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Using a Windows box to serve a Time Machine backup
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Laminar
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Oct 7, 2019, 01:40 PM
 
The time has come that my external 5GB drive isn't big enough to use as a Time Machine backup. Fifteen years of photos and videos has overcome the drive.

I have a Windows 10 box that is running at all time. I use it to play games and watch movies in the theater, but it spends 98% of its time idle but awake.

It looks easy enough to assign an SMB share as the backup location in Time Machine.

I'm out of internal bays in the PC, so I'm looking at an external box, either USB3 or eSATA and adding an eSATA PCIe card to the Windows machine.

If I got a 3-drive bay, adding 3x5GB disks and ran them in RAID5, I'd have 10GB of backup storage available and I'd be able to lose a single disk without losing data.

Any recommendations on an external box? Any reason I should skip the Windows integration and just do an external NAS?
     
reader50
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Oct 7, 2019, 06:36 PM
 
5TB drives aren't really "big" today, the sweet spot in price-per-tb is about 8TB. Unless you get a super deal somewhere, you're paying a premium for smaller drives. I'd rather buy a single 10TB than 3x 5TB, and skip the RAID. Triple the failure odds, greater noise & heat, for little benefit.

Agree on using the Win box that's already running. Separate NAS = 2 boxes running 24/7, plus the cost of the NAS. I wouldn't bother unless your Win server can't keep up. If it's unsatisfactory, you can always buy a NAS later, and transfer the drive(s).

On enclosures, beware fanless ones for a drive that may run 24/7. Which it will during initial backup. Even all-metal ones can get hot enough so the drive pauses to cool down. I found that out with a new NAS drive in a nice OWC enclosure. 24/7 drives do need a fan. Hopefully a temp-controlled one that shuts down most of the time.
     
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Oct 7, 2019, 10:05 PM
 
Ditto, you should look into getting 8-10 TB hard drives, and fewer, larger-capacity drives are always better than more smaller-capacity ones for backups. The only RAID I would consider is a RAID1 — unless you need radically more capacity than 10 TB.

However, I would not suggest externally connected drives for this purpose — especially if you end up running some RAID. It is not about speed, but about reliability.

Personally, I'd get a 2-bay Synology NAS instead, though.
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Laminar  (op)
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Oct 8, 2019, 12:03 PM
 
Ha, I just realized I was using GB in my first post. I'm afraid if I do just 8TB, I'll find myself in the same situation in another couple years, considering all of the photos and videos I'm taking and backing up. I've also lost a Time Machine drive before, which is why I'm considering some kind of RAID option to guard against drive failure.

Looks like I can get some Seagate 8TB drives for $150 each. Don't need 7200rpm for incremental backups.

If I wanted a Synology NAS, the DS218j is $167. Otherwise I could get a 2-bay RAID enclosure for $50. Or the eSATA version for $65.

If I try and step up to a 3 or 4 bay solution prices skyrocket.
( Last edited by Laminar; Oct 8, 2019 at 12:14 PM. )
     
reader50
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Oct 8, 2019, 01:02 PM
 
I use RAID when I have to, for larger volumes than are possible with single drives. Or where that drive size does exist, but at silly prices. ie - 16 TB today (and 14TB when they were introduced) were going for about $500 each.

RAID is not itself a backup method, it's a hedge against drive failure (1,5,6,10), or a way to achieve bigger drives (0,5,6,10). If you do both (5,6,10) you get a mess of drives, and practically guarantee drives to fail. Multiplying number of drives does that. So you end up regularly (annually?) buying more smallish drives to replace those that drop. More if you buy spares in advance, and higher cost if you buy extra bays, for hot spares. So they'll come into play without needing daily attention.

It easily turns into a treadmill, and forces ongoing drive purchases anyway. If that's the only way to reach a large volume, so be it. But when you can buy the size you need - suggest going for it. If 8TB will hold you for a couple years, cheaper & bigger drives will be available by then.
     
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Oct 8, 2019, 03:57 PM
 
Okay, so I do an 8TB external drive for $140 and if (when?) that fails get another single drive and just start fresh with a new backup?
     
reader50
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Oct 8, 2019, 05:23 PM
 
That, or get a 10TB. You could also throw an online backup service into the mix, if your upload bandwidth allows. If paranoid (and online backup not an option) buy 2x 8TB or 2x 10TB and use RAID1.

In theory, it is very unlikely your backup drive would fail at the same time as your primary drive.

I tried a NAS with RAID5 myself. Figured I'd get ahead of the curve on backups, and I had 5x 5TB drives I'd outgrown. So I got a 4-bay QNAP, put 4x 5TB in RAID5, for a 15TB volume. With a spare 5TB on the shelf. Everything seemed OK, and I forgot about it. A few months later, the volume got slow. Red lights were on. Two drives were giving (non-fatal) SMART errors.

