Backup Personality Quiz

Backup Personality Quiz

Network storage comes with more options than a luxury sedan. This questionnaire will help you identify which features are critical to your environment, as well as what you’ve been doing wrong in all your personal relationships (kidding).


Q: Do you want to easily add more storage capacity in the future?


YES: Choose a multibay device that allows you to easily upgrade the drives inside the enclosure, such as the LaCie 2big Network or Netgear ReadyNAS NV+.

NO: Feel free to save some money by buying a single-drive enclosure, or if your router supports it, by plugging in a USB hard drive.


Q: Is your network Mac only?


YES: Choose a device that supports Bonjour (Apple’s tool for discovering network devices) and AFP (Apple’s file-sharing protocol) for the most effortless setup.

NO: Find a device that supports SMB, a network protocol that plays nice across platforms. And unless the device also supports Bonjour, make sure you’re comfortable connecting to file servers via IP addresses through the Finder’s Connect to Server window (Command-K).


Q: Will you share high-def video or other large files from your network drive?


YES: You’ll get the best performance by connecting to your network via Gigabit Ethernet. For wireless networks, 802.11n routers such as the AirPort Extreme provide the fastest transfers, assuming each of your Macs also supports the N wireless standard.


NO: Slower wireless speeds (equipment using 802.11g) should be fine, although backups will take longer.


Q: Will you use your network drive as a file server?


YES: Don’t forget that file servers need regular backups. For the easiest backups, choose a multidrive device that can mirror one hard drive to another, such as the LaCie 2big Network, or at least one that can back itself up to an external USB drive, such as the Synology DS107+.


NO: A single drive will do fine, since there’s no need to make a backup of your backups.



The technical specs for network-storage devices serve an alphabet soup of file systems and network-transfer protocols. Here’s what you need to know before you buy.


AFP: Apple Filing Protocol, the Mac’s traditional protocol for transferring files over a local network. If you’re running a Mac-only network, this is the protocol to look for.


Bonjour: Apple’s method for advertising and finding shared services on a local network. A Bonjour-capable drive is easier to find and connect to from the Finder’s Network browser.


FAT32: File Allocation Table, the default file system for older Windows drives (and many NAS devices). Mac OS X can read and write to FAT32-formatted volumes, but be wary of using such a volume as a backup drive. It won’t be bootable if the device also supports connecting via USB, and some metadata (such as permissions and Spotlight comments) may not be preserved.


FTP: File Transfer Protocol, another network protocol. Although Mac OS X can mount FTP volumes in the Finder, it can’t write to them, so you’ll need a separate FTP application to transfer files. For a free FTP app, try CyberDuck (free,


HFS+: Hierarchical File System Plus, Mac OS X’s preferred file system. If the NAS device supports it, this is the file system to use.


SMB: Server Message Block is the native protocol for sharing files and printers on Windows networks. Mac OS X reads and writes volumes mounted via SMB, so it’s the best protocol to use if your network contains both Macs and PCs.




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