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The company I work for are looking at setting up a NAS like system. What we require is:

  • Plenty of storage (4TB+)
  • RAID redundancy (minimal 1 mirrored pair)
  • Expandability to add more hard drives if needed

Optionally it will be able to run a source control server (Git/SVN) and a web server/database

On the server we will be reading/writing large project file (Photoshop design files 500MB+ and the like) regularly, to about 10-20 clients.

It will need to be accessible by Windows, Linux and OS X. We require files to be locked down based on user permissions.

We are looking at purchasing 2 identical systems, one as a complete offset backup which is communicated to with a short point to point wireless network.

We have looked at 2 possible options:

  • A dedicated NAS box which costs about $5,000 each NZD (4k USD, 2.7K Euro)
  • Build a custom Linux box sourcing parts directly ($1.5k - $3.5K NZD) each

What would you recommended?

  • Hardware?
  • Software?
  • OS?
  • Buy prebuilt or make our own?
  • RAID?
  • SATA?
  • Minimum specs?
  • Anything Im missing?

(To re-iterate, the most important things is OS X compatibility, plenty of storage, cost effective)

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5 Answers 5

Too broad question.

I won't speculate on minimal specs, but if you are going to serve large files to two dozen customers, then SATA+RAID5/6 seems like the way to go performance-wise.

NAS vs custom built Linux box. Two factors here: 1) Availability of admins experienced with Linux whom you trust enough to believe if they say "Yes, we can do this". 2) HW support of the parts you order. Still, if you decide to build your own system, then you may be able to have 3 boxes for the price of 1 NAS system (according to your own calculations), so you could have 2 in production and one idle, ready to be cannibalized in case of any failure.

NAS boxes give you: External support -- somebody else to blame if things go pear-shaped ;). Usually more user-friendly interface (click here to setup your box) and, usually, ability to replace failed disk by a trained monkey. They also have a limited feature set, which you cannot realistically expect to be changed on your request.

Custom-made Linux system will be much more flexible, give more bang per buck, no artificial limits of feature lists and ease of expansion (throw more HDDs into it). OTOH they will require somebody, who knows what he is doing, to handle them. Also, if your main board/disk controller dies terribly, you can just move the HDDs into any Linux box and have your data available. This may not be the case with a NAS box if it uses a HW RAID solution.

As far as OS-X support goes I think you should be happy with NFS, but last time I was configuring a file server for Macs it was XXth century outside and the boxes talked AppleTalk.

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+1 on making sure your admins are capable of supporting what you buy. Every new device/OS requires training and is one more thing to support. Beteer often to buy a second of what they already know to make them more efficient –  uSlackr Apr 29 '11 at 10:57

In my openion QNAP SAN is a better option.

You can add drives to it when needed. There is a choice to add different levels of RAID on these disks and hence the resultant drives can be partitioned and mounted to your local machine using ISCSI and they appear like local drives. also there is a good grapical interface for managing this entire things.

Once this is configured well it will can be used as a good storage media. I suggested this as I am successfully using it.... its not an add. :)

You can search and compare the other tools too.

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Yeah, nowadays I would go QNAP or Synology way. Have experiences with both and there is really not a big difference between them, because they are copying successful features. I would recommend to buy Synology RS411 and the additional 4bay box in case of need.

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Qnap did great in my office (And also brings an easy share and user management and spicy add ons like bittorrent and similar tools).

If you plan to fight with linux (you get easier ways to get more space putting more disks in it) I've realized a cheap solution for my house backup following this very well done tutorial: http://community.spiceworks.com/how_to/show/1110

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I'm using a QNAP box (mounted RAID5) which is a good solution for us, but take care about the OS and microP. Native OS is a simple BusyBox but there are existing Qnap variants, accepting Debian, which is .. significantly more user friendly and flexible.

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