Recommended way to sync/backup 2 laptops to my NAS

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Recommended way to sync/backup 2 laptops to my NAS

25
12
NAS
DS920+
Operating system
  1. macOS
  2. Windows
Mobile operating system
  1. Android
  2. iOS
I am new to the NAS world and do not yet have a grasp of best practices for storage, backup, and sync. I would appreciate your advice. Please forgive the lengthy post. I don't know enough so to make it short.

GOALS: Safety of my data, and access to it from any device.

BACKGROUND:
1. I use both a MacBook Pro and a Dell laptop daily, but usually for different things. However, I often need to access documents/files created on one while I am away from home with the other laptop. I used to use OneDrive so I always had access to everything on either laptop or my iPad or Android phone. But both OneDrive and my laptops filled up, and I lost data when I deleted some things from OneDrive and it deleted it from both laptops as well (because I didn't realize what I was doing). I then bought my first NAS, a DS920+ and DX517 expansion unit so I could control my data and move away from OneDrive. After a disaster when I accidentally touched the power button on the DX517 and damaged the single large volume, I have rebuilt the NAS with a separate volume on each box, and am ready to get things set up again.
2. I use a separate external HDD as a Time Machine for continuous backup of my MacBook when it is home, and use external hard drives connected to my PC for regular backups using Acronis. I also subscribe to both Backblaze and iDrive for backups of both computers and my phone.

COMPLICATION: The primary thing I do on the MacBook that I do not do on the Windows laptop is video editing. I almost always do this at home, not while traveling. I filled up the MacBook SSD with huge Final Cut Pro libraries. I want to move the libraries I am not currently working with to the NAS where I can get to them for a single job on the MacBook if needed, but no longer store them on the MacBook.

QUESTION: Now that I need to start over with the NAS setup, what is the best way to sync/backup my two laptops so I have access to everything from either laptop (and occasionally from my iPad and phone)? Before my disaster I was using Synology Drive Client to do Backup tasks (not Sync tasks) to the NAS, and Hyper Backup on each laptop to do an additional backup the NAS, plus to backup to buckets on Backblaze. I was still transitioning from OneDrive so still using it to access my files. Once I get everything off OneDrive and stop my two laptops syncing with OneDrive how should I set up my NAS to meet my needs? With my limited understanding here are some thoughts:
1. I could have Drive Client on both laptops sync each laptop with a subfolder of my home folder (such as "Mac" and "PC") on the NAS. Then I can map my home folder as a drive on each laptop and access both subfolders to gain access to whatever folders and files I need. I can then continue to use Hyper Backup to backup the NAS to Backblaze. If I do Sync Tasks only then my NAS is not a true backup of my laptops, so it seems I should also use Hyper Backup to do real backups to the NAS (as well as to Backblaze). Or should I use Backup Tasks with Drive Client as I used to do?
2. I can restructure the Documents folders on both laptops to be the same and have Drive Client on each laptop sync to a single folder in my home folder, thus keeping both laptops synced with the NAS and with each other. Is this possible? It will be more work to restructure the Documents folder on each laptop, and also seems unnecessary to have everything the same on both devices. It would also mean I need to keep my Final Cut Pro libraries out of my Documents folder on the MacBook, but copy the finished videos into the Documents folder so the PC can reach them. In addition, if I delete a file from any of the three devices it would go away on all three. So this doesn't really seem like a good solution. (In addition, my PC has a 1TB SSD and my MacBook a 2TB SSD. I would either waste half the storage on the Mac or need to upgrade the Dell to a 2TB SSD.)
3. Is there a better option? The more I have written the more I feel Drive Client Backup Tasks are better than Sync Tasks, unless Drive Client also does a backup.

Thank you for putting up with this long post.
 
Solution
Using the Drive platform as a solution to backup (not sync) your laptops would be a way to go. In addition (atm) you could use Active Backup for Business package to do a complete DELL pc backup (not just specific files) onto your nas and stop using Acronis. This feature is announced to be coming to macos as well this year so another thing to consider.

