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Old Jan 7, 2013, 12:50 PM   #1
beatledud
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New Router/Home Network/Home Media Setup Questions

I'm looking to upgrade my home network. I have a few specific requirements, but first my current setup (single floor 700 sf apartment in an old brick row house):

AEBS (2nd Gen 2007) Wireless Router:
  • Comcast ISP (30 Meg connection).
  • Cat6 connections to Bedroom Apple TV 2, Living Room DirecTV & Living Room PS3.
  • 2x iPhone 5s, 1x iPad 3, 1x MBP Retina, & a Phillips Airplay Speaker in Kitchen connect regularly with WiFi. Recently purchased for Living Room is a Onkyo TX-NR515 and a Apple TV 3 both to connect with WiFi.
  • Three External Hard Drives are connected to the AEBS using a USB hub. 1x 2TB for media, 1x 1TB for misc storage, 1x 500GB for Time Machine backups.

Issues/Desired Features I'm looking to resolve:
  • The router is placed in a closet that is centered between the Bedroom and Living Room. Moving the router as well as moving/adding Cat6 cables isn't an ideal situation. Therefor the 2 Cat6 cables at the Living Room Entertainment Center and the 1 Cat6 at the Bedroom TV is all I have to work with.
  • Three External HDD appears to be too much, at least for the USB Hub, and the script that loads the drives at startup always breaks eventually.
  • I'd like a more simple/safe networked HDD setup. The 2TB drive is a year old and performing well. The 1TB and 500GB are getting long in the tooth (and the 1TB may be dying). The MBP's SSD is only 256GB. I like the idea of using a Time Capsule for more efficient media use and backup and then backing up my media to the 2TB for redundancy.
  • Initial testing with the new Apple TV 3 appears to stutter when streaming Netflix. The Philips Airplay speaker gives out sometimes, and may be related to signal strength/speed. I'm guessing any new routers would provide the speed boost over my current AEBS.
  • The Apple TV 2 is running XBMC. I know the Apple TV 3 can't be jailbroken and may never be. I've been converting my media to MP4 to make it all compatible with iOS. But I still don't like that iTunes needs to be open for this to work. Don't know if there's a workaround that can be integrated in my new setup.
  • I'd like to eliminate my PS3 from being my media server (never been stable) with the exception of Amazon Prime streaming.
  • The Onkyo Receiver does have an Ethernet jack, however the WiFi adapter appears OK. It will only be needed for the iOS remote, and maybe internet radio (however the Apple TV 3 plugged into it may make the internet radio feature moot).
  • I need a hard connection for the DirecTV. I'd prefer a hard connection for the PS3 for gaming.
  • Do I want or need 802.11ac support? Doubt the MBP has it hidden/disabled like Apple did with 802.11n. Maybe sell my MBP Retina and upgrade a year in if its worth it?
  • I'd like to add a Printer with AirPrint capabilities later. It would go in the back office (separated by a brick wall but open door). WiFi reception works OK back there as currently set up.

Ideas I have for a resolution:
  • New AEBS ($170). Does not solve my multiple HDD issue. Ethernet Ports are filled unless I can stop use on my PS3 (or buy a switch for the Living Room). But provides a setup that more or less works for me right now.
  • New 3TB Time Capsule ($480). 2TB may not be enough for Media & Backup. Can plug my 2TB HDD into it to backup my Media. Same issue with Ethernet Ports. Overall this is the most expensive I believe.
  • New Asus RT-N66u Router ($160). TheWireCutter has it as the best WiFi router and I tend to agree with their review. There does appear to be a way to code Time Capsule support to the stock firmware (although I don't understand the process after first glance).
  • New Asus RT-AC66U Router ($230). Is 802.11ac really needed? Maybe just an upgrade to a new 802.11n router be enough for speed improvements?
  • ZyXEL NSA310 Network Drive ($85+HDD). TheWireCutter also ranks this as their best Budget Network Drive. I would of course have to buy a 3TB HDD to insert. Could potentially plug my 2TB HDD into it to backup media. Should solve the Time Capsule issue with a non Apple router? Does this help with the iTunes/Apple TV 3 connection?

