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Archive 2012 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed
  
 
Cluttered Mind
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


This is my first post on here but don't worry, I won't judge the community based solely on my first attempt at seeking help. It's a tough question, at least I think it is.

Here's my situation in all it's glory. I'm running a 2008 model 24" iMac to three external hard drives, one is a copy of the computer's drive (music, documents, iPhoto pictures, mundane stuff), one holds video and one holds photos. This means that at the moment I have no backup of my photography and it scares me to death (current important shoots I have manually backed up onto the slightly less used video drive). I have about 50 GB left on the photo drive and it's high time I get an organized system going. My idea is that I'd like to have a centralized unit dedicated to storing photos, that can be accessed by every computer that has permission on my home network. Open to new laptop purchases and multiple computers should I get more, or want to have one in a separate room for displaying to clients.

In the sparse research I've done, I've heard about purchasing an older Mac and using it to host a server. I've toyed around with the idea of getting a Thunderbolt RAID drive for photos (hoping my next purchase to be mobile will be a Macbook Air...question about that at the end), uh and other things that aren't coming to mind right now. Optimally I'd like to keep things as minimalistic as possible for the photographer who moves a lot, could be accessed by multiple computers on the wifi network and if possible...remotely. Oh baby would that be awesome.

And lastly...the guys at the Apple store couldn't answer with any certainty; can any of the Macbook Airs run LR4 decently? In my computer understanding they've got faster processors and more memory than the 24" iMac I'm using now so they should at least have comparable productivity.

Thank you so much in advance for your time and hopefully answers as well. I look forward to becoming more and more of a contributing member of this community that I just found out about.



Jul 14, 2012 at 07:02 AM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


http://www.drobo.com/
http://www.drobo.com/products/professionals/drobo-5d/index.php
http://www.drobo.com/products/professionals/drobo-s/index.php
http://www.drobo.com/products/professionals/drobo-fs/index.php
http://www.drobo.com/products/professionals/drobo-mini/index.php



Jul 14, 2012 at 07:35 AM
Photo GeekMan
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


Drobo's are OK, but not as versatile as a QNap solution. For ease of setup Drobo wins, hands down. However, for usability, flexibility, expansion and performance QNap wins. The QNap would just take a little more time and effort to set up, perhaps 2 hours vs. the Drobo's 1/2 hour. The QNap website is also very well thought out with lots of how-to information for new users and the forums have many people willing to help should a problem arise.

Best part of the QNap is you can set it up as an FTP server so you can access your files from anywhere in the world. I've got 2 QNap TS-859 Pro+ and they've been AWESOME.

Here's a comparison between Drobo and QNap. Link



Jul 14, 2012 at 03:12 PM
jbregar
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


Synology NAS with Western Digital Red drives in it. I'd avoid the ones with "J" at the end of their model number, basically do a DS411 or DS211. The 411 has four drive slots, the 211 has two.


Jul 14, 2012 at 03:21 PM
15Bit
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


I run a separate linux computer with extra hard disks in it. Samba is easy to set up, and i can access from the outside world via ssh rather than ftp, which which a lot more secure.



Jul 14, 2012 at 05:54 PM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


Photo GeekMan wrote:
Drobo's are OK, but not as versatile as a QNap solution. For ease of setup Drobo wins, hands down. However, for usability, flexibility, expansion and performance QNap wins. The QNap would just take a little more time and effort to set up, perhaps 2 hours vs. the Drobo's 1/2 hour. The QNap website is also very well thought out with lots of how-to information for new users and the forums have many people willing to help should a problem arise.

Best part of the QNap is you can set it up as an FTP server so you can access your
...Show more

But he like the idea to have a "Thunderbolt RAID drive for photos". None of those in your link is that. But the new Drobo is a Thunderbolt RAID drive for photos......



Jul 14, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Photo GeekMan
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


The OP said, "My idea is that I'd like to have a centralized unit dedicated to storing photos, that can be accessed by every computer that has permission on my home network. Open to new laptop purchases and multiple computers should I get more, or want to have one in a separate room for displaying to clients."
That sounds more like a NAS or a server than Thunderbolt connected passive storage. Of course, the OP knows his situation and needs better than I ever could, so if my suggestion isn't right for him then he can ignore it. No harm, no foul.



Jul 14, 2012 at 07:24 PM
EB-1
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


Does thunderbolt even support networking?

EBH



Jul 14, 2012 at 08:27 PM
Lars Johnsson
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


EB-1 wrote:
Does thunderbolt even support networking?

