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adriantoll
Sep 23, 2004, 05:50 AM
When I got my new 17"PB I thought I'd make full use of it's wireless capabilities - something that I absolutely love (being a child of the 70's, I still enjoy using a TV remote control...)

The Problem
Thing is, I've got about 1500 CDs and wanted to digitise them so I could put the CDs themselves in storage and just use a large hard drive to play them through iTunes. But that would mean having a wire permanently connected to my PB, which looks quite crap as I'm using the iCurve stand and, more importantly, takes up a USB or firewire port. So I figured that the best thing would be to get a network drive.

The Solution
I had a look around, and found that most network drives were really expensive and almost gave up hope, until I found Ximeta. Basically, they sell drives called NetDisk that you can hang off the back of a router / hub with an ethernet cable to access over a network (it also has a USB port if you want to link it directly). I've got a Netgear DG834G router (basically an Airport Extreme base station with a few extra ethernet ports and no USB port), so all I had to do was to hang the drive off the back of the router, install the driver software on my PB and I had a wireless network drive. Then I simply changed my iTunes folder location to the new drive and digitised all my music (75Gb and counting...) onto that drive.

Now I have my laptop on my desk accessing the music files on the NetDisk wirelessly, and playing them out through Airport Express to my stereo, meaning no ugly cables, but plenty of capacity.

Mmmm. Wireless.

Niggles
One small problem that I have with it is that occasionally (once every couple of days) the drive disappears and reappears quickly, which can make iTunes hiccup (and you get an annoying "Device removed" message) - the latest drivers were the first to support AirPort, so I guess that should stabilise with the next release of the OSX drivers, as should multi-user access. It also occasionally struggles for some unknown reason when renaming tracks etc. (I have iTunes set to keep my files organised, so it actually has to perform operations on it). One last thing - I've formatted it as a Mac OSX drive, so Windows can't see it. To format it so that both Window and Mac can see it requires that you format a series of 32Gb FAT partitions, which would be a pain - much better to use it with Mac only or Windows only (NTFS) accessing it.

Summary
So, all round, a very nice solution for someone who doesn't want to do this on a network with lots of people, and hopefully even that should change pretty soon...

Ximeta NetDisk 250Gb
http://www.ximeta.com/products/network_drives/netdisk/index.php

Latest Ximeta OSX Drivers
http://www.ximeta.com/support/downloads/mac_osx/index.php

Where to buy
I bought mine at http://www.westcoast.co.uk/ (search for "ximeta"). Their list price is 224.67 (approx $400 / 330) and although they're wholesalers they still sold me a single one at a discount (can't remember how much now I'm afraid).

magid
Sep 27, 2004, 05:46 PM
since the drive is connected over a network, does it take much longer to save your files to that drive as opposed to the one that is in your powerbook?

adriantoll
Sep 27, 2004, 06:05 PM
Yes and no. It does take longer to deal with copying large files etc. (you couldn't use it as a scratch disk if you were editing video) but not when ripping CDs into iTunes - most of the time it's at about 10x, which is pretty much the best I've had even when using the internal drive anyway.

If speed becomes an issue for some reason (you want to use it as a scratch disk temporarily, or copy some large files) you can either hook it up via USB or normal ethernet cables via a hub. The first obviously gives the most noticeable difference, but the second also helps.

crazylegs
Oct 13, 2004, 03:47 PM
I have the EXACT same problem and have 160GB of music plus other files. Thanks for your post regarding this product. Looks like a winner for an individual home/small office use.

I just purchased one and it will arive tomorrow. Everything I have read indicates that it automatically comes up as a local drive in the finder (once you install driver). That's it, no needed configuring? Have you tried to use the mirroring function for backing up in the disk in real time? or does this only work with windows based file structure? Last, is there a utility for OSX that can be used to accomplished any of the above? Thanks in advance, it seems that Ximeta came up with a brilliant idea to easily enable the addition of network based storage for the masses.

Oh, and last thing, how is support of the product?

adriantoll
Oct 13, 2004, 04:16 PM
Deciding on which file system to format the disk with is the main task, but it's pretty straightforward once you've decided that. It depends on what you're going to connect to it - I use the OSX Extended file system because I'm just using OSX to connect to it, but if you're in a mixed environment it's definitely worth being careful about it. For example, if you want Windows machines to see it too, you'll need to format it as FAT, and unless you've got a utility to format larger portions, Windows only allows you to format FAT portions up to 32Gb. All the options are in the manual. Once you've done the basic configuration, it just pops up in Finder whenever your computer and the drive are connected to the network - you don't have to "activate" it every time you start your computer up or anything.