Thoughts, suggestions, experience is most welcomed.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 07:36 AM   #2
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Over 600 reviews but no comments? Was my post too specific?
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 09:38 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by beatledud View Post
Over 600 reviews but no comments? Was my post too specific?
No, it was too broad. You need to do some of your own homework before asking such a set of questions.
Can't speak for others but I'm not prepared to do IT consulting for you, but I will help you with a specific "How do I do XYZ" type question (if I can).
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 11:25 AM   #4
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Ok. If I get the ASUS router what's the best way to get Time Machine working. That firmware coding website I shared or a NAS or something else?
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 01:07 PM   #5
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Ok. If I get the ASUS router what's the best way to get Time Machine working. That firmware coding website I shared or a NAS or something else?
For managing storage (inc Time Machine) a NAS is a much better way to go. Multiple USB drives are a poor substitute for a managed RAID array (with a USB backup). Synology's NASs seem to have a good reputation with OSX devices as well as being able to use the NAS for Time Machine. Lots of forum posts outlining alternatives.

You'll need to chose between a 2, 4 or higher number of integral drives depending on how much stuff you have and how much you want to spend. Personally I'm not a fan of 2 drive NAS units. 4 drive versions are more flexible wrt growth and may well be all you need unless you have Video to store.

I have 2x 6 drive NAS units but then I have 7TB of Video as well as 400GB of Audio. I also don't have Synology so can't advise on choices.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 08:53 PM   #6
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For managing storage (inc Time Machine) a NAS is a much better way to go. Multiple USB drives are a poor substitute for a managed RAID array (with a USB backup). Synology's NASs seem to have a good reputation with OSX devices as well as being able to use the NAS for Time Machine. Lots of forum posts outlining alternatives.

You'll need to chose between a 2, 4 or higher number of integral drives depending on how much stuff you have and how much you want to spend. Personally I'm not a fan of 2 drive NAS units. 4 drive versions are more flexible wrt growth and may well be all you need unless you have Video to store.

I have 2x 6 drive NAS units but then I have 7TB of Video as well as 400GB of Audio. I also don't have Synology so can't advise on choices.
I have Movies, TV Shows, and Music. I'm at about 1GB total usage (and this is years and years worth of collection). I think a 3TB drive with 2TB+ for media and 500GB+ for backups should do.

So if I were to get the Asus Router, Synology DiskStation DS213, and just one Hitachi 3TB HDD for right now, that would be $640. If I swap the Synology for a budget single bay Zyxel that would be $440. Sure seems like the 3TB Time Capsule would be a better deal at $430 Refurb. I'd lose the expandability of a NAS but I don't know if I really need more than 3TB for a long time. I'd also wouldn't have as good of a range and signal strength than with the Asus router, but the Time Capsule would likely be a significant boost nonetheless from what I have.

I think the Asus+NAS is the better all around feature option, but it's either more expensive or the same as Time Capsule, and it doesn't offer a killer feature such as no iTunes server needs to be opened on my MBP. Any counter argument?
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 09:00 PM   #7
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So if I were to get the Asus Router, Synology DiskStation DS213, and just one Hitachi 3TB HDD for right now, that would be $640.
Perfect. Skip the Zyxel and stick with the Synology. I have a similar setup but with the latest AirPort Extreme and the second HDD in the NAS is strictly for TM backups.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 09:16 PM   #8
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Perfect. Skip the Zyxel and stick with the Synology. I have a similar setup but with the latest AirPort Extreme and the second HDD in the NAS is strictly for TM backups.
While I agree that's the more preferred solution, it's a good $200 more than just a simple integrated 3TB Time Capsule. I was looking for a perhaps cheaper solution to Time Capsule, not necessarily a more expensive. The Zyxel enclosure would at least make it on par with Time Capsule.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 09:38 PM   #9
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Get a single bay Synology from last year, the DS112j.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 09:39 PM   #10
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Get a single bay Synology from last year, the DS112j.
$145 for that model, more expensive than the $85-$100 Zyxel recommends for a budget NAS enclosure. We're still talking about a setup that's around $450 and comparable to the Time Capsule in pricing.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 09:50 PM   #11
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Consider all the third party Synology apps, such as Plex. Does the Zyxel support Mountain Lion TM?

I'd chuck the old 2TB and 1TB in the Synology. Use one for TM and the other for everything else.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 09:56 PM   #12
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Consider all the third party Synology apps, such as Plex. Does the Zyxel support Mountain Lion TM?
The Wire Cutter says it is supported.

