Need Advice on home server setup

mglakner

New Member
Jul 9, 2020
3
0
1
Hey, new to the forum,

I currently run the following:

2014 Mac mini
Lacie 5big Thunderbolt 1 - 8TB (4TB useable, 4TB for backup)
Gigabit Router

I use this setup to run
  • Plex Server
  • Wireless computer backups
  • Wireless phone backups
  • Wireless iTunes sync
  • Wired Security camera recordings
So most of my usage is wireless so I don't technically need thunderbolt speeds, my router will likely be my bottleneck for the foreseeable future, until we see 10Gb/s routers.

My problem is up until now all my backups have been on site and in the same unit, the Lacie 5big. I have maxed out my 8TB so I just bought 4 4TB ironwolf drives and had plans to put them in the 5Big. but now I have concerns about security and backup.

I am thinking I am protected against hard drive failure and thats all, I have slight theft/fire/flood protection. I backup to Google Photos, i know quality is reduced, like I said slight protection, I also use MEGA and use their 50gb free and upload important docs there, so again slight, if I had a fire tomorrow, the important stuff would be protected.

So to protect against theft maybe I could have two enclosures each with 2 drives one near the mac mini and one in the basement wired up to the server, one for usage, one for backup. So a thief wouldn't know it was there and i would have my backups still. I haven't quite figured out a good safe place to put the server in my house to "hide" from thieves if that were the case. I dont live in a super high crime area.

My question more or less is to gather some ideas on the best setup for the best protection. Is it 2 enclosures with two drives each, one hidden and then maybe purchase 2TB of cloud storage for the important things like photos and documents?

I want to employ the minds of the internet for advice of how you guys do yours. My internet isnt great, only about 5mb upload. Curse you Comcast.

Thanks
 

BlueFox

Well-Known Member
Oct 26, 2015
1,213
626
113
I have a safe deposit box at a local bank and keep a 4TB hard drive in it. I regularly retrieve it to ensure it's updated. Could do that since it's fairly cheap. Depending on what kind of relationship you have with your local bank, likely looking at anywhere from free to ~$25 annually.
 

mglakner

New Member
Jul 9, 2020
3
0
1
I have a safe deposit box at a local bank and keep a 4TB hard drive in it. I regularly retrieve it to ensure it's updated. Could do that since it's fairly cheap. Depending on what kind of relationship you have with your local bank, likely looking at anywhere from free to ~$25 annually.

Interesting idea. I could definitely see this working for some very important files. But for as much as I take photos and videos may not be practical. Would be great if in the future they setup servers in safety deposit boxes you can access at home and the. Go get if you needed to.

Thank you for the idea. This is exactly what I was looking for a brain storm session.
 

WANg

Well-Known Member
Jun 10, 2018
948
557
93
Hey, new to the forum,

I currently run the following:

2014 Mac mini
Lacie 5big Thunderbolt 1 - 8TB (4TB useable, 4TB for backup)
Gigabit Router

I use this setup to run
  • Plex Server
  • Wireless computer backups
  • Wireless phone backups
  • Wireless iTunes sync
  • Wired Security camera recordings
So most of my usage is wireless so I don't technically need thunderbolt speeds, my router will likely be my bottleneck for the foreseeable future, until we see 10Gb/s routers.

My problem is up until now all my backups have been on site and in the same unit, the Lacie 5big. I have maxed out my 8TB so I just bought 4 4TB ironwolf drives and had plans to put them in the 5Big. but now I have concerns about security and backup.

I am thinking I am protected against hard drive failure and thats all, I have slight theft/fire/flood protection. I backup to Google Photos, i know quality is reduced, like I said slight protection, I also use MEGA and use their 50gb free and upload important docs there, so again slight, if I had a fire tomorrow, the important stuff would be protected.

So to protect against theft maybe I could have two enclosures each with 2 drives one near the mac mini and one in the basement wired up to the server, one for usage, one for backup. So a thief wouldn't know it was there and i would have my backups still. I haven't quite figured out a good safe place to put the server in my house to "hide" from thieves if that were the case. I dont live in a super high crime area.

My question more or less is to gather some ideas on the best setup for the best protection. Is it 2 enclosures with two drives each, one hidden and then maybe purchase 2TB of cloud storage for the important things like photos and documents?