Hyper Backup towards a cloud destination (b2 or synology’s c2) can remain your NAS backup method.
Using the Drive platform as a solution to backup (not sync) your laptops would be a way to go. In addition (atm) you could use Active Backup for Business package to do a complete DELL pc backup (not just specific files) onto your nas and stop using Acronis. This feature is announced to be coming to macos as well this year so another thing to consider.

Hyper Backup towards a cloud destination (b2 or synology’s c2) can remain your NAS backup method.
 
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Solution
It would also mean I need to keep my Final Cut Pro libraries out of my Documents folder on the MacBook, but copy the finished videos into the Documents folder so the PC can reach them.

You could also create a shortcut in your documents, which point to where the finished videos are. As an example I have my Documents folder on a laptop which syncs with the nas using drive. I went through a process of archiving old stuff, to free up space on the laptop (you can also do this in drive) but I chose to create a “docs archive” folder in my drive root folder. I didn’t create any sync task to this folder so the data just lives on the nas. In the my documents folder I created a shortcut to that location and when I’m home and online I can click that shortcut on my laptop to access that folder from within my documents.
 
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Thank you both very much. This is very helpful.

Rusty, I was leaning toward the Drive and Hyper Backup solution you outlined, so I am reassured by your comments. Thanks. I just skimmed through the Active Backup for Business docs on the Synology website. That package looks like a folder/file backup solution, but not a disk imaging solution as is one tool in Acronis. Is that correct? I have used Acronis for 20 years, and with a bootable CD of the program have restored several Toshiba laptops multiple times over the years. (The Dell has been completely reliable and hasn't needed that, yet.) All you do is boot from the CD then load the image from an external drive. Active Backup for Business appears to require your PC to actually be running and able to connect to the NAS. Is that correct? I suppose if I create periodic disk images on an external drive, and restore the laptop that way, then I could get everything up to date from Active Backup for Business off the NAS. Right?

Gerard, thanks for that idea. Since I will need to store the Final Cut Pro libraries on the NAS that seems a good way to get to them.
 
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Active Backup for Business is a block-level backup solution that will offer bare metal restores. That said, creating a bootable disk (in my case I used a USB memory stick) to restore your Windows PC requires some additional steps.

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On the above YT video you can find a step-by-step howto that describes creating a Windows 10 (This boot disk will restore Windows 11 images all the same) bootable disk that will help you restore your full backup.

For file/folder level restores you can use the web based ABB restore portal from any machine, provided you give it the proper login credentials.
 
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Active Backup for Business appears to require your PC to actually be running and able to connect to the NAS. Is that correct? I suppose if I create periodic disk images on an external drive, and restore the laptop that way, then I could get everything up to date from Active Backup for Business off the NAS. Right?
Correct. ABB supports bare metal backup while at the same time you can also use the Application Portal to drill down into that backup and extract files'folders as needed without the need to recover the whole PC. Also, you can, if you need to, recover the ABB backup as a bare metal restore, and you can also virtualize it if needed (after you connect a compatible hypervisor to the ABB setup).

Here is a general quick overview of the ABB process including bare metal restore - 3-2-1 > Active Backup

Here is PC to virtual convert as well as linux bare metal support - DSM 7 - Active Backup for Business v2.2.0-11761 (BETA)
 
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Re:ABB... For restoring to Win machines, I recommend using Win backup tools. For bare metal restores, or individual files, consider Macrium Reflect Free or Veeam for Windows (free). Backup files can land on shared folder or external USB drives. Mature products, superior support and stability.
 
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ABB: I tried several times last night and again tonight to install the Recovery Media Creator, but get the same message whether trying to create a bootable USB or ISO file. See the two graphics, the error message and the log. I have read several Synology and Microsoft articles and as far as I can tell I don't have the issues they address, with the possible exception of Bitlocker. My Windows 10 Pro has Bitlocker turned on. Does that qualify as an encrypted drive that will prevent the tool from working? If so, can I turn it off the create the USB drive, and then turn Bitlocker back on? And would ABB and the Recovery tool work after it is turned back on?

Other facts: The Windows Assessment and Deployment Tool does not show up in Apps, so I can't uninstall it and reinstall it. I also went to Microsoft's Download Center and tried to install it directly from them, but it is the same window and had the same error at the end.

Thanks,
Gene
 
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Oops, forgot.
 

