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How to create a network available drive

2430 Views 67 Replies Latest reply: Jul 31, 2013 10:55 AM by Cartoonguy RSS
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Cartoonguy Level 1 Level 1 (0 points)
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Jun 13, 2013 1:22 PM

I want to do something pretty basic, but I wanted to get advice on the right way.  I already have a home ethernet and wifi network.  I want to set up a seperate hard drive which acts as both a Time Machine back up and also a place to store files which would be shared on the network.  Right now, the shared files are on my computer, which means that my computer has to  be on to access.  Also, there can be privelages issues.  I want the hard drive plugged into the network, but not attached to my computer (partly because I want it hidden in the basement for security).

 

So can anyone tell me exactly what I need to do this?  I want it wired with ethernet, so do I just get a network drive, that is, a drive with ethernet, and plug it in on the network and all the computers see that, or do I need to set up some kind of server thing?  Can I back and share files with one single network drive or does it need to be two physical drives or one drive partitioned?

 

If anyone has some basic advice or a link to a site that explains it (Home network for dummies type of thing) that would be much appreciated.

 

Cheers,

 

David

iMac, OS X Mountain Lion
  • varjak paw Level 10 Level 10 (167,190 points)
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    Jun 13, 2013 2:28 PM (in response to Cartoonguy)

    I want it wired with ethernet, so do I just get a network drive, that is, a drive with ethernet, and plug it in on the network and all the computers see that, or do I need to set up some kind of server thing?

     

    Yes, and that in essence would be a file server, just all contained in a specialized box that does only that function. Such devices are usually referred to as "network attached storage" or NAS, so if you search these forums or the Internet, you shoul find information and recommendations.

     

    If you want to use the same system for both Time Machine backups and general sharing, you'll first need to look for an NAS that supports Time Machine, and then it will need either two partitions on the drive or two drives. Time Machine wants it's own volume to back up to.

     

    Regards.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)
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    Jun 13, 2013 4:13 PM (in response to Cartoonguy)

    I'd advise you to think long and hard about using a NAS with Time Machine.  In many cases, it's unreliable, and support is, well, skimpy, at best. 

     

    See the pink box in Time Machine - Frequently Asked Question #2 for details and considerations.

     

    You do not want to read some of the threads here about the combination.

  • Csound1 Level 7 Level 7 (32,380 points)
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    Jun 14, 2013 10:01 AM (in response to Cartoonguy)

    Cartoonguy wrote:

     

    Hmm, well two opposing views on NAS.

    Yes, it is a NAS that is compatible with Time Machine, which very few are, take Pondini's advice and don't use a NAS (unless you like to live dangerously)

  • varjak paw Level 10 Level 10 (167,190 points)
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    Jun 14, 2013 10:02 AM (in response to Cartoonguy)

    Pondini and I don't really have opposing viewpoints. I'm not advocating the use of an NAS as a Time Machine backup resource, only telling you what would be required. I will defer to Pondini and others who have direct experience with using TM with a third-party NAS for issues of reliability.


    As to the Time Capsule, yes, it's in essence an NAS, but it's been engineered by Apple, who are obviously the experts in how Time Machine works, specifically as a resource for Time Machine backups. Other NAS manufacturers may or may not have engineered their devices for use with Time Machine, and those that have may or may not have created a reliable solution.

     

    Regards.

  • Csound1 Level 7 Level 7 (32,380 points)
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    Jun 14, 2013 10:09 AM (in response to Cartoonguy)

    The Time Capsule may not be the only one but it is the most reliable, many NAS's advertised as compatible aren't.

     

    As this is a backup I would opt for reliability first.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)
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    Jun 14, 2013 10:11 AM (in response to Cartoonguy)

    Cartoonguy wrote:

    . . .

    But isn't an Apple Time Capsule essentially a NAS? 

    No. It doesn't have many of the capabilities of a NAS. 

     

    On the other hand, it was designed specifically to work with Time Machine and not much else.  Its firmware comes from Apple, is tested by Apple to work with TM, and if changes are made to OSX, Apple co-ordinates them with any needed changes to the TC.  A NAS by definition comes from a 3rd party that may or may not have fully tested it, update it when needed, or be around to help when things go south.

     

    I've talked several users through elaborate recovery when their HD failed and the NAS had a problem, too.  Most of those users had already contacted the maker and Apple, often repeatedly, and got nowhere.  Here's one recent 6-day saga:  I can't find my old backups  Note the last part of her first post.  She was quite inexperienced on day 1, but not any more.

     

    You can put data files on it (but it's not recommended to use it for both TM backups and other data).

     

     

    Pondini, if you feel that NAS is unreliable for Time Machine, then is the view that the only reliable way to use Time Machine is by a directly connected drive, or only use the Apple Time Capsule product?

    If you have a desktop Mac on your network, you can back up to a shared drive on it via your network.  That's supported by Apple, and does seem to work pretty well. 

  • Csound1 Level 7 Level 7 (32,380 points)
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    Jun 14, 2013 10:28 AM (in response to Cartoonguy)

    Eg: An iMac or Mini with a shared drive on the same network

  • varjak paw Level 10 Level 10 (167,190 points)
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    Jun 14, 2013 10:28 AM (in response to Cartoonguy)

    When Pondini says "a shared drive on your network", he means that you connect a drive to your computer and then share it via the File Sharing feature in Mac OS X. A Networked Attached Storage drive is a completely standalone device.

     

    Hope that helps.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)
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    Jun 14, 2013 10:30 AM (in response to Cartoonguy)

    Cartoonguy wrote:

    . . .

    This sounds to me like you are saying I can back up to a network drive, yet you've also explained that network drives are unreliable and not recommended. 

    Two different definitions of network drive.

     

    A shared drive on another Mac (internal or directly-connected via USB, FireWire, or Thunderbolt) is fine.  Time Machine on the Mac being backed-up communicates with OSX on the destination.  Again, all software from one source.  The drive is just a "dumb receiver" that happens to be on a network from the point of view of the other Mac.

     

    As explained in the earlier link, a NAS has its own programming, often quite powerful in other ways, supplied by the NAS maker.  Time Machine dosn't communicate directly with the drive.

  • Pondini Level 8 Level 8 (38,710 points)
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    Jun 14, 2013 11:04 AM (in response to Cartoonguy)

    Cartoonguy wrote:

    . . .

    It has an ethernet port and it says it's compatible with Time Machine.  It doesn't call itself a NAS, but "a personal cloud storage drive" which connects to a network.  So is that actually just a NAS by a different name, or would this work for me?

    It's a NAS, not a "dumb" drive.  Look at all the things it will do.  HDs don't do that by themselves.  Go to WD's site and look up the instruction manual. 

     

    Nearly anything that connects via Ethernet is a NAS.

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