I haven't used anything like mirroring, but do remember something about that only working with Windows file systems. As I haven't tried to do that, I don't know anything about any OSX utlities I'm afraid.

The support for the product has been good in terms of helpfulness - I received a long email written specifically for me rather than a copy-and-paste from the manual - but they haven't managed to resolve my issues about the "Device removed" message. However, I have a feeling that (as the support person suggested) it might well be to do with my wireless setup rather than the drivers as such.

blodwyn
Oct 13, 2004, 05:38 PM
I bought a 120Gb Ximeta about a year ago for use on my Windows network. The drivers were a bit buggy but they improved them steadily and it ended up working well. I since 'upgraded' a couple of my systems to Linux, and I was then out of luck with the Netdisk since there are no Linux drivers for the Ximeta (apart from a couple of RedHat drivers, but I don't use RedHat). Since then I've added a Powerbook to my mix.

The solution to my problem was to install a Linksys NSLU2 (http://www.linksys.com/products/product.asp?grid=35&scid=43&prid=640) onto my network and plug an external USB2 drive into it (I could have used the Netdisk in USB2 mode but I took it to work as my backup disk).

This works great and can be accessed from any system that can connect to a windows network. It's a bit slower than I'd like, but for backup and playing MP3's it's great. If you've already got a hard disk laying around it works out cheaper than a Netdisk too.

adriantoll
Oct 14, 2004, 03:59 AM
An interesting solution...

How fast is the NSLU2 compared to the NetDisk? Did you have to format it as a series of 32Gb FAT partitions, or did you format the whole thing as a single NTFS partition? How do you connect to the disk - as you would do to a share on a Windows machine (i.e. the NSLU2 acts like a Windows machine to share out the drive)? If so, does this mean that you have to reconnect every time you restart your PowerBook?

Also, did you use your NetDisk over a wireless network, and if so did you have any problems with it (i.e. the drive disappearing and reappearing quickly)?

crazylegs
Oct 15, 2004, 01:09 AM
I got it today and set it up well. It worked perfectly when I attach an ethernet cable from my Powerbook to the router but got nothing when I tried to use the wireless connection. I did download latest driver as well. My setup is as follows:

Netgear Router WGR614, Netdisk attached to ethernet port, Airport Express attached to ethernet port on router.

I use the AX to get internet and stream music wirelessly. Although I normally turn the Netgear router's wireless off (and just use wired in favor of AX for wireless), I tried connecting wirelessly to Netdisk with both Netgear and AX and had no luck. What is your exact setup? What did I miss? Any thoughts? Thanks.

blodwyn
Oct 15, 2004, 06:54 PM
An interesting solution...

How fast is the NSLU2 compared to the NetDisk? Did you have to format it as a series of 32Gb FAT partitions, or did you format the whole thing as a single NTFS partition? How do you connect to the disk - as you would do to a share on a Windows machine (i.e. the NSLU2 acts like a Windows machine to share out the drive)? If so, does this mean that you have to reconnect every time you restart your PowerBook?

Also, did you use your NetDisk over a wireless network, and if so did you have any problems with it (i.e. the drive disappearing and reappearing quickly)?

The NLSU2 is actually a linux appliance so it formats the disk to a (I think) ext2 filesystem, so there are no partitions to create. You can plug 2 disks in and the NSLU2 just make them look like windows shares on the network, so the actual filesystems on the disks are irrelevant. You can create your own share points with passwords if you want, but by default is creates an admin share and a user share.

I think it's a fair bit slower than the NetDisk over a network, but for my backup purposes it's not a problem for me. It's USB2 after all, which is not the best for transfer rates - would have been better if it was firewire, but they're appealing to the mass market I suppose. I do reconnect with my Powerbook when I want to, wired or wireless. I just saved the path as a favorite in the Finder>Go>Connect to Server dialog box. My setting is

cifs://guest@NAS/DISK 1 (The NAS was what I named it and DISK 1 is the default share name)

I did use my NetDisk over my wired and wireless network, and used to get the occasional drop and reconnect, which was a pain. So far the Linksys has been 100% stable

There's a review here (http://www.tomsnetworking.com/Reviews-155-ProdID-NSLU2-1.php)

adriantoll
Oct 16, 2004, 12:27 PM
I got it today and set it up well. It worked perfectly when I attach an ethernet cable from my Powerbook to the router but got nothing when I tried to use the wireless connection. I did download latest driver as well. My setup is as follows:

Netgear Router WGR614, Netdisk attached to ethernet port, Airport Express attached to ethernet port on router.