EBH


The new thunderbolt Drobo doesn't support it. But at least he have the option to choose a Drobo for networking or a thunderbolt. He also have the option to choose between all kinds of HHDs and mix them. And also SSDs. He can have dual-drive redundancy



Jul 14, 2012 at 08:37 PM
Cluttered Mind
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


Interesting. Why would I have assumed that there was a simple answer? If I had to rate things by importance, redundancy is first, followed by immediate accessibility within the home/office location, followed by remote access, followed by the speed of thunderbolt. I think what you guys have really managed to do is provide me with more opportunities to research and truly understand myself what it is I would like to do. In my head I imagine my storage units hidden away in a separate room away but accessible/files editable from any computers in the building.

I'm going to do a little delving...



Jul 15, 2012 at 04:18 AM
 

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15Bit
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


Cluttered Mind wrote:
Interesting. Why would I have assumed that there was a simple answer? If I had to rate things by importance, redundancy is first, followed by immediate accessibility within the home/office location, followed by remote access, followed by the speed of thunderbolt. I think what you guys have really managed to do is provide me with more opportunities to research and truly understand myself what it is I would like to do. In my head I imagine my storage units hidden away in a separate room away but accessible/files editable from any computers in the building.

I'm going to do a
...Show more

If you want to have it tucked away in a cupboard but accessible from everywhere, then you are looking at a network attached solution. On a gigabit switch that will be reasonably fast, but nowhere near as snappy as an e-sata or thunderbolt connected box.



Jul 15, 2012 at 06:38 AM
Cluttered Mind
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


Alright, I looked into those a little bit and think I'm coming along. We sold one model of Drobo when I worked at Best Buy and it sounded cool...but it was a low end model and I wasn't hooked. From an ease of use standpoint, sounds perfect. I'll go get one right now...

Rather, the accessibility of the QNAP sounds superior. I'm looking at a laptop, and to keep costs down I wouldn't be putting the largest SSD in it. The ability to upload to my NAS remotely would be wonderful. I guess the idea behind Thunderbolt was to be able to dump photos from my laptop when I returned from travels to clear the laptop off for the next adventure. While nice, it's not a priority.

I am coming to grips with how a separate Linux system would work. Would that offer the redundancy of RAID, accessibility of QNAP, or just be fun to buy another old computer to host a bunch of drives? While cool it seems a little too un-streamlined atm.

I'm assuming then that the NAS attaches straight to your router? No cables into any computer would be optimal, maybe the main workstation if speed would be a problem otherwise. Perhaps I should be in a different forum but I am really looking for opinions on working professionals in the photography field, not just a bunch of guys who know everything there is to know about networking. Thanks so much for your input so far, I really appreciate the many and varied opinions.



Jul 15, 2012 at 06:46 AM
15Bit
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


I can help with the Linux system. In essence it would just be another PC in your house, albeit one with maybe several hard disks in it. It doesn't need to be screamingly fast (an old P3 would probably be enough in processing terms), doesn't need a keyboard, mouse or screen, but you should give it a decent network card. You can have software based RAID, external accessibility via any protocol you like provided you can set up the service. If you want to do all this on a traditional distro it can be a bit of a hassle learning how to set it all up, but there are dedicated distributions which will make it much more pain free. Best known is probably FreeNAS, which is actually FreeBSD based but that makes little difference from the end user perspective. It has a web based interface and just works. It also has quite decent documentation and support.

Note on RAID. Software RAID is indistinguishable in performance from hardware RAID in a normal home/small office environment. There is no point buying a hardware RAID solution for this. Indeed, doing so can give you some trouble further down the line - if the hardware RAID card fails you usually need to buy another from the same manufacturer in order to read the data on your array. The same, i believe, is true for a Drobo - if the box fails you need to buy another to get your data back. With software raid you just need to install another computer with Linux/FreeBSD and you are good to go.



Jul 15, 2012 at 07:16 AM
Photo GeekMan
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


Cluttered Mind wrote:
Alright, I looked into those a little bit and think I'm coming along. We sold one model of Drobo when I worked at Best Buy and it sounded cool...but it was a low end model and I wasn't hooked. From an ease of use standpoint, sounds perfect. I'll go get one right now...

Rather, the accessibility of the QNAP sounds superior. I'm looking at a laptop, and to keep costs down I wouldn't be putting the largest SSD in it. The ability to upload to my NAS remotely would be wonderful. I guess the idea behind Thunderbolt was to be
...Show more

Drobo's are nice because they are simple and easy. However, the trade-off is speed and flexibility. They are a US based company with US based support and service.

A QNap NAS with the same amount of drives will cost you approximately the same amount of money (maybe more depending on the drives you buy) but be far more flexible and fast, with the trade-off being that it's a little bit more time consuming to configure. They are Taipei-based, but have an excellent support system via their website and vast community forum.

A Linux box running FreeNAS is inexpensive and super flexible. It's also as close to a "real" server as most individuals and SMBs will ever need. The trade-off however, is that even in it's simplest form it will take far more time and effort to set up than a standalone NAS box like a Drobo or QNap. Since this would be a "homemade" system YOU are the support provider, although there is a fairly large community willing to help you via forums on the web.

All of the above systems connect directly to your network via an ethernet (or dual ethernet) connection, no computer needed. It is also possible for all of them to be accessible remotely via FTP so you can upload and download files from anywhere. In essence, these are all viable solutions to your initial request. The differences come down to cost, your technical needs, your technical abilities and your comfort with their customer support.

Hope this is helpful.



Jul 15, 2012 at 01:45 PM
Alan321
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


Cluttered Mind, I don't think that Lr is well suited to working on a central photo library from several computers but double check that for yourself. If it is true then you may have to rethink your central storage strategy or the way you work with Lr.

As well as other options I suggest that you use Time Machine with a permanently set up hard drive, whether it be connected by wire or wi-fi. It adds a measure of back-up automation.

In addition you should consider periodic cloning of your data drive(s) and system drive to external drives that are normally off-line and/or off-site.

- Alan



Jul 20, 2012 at 10:20 AM
howardm4
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


No, LR isn't well suited to a centralized multi-computer architecture. The catalog *MUST* be on a local drive (per computer) so that would need to be managed. If you write to .xmp files which would be kept w/ the image file on the file server, then you almost assure overwriting of one xmp w/ the work of another user.

Dont get me wrong, I use a Qnap (409) w/ an iMac and I like it (not the fastest setup but that is the nature of NAS vs. local attached storage) but you should know the sweetspot for the tools you plan on using.



Jul 20, 2012 at 12:25 PM
15Bit
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


howardm4 wrote:
No, LR isn't well suited to a centralized multi-computer architecture. The catalog *MUST* be on a local drive (per computer) so that would need to be managed. If you write to .xmp files which would be kept w/ the image file on the file server, then you almost assure overwriting of one xmp w/ the work of another user.


That's not entirely true. For sure the LR catalogue should be run as a single user database, but you can run the catalogue from a network drive. It just needs to *think* it is on a local drive, and it is not so hard to fool it.



Jul 21, 2012 at 12:47 PM
SoundHound
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


In the new Drobo days I bought a Thecus because they had 5 instead of 4 bays. An extra bay has important capacity implications when one drive is given over to parity protection. Now that I have outgrown the 5 bay solution I recently bought a Synology. I was very impressed with their utility, flexibility and value.

Synology software is much improved from my older Thecus. The RAID builds much faster and it networks well (also a DNLA server). I have a lot of Photo and music files so I bought the 8 Bay and populated it with 6 two Gb drives. I can hot plug up to two more drives and the Synology will automatically rebuild no loss of data to adsorb/expand with thwe new drives. In addition the 8 bay can be daisy chained with even more drive bays.




Jul 21, 2012 at 01:35 PM
SoundHound
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


In the new Drobo days I bought a Thecus because they had 5 instead of 4 bays. An extra bay has important capacity implications when one drive is given over to parity protection. Now that I have outgrown the 5 bay solution I recently bought a Synology. I was very impressed with their utility, flexibility and value.

Synology software is much improved from my older Thecus. The RAID builds much faster and it networks well (also a DNLA server). I have a lot of Photo and music files so I bought the 8 Bay and populated it with 6 two Gb drives. I can hot plug up to two more drives and the Synology will automatically rebuild no loss of data to adsorb/expand with thwe new drives. In addition the 8 bay can be daisy chained with even more drive bays.




Jul 21, 2012 at 01:35 PM
howardm4
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p.1 #20 · p.1 #20 · Network/backup/RAID Solution needed


True enough but I'm not willing to compromise the integrity and possible corruption of the database by faking it like that.


15Bit wrote:
That's not entirely true. For sure the LR catalogue should be run as a single user database, but you can run the catalogue from a network drive. It just needs to *think* it is on a local drive, and it is not so hard to fool it.




Jul 21, 2012 at 06:23 PM
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