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whats the best NAS for mac?

147996 Views 123 Replies Latest reply: Mar 27, 2014 6:44 PM by Camington RSS
  • MFreud Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Feb 5, 2013 11:19 AM (in response to electropleb)

    Hello, I am looking to add a NAS to my network for as cheaply as possible while still having my data protected. I am pretty much a novice when it comes to NAS and RAID configurations so I'm not sure exactly how much storage space I need for what I am trying to accomplish. I apologize in advance for any dumb questions or statements. I currently have a 1.5 TB Seagate GoFlex portable drive that I have connected to my Airport Extreme that I use mostly for iTunes content which has about 200 GB of free space. I also have a WD My Book 2TB drive in RAID 0 that I use for Time Machine to back up my Macbook Pro  (which has a 320GB hard drive with about 200 GB free) and the Seagate drive. In order to do this, I have to connect the My Book directly to my computer by Firewire 800. I have to disconnect the Seagate drive from my router and plug directly into my computer whenever I add something to it that I want to be backed up, as I have not been able to find a way to get time machine to back up that drive while it is shared on the network. I am looking for a NAS that will allow me to have my time machine backup, and also have space for my iTunes library and any other content I want to store externally. I am thinking I probably want to add an additional 1TB of space for iTunes content, photos, and home movies for total of 2.5 TB. I would like to have the data protected from one drive failing, so I believe I need a 4 bay system in RAID 5 configuration, however I'm not sure how much total space I actually need. I was thinking I would like to have the Time Machine partition be able to back up the partition with the iTunes library in case something was accidentally deleted, but I'm not sure that is actually possible. If it is not possible, the size of the Time Machine backup partition could be significantly smaller, so I would need much less space. I am thinking that if TM will not back up the other partition, I would buy 4 1TB drives and set them up in RAID 5 with 3TB total storage and use around 500 GB for TM and 2.5 TB for all other files. I could also connect the MyBook to the NAS as additional storage. Does this make sense? If so, how "safe" is my data in that setup? I do use Crashplan for cloud backup of everything in case of worst case scenario.

  • Kibby the Cabbit Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
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    Feb 5, 2013 1:31 PM (in response to MFreud)

    Here are two links for you to get a better idea which NAS, HDD storage size, # of bay.  2nd link has improved RAID system called Synology-Hybrid RAID (SHR) which reduces space loss under multiple drives configuration.  Give them a try.


    Universal RAID calculator:


    Synology Hybrid RAID calculator:


    Synology will provide a virtualized partition for TimeMachine which actually be a folder in the storage which is pretty cool.


    I myself use Synology for TimeMachine + iTunes Library + data storage + network shared folders -- all in one machine.

  • MFreud Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Feb 6, 2013 7:39 AM (in response to Kibby the Cabbit)

    Thanks those links are helpful. I still have a question on your setup, though. Does Time Machine back up your iTunes library? I have looked all over the internet and it seems that Time Machine is not capable of backing up a drive that is shared over the network. What I am thinking I would do is get the 4 1TB drives as I mentioned, and attach the MyBook to the NAS and use Crashplan or the Synology backup software to back up my iTunes library to that.

  • Kibby the Cabbit Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
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    Feb 16, 2013 11:09 AM (in response to MFreud)

    In my case, my iTunes Library is sitting on Synology RAID Hybrid.  So if one drive dies, just plop in new drive and iTunes Library will always be fine.


    If you want to play safe, yes, you can use Synology backup service.  They offer you great options.  Like copying to other source (ie: ext. hard drive, USB stick, etc), connect to other Synology NAS, etc.


    Hope that's helpful for you.

  • charliemcf Calculating status...
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    Mar 27, 2013 1:42 AM (in response to ryanhudson)

    hi ryan, i have a similar system, and am having trouble with it.  i was wondering if you could help me pls?  i have an imac with readynas nv+. via a tc (as an extender of a airport network-all wired).  the i tunes works fine set to the NAS except i cannot get the itunes purchases to download directly to the NAS.


    they will download to the usual place in the imac, and i can then transfer them to the NAS, but it's a pain i would like to avoid.....


    any suggestions?



