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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 2:00 am 
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Time Machine via WHS v1 has become too brittle for me, so I ordered a Synology DS411 tonight. I have been struggling with "network" errors (as reported by the HP driver) when trying to create or resize TM disks via the HP driver over the past 6+ months, and I have not even upgraded my machines to Lion yet. A viable backup solution can't be this brittle and since HP ceased supporting WHS and it breaks regularly, it's clearly time for me to move on.

I checked out WHSv2 when it was in beta and TM was not directly supported. It was possible to make it work, but configuring it was kind of ugly and the feature is not supported by Microsoft. That level of support may be ok for a hobbyist, but I need more than that. That knocked WHSv2 out of consideration for me.

I was torn between a QNAP TS-419PII and the Synology unit. Synology's software seems to be a bit better than QNAPs, and the Atom CPU in the Synology is more powerful than the Marvell CPU in the QNAP device. Amazon is selling the DS411 for $440 (versus $550 for the QNAP), which is a good price. MacConnection has the WD20EARX at $105 (hello Thailand flooding), so I ordered a couple of those. I will be moving 2 WD20EARS drives from my EX490 into the Synology unit for a total of 8TB. I imagine I will configure the resulting volume using Synology's Hybrid RAID option instead of RAID 5 as that will give me some growth options down the road should I need those options.

I will report back with a review on the DS411 once I've got it up and running. It and the drives will be delivered sometime next week.

FWIW my EX490 will eventually be available if anyone is interested in buying one. It has been upgraded to a 2.8GHz Pentium dual core CPU, and I have the box, manuals, disks and the original Celeron CPU. I will probably sell it with a pair of WD 1.5TB green drives installed and will wipe the drives and do a factory restore prior to selling it. Everything is in like new condition.

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Synology DS411: 2 * WD20EARX and 2 * WD20EARS
DIY Small Business Server 2011
MP 8-core 2.26GHz, 2012 MBA13 i7/8GB/256GB, AppleTVs, iPhone


Last edited by Cliff on Sat Nov 05, 2011 5:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 3:58 pm 
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I can understand your position, and I do look forward to hearing how the Synology works out for you. :mss:

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 6:53 pm 
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Thanks Alex.

You probably know that HP's support for Time Machine along with the way DE and folder duplication works with very large files has left me less than satisfied nearly the whole time I have had this device. I haven't been able to create a TM disk for my Mac Pro in nearly 6 months - the HP driver repeatedly fails during creation no matter how I approach it (create a 1 GB disk and gradually try to resize it up to a useful size, for example). Now the same thing is happening with my MacBook Pro. I have reached the limit of my patience and I give up.

I thought about buying a Time Capsule as a companion to the MSS, but its lack of hardware redundancy is not so appealing, the price is high for what it is, and I already have two Apple WAPs.

It will be interesting to see how the Synology unit compares to the MSS. I'll have a lot more disk space to play with, that's for sure (n disks - 1 versus n disks / 2 after redundancy features are enabled). And I am hoping I'll have enough room to completely and successfully back up my Mac Pro in its entirety via TIM for the first time.

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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2011 10:07 pm 
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Yeah, the Mac support is certainly not the strongest suit of WHS. It works well in my household where the only Mac we backup is my wife's Macbook using a 300GB backup file on the server. I'm not looking forward to it breaking when she upgrades to Lion.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:03 am 
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I got fed up with WHS v1 when an update broke TM too.

I've been running WHS 2011 for a number of months and while it was not trivial, setting up a TM on it to backup my MacBook Pro was relatively easy and appears to be working fine. I also use other backup software to do more 'traditional' backups to the WHS and that works well too. I have no plans to downgrade to Lion on either of my Macs.

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 11:43 am 
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I tested the feature when Vail was in beta - you can find a thread from me on the topic in that forum. I prefer not to rely on undocumented features for backups. Too risky for me.

edit: viewtopic.php?f=27&t=9265 - from a year ago.

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PostPosted: Sat Nov 05, 2011 5:57 pm 
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I am not going to attempt to write a structured review of the DS411 as plenty of those already exist on the Net. I am just going to share some semi-random thoughts on the features that are important to me.

Bringing the DS411 online seems to be a fairly slow process. But I figured moving the data from the EX490 to the new server would be slow, so no surprises there.