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tried to install it directly from them, but it is the same window and had the same error at the end
Hmm haven't had any issue with that but then again I'm not a full time win user and true, was not running Bitlocker. Then again you are not 100% sure that this is a bitlocker problem.
 
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BitLocker shouldn't be an issue, the USB device/disk just needs to be bootable. Everything that is restored on the block-level is encrypted or it is not. That said, I've never used it in combination with BitLocker either so I'm afraid I'm not of much help either here.

EDIT: The only (encryption) limitation I could find is;

However that is only on the file-level, not the block-level which is used for bare metal backups and restores.

Source: Requirements and Limitations | Active Backup for Business - Synology Knowledge Center
 
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I saw that same EFS limitation, too, and so expected Bitlocker is not a problem. I notice in my Start menu that the Windows Kits are now installed, but not available in Programs to be uninstalled, nor are they in "Add or Remove Windows Features" as far as I can tell. Every item in this list opens correctly, so I don't understand the error message referring to "Documentation." Interestingly, pressing the Windows Key and typing Windows Kits does not take me to that folder, but produces only "Best Match see web results."

I have so many tabs and programs open I didn't want to shut down and double check that my PC is booting in UEFI, not Legacy mode. But Microsoft docs say Bitlocker requires UEFI and will not work in Legacy mode. So my PC is booting properly for the Windows Assessment and Deployment Kit to work.

Microsoft:
"BitLocker support for TPM 2.0 requires Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) for the device. TPM 2.0 is not supported in Legacy and CSM Modes of the BIOS. Devices with TPM 2.0 must have their BIOS mode configured as Native UEFI only. The Legacy and Compatibility Support Module (CSM) options must be disabled."

Question: I believe I read somewhere that my bootable USB drive must formatted in FAT32, not NTFS. Is this correct? I have tried installing WADK with the drive formatted both ways, but for the last few days it has been FAT32.

I still have Dell Premium Plus support on this laptop. I am going to call them and see what they say, or see if they can get this to work. I may not be able to do this until late this evening, but I'll report back. Thank you for your help.
 

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Well, guys, it finally works. I sat down to call Dell support and thought I better run through trying to create the Recovery Media USB drive again so I had things on screen when the tech logged in to my computer, and so I could remember the steps I took. But for some strange reason, this time it worked. I did nothing different (that I know of – click install and watch), but it went through all the steps and came back successful. Since I had rebooted my PC several times during all my testing I doubt that was the difference, but who knows. Anyway, thank you all for your help and suggestions. I appreciate the support from this forum. I now have a bootable Recovery Media USB. Plus, I just checked ABB and the first successful backup has happened. So my PC has a bare-metal backup.
 
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Thanks for the reminder. The USB boot drive worked, but only with an Ethernet connection. I installed the Intel wireless driver on the USB drive but could not boot up without the cable. To test the recovery process I followed the prompts up to the point where I picked the backup I wanted to restore, but didn't click Next because I did not want to take a chance on it actually starting a restore. To test the files in the backup I went into the Recovery Portal and drilled down to several files and downloaded and opened them.

Is there a more thorough way to test whether or not the restore will work? Thanks.
 
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Gotta ask... why not restore? If you don't trust the system to work properly, what value is it.

Wow, well, I'm not sure. Perhaps because it is a backup. If I did a restore and it failed, then I'd waste a week rebuilding it. I guess I'd rather not waste that time until I am forced to. When I was flying I never jumped out of a perfectly good airplane; I just practiced on the jump tower.

Do you actually do that? Have you ever had a restore fail?
 
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I’d do a restore to a vm or clone the hard drive to a spare drive and then do the restore on that one. I agree I wouldn’t test a restore on my daily driver until needed; id test it in a vm or equivalent.
 
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Do you actually do that? Have you ever had a restore fail?
I've restored my PCs more often than I can remember. Sometimes I want to restore due a program I tested, which badly bogged down my PC and I didn't want to rely on its uninstall feature leaving residuals behind. Other times I've needed to rollback from a buggy program update... And there are times when I've made registry changes that did not go to plan, and caused boot issues. Generally a rollback takes less than 10 minutes as only the changed blocks need to be restored. In situ testing is the only way IMO.
 
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