Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS



  • First post here, hope this is the correct forum category. If it weren’t, would an admin please move it to where it belongs?

    I’m looking for recommendations for my home server setup going forward, and expanding my rather superficial knowledge.

    Currently an all-Apple household, I have a Mac mini that runs OS X Server (file sharing, Time Machine Server, Caching Server, DNS, OD, Profile Manager) and a VM for Plex and Logitech Media Server. A 4-bay RAID enclosure with four 2TB drives in RAID 5 config is attached via FW800 and shared. The enclosure only supports JBOD, 0, 1, 3, 5, and 0+1, and back then I didn’t know better and went for maximum available disk space.

    Clients are up to four Macs, several iThingies, a Squeezebox and a Raspberry (OK, so not all-Apple…). This will not change much in the foreseeable future. The Mac mini is a late-2009, to be replaced by a current model this summer due to a lack of performance and generally being outdated. A VM or two might then be added for playing around with SQL and maybe OwnCloud. The DAS is from 2011, and I was going to keep using it with the new Mac.

    Alas… one drive died two days ago, and I do not wish to simply replace it, hope for a URE-free rebuild and call it a day. After all, the other three drives are five years old as well. I successfully updated my backups after the failure (or so I hope—rsync and SuperDuper didn’t complain), so I’m good to start over. What with? Three ideas come to mind:

    • A new Mac mini with a new DAS supporting RAID 10 and/or 6. OS X Server config as above. Currently the preferred solution.

    • A new Mac mini and a similar NAS. The NAS would take over file sharing and Time Machine Server. Why have another server appliance when the mini can easily handle this?

    • A Linux box. Not ruled out but not the preferred solution: Time Machine Server and Caching Server are important to me. No experience with Linux apart from setting up a CentOS VM but willing to learn, and never built a PC from components. Would take me quite a while to get it up and running.

    Would love to learn about:

    1. Which of the above directions (or some other) to go.

    2. Manufacturers: Have heard good things about Netgear, Synology and Buffalo, and less good things about the rest. Particularly Drobo for being very proprietary, but also QNAP, Promise, LaCie or OWC. However, that was advice for small businesses, not for home environments.

    3. Netgear and Synology apparently only make NASes. Can those be run as a DAS? They have eSATA and USB 3 ports, but are those for expansion units only or for connecting to a server?

    4. For, say, 8 TB of available space, would an 8x2TB RAID 10 or a 6x2 RAID 6 be a better choice than a 4x4 RAID 10 in terms of reliability and cost? Performance is not the highest priority. No HD video editing over the network and the like. HD video streaming, yes.

    5. For this use case, are enterprise grade drives worth the extra money over consumer grade? I currently have WD Caviars, and they have served me fine for five years.

    6. Form factor. As cool as it looks, would rack mount make any sense at all? Don’t want an airplane idling right behind my desk at home. I do need to clean up my current rat’s nest a bit, so an enclosed DIY rack might be a fun project, but still… 🙂

    7. Linux boxes, please point me someplace to educate myself and form an opinion.

    Thanks a lot.

    Thomas



  • Welcome!

    If you work in IT, I suggest you whitebox (buy it all separately) a linux server. Cheap, works great, "free" learning experience. Then you can get all the options you want!



  • http://www.smbitjournal.com/2014/11/the-home-line/

    Take a look at this article, the website has a ton of good ones.


  • Service Provider

    @Thomas_R welcome to the community!


  • Service Provider


  • Service Provider

    @Thomas_R said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    • A Linux box. Not ruled out but not the preferred solution: Time Machine Server and Caching Server are important to me. No experience with Linux apart from setting up a CentOS VM but willing to learn, and never built a PC from components. Would take me quite a while to get it up and running.

    If you have never built a PC before, this would be incredibly valuable. Those are skills that I would recommend having. Even for your first build this should only take an hour or two. These days there is very, very little to assembling a computer.


  • Service Provider

    @Thomas_R said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    1. Netgear and Synology apparently only make NASes. Can those be run as a DAS? They have eSATA and USB 3 ports, but are those for expansion units only or for connecting to a server?

    Drobo IS proprietary, but you are talking about an appliance so that's not relevant. An appliance is a black box, how it works doesn't matter to you. Only what it does. Netgear ReadyNAS and Synology are definitely the best of breed. Drobo has some unique offerings that are interesting.

    Yes they can be used as a DAS. No they cannot use consumer eSATA or USB connections, those are for desktop connections and are not serious server connectors for enterprise DAS. You would use iSCSI connected directly to do DAS on business class units. Only consumer units and desktop units use USB, IEEE 1394, eSATA, etc.



