Question Under what situations is NAS recommended?

modeonoff

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Jul 16, 2017
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Hi, I have a powerful Windows 10/Linux dual-booth workstation at home and plan to buy a new laptop (also dual-boot) for on-the-go work. As I alternate between the two computers, I will need to share files between them. I also have an old dual-boot MacBook Pro that stores about 20 years worth of work. I will retire the MacBook Pro soon. Under what situations is NAS recommended? Is buying a NAS good for this case?
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
I have a NAS box, QNAP TS-453a.
It is good for a central repository for stuff that needs to be shared between systems. It also serves as the target for daily system backups from all systems in the house.

"20 years worth of work " screams for some sort of redundant backup. All that data on a single drive is simply asking for trouble. It's not if a drive will die, but when.
 

ktriebol

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Feb 22, 2013
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If you keep your workstation on 24/7, then consider using that for common storage. You could even add another internal storage drive to your workstation if you really needed a separate drive for common access. Then, access that data from other computers over your network. If you don't think that will work for you, then buy a NAS and keep that on 24/7.
 

DSzymborski

Illustrious
Moderator
If you're primarily using data on the road, you might do better with a cloud-based backup solution.

A NAS is always fine, but I mainly recommend it when you have a lot of data to backup or several computers. Depending on how much data you have to backup, a secondary hard drive on your main rig that both PCs back up to would also work. Sometimes a simple solution is preferrable and you can always move that extra hard drive to a NAS later.

Like USAFRet, I'm a little concerned about the reference to twenty years' worth of work in a single place. That's a formula for losing it all! I've been in my career for about that long, so all my crucial data is backed up on three additional hard drives on three PCs (main rig, work rig, NAS) at 6 AM every morning, a cloud service at the same time, and regular backups to blu-ray discs and multiple encrypted thumb drives. A disc and a thumb drive are always in my fireproof safe and I keep two additional encrypted thumb drives in my safe deposit box and with a trusted friend (I usually update these once a year).

Now, it may sound like overkill, but even if you don't need to go quite this far, valuable data needs to be treated like any other valuable. There's a rule of thumb referred to as the 321 backup rule. This rule states that important data should be backed up in a manner which leads you have at least three different copies, in two different formats, with at least one copy off-site.
 
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NAS of course is for in-place use (vs cloud based) some NAS have the ability for remote access but configuration not trivial and u must have decent Internet plan.

Whatever shared storage you use, it should be online or near-line and a NAS does that.

Simple NAS (not scalable, difficult to add capacity later) can be relatively inexpensive (some WD offerings). Scalable, multi-bay boxes (add drives as needed) are pricier but sets u up for the future.

Fancier NAS boxes have added features like being a media server, a torrent server etc A NAS is basically a stand-alone (hopefully electricity efficient) computer with the primary task of providing you with shared storage, so vendors, as usual, try to outdo the competitors so throw in these other features. U will have to decide if features worth the complexity to you.

I would love to have a multi-bay NAS myself but cannot justify its cost, so I currently have my HTPC hosting my shared storage, which is asleep most of the time, but can wake up wo much hassle.
 
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modeonoff

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Actually what are the differences between NAS and cloud services such as Dropbox? I would imagine: 1) For privacy, perhaps NAS is better? 2) NAS has more storage.

I tried to use a usb memory stick to share files between computers but I have these issues: 1. usb sticks failed to work after I did not unmount the sticks and pulled them out from the computer. Why sometimes it was fine but sometimes this caused corruption of the sticks? 2. Sometimes I lost the stickes and I have seen people leaving the sticks in public computers. For privacy and security reason, usb stick is not a good option for me. A reason I don't want to put backup drive in my desktop is that if something bad happens to the desktop (e.g. static electricity, fire, theft) everything in it will not be accessable.

Speaking of 20+ years worth of data... I am in kind of messy situation. I backed up laptops and desktops on multiple drives. When external drives and laptops storage became large, sometimes I copied back those drive contents into these new drives. Then sometimes I also back up these drives. So I have multiple copies of some files from Mac OS, Windows OS and Linux. This makes it difficult to find some files. Any suggestion on how to fix this messy situation?
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Actually what are the differences between NAS and cloud services such as Dropbox? I would imagine: 1) For privacy, perhaps NAS is better? 2) NAS has more storage.

I tried to use a usb memory stick to share files between computers but I have these issues: 1. usb sticks failed to work after I did not unmount the sticks and pulled them out from the computer. Why sometimes it was fine but sometimes this caused corruption of the sticks? 2. Sometimes I lost the stickes and I have seen people leaving the sticks in public computers. For privacy and security reason, usb stick is not a good option for me. A reason I don't want to put backup drive in my desktop is that if something bad happens to the desktop (e.g. static electricity, fire, theft) everything in it will not be accessable.

