NAS, backing up data etc

I think the time has come to get my data in order. Over the years, we have accumulated a shedload of photos, movies and documents, not to mention the countless hours I put into ripping my CD collection to iTunes (I am determined never, ever to go through that again).

Everything currently exists in two places - but I have a number of portable hard drives kicking about, and remembering to keep the backup drives manually updated is a pain.

I’d like to automate the whole backup process, so that adding movies to my movie drive or music to my iTunes drive is automatically backed up somewhere. I’d like that backup to be backed up to death, too. Belt, braces etc.

A bit of googling suggests a NAS system, but it’s all a bit confusing.

Being able to run iTunes on a networked drive is attractive, as I currently run it on my laptop. I wonder if a NAS would make streaming to my Squeezebox / Bluesound Node a bit more robust.

I’m considering a two bay NAS with a pair of 6 or 8 TB drives (one mirroring the other). Is that a good start?

The WD My Cloud EX2 Ultra is cheapish and seems to meet the basic requirements, but I don’t object to spending more if necessary.

Any tips?


Not experienced with auto back ups, happy to get tips here as well.

I’m starting to backup stuff too, still have some SD cards and some outdated laptop drives in a drawer.
My experience so far: I’m quite happy with QNAP, they’re quite robust and have regular firmware updates.
Have a 2 bay with 2x3TB for quite a while with a fan. They have some fanless NAS drives (2 bay HS-251+) as well in case you want something silent for the living.
The processor power is another important thing to look at too, if you have lots of files to transfer.
A pair of 6 or 8 TB is quite a lot, guess you have some movies to get that much data.

I plan to have 2 NAS systems, one that is operational and one for back up that is mostly offline and only online when making backups. Both in RAID 1 (2 bay NAS) or RAID 5 (in case of a 4 bay NAS) for security in case a drive fails.

Check out Synology Nas drives. I know a few people with them, including myself.
The system works very well and has be reliable to date. It is easy to configure, so everything in our house now saves to it. (rip a CD on my laptop, saves directly to the Nas and then streams to my audio computer. Can also display photos on the Telly etc etc.)
I backup the Nas to an external hard drive once a month(ish) and keep that at work, I use Syncback for that.

a nas drive is a good bet, but mirroring the drives is more about data availability than security. It would be better to have less capacity in the NAS and a USB drive to plug in when you want to back up. Maybe kept off site when not in use.


I just use the built-in backup (“Hyper backup” ?).
Am I doing something wrong?

Yep, I have a single 4TB drive in my Nas. I don’t really see the point in Raids etc for home backup use.

I use Syncback because I have done for years and have set up several backup routines. I can’t be arsed to change now, it works for me and it is reliable.
If what you’re doing works for you then you’re doing nothing wrong / leave well alone.

Thanks everyone

A single drive would keep it simpler (and cheaper).

NAS enclosures seem to start at about £150. I suppose a 2 bay one would allow for expansion.

I’d like to run ITunes Server, deliver movies to my TV (achievable by streaming, but possibly better by USB?) and automatically back up new files added to my laptop (including a mirror of my laptop’s internal drive, in case of accident). I’m assuming that is all fairly basic stuff…

So, what do I need to spend to achieve all that? I’d be grateful for some specific recommendations to get me started.


My approach is as follows:

The server is a Raspberry Pi 3.
The drives are 3-fold: 1 3tb active, 1 3tb that is plugged in every few days and backed up to (stored onsite) and 1 3tb that is backed up every few weeks and is stored offsite. They’re just USB drives. I normally backup using syncback on a Windows machine, because I like it.
The Pi is quite powerful, so runs a number of servers: Squeezebox server, miniDLNA for serving movies to the smart TVs, samba for serving files and more. It will also play directly to the TV as it has an HDMI out and you can install Kodi. You can run an iTunes server on it.
I don’t keep files on the various computers. They all save directly to the server. I use a lot of cloud-based systems: Google Docs, Steam etc, which means that if a laptop goes bang, it’s not actually much of a problem.

From my personal experience with Synology, the software is awesome, but don’t cheap out on the box you buy.

I bought the single drive unit and intended to use it as a location to stream from to my Chromecasts. The CPU in it simply wasn’t strong enough to have data copied to it, and be accessed at the same time. If you were streaming music from it whilst accessing it on another machine, the music playback would be choppy.

Now, this isn’t an issue if you just want to use it as a storage location on your network, but generally, NAS boxes have a host of features which are difficult to ignore, because they work very well (assuming, the CPU isn’t too weak, as pointed out a moment ago.) The Synology boxes allow you to store your data and also, they will work with certain software to transcode video to devices such as Chromecasts. You can use them with IP cameras to run as NVRs, too. They basically are a PC without monitor or keyboard/mouse connections, so the configuration is done by browsing to the boxes in built webpage. People do rate the Synology boxes and the software support for automated backups, but I never got that far with my one because it just wasn’t suitable for the purpose.

