Still Building my Server and Backup Solution - Backup Solutions?

Thanks for all the feedback to my previous questions on setting up a new server to replace an ageing Mac Pro Server (Mac Pro Server (Mid 2012)) with a backup solution.

To recap, I was looking to run the following key services:

Plex server (~8TB)
Time Machine server for two MBPs (~4TB)
Storage for photos (~2TB)
Web server

This is the solution I went for and I welcome comments on the setup, my two questions are right at the end!

Mac Mini M2 Pro, 32GB, 512GB - arriving today!
OWC Thunderbay - 4 x 12TB drives, will configure to RAID 10

I plan to have 3 main folders on the Thunderbay (Plex files, Time Machine backups and photos).

I have also just set up a Synology DS1522+ with 5 x 12TB drives configured to RAID 10 (one Hot Spare). I have also set up a Time Machine folder here and our MBPs are already using the Synology for Time Machine backups and so far so good! I will also likely use the Synology for other services once I have figured out what the Synology can do (only been using for a few days but am impressed!).

I am also considering an offsite backup solution once the above is setup.

Question 1?
I would like to backup the files in the Plex Folder and Photos folder on the OWC drive to the Synology NAS and looking for the best solution? Will the Synology Drive Server (Synology Drive Client) or Active backup for Business do this for me or is there another solution I should consider? I don’t want copies of files I have deleted, just a mirror of what is in the folders on the OWC drive.

Question 2?
I have not used online backup services before and am debating whether needed (is 3-2-1 backup strategy over the top?). The NAS server is in a different part of the house, though I know I am vulnerable if the house is burnt down or if my equipment was stolen.

If I did go for online backup, my plan was to just back up the Plex Folder and Photos folder as all our MBP files are stored in the Cloud, is this sensible, or should I also backup our Time Machine backups?

Final part of this question, if I do go for online backups what solution is recommended (based in the UK)?

Thanks in advance.

Tony

Don’t know much about the Synology app…but if it were me I would use CarbonCopyCloner to copy to the NAS and use the Remote Mac option as it basically connects via SSH and clones over.

Assuming BackBlaze is available in the UK…I would go with them. 3-2-1 isn’t really overkill and it is less than $100 a year so pretty cheap.

I’ve also found that Time Machine to a remote destination is…problematic
At best and frequently fails and then in-fails for random reasons…to the extent that I gave up on it. Instead…set up CCC jobs with the Remote Mac option for the destination, enable SafetyNet so you get the versioning and set for hourly or whatever you’re comfortable with for that. Then…on the MBPs…plug in an external drive temporarily and enable TM…then disconnect the drive to be never connected again, but with TM enabled and the destination not available the MBPs will do local TM backup snapshots for less catastrophic restore needs. I plug in my TM drive every couple months and let it go…and have a pair of Samsung T7s setup for auto clone without SafetyNet when plugged in and eject when done so I have an easier to restore option should it be necessary.

I don’t send my TM like CCC backups to BackBlaze…there’s no real data that’s only on the MBPs thanks to a shared 2TB DropBox account…and it gets really big with the versioning. I am going to add another TM like CCC job to each laptop without SafetyNet and have it run weekly to the RAID that gets BackBlazed just in case…BB has no size limit but doing all the versions of the SafetyNet jobs would use an awful lot of bandwidth.

3 Likes

I’ve been very happy with Arq Premium. They don’t have a server in the UK, but they have one in the Netherlands you can choose when setting up (which I use and has worked well for me).

You can also buy the Arq software and separately pay for cloud storage with a range of services if you need UK-based cloud storage.

https://www.arqbackup.com/pricing/

2 Likes

I like to second @jzw recommendation. I have bought and used Arq software since 2017 to back up to NAS and Google Coldline Storage from 4 different macs. I use EUROPE-NORTH1 Finland. You can use EUROPE-WEST2 London. I backup a lot of different things to NAS. To Google I only backup music and photos. I have had no problems with Arq at all. I am used to enterprise class backup solutions though. Maybe Arq can be a bit advanced to set up for some… Have a look at the manual https://www.arqbackup.com/documentation/arq7/English.lproj/ If you choose to use Arq I can recommend tuning max threads and CPU usage.

2 Likes

I also have long used Arq, and also use it as a Time Machine replacement for local backups on my MBA, which rarely has an external drive attached.

For offsite photos and music/video media, I backup to AWS glacier storage, which is inexpensive but takes longer to restore (it takes hours before Amazon makes the backup ready for restoration.) Really for me that’s perfect for this sort of backup - it’s really disaster recovery for me if I am restoring any of that content. Any documents that I backup go to Backblaze B2 storage.

1 Like

Arq vs. Backblaze?

Arq pricing is much higher because AFAICS, they charge ~$70/TB after the first TB, whereas Backblaze charge the same fee for infinite TBs provided it’s DAS (and not NAS) storage.

1 Like

It sounds like you have plenty of options but I agree you need offsite.

I have a MacMini server here with Thunderbays and I have additional Thunderbays attached to our backup server at work. They have their offsite backups here at my place so we get mutual benefit. They’re CCC cloned each night (both ways).

I’d be looking for a friend with a good internet connections who’s willing to host your Synology. We have a Synology cluster here but I’ve not used their backup software so can’t make a recommendation. The cluster works great though.

My MBP is cloned every week (two different drives with safety net on) and the Documents and Desktop are in iCloud. I store my Capture One Sessions in my Docs folder so I get the originals stored as well as the jpegs I put into Photos. I have Apple One Premier so have 2TB. I don’t use TM, I have little faith in it.

I’m not quite sure what to do when I start to run out of space - the Thunderbays are Thunderbolt 2 cases and they’re getting old. A Synology or Qnap (which I think you can direct attach if required) might be an option.

1 Like

Of course I don’t know anything about your needs, just an impression of your wants. It seems as though you want to have a relatively bullet-proof backup strategy for a lot of data. I can make 2 suggestions which might help.

  1. Regular, perhaps frequent bootable clones to a fast external SSD. I use SuperDuper!, but I think CCC can do this as well. Actually making the clones bootable is sometimes a bit tricky, but can be done. I’ve done it, and it seems to boot as fast as my M2 MBAir.

  2. Drobo: I don’t have one nor do I know much about them, but a friend who does loves his. I see they have several models, some (all?) of which can also do off-site, too. I believe they’re almost infinitely expandable.

1 Like

Care to elaborate on that? I haven’t done, and with Arq set to back up every hour, it seems to be running most of the time. Would tuning those parameters allow it to finish more quickly?

2 Likes

I seem to recall reading Drobo had gone bust (but I could be wrong).

Edit to say I just googled around. They went into Chapter 11 in June and have dropped MacOS support;

1 Like

There are several years since I did some testing, but as far as I remember it helped a lot to tune those settings. Looking at my MacPro now I have 7 threads and approximately slider in midway position. Number of threads depends on how fast your network is I think and CPU on how much CPU you need for working at the same time as the backup.

1 Like

Not directly answering your questions, but throwing another option out there.

I have a Synology DS1819+ (older version of the current 1821+) and I’ve been running it for a few years now. Replaced a very very old Drobo 8-bay (still works if anyone wants it or an 4-bay), and I’ve been extremely happy with it. Responsive service, security updates, and overall fairly easy to manage.

I’m not sure from your post if you plan to run Plex on the Mac mini, but that’s serious overkill hardware for Plex. You can actually install Plex directly on the Synology, there’s a package offered from Synology if you want, but it tends not to be the newest. I’m not sure if the DS1522+ has hardware video encoder, but from the model number I’d guess yes. So even if Plex was transcoding something for viewer on a phone or something, it wouldn’t be a burden. My Synolgy is generally under 15% cpu with 5-6 services running on it.

The Synology is basically a linux server with a lot of storage. And obviously very redundant. It’s capable of running just about anything you want, and there’s a really strong community around it.

On mine, I am running Plex on it directly (Plex has a package for Synology on their download page), but I also have Docker running for a bunch of other apps that are run in Docker containers. So no command line installs or config changes.

There’s a fairly popular guide on Reddit that goes through installing various common media services step by step; googling will find lots more.

Depending on your network setup, you can have the Synology available to the world through a DDNS service provided by Synology, or even a firewall/gateway given its multiple Ethernet ports.

Re Question 1: I would just use CCC if backing up directly from the Mac. The Synology solutions are probably overkill.

Re Question 2: I haven’t used any online backup services other than iCloud. I do back up my media files to an external hd and used to store that at a relatives house, but don’t bother any more. I actually have a second 2-bay Synology from my mom’s house, and I’ve been thinking of putting two 16TB drives in it (seems to be the current sweet spot for value) and putting it at a friends house to use Synology’s NAS clone tool. It’s supposed to be smart about incremental updates etc, but havne’t actually tested it yet.

1 Like

Yes, I will be running Plex on the Mac Mini. I did think about using the Synology but from the Plex web site I understood there were transcoding limitations with NAS severs… Irrespective, the Mac Mini is replacing a Mac Pro Server (2012) and will be put to good use.

Thanks for the response to my questions, CCC will do the job. I did some research on the Synology Drive Client and it provides a very easy solution and is included as part of the Synology package. It seems very easy to use and if there are any issues plan B is CCC.

Am holding off before using my Mac Mini in anger given the file sharing issues with Ventura 13.2. Hopefully resolved soon…

Also just retiring a 4-bay (and very old) Drobo :blush:

Just to follow up on this, I changed my settings as you described having yours, and my Arq backups are now running in the 10-15 minute range, compared to the 30-45 minute range before. Thanks again for the tip!

2 Likes

Thanks for confirming. Glad I could help. Which model mac are you backing up?

1 Like

Mine is a MBP M1 Pro. I should have also added I don’t see the CPU(s) being taxed with the new settings either. I do have decent (100mbps) upload speed, which I’m sure helps as well.

1 Like

^This. Plex’s transcoding limitations on almost all NAS’s are well known and documented. Hence the reason to not use them for such tasks, especially on 4K (and potentially 8K content when it becomes a thing).

AFAIUI, instead serious Plex users instead use NAS (or DAS) to store the files, but connect them to computers to do the actual transcoding tasks. PC’s like NUC’s use Intel ‘Quick Sync Video’ which Plex works well with for this; it would be interesting if Apple Silicon would do as well here (I don’t know even after skimming this article)?

Dunno if a NAS is best for Plex storage rather than a TB3 connected DAS, but the latter are definitely harder to come by in options, because NAS brands can add value to them with all the software bells & whistles and charge decent markups for them, while DAS’s rely on their connected OS (MacOS/Win/Linux), so after the box has HDDs in it, the profit margin in adding value is not there. Companies selling affordable DAS’s like OWC add software RAID (eg. “SoftRAID”) as their raison d’être selling point.

1 Like