I use the AX to get internet and stream music wirelessly. Although I normally turn the Netgear router's wireless off (and just use wired in favor of AX for wireless), I tried connecting wirelessly to Netdisk with both Netgear and AX and had no luck. What is your exact setup? What did I miss? Any thoughts? Thanks.

I'm not sure to be honest - my setup is simply a Netgear DG834G 802.11g wireless router, G4 PowerBook, and the Ximeta drive attached via an ethernet cable. I installed the drivers and the drive popped up after configuration with ndadmin - I don't remember having any problems. The only thing that's different, given you've tried it with the router's wireless access as well as your Airport Express, is the router itself, so I guess that's where I'd start looking. Sorry I'm not able to be of more help... :(

techgeek
Oct 18, 2004, 08:25 AM
Well i'm really pleased for everybody that is having a good time with their NetDisk, but for me it has been a waste of money.
The driver is VERY buggy, often causing a kernal panic and forcing a hard boot. When connecting I occasionally have to go through a convoluted process of rebooting both my iBook and the NetDisk before they see each other. if the NetDisk is powered before the iBook it will never work. If the iBook sleeps - kernal panic.

I'm getting very fedup with it.
:mad:

crazylegs
Oct 18, 2004, 02:26 PM
Ok, I found the problem with my setup. It stemmed from the fact that I had recently bought a new Powerbook to replace my G4 tower, took a disk image of the tower, and put that image on the Powerbook. Although this was the most simple way to transfer evreything, I had suspected that the different hardware configurations would cause problems somewhere down the line. I saved all of my data on the Netdisk (using USB2.0) and installed a fresh copy of OSX on the Powerbook. Once I installed the Netdisk driver again, it popped up immediately as a local drive using the wireless connection.

So far this thing is very stable and almost never disconnects and re-appears as posted previously. However, I did notice that when I was using another external drive (Lacie), it would sometimes disconnect and then reconnect and I would get the "device removal" message. This never once, though, caused any damage to the Netdisk and it always has worked flawlessly even after getting this message.

I am looking forward to the next driver update that will enable hibernation (as in previous driver), but with the wireless connection. This should take care of the above problem (I hope) in that you get the message and disconnect if there's even a short disruption in the wireless connection, which I am assuming would be the same as if the computer went to sleep momentarily. This is just a guess though.

Overall, despite the last poster's objections, I would recomend this to anyone who wants an external drive. It works great as a USB2.0 drive, but is also there for the future as wireless and IP networking gains complexity in the average home. And all with very little configuration. Perfect for the non-techie. Also, it adds a measure of security in that this does not connect through the router using an IP address, so it would be hard for an outsider to see the disk. This thing could be huge with right marketing!

crazylegs
Dec 27, 2004, 04:08 PM
I have had this for a few months now and have experienced some problems with the "drop and reconnect" issue. I was using a Netgear router and airport express as a wireless acess point. Recently the above problem was happening more and more often.

The solution was to get a new Gigabit ethernet switch ($79 version of Netgear's) and connect the router to this new switch in the WAN port and then connect the Netdisk and AX wireless point to the LAN ports. Adding this piece of hardware has made the system MUCH more stable and I have yet to see that message again. I don't know if the GB switch is what is making it more stable or that it just does a better job because it has only one function instead of the multiple functions of the other router, but it is much more stable.

I guess having a seperate router and switch works much better with the Netdisk. So for anyone having problems, I would go with a wired router which is connected to the modem, and a wired switch which is connected to the Router's LAN port and connects the Netdisk and wireless access point.

Last, I also just got another Airport Express and am using the WDS and it seems to work with the Netdisk. I am wondering, however, if i were to change access points (i.e. connect to the remote bae station vs. the main base station), whether it would drop and reconnect. To be determined. Anyone with experience on multi access point systems with the Netdisk??

CanadaRAM
Dec 29, 2004, 12:36 AM
Another brand to look at is Tritton www.trittonsales.com

They have both wired NAS (Network Attached Storage) and wireless models with the WiFi base station built in.

They are Mac-friendly. I have used the ASAP-120 (Router/firewall with built-in 120 Gb HD and FTP server) for about a year.

Thanks
Trevor
CanadaRAM.com