they expand later with firmware updates?
  • I don't want to spend a ton on a NAS...around $200.

    I'm leaning toward a Synology DS211j at the moment, but I really don't know much about the NAS manufacturers, so any help would be appreciated. It would really help to know if prices/technology is fairly flat or would waiting 6 months really help?
    a b G Storage
    July 12, 2011 3:16:08 PM

    When it comes to technology, waiting almost always helps :) 

    Part of the problem is your low budget somewhat conflicts with your desire for good performance.

    Something like a ReadyNAS Ultra 2+ (dual core processor vs single core on Ultra 2) would probably do very nicely. One of the reasons I like Netgear ReadyNAS units is the excellent support forum when questions or problems do arise - and with media streaming, that's more likely to crop up.

    The other thing you might consider about ReadyNAS is that they offer online backup direct from the NAS. That plus the ability to backup to an external USB HD connected to the NAS to take to the bank.

    Naturally if you want scalability, a 4 drive unit (or more) would offer that - but, at a higher price.

    Best,
    Roger.
    July 15, 2011 5:04:14 PM

    Thanks for the reply. I noticed that Frys has the Diskless ReadyNAS Duo on sale (with rebate) for $135. I can tell it isn't quite as high in the line as the Ultra 2+, but do you think it's a good alternative (for $70 less)? I couldn't find a performance comparison. Does it also have online backup (didn't see that advertised)?

    I was thinking of having a 3rd drive that I could swap out with the first 2 in the NAS every once in a while, but I'm not sure how that would work in the case of virus, accidental deletion, or failure of the NAS unit. Say that I have hard drives A and B in the NAS and I accentally delete something that is still on C. Can I copy individual files from C to A & B, while keeping the rest of the files on A? Also, if the NAS fails and that model is no longer available, can I take any one of the 3 drives and get information from it? If so, would it be by placing it in another NAS using the same formatting scheme? Are they standard?

    I know you suggeted using an external USB drive and maybe that's my only option. If I did go that route, I would need to buy a hard drive enclosure or docking station as well (relatively cheap). Would you recommend the enclosure (to prevent dust, but might be hotter) or docking station? Would eSATA or USB3 be better or does it even matter for the slower drives? The ReadyNAS Duo only has USB 2.0 ports, but if I skip the NAS for now, my computer has a Gigabyte GA-P55A-UD3 motherboard, which supposedly supports USB 3 and SATA 6.
    !