  • If you're worried about noise at all, rule out rack based anything.

    That said xByte and Stallard Tech. have some amazing deals, on servers and DAS units.


  • Service Provider

    @Thomas_R said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    1. For, say, 8 TB of available space, would an 8x2TB RAID 10 or a 6x2 RAID 6 be a better choice than a 4x4 RAID 10 in terms of reliability and cost? Performance is not the highest priority. No HD video editing over the network and the like. HD video streaming, yes.

    RAID 10 is always the more reliable option. But RAID 6 is likely plenty reliable for home use. The question is if the additional reliability of RAID 10 is worth the extra cost.


  • Service Provider

    @Thomas_R said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    1. For this use case, are enterprise grade drives worth the extra money over consumer grade? I currently have WD Caviars, and they have served me fine for five years.

    For RAID 10 there is no benefit to enterprise drives at all. For RAID 6 it, again, comes down to your cost/reliability threshold.


  • Service Provider

    @Thomas_R said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    1. Form factor. As cool as it looks, would rack mount make any sense at all? Don’t want an airplane idling right behind my desk at home. I do need to clean up my current rat’s nest a bit, so an enclosed DIY rack might be a fun project, but still… 🙂

    I only use rackmount at home for many reasons - the big one being "career value." Running enterprise gear at home does a TON to promote your career. When you take IT more seriously at home than the office does, you gain a lot of clout. My home setup was a significant factor in leaping to 400% salary increases. But rack mount gear takes time and energy to do well and tends to be insanely loud because it is built for the datacenter. A good rack cabinet can cut the sound a lot, though.


  • Service Provider

    @Thomas_R said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    1. Linux boxes, please point me someplace to educate myself and form an opinion.

    One starting spot is this community's own guide to Linux administration!

    https://mangolassi.it/topic/7825/sam-learning-linux-system-administration



  • I personally would WhiteBox a system as well for this, if you aren't willing to spend for a pre-assembled system.

    You could go with SuperMicro motherboards, with single, dual or quad socket (multi-core) Xeons, with loads of RAM 64GB+ for ~$2-3K.

    Get an LSI RAID Controller, and drives to suit your need / future growth.

    You could easily use Consumer grade SSD's in RAID5 (which is perfectly acceptable so long as you're using SSDs) or get LFF 4TB Winchester drives and put them into RAID 10.

    Are you against virtualizing, or wanting to learn about it or what?

    xByte has some great offers for equipment too, but it might be out of your price range. Don't really know by the topic here.

    Welcome to ML!


  • Service Provider

    Some of the benefits that you would get from avoiding the Mac server would be:

    • Lower cost, possibly a lot lower
    • Learning to build a PC
    • Learning enterprise virtualization (type 1)
    • Learning Linux / UNIX


  • @Thomas_R said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    Currently an all-Apple household, I have a Mac mini that runs OS X Server (file sharing, Time Machine Server, Caching Server, DNS, OD, Profile Manager) and a VM for Plex and Logitech Media Server.

    Most of this is easy to do once you get used to services in Linux and configuring things on a command line. The only things I'm not sure on is the Caching Server and OD. Is OD Open Directory? (LDAP and/or SAMBA could take care of that.) The caching server, is that an internet cache? (Proxy server, lots of options.)



  • @MattSpeller
    Not an IT professional. I'd call myself more of a "ProSumer".



  • @coliver
    That's the website that led me here. I do like that approach very much.



  • @travisdh1
    OD = Open Directory, yes. I have it on since it is necessary for Profile Manager which in turn is nice for pushing out configuration profiles to Macs and iThingies. Definitely not needed for managing a handful of users. Profiles for iOS, there's an app for that of course.

    Caching Server is for software updates (OS and apps). The first client request triggers the download from the internet. The software is then cached on the server, and other clients download it from there. Huge bandwidth benefits when you have >2 clients. There also is the older manually managed Mac-only Software Update service.

    CS is basically the reason for me favouring OS X Server, I'm not sure if this could be replicated under Linux.



  • @DustinB3403

    Thanks for the component list. I'll have to research that.

    I'm not against virtualisation by any means. I am doing it now, actually. Just a Plex Media Server on a CentOS 7 minimal VM inside VirtualBox. Turned PMS into an appliance and allowed me to do one thing that the OS X version of PMS did not: Run it without a user logged on. There are more VMs to come, but my current server is limited to 4GB of RAM and would choke.