Speaking of 20+ years worth of data... I am in kind of messy situation. I backed up laptops and desktops on multiple drives. When external drives and laptops storage became large, sometimes I copied back those drive contents into these new drives. Then sometimes I also back up these drives. So I have multiple copies of some files from Mac OS, Windows OS and Linux. This makes it difficult to find some files. Any suggestion on how to fix this messy situation?
My NAS box lives in my living room, 100% under my control
DropBox, etc lives "out there". Under control of someone else. Access subject to whatever internet connection speed is available at that moment.

USB sticks are, at best, transitory devices. Used to sneakernet some data from one machine to another.
Never to be used for long term data and safekeeping, or any backup.
If one fails, so what...grab another and move on.

Backups should not be solely on the same desktop. Those are susceptible to all the same hazards as the original data. Ransomware, dead PC, fire, flood, theft, whatever.
A real backup scenario should be on a couple of different devices and types of access.
My last ditch fallback is data on a drive that lives in a drawer in my desk at work. This is for stuff classified as "should not lose, ever".
Stuff like scans of drivers licenses, passports. Insurance policies, birth certificates. Not my latest game save.
That gets updated every few months.

My house systems back up to the NAS every night, or every week, as determined by the system use.

As far as your messy data situation? There is no magic for that. And that is something we ALL end up dealing with sooner or later. Junk scattered all over.
You'll just have to devote some time to identify, consolidate, and fix it.
But if all that currently lives on a single 20 hard drive...good luck with that. Drives die. All of them, eventually.
You need to fix that.
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Actually what are the differences between NAS and cloud services such as Dropbox? I would imagine: 1) For privacy, perhaps NAS is better? 2) NAS has more storage.
Recently, I had to recover 605GB of data from the nightly backup.
One of my SSD's died suddenly. No warning...just dead.

Click click...2 hours, 100% of it recovered exactly as it was at 4AM that morning.
I do full drive backups. Full and Incremental, as needed.

How long would it take to recover 605GB data from 'outside'?

If all you want to save is a few jpg and doc files, sure..cloud is your friend. I like to be able to reconstitute a whole drive, or the whole system.
 

modeonoff

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Jul 16, 2017
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Recently, I had to recover 605GB of data from the nightly backup.
One of my SSD's died suddenly. No warning...just dead.

Click click...2 hours, 100% of it recovered exactly as it was at 4AM that morning.
I do full drive backups. Full and Incremental, as needed.

How long would it take to recover 605GB data from 'outside'?

If all you want to save is a few jpg and doc files, sure..cloud is your friend. I like to be able to reconstitute a whole drive, or the whole system.
Thanks for sharing your experience. I though SSD would never die.
 

modeonoff

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Which wireless quiet NAS do you recommend? I use both Windows, Linux and Mac. Some Linux programs made over 20 years ago had very long filenames. Some files are in English while others are in Japanese. How do NAS that support all three OS works? If I recall correctly, when I looked at NAS 3 years ago, the Synology DS218j? was popular. Don't know if it satisfies my criteria though.
 
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USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
Which wireless quiet NAS do you recommend? I use both Windows, Linux and Mac. Some Linux programs made over 20 years ago had very long filenames. Some files are in English while others are in Japanese. How do NAS that support all three OS works? If I recall correctly, when I looked at NAS 3 years ago, the Synology DS218j? was popular. Don't know if it satisfies my criteria though.
Wireless? None.
Generally, the NAS is connected to your router via ethernet, and sits somewhere out of sight.
Mine lives in a cabinet under the TV, so the "quiet" is irrelevant. But even if it were sitting on the desk next to me...it is very, very quiet.

Network Attached Storage. They mostly do not care what type of files they are, or what language, or what your client system is.
My QNAP is Linux based (modified Debian). My client systems being Windows does not matter.
But I also access it from my Android tablet.
 

modeonoff

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Jul 16, 2017
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Wireless? None.
Generally, the NAS is connected to your router via ethernet, and sits somewhere out of sight.
Mine lives in a cabinet under the TV, so the "quiet" is irrelevant. But even if it were sitting on the desk next to me...it is very, very quiet.

Network Attached Storage. They mostly do not care what type of files they are, or what language, or what your client system is.
My QNAP is Linux based (modified Debian). My client systems being Windows does not matter.
But I also access it from my Android tablet.
Thanks. I am a bit confused about the format of the drive(s) in the NSA. For example, if we have a Mac, we format the drive to a format that Mac OS can read/write the files. For Windows, we format the drive so that Windows can read/write the files, etc. If the NSA is to store files from Mac, iOS device, Windows PC and Linux PC, etc, what format is the disk using to be able to be compatible with files from different OS?
 

USAFRet

Titan
Moderator
You can have multiple volumes, each formatted differently if you choose.
Currently, my whole thing is NTFS, which is readable by my Windows systems, and the Linux on the NAS. And Android from my tablets. And whatever "OS" my Kindle Paperwhite uses.
 

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