I want to employ the minds of the internet for advice of how you guys do yours. My internet isnt great, only about 5mb upload. Curse you Comcast.

Thanks
Okay, several questions and comments:

a) So I am assuming here that since everything is connected wirelessly, that you run primarily in a home/office with WiFi 5 (802.11ac) and you don't do any wired ethernet connectivity, right?
b) MacMini 2014...so I am assuming...Plex for media center stuff, TimeMachine + iTunes for backup, possibly running MacOS Server for Mojave and/or Catalina? What's your plan if the 2014 MacMini dies? The 2014 has the disadvantage of having the RAM soldered in, it uses Apple's proprietary 12-16 PCIe SSD form factor (which is somewhat compatible with NVMe but requires an adapter). Did you ever plug it into another Mac to make sure that it plays nice? I ran into situations where someone's neglected TB storage device only talks to a particular machine (which ran Snow Leopard), and when the machine was replaced with a new one, it can't read the contents of the drive in MacOS High Sierra.
c) Some kind of backup script that would dump the security camera contents on a regular interval, or the camera uses some type of shared filesystem (CIFS/Samba, NFS, AFP)?

Are there any space/noise/power constraints, and what is your budget for improving the situation? The most straightforward thing for backing things up is to buy an LTO tape drive, figure out how to connect it to the MacMini (Thunderbolt native LTO6-8 drives exist but are thousands of dollars - you could get a TB2 to PCIe enclosure (Sonnet and OWC sells them, an Echo Express SE1 is about 250 USD), a PCIe to SAS adapter (Atto H644 works fine here for MacOS and listed on evilBay for ~200 USD) , and a used SAS LTO4 or 5 drive should not be too bad (2-3 hundred?). Then use something like Bacula to run regular backups to tape, and do a monthly run to an off-site vault (yeah, storage box in a bank will do), rotating it regularly. Do keep in mind that 1/3 of the cost came from the need to have thunderbolt 2 compatibility for the MacMini. Switch to a Linux based backup, a cheaper PCIe to SAS HBA and your cost goes down significantly.

As for defending servers from thieves? Well, there's 2 strategies - one is to put it into an armored alcove and makes it not worth the potential criminal's time and effort to try stealing it - this pre-supposes a well ventilated steel box with a power strip inside that you can keep hardware in, and anchored to something secure - something like this? Otherwise it's really a game of hide-and-go-F-yourself - if your idea is to stick it in a storage closet...eh, you still have to cool/ventilate it if you want the hard drive(s) to endure. And if you are doing that, that's a slippery slope to building a server room.
 

mglakner

New Member
Jul 9, 2020
3
0
1
Okay, several questions and comments:

a) So I am assuming here that since everything is connected wirelessly, that you run primarily in a home/office with WiFi 5 (802.11ac) and you don't do any wired ethernet connectivity, right?


b) MacMini 2014...so I am assuming...Plex for media center stuff, TimeMachine + iTunes for backup, possibly running MacOS Server for Mojave and/or Catalina? What's your plan if the 2014 MacMini dies? The 2014 has the disadvantage of having the RAM soldered in, it uses Apple's proprietary 12-16 PCIe SSD form factor (which is somewhat compatible with NVMe but requires an adapter). Did you ever plug it into another Mac to make sure that it plays nice? I ran into situations where someone's neglected TB storage device only talks to a particular machine (which ran Snow Leopard), and when the machine was replaced with a new one, it can't read the contents of the drive in MacOS High Sierra.


c) Some kind of backup script that would dump the security camera contents on a regular interval, or the camera uses some type of shared filesystem (CIFS/Samba, NFS, AFP)?

Are there any space/noise/power constraints, and what is your budget for improving the situation? The most straightforward thing for backing things up is to buy an LTO tape drive, figure out how to connect it to the MacMini (Thunderbolt native LTO6-8 drives exist but are thousands of dollars - you could get a TB2 to PCIe enclosure (Sonnet and OWC sells them, an Echo Express SE1 is about 250 USD), a PCIe to SAS adapter (Atto H644 works fine here for MacOS and listed on evilBay for ~200 USD) , and a used SAS LTO4 or 5 drive should not be too bad (2-3 hundred?). Then use something like Bacula to run regular backups to tape, and do a monthly run to an off-site vault (yeah, storage box in a bank will do), rotating it regularly. Do keep in mind that 1/3 of the cost came from the need to have thunderbolt 2 compatibility for the MacMini. Switch to a Linux based backup, a cheaper PCIe to SAS HBA and your cost goes down significantly.

