3 Replies Latest reply: Oct 25, 2012 4:57 AM by LERsince1991
LERsince1991 Level 1 (0 points)

I am after some advice on hard drive storage please.

I have previously bought hard drive after hard drive and now refuse to keep buying a small increase each time in capacity and try and find a solution which I can expand in the future which is cost effective.


If any of the below is not feasible then please advise.

I intent to use this method for the next xx years and want it to be able to support all my needs (I have not yet pruchased a mac pro as waiting for a new one to be designed and will certainly purchase before my next year starting september 2013).

I require a system that can;

1 - Is Future proof in a way that I can expand the system easily and in a cost effective manor. In both hardware and software. i.e. add a new hard drive to expand storage but allow software to add a drive to a single partition drive array.

2 - Fail proof. I need a system that can backup my macbook (hopefully wirelessly) and my Mac pro (desktop, wired?) as well as other external storage included in the proposed system.

3 - Accessible to both the wired Mac Pro desktop as well as portable computers such as my macbook pro in the same building.

4 - Cost effective with small pay out each upgrade. i.e. if I need to add one more drive I can with minimal cost.


My hardware setup is loosely something like this:

- Macbook Air as a portable computer laptop

- Mac Pro as a powerful Desktop computer

- Hard Drive storage with the following partitions/disks (currently 4tb of data, growing about 1tb a year but also would require an extra tb a year to backup); "Archive", "Media", "Time Machine".


I would also like the setup to be neat, simple and cost effective.

Speed is not crucial.


More info on Partitions;

- Archive - Documents, finished projects such as photography, product design and architecture. As well as an archive "aperture" photography library.

- Media - Large (2tb currently) collection of video footage and resources.

- Time Machine - A single large drive for backing up everything else. (archive, media, macbook air, mac pro)


Initial Ideas:

1 - Connect multiple single bay external hard drives to the mac pro. These must be stylish and all the same. The Mac Pro can then (partition/ raid 0 and) share the hard drives over a network which is accessible to the macbook air. New single drives are added to expand. Flaws are that the multiple drives may not be able to be formatted as a single drive array for the Time Machine partition. May not be accessed unless the mac pro is powered on (not really an issue). Speed? Drive enclosures may not be sold in future and could look and work in a messy way with lots of cluttered single drives all different.

2 - Same as above (1) but use a separate (Mac Mini?) Server as a server to be always powered on. Not much benefit to the above? (1).

3 - Mutli-drive(bay) (NAS). Could provide improved raid array to deal with failures. Not easily expandable. Mostly expensive. Mostly not stylish. Large payout each upgrade.




  • Camelot Level 8 (46,580 points)

    What's missing in your requirements is any idea of budget.


    There are untold numbers of ways you can do this. The number of viable options increases as your budget increases. If you're trying to do this for $500 then your options are limited.


    You should also consider initial size and maximum size. Many vendors' arrays are expandable, often into the hundreds of terabytes range. If you expect to require, say, 10TB max then that's over-engineering and money wasted.


    You also need to prioritize your wishes. For example, you're hoping to boot your MacBook Air wirelessly. That's going to require a NetBoot server and as far as I'm aware no NAS solution offer this out of the box. Any Mac OS X Server can do it, even if the system's disk image is on an external array, but the array itself can't. So that means a MacPro, Mini, or something else to do the work.


    Beyond that, you have consider the logic behind wirelessly booting a portable machine. You've now restricted that machine to working within the wireless LAN area since you can't take it offsite. You're also contraining its performance to that of the wireless network... questionable advantages there, I think.

  • LERsince1991 Level 1 (0 points)

    I'd say its a mid range budget. Willing to pay more than I would spend going out and continually buying external hard drives in a shop. But a lot less than enterprise class systems.


    Last time I upgraded my storage I bought 4tb for £180 (2x £65 2tb drives and a £50 enclosure) ($290).


    So I could justify about £400 - £500 for an 8tb system ($640 - $800).




    You also misunderstand what I mean when I refer to a macbook air accessing it wirelessly.

    The macbook air will boot on its own SSD.

    It will have a networked folder link to access the storage data on archive and media drives.

    It will use time machine to backup to the Time Machine Array over the network.

    It will NOT boot to anything on the storage system.





  • LERsince1991 Level 1 (0 points)

    I guess a main part of my question is how do people backup multiple external hard drives?