The 2 new drives I ordered for the device arrived Thursday. I installed them along with the 2 drives I repurposed from my EX490. That went easily enough. Unlike the Ex490 I did not need to boot into Windows to configure the device but instead could do it directly from my Mac with the use of an OS X setup utility. I downloaded the latest version of DSM (Disk Station Manager) from the Synology web site and installed that on the DS411. Once DSM was installed the server restarted and a browser-based interface is used to manage the device. So once DSM is installed on the NAS there is no need to run any specific software on the client to access or manage the NAS. DSM is discussed in detail on sites like wegotserved.com so I won't try to duplicate their work.

I started the browser interface and all the drives were there waiting. I chose the advanced volume creation option which apparently precluded me from selecting SHR (Synology Hybrid Raid) as the RAID option. Since I installed 4 2TB disks and those should give me ample room for growth, opting for RAID 5 is fine for my needs. The volume was created overnight and was available early the next morning with a capacity of 5.46TB

Time Machine support on my EX490 had gradually died with each successive dot release of OS X and I haven't been able to use it to back up my 2 Macs in months. It was this failing that was the primary impetus in my going with the Synology device. So configuring Time Machine was my first priority. Thankfully it was extremely easy to set this up. You have to create a shared folder, then go into the Win/Mac/NFS control panel applet and specify the share on the Mac File Service pane as a Time Machine share. I was concerned about limiting the space consumed by each backup file as Time Machine will consume all available disk space if you let it. Well, that problem couldn't be easier to solve. I created a user account in DSM for each machine that would be backed up via Time Machine and specified a space quota for that account. On the Time Machine control panel on my Mac, I just specified the appropriate account in the Connect As dialog that opened when I first configured the target disk for that machine. Easy peasy nice and easy.

Both machines have successfully completed their initial backups at this point. For the first time ever I am not forced to exclude files in order to meet space limitations imposed by either the WHS software or failures of the HP driver software. Yay! I will still maintain bootable clones of each machine, but I am relieved to have comprehensive and reliable Time Machine backups in place for each machine now. Time Machine is a big win for the DS411 so far.

As indicated in my signature I am running a Windows Small Business Server, so Active Directory integration has value for me. This is something that is not supported by WHS, but Synology does support it. As I created shares on the DS411 I could specify privileges for individual AD accounts or groups (User folders, for example, or granting access to the iTunes share to the iTunes-connection service account).

I checked online to see if my el cheapo APC BE550G UPS was supported by DSM, and I ran across a glowing user review indicating that it does indeed. The DS411 indicated the make and model of the UPS on the Power control panel applet once it was connected to the UPS via the USB cable. Configuring it was simple, and I will test it once I am done loading data onto the NAS.

The eSATA port on the device appears to exist solely to support backups. I have complete backups of my EX490 on NTFS disks, but I was unable to mount them to copy their contents into the DS411. That was a disappointment. I mounted the EX490 shares on the DS411 as remote shares and I am copying them to the DS411 that way. Things should speed up now that I don't have terabyte-sized Time Machine backups going on, but it's still slow compared to eSATA. Oh well. That's a relatively minor disappointment though.

All in all, I am happy with this NAS so far. I will freshen this review once the unit is fully in use and has assumed all responsibilities currently held by the EX490.

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DIY Small Business Server 2011
MP 8-core 2.26GHz, 2012 MBA13 i7/8GB/256GB, AppleTVs, iPhone


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yakuza
PostPosted: Thu Nov 10, 2011 8:06 am 
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Well, I have my data all loaded on the new server now and I am running folder compares to make sure it all transferred correctly. I pointed my Win7 VM running iTunes to the iTunes share on the new server and that's all working now.

I was wrong about Synology's support for external drives, or at least their manual indicates support for reading and writing to NTFS formatted drives connected via either USB or eSATA. My Thermaltake drive dock has exhibited some flakiness with the MSS box during the time I have owned it and occasionally lost its connection during backups. Maybe the Synology box is even less tolerant. I have a reliable FW800/eSATA/USB enclosure that I will use to test this.

It looks like I get to run a power test this weekend. PG&E sent a letter out indicating they'd be replacing a transformer in the area next week. I will be in Los Angeles on business, so I had better make sure my servers can manage in my absence. Hopefully this Synology unit will restart itself after a shutdown, unlike the WHS. I haven't run a power test since I virtualized my Small Business Server either. Since I am dependent on it for email, I sure hope I've got the underlying Hyper-V host configured right. We'll find out...

