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Thread: Small firm, first NAS

  1. #1
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    Small firm, first NAS

    We are 5-6 employees, and it's hard to guess our growth rate. We only have 1-2TB of projects right now but are at the point where we all need to be working off of a NAS. I would like something that is good for up to 12TB or so and is value-oriented. We are not yet running on a domain server.

    I'm looking at either the Synology DS1019+ or DS1618+ with 4TB drives.

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks

  2. #2
    Member remiscs's Avatar
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    This is not my area of specialty but I do know my IT friend liked Qnap and Synology. I think his preference might be Qnap though. Good luck on your search

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    Moderator Robin Deurloo's Avatar
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    I have a Synology myself, but it is a single disk cheap and slow one (and one as backup off-site of course). Back when I bought it it was what I was willing to spend on 2 of them, as I just started my new business. With what I know now I would not go with that one again, as it is a bit slow but I am happy with Synology and the apps it can run on the NAS itself for backup for example.

    The ones you mention are about 4 times as fast as mine and have lots more RAM, so that will make them a lot faster, even with 6 people. I also know that Aaron uses a Synology NAS, but I think he even has an 8 disc one.

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    Forum Co-Founder Twiceroadsfool's Avatar
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    8 disc, 4 network plugs (with link aggregation on our Network switch), in RAID 6. Expanded the memory too.

    We have two (one in each office, syncing). They work great.

    Sent from my Pixel 3 XL using Tapatalk
    remiscs likes this.

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    Forum Co-Founder iru69's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by revitye View Post
    Any thoughts?
    We've been using Synology NAS for our small office (~10 people) for around 7 years now, and they make for a great file server.

    As far as Synology goes, the "Plus" series is right for you, just a matter of how many drive bays would be the best configuration for you. In determining that, I'd consider some of the following:

    The more drives involved, the more likely you'll be dealing with a HDD failure at some point. Fewer drives with larger storage capacities are desirable IMO. Does it make sense to invest in a NAS with more drive bays using smaller capacity HDD's or a NAS with fewer drive bays using larger capacity HDD's. You of course don't have to use all the drive bays, and you can of course upgrade to larger capacities in the future.

    4TB drives are kind of small these days... consider newer 8 - 12TB drives. If you're re-using HDD's, are they still relatively new? Never forget your whole day-to-day business is relying on this device. Even a day of downtime can be thousands of dollars for even a small office.

    How much storage do you really need over the next few years?... I would not be looking more than 5 years out. 12TB is a LOT of storage for such a small office.

    What's the backup plan? A secondary DS? There are a couple back-up to the cloud options for the Synology (the new Synology C2 is pretty slick) - I'd recommend having that, but you should have a "local" backup as well. The built-in "backup" apps are not flawless in that a couple times a year, we have some sort of issue with them when they stop working for whatever random reason - usually a system update or a restart will fix it... not really any different than any other "computer", just keep in mind that none of this stuff works flawlessly.

  6. #6
    Administrator Gordon Price's Avatar
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    If it was me, I would go for the DS1019+, for the reasons IRU69 mentions. Fewer bigger drives means fewer points of failure, and a lower cost. In addition, I would configure it as a 4 drive RAID-5 with a hot spare stored in the device. With, say 10TB HGST NAS drives, that's 30TB of storage with the ability to immediately (but not quickly) rebuild the array should a drive fail. This is important because with RAID-5 you lose data if more than one drive fails, so you need to rebuild the array with the spare as soon as possible.

    Alternatively, doing the DS1618+ as a RAID-10 array does provide more redundancy, but at the expense of less drive efficiency, since you are effectively mirroring a 3 drive RAID-5 array, so 6 10TB drives would only be 20TB of actual storage, and you need 7 drives for that less storage with a warm spare.

    That said, even 10TB of storage is a lot for a small firm, and I don't think you would be poorly served by getting a DS718+ with a pair of 10TB HGST NAS drives as RAID-1 (and a warm spare still in the box but on site). You could use that for a few years, see what your use and failure rate is like, then upgrade to a bigger device later and repurpose the 2 bay for lower priority stuff, like hosting your deployments.

    Also, as IRU69 says, backup is huge, and RAID is not backup. At a minimum you need an on-site backup of current projects and ideally of the entire NAS, plus offsite backup of all projects and important data. Differential backup (so you can restore specific files from a particular date and time) plus workstation backup is also worth looking into.

    The last piece of the puzzle is NAS environment. Too often I see people pay a lot for the device and drives, and then because it isn't rack mounted they don't think about operating environment and throw it somewhere full of heat and dust. Then again I have seen Architecture firms with rack mounted servers that aren't in a proper sealed and air conditioned server room. It doesn't take much, but I would at least have the NAS inside a cabinet with a dust seal at the door and some caulk at the other joints and a big case fan or two pulling fresh air in through a big dust filter in front, into the front of the NAS, and then out the back of the NAS and the back of the cabinet. And then make sure that cabinet is in a coolish, dust free location away from direct sun and regular traffic.

  7. #7
    Forum Co-Founder Twiceroadsfool's Avatar
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    So, i went in a different direction than both Iru and Gordon are suggesting (regarding number of drives and capacity). But some of it has to do with the RAID setup, too. EDIT: Let me add that what i mean is: They are probably 100% correct. I did what i did based on my limited understanding of the RAID setups, and the cost of the drives. But its still working fine.

