There are two main computers that would be served by this NAS – my desktop, and my wife’s laptop. What I’m imagining is creating a folder on the NAS for each of us, within which I would create folders for Documents, Videos, Music, and Photos. These folders would be mirrored (possibly using Synctoys or something similar?) so that a copy is stored locally on the computer’s HDD, and is effectively “backed up” on the NAS. The NAS would also have a Shared folder, with sub folders for documents, videos, music, and photos, which would be linked to the relevant libraries on each computer (linked, meaning they are streamed over the network rather than stored locally on the computer’s HDD). This would allow for each computer to have “personal” files which are portable (in the case of the laptop) and access to the shared files while on the network. There are a couple of reasons for this approach:
- It allows for a measure of “backup” so that in the event of a computer failing, the core data is not lost.
- It makes transition to new hardware simpler – the core data is not solely located on the device being replaced, so it can be migrated to a new device relatively simply.
- It ensures shared files are stored centrally, rather than duplicated over different devices.
- Video files stored on the NAS should “stream” to the TV without stuttering (because both the TV and the NAS would be wired to the router).
I’m also thinking that if I have a 2-bay NAS, and all the files are stored on a single 2TB HDD, I could use a second HDD to create a mirrored copy of the first HDD, and then store that second HDD off-site as a secure backup of all the data. This would create essentially 2 levels of backup for personal files (from the computer to the NAS, and from the NAS to the second HDD), and 1 level of backup for the shared files (from the NAS to the second HDD).
My questions are:
- What NAS device do you recommend? My budget (including drives) is about $600, so I’ve been looking at the Netgear ReadyNAS duo ($239) plus 2x2TB WD Red drives. As far as I can tell, this NAS allows for RAID 1 and something called X-RAID, which I think means I can hot-plug a second drive and it will mirror the first. This sounds ideal for what I’m planning – have I understood this right? The NAS will also be in the lounge, so how quiet is the Netgear NAS?
- Will Synctoys allow me to synchronise the user folders from the NAS to the user folders on the computer, and can it be setup to do this at a set time (or when Windows starts) each day? Is this a good way to go?
- Are there any significant limitations to what I’ve proposed? The main one I’ve identified is that by mirroring (from User Folders to the NAS, and then mirroring the drives within the NAS), it means that accidentally deleted files can’t easily be recovered. Also, the Netgear ReadyNAS seems to have a drive capacity ceiling of 6TB (which I think is 2x3TB drives). Can you think of any other limitations?