  • @scottalanmiller
    Is that you running that blog? Read http://www.smbitjournal.com/2015/06/make-your-business-jealous/ before coming here, and like that approach. I won't tear up the walls of my current apartment and put CAT cable in because I'll move in a year or two, but in the mid term I'd like to move in that direction.

    "These days there is very, very little to assembling a computer.": Putting the components together, yes. The hurdle for me would be component selecting & sourcing, I'd be starting from zero there.

    "If you're worried about noise at all, rule out rack based anything." Server cabinet is planned for the future home, for now all IT sits in the home office

    "Only consumer units and desktop units use USB, IEEE 1394, eSATA, etc." together with the previous item leads me to believe I'd best go for top-of-line consumer grade.

    "That said xByte and Stalled Tech…" Based in Spain, similar offers can certainly be found here.

    "RAID 10 is always…" and "…no benefit to enterprise drives…" perfectly address my doubts.

    "I only use rackmount at home…" As I said, I'm no IT pro. It's a hobby, and I do take it more seriously than the average user.

    "One starting spot…" I'll go there next.

    @All
    Went to bed after posting (Spain is 6-9 h ahead of the U.S.) and woke up to a wealth of information. Where's the "overwhelmed" emoji? Thanks.



  • @Thomas_R said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    Caching Server is for software updates (OS and apps). The first client request triggers the download from the internet. The software is then cached on the server, and other clients download it from there. Huge bandwidth benefits when you have >2 clients. There also is the older manually managed Mac-only Software Update service.

    Right, that same functionality is available with any proxy. I use them with the slow internet we have at work.


  • Service Provider

    @Thomas_R said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    @MattSpeller
    Not an IT professional. I'd call myself more of a "ProSumer".

    that could change the equation a bit. Is there value to learning the Linux, PC build and similar skills? Or would those only be useful for the fun of learning and not going to provide any career advantage?


  • Service Provider

    @Thomas_R said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    @coliver
    That's the website that led me here. I do like that approach very much.

    Oh nice! Is there a link on that site pointing to this one?


  • Service Provider

    @Thomas_R said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    @DustinB3403

    Thanks for the component list. I'll have to research that.

    I'm not against virtualisation by any means. I am doing it now, actually. Just a Plex Media Server on a CentOS 7 minimal VM inside VirtualBox. Turned PMS into an appliance and allowed me to do one thing that the OS X version of PMS did not: Run it without a user logged on. There are more VMs to come, but my current server is limited to 4GB of RAM and would choke.

    We were meaning more of Type 1 virtualization or full virtualization, but partial where there is an OS plus some workloads virtualized on top.


  • Service Provider

    @Thomas_R said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    @scottalanmiller
    Is that you running that blog? Read http://www.smbitjournal.com/2015/06/make-your-business-jealous/ before coming here, and like that approach. I won't tear up the walls of my current apartment and put CAT cable in because I'll move in a year or two, but in the mid term I'd like to move in that direction.

    Yup, I'm the main author over there.


  • Service Provider

    @Thomas_R said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    "That said xByte and Stalled Tech…" Based in Spain, similar offers can certainly be found here.

    Where are you in Spain. I lived in Granada last year. I normally live in Europe but happen to be in the US dealing with some stuff, including passport renewals. We have lots of people on here in your timezone.



  • @travisdh1 said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    Right, that same functionality is available with any proxy. I use them with the slow internet we have at work.

    Good. I'll look into that.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    that could change the equation a bit. Is there value to learning the Linux, PC build and similar skills? Or would those only be useful for the fun of learning and not going to provide any career advantage?

    I'm a mechanical engineer at heart who happens to like IT stuff, so it's for the fun of learning, not for career.



  • @scottalanmiller said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    Where are you in Spain. I lived in Granada last year. I normally live in Europe but happen to be in the US dealing with some stuff, including passport renewals. We have lots of people on here in your timezone.

    My avatar is telling… Catalonian central coast, just south of Barcelona.

    You mentioned peer review somewhere on the SMB IT Blog if I recall it correctly.


  • Service Provider

    @Thomas_R said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    @scottalanmiller said in Need advice on OS X Server & DAS/NAS:

    Where are you in Spain. I lived in Granada last year. I normally live in Europe but happen to be in the US dealing with some stuff, including passport renewals. We have lots of people on here in your timezone.

    My avatar is telling… Catalonian central coast, just south of Barcelona.

    You mentioned peer review somewhere on the SMB IT Blog if I recall it correctly.

    I didn't even think of looking at the avatar 🙂


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