  • ryanhudson Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Mar 27, 2013 9:21 AM (in response to charliemcf)

    Hi charliemcf,


    Step One:  Make Sure Your NAS is Mounted

    Okay, so I have my entire iTunes library on my NAS.  So in order to see the iTunes content correctly in iTunes, I must have my share, media, mounted and ready to go before I launch iTunes.   This is a hassle, I know, but I created a simple Automator Application that mounts my media share upon login or startup.   This works by adding my custom application to the Login Items in System Preferences/Users & Groups/Login Items, so it automatically executes upon startup or login.   (BTW, if you unmount the share, then you will need to remount it manually in order to access your library.)



    For the moment, leave your current library where it is on your computer.  Open iTunes and select Preferences in iTunes/Preferences in the menu bar on top.  Go to the Advanced tab in Preferences and find "iTunes Media folder location".  This is where you establish the location of your entire iTunes Library.  Yours probably says "/Users/yourname/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media".  To change this simply select the "Change..." button and navigate to your mounted NAS share and then to the folder where you what it to reside and select "Open".  Mine is in the NAS default media share, "/Volumes/media/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media", but yours may be whereever you choose so long as it's on your NAS.  If you are using your default media share too, then you will need to create a folder called "Music", and then a folder within that called "iTunes", and then another folder within that one called "iTunes Media".  So "/Volumes/sharename/Music/iTunes/iTunes Media" Essentially you are rebuilding the same structure that exists on your computer.  You should now see your new location in the Preferces/Advanced window.  I also check the box for Keep iTunes Media folder organized and Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library, so that everything stays nice and organized.  When done, select "OK" to confirm your new iTunes settings. 



    Locate your iTunes library on your Mac.  The default location is "Macintosh HD/Users/yourname/Music/iTunes/". You want to copy the "iTunes" folder into your NAS Music folder.  When you do this it will tell you, you already have an iTunes folder on your NAS, do you want to replace it.  Yes, you do want to replace it, they are just two nested empty fodlers.  Depending on how much content you have, this could take a while.  I have 5 TBs of content conected through Gigabit ethernet, so it would take like 24 hours to copy.  During this time, using your computer will slow down the process and using iTunes will cause issues as well, so try and avoid using either until all content is copied. 



    So now you have a copy on your Mac and a copy on your NAS.  Quit iTunes and relaunch it.  Go into Preferences and make sure your are still pointing to your NAS.  If good, then test playnig a track or movie.   If good, try selecting a track in iTunes, right-click it and select "Show in Finder".  This should take you to the NAS copy of your iTunes folder.  This should all be expected if everything transferred smoothly.  At this point you could safely delete your iTunes library on your Mac. 




    When your NAS share is unmounted

    This occasionally happens to me and a Podcast will start downloading.  It will default back to your orginal iTunes folder location.  To fix this you must quit iTunes, mount your NAS share, relaunch iTunes, then open your Mac iTunes folder.  You'll see it's mostly empty with the exception of any recent additions.  Just simply grab the media files themselves and drag/drop onto your iTunes window.  This will copy them over to your NAS and enter them into the iTunes database so it knows where they are.  Delete the Mac copies and resume using iTunes as normal. 


    Occasionally, I unmount my NAS share and try to play a track in iTunes.  iTunes gives me an alert that it can't find the track and wants me to locate it.  Instead I cancel, quit iTunes, mount NAS share, relaunch iTunes and resume where I left off.  I suppose you could locate it by mounting the share and the navigating to the file, but I find it easier not to navigate to it and just restart everything. 


    Occasionally, I want to watch a movie on Apple TV and the share is unmounted.  The movie info comes up, but the artwork does not.  To resolve this, simply do an iTunes rest as described above and reload your Computer in Apple TV to correct the disconnect. 


    Again these little issues are a pain, but the Automator App helps, and leaving my entire system on all the time helps too.  Hopefully, Apple will add robust functionality for NAS iTunes library.  I would prefer to access my iTunes directly from my NAS, but Apple wants to keep everything tethered to iTunes.

