IOSafe makes hard drives that are disaster-proof. This is great news if you want to protect your data long term and don’t necessarily want to use the cloud. Having a copy of your files on a backup at your home means that you don’t have to worry about having a working internet connection to retrieve your files. There are also plenty of server companies that have lost people’s data before, so this is another reason to keep your data safe at home.
Before going through the setup, I wanted to also mention that IOSafe sells a USB only version of this as well. They are a great option if you want something a little bit more portable and don’t need network based storage. I’ll go into why you might need a NAS in the section below.
What is a NAS?
A NAS is network attached storage. This means that instead of your hard drives being in your computer or in a USB enclosure, they are in an enclosure that is attached to your network. You plug a NAS directly into your router or modem. This allows it to be a part of your home network and all devices can connect to it and make use of the storage (Assuming they have the password). You can create users on the NAS that people can use to connect and have access to different folders. This particular NAS makes use of Synology OS which is a linux based operating system that gives you total control over the device. When you login to Synology it’s a lot like going into a PC to change things. It even has a desktop and applications. Don’t expect incredible processing power though, it’s meant to be an operating system for tasks related to file storage.
Reasons to use a NAS for backups
There are a myriad of different applications for a NAS setup. One of the most common uses is as a small personal web server for storing websites or for storing video editing files. Let’s say you were a famous YouTuber, like Engineer775, you may want to keep all of your video files in their full resolution without losing them. But why would you use it for backing up files?
If you have really fast internet access, you may not be bothered by purchasing a file storage backup plan from google drive and just letting it run in the background. However, not everyone has blazing fast internet. Many of the places that our customers build their off-grid cabins do not have fast internet as an option. Having a personal backup server would then make a lot more sense.
If you value the data on your computer you may not want to upload it onto someone else’s server. There have been plenty of data breaches before and there is nothing more secure than a home server that is disconnected from the internet. You can even setup “time machine” on a Mac with a NAS so that the time machine has access to your username and password. You can then make it inaccessible from anything other than the backup app if you desire. This would be double secure.
One other reason that you may want to consider a NAS is convenience. If you plan on actively using the files on the NAS or have other computers that need access to them, it is much easier than setting up a shared drive folder in the long-run. Once you’ve setup your NAS, you can connect all of the computers on your network to it. This is great for people that regularly work with files that are two big for their laptop’s hard drive. It is also very convenient to not have to carry around a USB drive every time you want to look at a file. You can just click on the network drive and get the files whenever you’re on your wi-fi. Expect transfer speeds of around 20 megaBYTES per second over Wi-Fi. This is great for simple transfers, but isn’t great for video editing or audio editing. For video editing you would need a direct ethernet connection.
Using a giant NAS like this is not going to be portable at all. It’s not meant to be portable. This NAS in particular is also fireproof and water proof, its weight is 30 pounds without anything in it. That’s as heavy as a full size desktop PC in a much smaller package. You won’t be taking it anywhere.
It’s also much harder to setup than a USB drive. Most USB backup drives are plug and play. Once you get it setup though it doesn’t require much tinkering at all.
This thing is called IOSafe for a reason. It’s like a small safe and its deceptively heavy. The metal on the outside is also good. You could probably take this in a mobile camper setup as well if you were filming a nature documentary and were worried about flood damage. I don’t think this enclosure is going to get damaged. In fact your drives would probably get damaged before the enclosure would. If you don’t already know, be gentle with spinning hard drives. They use a physical reader that can easily get damaged if you drop them while they’re in use.
If you order your own drives (Like Seagate IronWolf) they will probably have their own data protection plan that comes with them. The IOSafe NAS itself also has a data recovery plan of 2 years after the purchase date which is great. It’s also worth noting that spinning hard drives are a little better in terms of data recovery. SSD drives are used for their speed, however if you lose data on an SSD, it is worse than losing the data on a spinning hard drive usually. So if you’re storing your bitcoin wallet or something high value on a hard drive, technically a spinning hard drive is better for the task. Some might argue against this point, but SSD’s are basically just positively or negatively charged transistors that are subject to electrical shock and loss. A spinning hard drive physically writes your 1’s and 0’s to the spinning disk on the drive, so it’s technically always recoverable even if the main circuit board gets fried or the spindle stops working.
I found the installation process to be pretty straight forward. It comes with an Allen key that lets you remove the faceplate. The faceplate clicks in with magnets and seems to have a seal on it for the water/fireproofing. Once you remove the faceplate you can take out the drive bay cover and remove the two drive brackets. These screw directly to the drives and it comes with screws for this. Unless you order one with drives already preinstalled, in which case you won’t even have to do any hardware setup. It’s also nice to know that you can upgrade your drives at anytime. The operating system is not dependent on the drives, so you can put any blank drives in there and reformat them.
I connected to find.synology.com and it found the NAS for setup. At first it wouldn’t connect, but then after a quick reset it connected fine and I was able to format the drives and do the initial setup. Synology OS gives you access to a lot of really cool applications and packages. The only thing I really setup for our backup solution was a few username settings and I made a folder in the root of the drive that acted as the main backup folder. You can also restrict the amount of space on a folder and restrict users from different folders. This would be useful if you wanted to give two different people on your office network access to their own backup and not let them access each others. You could also limit the space of each backup so that no user takes up all the space on the NAS.
As I stated before, I setup the NAS with Mac OS X and used time machine. Windows also has a built in backup function. I Set it up to back up everything on my hard drive. Since time machine works sequentially, there is no major build up of files over time. Most good backup systems don’t store multiple versions of the same files. They just add the new files as you make new files or file changes and it gets stacked on top of different “snapshots” of your hard drive. So if you accidentally deleted that important word document from 4 days ago, just go to the snapshot from before and restore that file.
The idea with these drives is to allow both Scott and Lori and others in the office to connect to the drive. We will continue to test it out and report back any interesting findings.