I replaced the one with the greatest errors, and let it rebuild (success). Then tried to decide if I wanted to buy more 5TB drives. Before I decided, another HD got listed as marginal and the array went to read-only for safety. It appears all my used 5TB drives were near end-of-life. And I'd have to ultimately buy a full set of smallish drives, in addition to starting my backup over anyway.

It got to be too much. I went back to simpler solutions. If HD prices fall (they're overdue for some corrections) I'll buy some and use my NAS for something. Should be more reliable with new drives.

About the drive you linked, it doesn't have a fan. Suggest getting drive and enclosure separately, especially for a backup to be used daily. This enclosure has a fan, though it's not temp-controlled. eSATA and USB3.

Good 2-bay enclosures run about as much as a 2-bay NAS. So if you want the RAID1 (even as an option later), the NAS might make sense after all.
     
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Oct 8, 2019, 07:34 PM
 
As a rule, any kind of small RAID box needs to have approved drives with approved firmware and while many of them claim they are happy with consumer/retail budget drives, there's a reason RAID drives are a different thing. Sadly not a cheap thing. Cheap drives will generally work for a bit but eventually you get red lights everywhere and a lot of hassle. Last I looked, RAID was best for critical systems with a dozen or more physical disks and large budgets.
Time Machine can handle multiple backup volumes quite happily so you may not even need to mirror anything.
I have plenty of more important things to do, if only I could bring myself to do them....
     
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Oct 8, 2019, 08:49 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
I've also lost a Time Machine drive before, which is why I'm considering some kind of RAID option to guard against drive failure.
Then get two 10+ TB drives and configure them in a RAID1.
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
Looks like I can get some Seagate 8TB drives for $150 each. Don't need 7200rpm for incremental backups.
Don't waste your time thinking about rpms. I would definitely encourage you to go for at least 10 TB. Especially if you come from 5 TB, getting an 8 TB drive isn't all that much bigger.
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
If I wanted a Synology NAS, the DS218j is $167. Otherwise I could get a 2-bay RAID enclosure for $50. Or the eSATA version for $65.
The Synology does JBOD, RAID0 and RAID1, too. Of course, you would want to configure it as a RAID1. (The versions with more drives will have other RAID levels, but you need at least 3 drives for that.)
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OreoCookie
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Oct 8, 2019, 09:03 PM
 
Originally Posted by Waragainstsleep View Post
As a rule, any kind of small RAID box needs to have approved drives with approved firmware and while many of them claim they are happy with consumer/retail budget drives, there's a reason RAID drives are a different thing.
I don't think this is necessarily true. Backblaze, for example, almost exclusively uses consumer-grade drives as they have concluded that there is no or no appreciable difference in reliability to make it worthwhile for them. A simple RAID1 is certainly a worthwhile option, because it is easy to understand, the software logic is very simple and cheap. Given the capacity of today's hard drives, for many people they also provide more than enough storage. Reader can get 15 TB capacity from a single hard drive these days, and one hard drive is always more reliable than 4.
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Laminar  (op)
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Oct 9, 2019, 08:11 AM
 
Also I just discovered that my 3TB "Home Folders" drive is within 100GB of being filled up, too. Great. So new 10TB external for TM backups, then yank the existing 5TB external and make that the new internal? If I have one complaint about the MP, it's that it can be unresponsive. I have an SSD for the system drive and a HD for the home folders, I assume it's the HD slowing it down, so I don't want to put a slow HD in there again.
     
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Oct 9, 2019, 08:26 AM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
That, or get a 10TB. You could also throw an online backup service into the mix, if your upload bandwidth allows.
Upload speeds are fine, but I have a 2TB monthly cap with a penalty for additional usage, so the first backup would hurt.

Google Drive charges $100/month for 10TB. Dropbox only offers up to 3TB. Amazon is $60/yr for 1TB and photos are free (but I assume you have to use their photos app?). iCloud is $10/mo for 2TB.

I'm paying $11/mo for my web hosting, and it claims I have unlimited storage. I wonder what would happen if I suddenly slugged it with 5TB of junk...
     
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Oct 9, 2019, 11:40 AM
 
I recommend Backblaze: $6 per month for unlimited backups.

Also, Google Drive, Dropbox and iCloud aren't giving you backups, they just mirror content — which is not what you'd want.

Lastly, it seems that your storage requirements keep on rising. I'd aim to fill your new drive at most to 50 % capacity, otherwise I would consider it too small.
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Laminar  (op)
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Oct 9, 2019, 01:05 PM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Lastly, it seems that your storage requirements keep on rising.
I started at 10TB and I'm still at 10TB.

