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I'm researching purchasing a NAS drive but I have some questions about whether it will fulfil my requirements.

I have a very Apple-centric household with an iMac, air, iPad and a couple of iPhones! The primary reason for the NAS drive would be to use time machine to backup the iMac and the MacBook air. I'm considering buying the Synology DS212J 2 enclosure with two Seagate 2tb 3.5 sata drives.

Question 1: can I backup two machines to the same drive?

Question 2: Although the Synology says it is compatible with time machine this doesn't always tell the full story. Will it work as I need it to?

Question 3: If I use the drive mainly for backup will I or should I use the other features like hosting iTunes, photos etc.

Question 4: I use a home plug setup to extend my Internet connection down to a garden office. How will the drive fit in with this? Does it matter where in the setup I put it?

Thanks v much for any advice.

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

I have a Synology 411J and my only complaint is that it is slow, even over ethernet cable.

If I could do it again I would have gotten a faster model, the "J" models have (i believe) all the features but the transfer speeds are much lower than the more expensive ones. This makes sense when you look at the hardware specs for the different models of course.

Apart from the slowness, I am very impressed with it. It has tons of features, and you can even log on to it via SSH (it runs linux). The web-based OS is beyond my wildest expectations.

Question 1: Yes, we are doing it in our household for the past 4-5 months. (2 Macs).

Question 2: Time machine works fine, running regularly every hour whenever our machines are online with no complaints or hiccups. The only issue I have had is with permissions after having reinstalled my macbook but I don't think this was related to the synology itself.

Question 3: I use mine as a DLNA-server and my Sony Blu-Ray-player is able to connect to it and stream without problems. I haven't tried any of the "share over the intenet" or torrent-related features.

Question 4: We use a wifi range extender and clients can connect to the synology via the extender without problems. I do have the synology connected via cable directly to the router though, so I can't comment on other setups.

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Thanks @Console, that's really helpful. I'm assuming the drive isn't so slow as to be unusable, especially if you're streaming video. Was the time machine fairly easy to set up? – musoNic80 Jul 5 '12 at 16:11
No it's usable for sure but I used to have an old tower pc as my NAS and it was 3-4x times faster than the synology. I found setup to be really easy, if I recall correctly it appears in the list of time machine targets on your mac when you enable the feature. – Console Jul 5 '12 at 23:25
Question: How did you have to set up your volumes? Did you have to format them with Disk Utility as a Mac journaled format, or nfs, or NTFS? – Jay Imerman Aug 8 '12 at 18:10
@Jay - If I remember correctly I just had to enable apple file sharing and time machine support on the Synology. You select a location for the backup files of course but from the actual mac I just had to select the synology as a target for time machine. I think time machine makes a mac-formatted volume file on the share, but it does so automatically behind the scenes. It was so easy I have forgotten the details in any case, so no jumping through hoops was required. :) – Console Aug 9 '12 at 13:42

I was looking at NAS as an option for both backup and media streaming, among others. I have 3 Macbook Pros, 2 iMacs to back up. The iPhones, iPad and iPod we back up by synching with a Macbook Pro and iTunes.

However, what I ended up doing instead works I think much better. I purchased OS X Server software from Apple App Store for $50, bought a used iMac (got a really good deal on it), and repurposed a couple of 1TB drives. By the way, OS X Server is absolutely the best - and I have been working with Windows and Unix/Linux servers for decades. It was so easy to set up a disk for Time Machine, it took about 30 seconds. What took longer was setting up a RAID array.

To do this, I had to partition the disks using UUID partitioning. Then, in the Mac Disk Utility, there is a RAID tab, you simply create a RAID array, drag the 2 partitions from the 2 drives (external USB drives), and voila, you have a RAID 1 mirror. I formatted that as OS X Journaled file system, and configured it on the Server app under Time Machine as the backup drive.

One note: make sure to set up Directory Services first, before creating user accounts. This will ensure that new user accounts are network accounts, and not local to the server. You are guided to this on the bottom of the Server window under Next Tasks.

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