As for defending servers from thieves? Well, there's 2 strategies - one is to put it into an armored alcove and makes it not worth the potential criminal's time and effort to try stealing it - this pre-supposes a well ventilated steel box with a power strip inside that you can keep hardware in, and anchored to something secure - something like this? Otherwise it's really a game of hide-and-go-F-yourself - if your idea is to stick it in a storage closet...eh, you still have to cool/ventilate it if you want the hard drive(s) to endure. And if you are doing that, that's a slippery slope to building a server room.

a) So I am assuming here that since everything is connected wirelessly, that you run primarily in a home/office with WiFi 5 (802.11ac) and you don't do any wired ethernet connectivity, right?

-Wireless for the most part, the mac mini is ethernet.

b) MacMini 2014...so I am assuming...Plex for media center stuff, TimeMachine + iTunes for backup, possibly running MacOS Server for Mojave and/or Catalina? What's your plan if the 2014 MacMini dies?
The 2014 has the disadvantage of having the RAM soldered in, it uses Apple's proprietary 12-16 PCIe SSD form factor (which is somewhat compatible with NVMe but requires an adapter). Did you ever plug it into another Mac to make sure that it plays nice? I ran into situations where someone's neglected TB storage device only talks to a particular machine (which ran Snow Leopard), and when the machine was replaced with a new one, it can't read the contents of the drive in MacOS High Sierra.

-Yes the RAM was a bummer, I didnt do my research. I imagine in the next 2-3 years Ill be replacing it. was not aware of this problem. I sometimes attach the thunderbolt storage to my Macbook for large data transfers, so havent had an issue with new devices being attached.


c) Some kind of backup script that would dump the security camera contents on a regular interval, or the camera uses some type of shared filesystem (CIFS/Samba, NFS, AFP)?

- Great question. Its a clunky system. they're old Foscam H.264 cameras that FTP to a folder on one of the TB drives. Then I have a dedicated GMAIL account associated with an instance of Google Drive that uploads all videos to google drive and then adds them to google photos so I can access them in a timeline-esque manner. Again my 5mb/s upload makes it tough to host any sort of meaningful server with file access.

Are there any space/noise/power constraints, and what is your budget for improving the situation? The most straightforward thing for backing things up is to buy an LTO tape drive, figure out how to connect it to the MacMini (Thunderbolt native LTO6-8 drives exist but are thousands of dollars - you could get a TB2 to PCIe enclosure (Sonnet and OWC sells them, an Echo Express SE1 is about 250 USD), a PCIe to SAS adapter (Atto H644 works fine here for MacOS and listed on evilBay for ~200 USD) , and a used SAS LTO4 or 5 drive should not be too bad (2-3 hundred?). Then use something like Bacula to run regular backups to tape, and do a monthly run to an off-site vault (yeah, storage box in a bank will do), rotating it regularly. Do keep in mind that 1/3 of the cost came from the need to have thunderbolt 2 compatibility for the MacMini. Switch to a Linux based backup, a cheaper PCIe to SAS HBA and your cost goes down significantly.

As for defending servers from thieves? Well, there's 2 strategies - one is to put it into an armored alcove and makes it not worth the potential criminal's time and effort to try stealing it - this pre-supposes a well ventilated steel box with a power strip inside that you can keep hardware in, and anchored to something secure - something like this? Otherwise it's really a game of hide-and-go-F-yourself - if your idea is to stick it in a storage closet...eh, you still have to cool/ventilate it if you want the hard drive(s) to endure. And if you are doing that, that's a slippery slope to building a server room.

--

Thank you for your input, these are some really great ideas. I had never seem a storage locker like that. I may be into that idea. My budget is fluid, if I can justify the expense. Im going to process these ideas for a few days and see what comes out the other end.

Thank you!