It's nice having all this capacity in a fault-tolerant configuration.


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GGHTPC
PostPosted: Sun Nov 13, 2011 5:35 pm 
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I ran my power test today by cutting power to my servers from the breaker panel in the garage. Both the physical Hyper-V host and the Synology unit powered down then resumed once power was restored. The Small Business Server, SQL Server, and Win 7 (iTunes client) VMs all resumed operation cleanly after the event. I configured the Synology device to notify me via email on system events. Configuring the Server 2008R2 Hyper-V host to do likewise is not as intuitive, but I'll check it out.

I installed Synology's Data Replicator on one of my Windows VMs to test backing up the WIn 7 machine to the NAS. I am testing a backup now.

The iTunes server built into DSM only acts as a shared library for Windows and Mac iTunes clients and my gen 2 Apple TV didn't see it. I guess I'll keep running that Win 7 Hyper-V guest a while longer.

My folder compares all completed appropriately. I ran a secure erase on the disks I'll be including when I sell the Ex490 and I did a factory restore on the server. Now I just need to take some photos (I am a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to auction photos) and create a listing for it on Ebay.


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Synology DS411: 2 * WD20EARX and 2 * WD20EARS
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yakuza
PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 8:55 am 
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A brief update as I backed up the NAS over the weekend. It turns out the problems with my dock were due to a faulty eSATA cable. I tried it with a different cable and everything worked fine. It is interesting that WHS tolerated the problems while DSM did not.

The only formats recognized for external disks are ext3, ext4 and FAT32. I chose ext3 for the backup disk format as I think I should be able to find a way to mount this file system under one of the OS's I have access to. FAT32 has limitations on file sizes and file names that render it useless for this application.

Backup is done at the share/folder level and I was able to configure two jobs to get most of my data off the server and onto an external drive. I excluded the time machine and Windows backups as I am presently limited to two 1.5TB drives. I don't want to buy any new drives until prices come down. The backup went smoothly. DSM's backup manager verifies adequate space exists prior to performing the backup, unlike robocopy which will just fail with an error towards the end of the job. I never did use the WHS built-in server backup facility as it was too limited.


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Synology DS411: 2 * WD20EARX and 2 * WD20EARS
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 20, 2011 10:02 am 
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Very interesting to hear that the eSATA issues were caused by a cable, we were just having a similar discussion here at the office and I mentioned some users have had issues with cables.

A note: Robocopy has flags to enable retries and wait periods between retries that make it more robust, it's usage/help output should document those flags should you need them in the future.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2012 10:52 pm 
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Sorry all to dredge up an older thread.

Cliff I think you made up my mind. My recent aquisition of a MacBook Pro, has left my experience with my EX470, with even more of a bad taste in my mouth. I'm a tinkerer. Plain and simple. Web development, and all things tech, keep me going. At one time the WHS gave me hope. I made the leap, and purchased an HP EX470. It was a love hate relationship at first. It kept me 'working' at it. After networking issues, and a learning curve, I was running fairly solid. I've recovered a couple of computers, streamed many media files, hosted a test site, and even survived a critical server failure. (almost forgot the ram upgrade). All in all, I've been running solid for a few years now. This site has kept my WHS experience alive. That was until recently...

I am a dev. I've fought off the temptation for too long... The first computer keyboard I laid my little fingers on was an Apple. I was hooked. Years later the SE2, then... along came the IBM 24 mhz DOS based dual disk green machine that made it's way beneath my grubby little hands. It was back and forth for some time (I think until the Pentium age). Since that time, it was Win based PC's for me. I have felt for some time that I was a Mac person in a PC world. That was until I went back to school. That was where my mind was 'blown'. I started to learn what computer languages were about, and my direction was yet again diverted. I got into web development.

So, to make a log story, er um even longer. I now own too much equipment, and am looking to simplify. I've began my research, and although it didn't take that long. I think I came to a solution. Synology seems to have an answer for me. I could explain all the equipment, at one point. But about a year ago, I realized, I didn't NEED it. I think it's time to have just one machine...

Although I am open to opinions on what I'd like to run. I don't want to hijack this thread.

Oh, and before I forget. THANK YOU yakuza for such a great resource. :mss:

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