    When i started our company, i got a 1517+ (8 bay), and had put 8 3TB drives in it, in RAID 10. So there was a 4 drive array, and a 4 drive array. Each array was only the size of 3 drives, so i had 9TB (simplified math).

    When we added a second office, the second one was a 1817+, or 1717+ (just different years. I dont remember what the second one was). But, WD wasnt making the WD Red Pro in 3TB anymore, so it was go to 2TB, or go to 4TB. We currently are not using anywhere near 9TB, so i went with the 2TB. The thing is, after talking to an IT and Data Storage person, they recommended moving away from RAID 10 to RAID 6. My knowledge of this is NOWHERE near Iru and Gordons, mind you, so im just telling this story to provide more information. They mentione that RAID 10 was great (in theory) but that if there was a mirroring error or a drive consistency error between the two halves of the NAS, the benefit of the RAID 0 portion of the RAID 10 wouldnt be that great, and that only having capabilities of a single drive failure isnt awesome, since (statistically) a second drive failure is close on the heels of a first drive failure, since rebuilding the drive REPLACEMENT for the failure, starts aggressively hitting all the other drives, where the parity stripes are.

    So, i ended up replacing ALL of the drives, with 2TB, and putting the units in RAID 6. We end up with slightly more storage than we originally had (simple version is approx 12TB, but its a little less).

    The only other thing ill offer up is that: WHEN a drive fails (and its when, it isnt if) the NAs will warn you. Thats when you pull out the bad drive, and put in a replacement drive. It then takes time, to rebuild those drives. And it isnt fast. We lost a drive a few months ago (a 2TB, mind you). And the NAS drive rebuilding process was almost 10 hours, on that one drive.

    Iru and Gordon are spot on, about everything they wrote, though. Backup plans are essential. We HAVE had a hardware failure here (NAS power supply popped). Synology was AMAZING, as they mailed me a new unit under warranty, and i had it two days later. But if you cant afford to be out of work for two days, consider not ONLY what your backup strategy is, but also what your data RESTORE strategy is, FROM your backup.

    Because i am an alarmist, we have many redundant and duplicated backup strategies.

    NAS1 and NAS2 sync in real time, office to office. (Cloud Station Server / Share Sync) Thats more for speed of access, not for backup. But it means they are both backed up).
    NAS1 > Local USB Backup Drive nightly (Hyper Backup)
    NAS1 > Cloud Backup in realtime (we use Crash Plan Pro for this)
    NAS2 > Local USB Backup Drive nightly (Hyper Backup)
    NAS2 > Cloud Backup in realtime (we use Crash Plan Pro for this)

    We also have scheduled disk checks on a rotating basis, so 1-2 drives get checked every night. And each NAS is on a UPS, of course.

  8. #8
    Member FBlome's Avatar
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    RE Synology & mainly backup - My outfit is a bit smaller but the needs are the same, and we use a two drive DS218+. Here's what I've learned:
    • Drives will fail of course - one drive in the raid died a couple of weeks ago. The DS let me know, and the swap took a couple of minutes. More drives in the box would create different options for this.
    • "Cloud Sync" app - as in OneDrive, DropBox, etc. This is NOT backup. I use OneDrive, and this gives me out of the office access to everything. But, Revit central files do not cooperate with Cloud Sync protocols and I gave up trying to fix/hack it. Those are excluded in the DS sync, Instead, I have a desktop that handles NAS Revit files to OneDrive syncing and all is cool.
    • "Hyper Backup" is the backup app
      • For local, we send to an attached USB drive
      • Cloud backup can go to many places. We use Wasabi. Synology C2 wasn't available at the time in the US, but I'd look into it.

    • There are multiple other safety options including mirror to another NAS, ongoing snapshots, etc
    • I have PCs backing up to the NAS. This can burn up drive space particularly if they are bare metal backups. You need to consider this in determining drive capacity. Synology has an app for this too.

  9. #9
    Administrator Gordon Price's Avatar
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    Hee hee. Old dog, new tricks. RAID-6 is new since I was an IT Manager (yes, it's been a LONG time). So, I just did a little learnin'. Basically RAID 10 is a mirrored RAID-5. RAID-6 doubles the parity data, so you end up with a total of N-2 array size, rather than the N-1 of RAID-5, but worlds better than the (N/2)-1 of RAID-10. There is a write performance hit due to the doubled parity data, but it's not bad, and makes the array safer. I still like the idea of having at least one warm spare, so with a two drive failure you can at least get one replaced and rebuilt while the second one is in shipment. If you have a single drive fail in RAID-5, or two fail in RAID-6, and both replacements are in the mail when another drive fails, you lose data. That's what I try to avoid, being in a data loss condition if another drive fails, and replacements are in the mail.

    As for the backups Aaron does, it's basically what I would do for a small office with two locations (which is basically what he has, just two locations of 1 person each). Local backup plus offsite is a minimum viable disaster recover solution. just one or the other has potential pitfalls that aren't worth the risk. Says the guy who didn't have a local full backup of his NAS for about 8 months. And got burned (slightly) by that mistake recently.

  10. #10
    Member FBlome's Avatar
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    My NAS is in a home closet along with two PCs, Sonos, Timemachine, Eero. An amazing amount of dust gets sucked in.
    Dave Jones likes this.

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