Backing up is key, and as long as you have a copy of what you do not want to lose on a different device from what you use on a daily basis, that is a good start. I have 2 2TB drives in each of the main PCs at home, one being the HTPC/Server box which also doubles up as a CCTV server, the other being my main porn viewer/gaming rig. All my data is the same on both PCs and I choose to manually copy everything to both locations whenever I rip a CD or I need to process photographs from memory cards.

Because I am proficient in building/running/maintaining PCs, I didn’t bother trying a bigger, more powerful NAS box, because it literally is a PC with 1 or more hard drives in it. Once you add a hard drive to a PC, whether it is an external USB one or an internal SATA connected drive and share it, it is a NAS box.

If you have a spare PC laying around and you have the means to have it connected to the network, that is the route I always recommend. Having a single large enough storage device is far more convenient than having several pocket hard drives. I can’t recommend any software to install on other PCs which would take the data from nominated directories and back it up to the NAS box automatically because I don’t use it. If you go that route, I cannot emphasise enough that it is up to you to check manually periodically that your important data is being backed up. I have been let down by automated solutions in the past, so I choose to spend an extra minute or 2 copying stuff to my “backup” locations manually.

I said earlier about a NAS box being a PC without a monitor or keyboard socket on the back. If you use a conventional PC, you will have monitor and keyboard sockets, meaning if something isn’t working, you can just plug in a monitor and check that the data is there, which is important if the NAS drive has a network connectivity issue meaning you can’t access it.

An ordinary hard drive can be bought for £50 and installed in a PC with ease, sharing the drive over the network isn’t difficult.

A waffly post, I apologise for that, but making sure your data is safe/accessible is more important to me than having everything automated and I always wish to point out to people that a “NAS” box which costs a few hundred is not the only way to have success.

EDIT: Forgot to add, on my server/NAS pc, I have logitech media server installed for music play back on the Chromecasts, along with the “Videostream” add on to the Chrome browser for video transcoding to the HDMI Chromecasts around the house. Both give me a library which can be accessed/browsed on mobile apps and I’ve not yet had any issue with either of these features in the year since I set the system up.


I use a HP micro server.
Running Ubuntu headless.
2 raid arrays 1 backup and 1 archive.

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Good advice already.
As far as the dedicated home NASes go:

Craig has already described the Synology pretty well. As a rule Synology have slightly better, noob friendly software, QNAP have better more powerful hardware with a bit more of a software learning curve.

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A Raspberry Pi is a bit of a steep learning curve, although It’s a fair bit cheaper!

I should add, the setup process for the Synology NAS worked perfectly and the guide was easy to understand. @browellm is spot on, my parents would be able to follow the instructions and use the drive. Assuming the network is working, of course.

master machine (desk top PC) backed up to Synology NAS (DS718) which also serves music using the Synology sw, and supports 6 CCTV cameras and X10 home automation. The NAS is auto backed up to a WD NAS which is in a fire safe. The Synology NAS is also accessible from outside via VPN.

So when I rip a CD for example I keep a copy on the master desktop PC, and two copies are made one for the Synology NAS which is the server and another backup to the WD. I also keep offsite backups of music, photos and key documents on Blu-ray disk.

We do not store any data on any machine other than the master desktop PC (which is only used for photo editing and cd-ripping) and tone Synology NAS. Nothing is held on the fixed storage on our tablets, laptop and NUC - it is all network storage.

I’ve got a few NAS’s (EMC vNX, QNAP TS210, QNAP TS251+ and a Synology DS216se) but IMHO synology are shite.

QNAP is incredibly easy to use and I have the QNAP ts251+ hosting the network drive for Roon, connected to the TV via hdmi running Kodi for movies, with iSCSI for some VM’s and backs up to Google Cloud Drive for archiving and resilience.

You are welcome to borrow the synology to see what you think as I stopped using it a while ago but I can’t get on with the interface.

be interested to hear why you think Synology are shite.

Mine is astonishingly reliable, never missed a beat in three years, is supporting 4 server based systems. The interface is intuitive and easy to use.

I haven’t used a QNAP. Though, I can say the SW on my WD NAS is rubbish

The Synology DS 216SE is very low spec. Single core Marvell Armada CPU running at 800 Mhz & a piddling 256 Mb of RAM. Even my four year old DS213 will stomp all over this in terms of benchmark tests & real world performance. I now use the DS213 mainly as backup or for when I’m doing a media re-index on my DS715 which is very whizzy indeed.

Can’t see why any one would bother with such a low spec machine that also encourages you to go to the additional expense of lumping out on two drives.

The new single bay DS118 for around £170 is killer spec with a quad core 64 bit CPU, each core running @ 1.4Ghz + 1GB of RAM.

The outgoing DS 116 is also fairly nicely specced albeit not nearly as powerful as the DS118. Still easily good enough for most people for years to come tho & discounts are fairly likely now it has been replaced.

Reliability wise, my Syno NAS’s have never missed a beat either.

compared the ds216se and ts210 back to back and the qnap was much better.

It was the interface I don’t like, the qnap has much better functionality and integration with external apps.

That’s about the spec of a Pi 3, which is about a fifth the price :sunglasses: