Mac network drive time machine

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Early NAS drives were expensive and complicated, and were mostly used by large organisations that needed a central backup device that could be used by multiple employees. But most homes these days now have their own Wi-Fi networks, which are shared by several people who often own multiple devices. This means that a shared NAS drive now makes sense for many home users as well. For instance, not all NAS drives will allow you to use Time Machine to make backups over the network, so support for Time Machine is a key feature that you should check on when thinking about buying a NAS drive for use with one or more Macs.

Another important feature is the ability to create individual user accounts, so that each person in your home or office can have their own private area on the NAS drive for storing their personal files. And, at the same time, it's also handy to create 'shares', which are like public folders that can be shared by everyone - perhaps for storing music or photos for the whole family.

Most NAS drives will allow you to do this, but sometimes you need a bit of network know-how to figure out how each drive handles this process and some drives, such as Apple's now-discontinued Time Capsule, just ignore this side of things altogether and simply focus on the basic task of handling Time Machine backups. Most of us now tend to use iCloud for backing up photos, videos and other files from our iOS devices, but it can give you extra peace of mind to know that you've got a spare backup on your NAS drive in case anything goes wrong. A good NAS drive will also let you share your photos and videos with other people by streaming them to mobile devices over your network, or possibly even provide a remote access option that allows you to retrieve files over the internet when you're away from home a feature that manufacturers often refer to as a 'personal cloud'.

Many people also use their NAS drive as a kind of central media server for their home, perhaps streaming music and videos to a games console that is connected to their TV in the front room. That's something you'll need to decide for yourself, but it's worth mentioning that some NAS drives are more flexible on this point than others. Some of the less expensive NAS drives are sold with a built-in hard drive - generally at least 2TB - but the hard drive is fixed and can't be replaced once it's full although the NAS drive may have a USB port that lets you connect a conventional USB hard drive in order to add some extra storage.

This is the simplest option, favoured by most home users and small businesses, as it means you can just unpack the NAS drive and connect it to your router to get started.

How to Back up your Mac to Synology NAS with Time Machine

However, many NAS drives are sold 'unpopulated' - without any internal hard drives already installed - and simply provide two or more empty drive bays into which you insert your own choice of hard drives. This option is more expensive, but it allows you to customise the NAS by buying your own hard in order to provide as much storage as you need. And, if you run out of storage space, you can just take out the old drives and insert new, larger drives in the future.

This type of NAS drive generally also offers a number of 'RAID' options - this stands for "redundant array of independent disks" - which use multiple hard drives to provide additional performance and data protection. You're spoilt for choice when it comes to Western Digital's My Cloud range, with several models available for home users and small businesses, as well as a number of Expert and Pro models for larger organisations.

However, you're probably better off getting the newer My Cloud Home model shown here, which is a little more expensive, but is faster and provides a few additional features, such as support for the Plex Media Server software although that's probably not a must-have feature for Mac users. The slimline white-and-silver unit is neatly designed, and only measures 2in wide, so it'll sit easily on your desk, or on a shelf close to your router without taking up too much space.

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Western Digital always does a good job with Mac support, and the My Cloud Home is no exception, with apps that handle a range of tasks quickly and easily. The iOS app can perform automatic backups of your photos and videos, while the Mac app lets you use Time Machine for your backups and there are Mac and Windows versions of the apps available too.

There are some nice touches too, such as the ability to right-click a folder on your Mac and automatically sync the contents of that folder onto the My Cloud Home. That will be handy for people who want an extra backup of their current work files or projects in addition to the basic Time Machine backup.

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  5. You can also right-click any file that is stored on the My Cloud Home and send a download link in order to quickly share that file with friends or colleagues. And, if you also use an online backup service, such as Dropbox, then you can sync the contents of your Dropbox account onto the My Cloud Home too. You can even back up photos and albums from Facebook on to the drive for safekeeping if you want to.

    Using your Mac as a networked Time Machine drive on High Sierra -

    There are a couple of rough edges, though. You can't simply double-click the drive's icon on the Mac desktop in order to open the drive and then drag-and-drop to copy folders or files onto the drive. For some reason you have to open the app's pulldown menu and view the contents of the drive through the app instead. You can't create individual user accounts on the Mac either, so you're forced to use the iOS app on an iPhone or iPad if you want to invite someone else to create their own personal folders on the My Cloud Home drive.

