Mac-based Studio Storage and Backup Advice | July 21, 2006
Clearleft recently moved into a new studio, and one of the first items on our todo list was sorting out a centralised storage and back-up solution. I’ve been looking into the various options and have to admit that I’m a little paralysed by choice. This is largely because I have very little technical experience in this field, and everybody I talk to suggests a different option.
We want to set up a machine as a local dev server so we can test sites centrally. We’d probably set up SVN and develop on the local machines, but commit to the central server for testing. As well as the actual site files, we would probably add other collateral into the repository like photoshop files etc.
We’d also like to use this machine to store common files like word templates, stock images, icons etc. We’d probably want to edit these files on the server,, rather than copy them over to our local machines, update them, and then copy them back. As such, any system we use needs to be reasonably fast. I also thought about using the machine as a centralised music server, but that may be overkill.
We’d like to back-up all the info on our workstations to the server at the end of each day. We’d also like to have a redundant back-up that we can take off-site each evening. The back-up solution would need to run automatically and be easy to re-instate files if necessary.
We want to get a set-up that will last us a few years and will be easy to expand when we add more workstations. However we don’t want to spend a fortune and an XServer is probably overkill for our needs.
We’ve been thinking about getting a mid-range G5 tower and it’s been suggested that we get two SATA drives and mirror them for extra redundancy. I’m not sure how the whole mirroring thing works, although I’ve been told that this is something OS X can handle. If not, I guess some kind of SoftRaid solution would work. We would then get a firewire drive to use as our off-site back-up and take it home every night.
A few people have suggested that, rather than back-up each workstation to the server each night, we actually have all our home folders on the server. This sounds like a sensible suggestion as it means we only have one disk to back-up, so it should be faster. However I’m worried that it may slow our home folders down, as well as leave us with a single point of failure. Basically if the server dies, none of us can work.
The other option would be to simply back-up our home folders to the server each night, minus our music directories, and then back that all up to the firewire drive. However I’m concerned that this type of back-up may take a really long time and slow everything down. I know that my home computer slows to a crawl when the back-up kicks in and it has to scan all the files for changes.
If we go down this route, we need to decide what type of back-up software to use. The Mac suppliers obviously want us to pay for Retrospect workgroup, but its quite expensive, and probably overkill. Also I never hear particularly good things about it. Another option would be to use something simple like Chronosync, at least for the time being. Somebody else recommended getting OS X server and using Net Boot and Net Restore, but I don’t know enough about these apps to make an informed decision.
So I’m really interested to hear what you guys recommend as the optimal, small mac-based studio, storage and back-up solution. Something that is easy to set-up, reliable, not too expensive, but has some room for expansion if we need it.
Posted at July 21, 2006 10:44 AM