    Copy content directly into iTune

    Another route you could take instead of copy your iTunes folder content onto your NAS Music folder would be to copy your content from your Mac iTunes folder into your iTunes App window.  This would rebuild your database in the process of copying it.  I have noticed some issues with this method and the new iTunes 11 in that iTunes hangs forever when dropping a folder of song files or a group of folders that contain movie files.  I'm not sure if this is unique to me or if there is a larger bug in the new iTunes.  I was successful with this method in iTunes 10, however. 


    Accessing your content over your network

    Other computers will have access to your NAS content.  I have not attempted to use a second iTunes to try and Sync two Mac libraries.  I think if two computers are trying to write to the database at the same time, this could cause issues and corruption.  I wish there was a robust iTunes solution on the NAS, but that's not the case.  There is an app on your NAS called Apple iTunes Server, but it's more like accessing a library on another Mac.  It shows up on the left sidebar in your iTunes as a shared library, but you cannot administer it, only play from it. 

    There is a free download app for your NAS that works similarly called ReadyDLNA or Squeeze Center, but they are a bit clunky.  For the most part, I just use the one iTunes as the content manager, and the use AirPlay to access the library from my Apple TV or iPad. 


    This is highly effective when using the NAS with your iTunes Mac.  You have to turn on Home Sharing in iTunes and then on Apple TV so they pair.  Then your Mac, NAS and Apple TV must be on in order to play any content. Since my Mac, NASm and Apple TV are always on standby, it works well for me.  I'm not sure of the aggregate power drain, but I keep all machines on a short standby leash to wake up when prompted.  I've used the WiFi on the Apple TV with good results, but prefer a dedicated gigibit ethernet for optimal speed.  This speed improvement is only realy evedent when updating your Apple TV's software.  Otherwise, WiFi sufficient.



    Be sure to periodically monitor your NAS drives for stability and health.  I recently has a complete data loss on my NAS 1 when one drive failed and in the process of restriping a new drive, a second drive failed.  Had I checked my SMART drive info more regularly, I could have anticipated the problem before it happened.  There are tell tell signs, error counts, etc. you can look for. 


    Fortunately, I had the forethought to use a second NAS (NAS 2) to mirror the first NAS daily.  So, once I installed the second new drive into NAS 1 and reformatted a new Volume, I was able to copy over all the content from NAS 2 back to NAS 1.  I then has to reestablish the backup events on NAS 1 to resume the mirroring to NAS 2. 


    I now have a spare drive on hand to swap in immediately when I detect a possible drive malefunction/failure.  It's not a matter of if it will fail, but a matter of when it will fail.  I've replaced 3 drives in the past 3 years and will likely need to replace all of them as my NAS ages.  My NAS 2 is strictly there to backup Nas 1 (think RAID 10) and is turned off in between backups.   So far this has been a fullproof solution, but ideally I should move NAS 2 offsite for another layer of redundancy. 

  • FredTheDog Calculating status...
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    Apr 12, 2013 8:38 AM (in response to electropleb)

    Hi all,


    Have been reading this with interest and there is some great info here, I'm new to NAS but need to set something up and wondered if I buy a Synology 1812+ can I get it to do want I want plus the possibility of more if needed?


    The main reason for looking at a NAS is for additional backup of files I cannot afford to lose, but spending a little more on a larger NAS like the 1812 could I also:


    Use the NAS as the main store of my music, using the itunes server app bundled with the NAS and a remote app on my iphone control and play music from the NAS to my amp via my airport express (My amp is connected via phono/RCA and is not DLNA compliant) without having to use my Mac as a go between the NAS and the express.


    Create  playlists on the NAS and load one or more of the playlists to the families iPads, iPhones and MacBook Pros. Not bothered about keeping the metadata like number of plays, ratings etc updated between them all


    Use TimeMachine to back up other MBP's to the NAS


    Stream photos from the NAS via DLNA to my TV


    Rip my Blurays and copy to the NAS and then stream different programs to 2 TVs at 1080p


    Do an initital copy of all data to another NAS, take it to another location and have them sync by setting up a VPN connection between them via a couple of new routers. So when I am at location 1 and copy a new album it automatically gets copied to location 2 and visa versa.


    Thanks in advance



  • aburtt Calculating status...
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    Apr 12, 2013 6:19 PM (in response to ryanhudson)

    I have posted on another thread but this may be the more appropriate one.  I am having problems with itunes download speeds when I have my DS212j set as the default itunes media folder.  When I set the media folder back to default, I get great speads but when I try and use my Synology as the default, I receive very slow speeds. Any thoughts on how to correct this issue.

  • ryanhudson Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Apr 13, 2013 7:57 AM (in response to aburtt)

    Could it be your network connection?  Is everything running over gigabit cables & switches or 100 megabit equipment?  I saw a speed bump when I upgraded all my equipment to gigabit.  If you are using WiFi to download from iTunes to your NAS, then that would slow things down too.  If your NAS is more than 80% full the it's write speed would slow down. NAS speed is optimized when it's halfway full. 

  • Tek-Nick Calculating status...
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    May 8, 2013 9:43 AM (in response to electropleb)

    Hey guys, Really helpful info in this thread, thank you for that!


    I have been checking out the Synology line due to all the positive feedback on this thread, but I found a great deal on a NAS by Iomega:

    Iomega 6TB StorCenter px2-300d D_2_Bay_NAS_2.html



    Does anyone here have any personal experience trying it out, or just by looking at the specs do you think it'll do as good a job as the synology "212j" or "213+"


    Thanks in advance for your feedback!

  • Akitaguy Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
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    May 8, 2013 11:33 AM (in response to Tek-Nick)

    Stick with Synology, I've had my 212+ for over 1 year without a single hitch. Synology does a great job of upgrading the OS and adding new features. Plan and simple it just works!

  • Kibby the Cabbit Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)
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    May 9, 2013 10:08 AM (in response to Tek-Nick)

    I'm not too sure how they perform.  Synology uses Intel chipset while Iomega uses Intel Atom chipset.  Performance will depened on what you use it for.  Multiple video streaming, file transferring (espeically in RAID setup), etc..

  • Awesomebeast22 Calculating status...
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    May 9, 2013 3:09 PM (in response to electropleb)

    Illmatic. Maybe Life is Good.

  • littletree76 Level 1 Level 1 (55 points)
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    May 19, 2013 12:20 AM (in response to electropleb)

    There are two aspects to consider as far as NAS performance is concerned:


    Networked storage with various file sharing protocols (NFS/CIFS/AFS):

    Most of NAS models should be able to provide reasonable speeds for this kind of file sharing access. If you have to support many connections simultaneously, then go for the models with more memory and higher processor clock rate within the same product family.


    Servers for mutliple online services:

    Cloud storage, email/web, photo, music and video servers. This is where memory size and processing speed become critical. Unless you don't mind waiting for long hour for thumbnail creation and indexing to complete, go for more processing power and bigger memory size.


    My Synology DiskStation DS212 is greate as NAS alone but too slow to run as photo server. I should have bought DS212+ with higher clock rate. Anyway the two-bay DS212 has been superceded by DS312, buy DS312+ if you can afford higher price.


    Of course prerequsite for NAS perfromance is you must have set up stable wired/wireless network with good bandwidth. I can achieve WiFi bandwidth of 400 Mbps with 802.11n protocol and 5 GHz radio band using last generation of Apple Airport Extreme base station.

  • pstryjew Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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    Jun 11, 2013 1:50 PM (in response to Tek-Nick)

    I had good luck with an older Iomega NAS device, that is until is decided to die.   Trying to recover any of the data (that hadn't been backed up recently), I found that having problems with the Linux OS that operates the drive was not uncommon.


    Up to that point it had been the best of the NAS devices I had used.  It should be noted that my experience was with an older generation of drives.


    I would suggest doing your homework, especially around MTBF and recovery.

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