    Most Mac users will have an iPhone or iPad, of course, but we'd like to see the Mac app updated to allow you full freedom to control the My Cloud Home with your Mac as well. Western Digital's My Cloud Home drive provides a quick and easy option for home users who aren't familiar with NAS drives and networking technology. In fact, the company doesn't even call it a 'NAS drive', opting for the more user-friendly 'personal cloud' label instead. The EX2 Ultra is a no-compromise NAS drive with additional features and customisation options, but is still affordable enough for home users or self-employed people, such as photographers or designers, who need a really reliable backup drive for important work files.

    It's a 'two-bay' drive that holds two separate hard drives, and allows you to remove the top panel so you can remove the drives for repairs or adding more storage in the future. Those prices include WD's high-performance Red Drives, and the EX2 Ultra also includes 1GB of memory to help it multi-task when different people are using the drive on the network at the same time.

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    Using two separate hard drives also means the EX2 Ultra can work as a 'RAID' drive, with either RAID 0 - which improves performance by splitting files across both drives called 'striping' - or RAID 1 'mirroring', which makes separate copies of your files on each drive for extra reliability. And, if you want even more safeguards for your important files, there's also an option to back up data from the EX2 Ultra on to an external hard drive connected to one of its USB ports.

    Despite all these extra features, setting up the EX2 Ultra is still very straightforward, as the drive supports Time Machine for automatically backing up files from your Mac. There's also a My Cloud app for iOS and Android that allows you to back up and share files using non-Apple devices as well.

    The app provides remote access to the drive over the internet, and there's a web browser interface also available for Macs and PCs, which allows more advanced users to configure RAID settings and features such as the FTP server - and even to use it as an 'iTunes Server' for streaming music across your network. A five-bay drive such as the 5N2 might be unnecessary for home users, but Drobo has a well-deserved reputation amongst professional and creative users who need a versatile and reliable NAS drive.

    But while the nondescript black box isn't much to look at, the 5N2 will earn its keep in your office as it is absolutely packed with features designed to keep your data safe. Drobo claims to offer "the benefits of RAID without the complexity", and the company does a really good job of helping newcomers to get started and showing you how to use the 5N2.

    Even before you turn it on or install a single hard drive into the 5N2 you're instructed to go to the Start page on the Drobo website. This installs a pulldown menu into the main menu bar at the top of your Mac's screen, providing instant access to the drive's main features.

    However, you probably won't need to use Dashboard very often, as many of the drive's features work automatically. Once the drives have been installed there's a series of lights on the front panel that indicate the status and health of each drive, along with a row of blue lights that act as a capacity gauge to let you know when you're running out of storage.

    The 5N2 also allows you to 'hot-swap' drives, removing and replacing faulty drives, or simply adding some extra storage without having to restart the unit. It even has a small built-in battery that can protect the 5N2 from power failures, keeping it running long enough to complete the current task and then shut down without losing any data. In fact, most people will probably only use Dashboard to set up user accounts for other people who also need to use the 5N2 for network storage, or to set up Time Machine backups for your Macs - which you can do at the same time as setting up the 'share' for each user.

    If you want to explore further, then Dashboard also allows you to install additional apps, such as the Plex media server, or Drobo Access, which provides remote access over the internet. There are iOS and Android versions of Drobo Access available too, so that you can view and edit files stored on the 5N2 with your mobile devices, along with a DroboPix app that allows you to back up your photos and videos.

    How to Use Multiple Backup Drives with Time Machine

    It's probably too expensive for most home users, but the admirable ease of use provided by the Drobo 5N2 makes it an ideal choice for small businesses and creative users who may not have used a NAS drive before. And, with failsafe features such as its internal battery, the 5N2 can offer rock-solid reliability for protecting your most important data. Netgear's ReadyNAS has been around for a while, and it's showing its age a little, but its combination of strong data protection and good Mac support ensure that it will appeal to both home and small business users alike.

    The hardware design is a little old-fashioned, consisting of a simple black box with two drive bays for adding storage. Along with the drives that you choose to install, the ReadyNAS provides some useful features for adding extra storage and enhancing performance. There are no less than three USB 3. Installing the internal drives is a little fiddly, though. Type ifconfig en0 grep ether and press enter.

    Your MAC address is the character string consisting of six pairs of hexadecimal digits separated by colons. This will create a gigabyte sparse bundle; to create a sparse bundle of a different size replace g with a different value.

    macOS Sierra Server Part 15: Time Machine

    This will copy the sparse bundle to the network drive, and will take several seconds. This will delete the copy of the sparse bundle on your computer. You can now close Terminal.

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    Select the network drive and then click the Use For Backup button. Time Machine will start the back-up automatically after two minutes. While the back-up is in progress, a volume called Time Machine will be shown on the desktop. Once the back-up completes, this volume will disappear. Suggestion: consider online back-up For six years we used the technique described on this page to back-up the Macs at my company.