First post:
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
If I got a 3-drive bay, adding 3x5TB disks and ran them in RAID5, I'd have 10TB of backup storage available
Now:
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
So new 10TB external for TM backups
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Also, Google Drive, Dropbox and iCloud aren't giving you backups, they just mirror content — which is not what you'd want.
If you're looking for scope creep, it's here: My biggest struggle is what to do with all of my media files. I have a bunch TBs of video stuff that only exists on an external drive because there's no room on my main drive, the one that TM backs up. I have a Photos library that dates back to iPhoto 1.0. It gets upgraded every time a new version comes out, and by now bunches of photos have corrupted and disappeared (including my son's birth), so I don't accept Photos and a TM backup of Photos as an acceptable way to archive my photos and videos.

So I need to be able to restore a dead computer - that means I need a local TM backup in any case. BackBlaze can't do that. But it could serve as a backup for all of my media files, but I'm not convinced it does that any better or differently than Drive or Dropbox or iCloud, just cheaper.
     
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Oct 9, 2019, 02:26 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
If you're looking for scope creep, it's here: My biggest struggle is what to do with all of my media files. I have a bunch TBs of video stuff that only exists on an external drive because there's no room on my main drive, the one that TM backs up.
Same here - my media drive kept messing Time Machine up. Every once in awhile, it decided to copy my media volume all over again. Requiring my TM volume to be big enough to take at least 2 full copies of my media. Otherwise, such an event would wipe all my TM snapshots, then complain about not having enough free space.

When I moved to TM over the LAN, it can fail a volume verification check if my wireless connection is otherwise busy. And TM doesn't offer you the choice to recheck - it just fails it, offers to start over, and won't do anything until you make a choice.

I eventually solved it by exempting my media drive from TM backups. Kept the regular backups within reason, and verifications complete before they can screw up. For the media, I declared a media-backup image on the actual backup drive (separate from TM's image). I periodically use SuperDuper to sync my media drive with the backup image. I don't get media snapshots that way, but my media isn't subject to much change anyway. This guarantees the backup drive will only keep 1x copy of the media files, leaving all remaining space for TM to grow.
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
I have a Photos library that dates back to iPhoto 1.0. It gets upgraded every time a new version comes out, and by now bunches of photos have corrupted and disappeared (including my son's birth), so I don't accept Photos and a TM backup of Photos as an acceptable way to archive my photos and videos.
TM is in theory a good backup for this, provided it doesn't start over. Allows you to go back to pre-corruption, grab the raw photos from inside the iPhoto library. My main problem was the media screwups forcing TM to start over. I rarely had TM backups going back more than 2 years.

Suggest manual snapshots of your photos library (or photos folder). A separate drive for this. Copy the folder, rename with timestamp, repeat monthly or quarterly. btw, iPhoto supposedly never alters the original pics. Barring HD corruption, the originals should still be within the iPhoto library folder somewhere. However it's always been a bear for me to find anything within the iPhoto library. The organization appears to have changed with time, and was never intuitive anyway.
     
Laminar  (op)
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Oct 9, 2019, 03:41 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
Barring HD corruption, the originals should still be within the iPhoto library folder somewhere. However it's always been a bear for me to find anything within the iPhoto library. The organization appears to have changed with time, and was never intuitive anyway.
This photo library has been with me through seven computers, a couple of which suffered hard drive failures. I've dug through the Photos library and found what should be the image files, but nothing I've tried can open them, they all just appear corrupt. Maybe I'll post one here and see if anyone can save it - I'd sure like to have pics of my son's birth back. I mean, not the actual physical birth, but like soon after.
     
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Oct 9, 2019, 08:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
I started at 10TB and I'm still at 10TB.
Perhaps I misunderstood, but you did write that you discovered that the drive that houses your home folder is also almost full (at 3 TB). I understood that to mean that you intend to replace the drive that houses your home folder with a larger one. And if that is the case, I think you should go larger than 10 TB.
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
If you're looking for scope creep, it's here: My biggest struggle is what to do with all of my media files. I have a bunch TBs of video stuff that only exists on an external drive because there's no room on my main drive, the one that TM backs up. I have a Photos library that dates back to iPhoto 1.0. It gets upgraded every time a new version comes out, and by now bunches of photos have corrupted and disappeared (including my son's birth), so I don't accept Photos and a TM backup of Photos as an acceptable way to archive my photos and videos.
Which is exactly why you shouldn't use a Dropbox-like service — here you silently spread corruption with the sync algorithm. Those are not backup solutions, but rather syncing solutions.
Originally Posted by Laminar View Post
So I need to be able to restore a dead computer - that means I need a local TM backup in any case. [...] BackBlaze can't do that.
Sure it can: Backblaze will send you a hard drive or SSD essentially free of charge should the need arise (you will have to pay for it initially, but you get a full refund once you send the drive back). Of course, you can also choose to download individual files and folders as well as the whole backup should the need arise.
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Laminar  (op)
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Oct 10, 2019, 08:15 AM
 
Originally Posted by OreoCookie View Post
Which is exactly why you shouldn't use a Dropbox-like service — here you silently spread corruption with the sync algorithm. Those are not backup solutions, but rather syncing solutions.
Dropbox lets you "rewind" back 1-6 months. I know TM is "as far back as you have space for," but I don't know how far back that is, and because it deletes old stuff automatically to make room for new, I don't have a good gauge on that.

Sure it can: Backblaze will send you a hard drive or SSD essentially free of charge should the need arise (you will have to pay for it initially, but you get a full refund once you send the drive back). Of course, you can also choose to download individual files and folders as well as the whole backup should the need arise.
BB makes a bootable disk? That was not clear from all of their documentation.

What We Don't Backup
Backblaze does not want to waste your bandwidth or Backblaze datacenter disk space. Thus, we do not backup your operating system, application folder, or temporary internet files that are transient and would not be useful in the future. Backblaze also excludes podcasts in iTunes.
All of those would be vital to restoring my computer to where it was before the hard drive took a dump.
     
Laminar  (op)
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Nov 8, 2019, 11:33 AM
 
Okay, I bought a 10TB external drive. Hooked it up to the Windows 10 box and made an SMB share. The only problem is that when speed testing the read/write, it's garbage.

The top two are internal disks, the bottom two are two tests of the external drive:



It's definitely in a USB 3 port, it's definitely recognized as a USB 3 device, SuperSpeed is active and available, but I'm only getting 3MB/sec write speeds. It should be capable of 200MB/sec.

I plugged it into a USB 2 port on my Mac Pro and I'm getting more like 20MB/sec, which makes more sense for USB2 and tells me it's probably not a limitation of the external case/hardware. Weird. Amazon reviews report 100MB/s write speeds.

15 hours in and I'm about halfway through the initial 3TB backup.

Went ahead and just ordered a USB3 card for the Mac Pro. It'll probably be here by the time the backup finishes.
     
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Nov 8, 2019, 02:14 PM
 
Were those tests run on the Win box? (eliminating the network connections)

Beware that the top 2 are both sequential 1 MB transfer tests. HDs do well on sequential. While the bottom 2 are both random 4 KB seek tests, which HDs suck at. Those results are not a fair comparison.
     
Laminar  (op)
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Nov 8, 2019, 10:24 PM
 
Oh dang. I was doing it from a distance on the projector and couldn't even see that they were different tests. I just thought it was a way to compare different drives. That makes a lot more sense.
     
Laminar  (op)
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Nov 10, 2019, 03:12 PM
 
In OS X, through the new USB 3 PCI card. Remember when Macs were expandable? It's nice.

     
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Nov 10, 2019, 09:44 PM
 
Gah - now whenever the computer wakes up, it gets mad that I improperly ejected all hard drives on the USB3 card. Apparently in 2014/2015 this was a "known issue" but no one has a solution for it that I could find. "Put hard disks to sleep" is unchecked.
     
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Nov 10, 2019, 10:40 PM
 
You can safely ignore those error messages.

During sleep, power is turned off to the PCIe buss. Upon waking up, the card has to reboot. Then spin up and offer the connected drives. Most spinning HDs are not fast enough to beat the error message. The motherboard USB ports don't have this problem, because they remain powered during sleep. Hypothetically, a card with separate power connector might get around the issue.

However, it doesn't matter. When going to sleep, all drive caches are flushed to disk first. Those HDs are actually ready to be dismounted - this situation never results in any drive damage. You can ignore the nuisance messages. Or write a custom script to dismount the USB-connected drives when going to sleep.
     
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Nov 11, 2019, 09:04 AM
 
Well, the messages require acknowledgement, so I can't just ignore them. I'll look into the script. Maybe the Mac Pro Upgrade Facebook group has some ideas, they are the ones that recommended this card, specifically because it didn't require internal power, as all 6 of my drive slots are filled so I don't have a spare power cable.
     
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Nov 11, 2019, 01:39 PM
 
To my knowledge, all USB cards are affected. It's a timing issue - Apple could fix it, by making macOS allow more time for externals to remount after sleep. Just as they do for network drives.

I believe the pre-iPod Apple would have patched the issue. Today's Apple isn't interested in upgrades, and is under no financial pressure to satisfy all loyal customers. You're supposed to buy a later Mac with native USB3 ports.
     
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Nov 12, 2019, 12:24 AM
 
     
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Nov 28, 2019, 09:42 PM
 
Just upgraded to Catalina this morning and I didn't see this happen when I woke it up tonight. Fingers crossed...
     
   
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