I think debating between a Zyxel or a Synology is moot here. Both are the Asus+NAS combo which is more expensive or maybe the same price as a Time Capsule at $430 (I found New for $370 on eBay). So again, while I wouldn't get quite the range/speed as the Asus nor the future upgrade options with a NAS, the Time Capsule appears to be the better deal and more integrated and compatible with my devices. So I'm looking for more reasons that the Asus+NAS is a must have.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 09:59 PM   #13
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The Synology is a LAMP server, the TC is not.

Check out the Synology simulator on their site, see if you want those features. Synology updates their software fairly regularly.

Unless there's something wrong with your old AirPort why not stick with that till the ASUS goes on sale.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 10:15 PM   #14
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The Synology is a LAMP server, the TC is not.

Check out the Synology simulator on their site, see if you want those features. Synology updates their software fairly regularly.

Unless there's something wrong with your old AirPort why not stick with that till the ASUS goes on sale.
My old Airport is very old, much slower than the new Airports even though both are 802.11n. Want to have a faster connection. I also have 3 HDD plugged into my AEBS and that is inefficient. I'd rather have a NAS or an integrated drive into the router (a la Time Machine) and then only one drive plugged in via USB to backup my networked drive.

I'm not looking to do RAID as a backup. While that certainly is the easiest, it would require me buying two 3TB drives compared to one. I'd rather have one 3TB drive and use my external 2TB drive to backup only the data I need to (again I only have 1GB of media to backup at the moment).
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 10:20 PM   #15
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I'm not running RAID either. I do have a USB drive plugged into the Synology just for automatic weekend backups. Nothing's plugged into my AEBS USB.

Remember RAID isn't a backup, it's just fault tolerance.
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 10:38 PM   #16
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I'm not running RAID either. I do have a USB drive plugged into the Synology just for automatic weekend backups. Nothing's plugged into my AEBS USB.

Remember RAID isn't a backup, it's just fault tolerance.
True but both essentially satisfy my goal of having some redundancy protection.

Yet again, it looks like I can save nearly $100 by going Time Capsule over any good Asus+NAS option and get my essential requirements. So are there specific features that the more feature rich Asus would provide me or a Synology NAS would provide me that would encourage me to spend more?
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Old Jan 8, 2013, 10:44 PM   #17
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Did you look at the Synology simulator? Its got scads of features but if you don't need them then just go with the TC.

I love Apple products, I don't love the TC. It's very dumbed down just like the current AirPort app. I've used a TC (swapped it for a DS212j) and currently an AEBS, works great but the AirPort setup software for whatever reason has been lobotomized by Apple.

The ZyXEL NAS is a little slow www.smallnetbuilder.com but seems alright, question is will ZyXEL continue to support / upgrade it. Time will tell.
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Old Jan 9, 2013, 03:34 AM   #18
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I have Movies, TV Shows, and Music. I'm at about 1GB total usage (and this is years and years worth of collection). I think a 3TB drive with 2TB+ for media and 500GB+ for backups should do.

So if I were to get the Asus Router, Synology DiskStation DS213, and just one Hitachi 3TB HDD for right now, that would be $640. If I swap the Synology for a budget single bay Zyxel that would be $440. Sure seems like the 3TB Time Capsule would be a better deal at $430 Refurb. I'd lose the expandability of a NAS but I don't know if I really need more than 3TB for a long time. I'd also wouldn't have as good of a range and signal strength than with the Asus router, but the Time Capsule would likely be a significant boost nonetheless from what I have.

I think the Asus+NAS is the better all around feature option, but it's either more expensive or the same as Time Capsule, and it doesn't offer a killer feature such as no iTunes server needs to be opened on my MBP. Any counter argument?
Seems like you have found the right person to answer your question in blueroom. I would still recommend a RAID NAS over a single drive NAS. I have had many failures over the 7 years I've been using RAID - drives, firmware, hardware, user error, PSU - but never loss of data.
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Old Jan 9, 2013, 12:19 PM   #19
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An additional statistic I looked into was Read/Write speeds for the network connected hard drive. The following data I found for the 3 options we've been discussing.

Read/Write Speeds (First two from Bit-Tech and last from AnandTech, both using GigE) :
ZyXEL NSA310 - 37MBs/37MBs
Synology DiskStation DS213 - 92.4MBs/62MBs
Time Capsule - 83.7MBs/32.2MBs

Again the Synology is the most optimal configuration and its transfer rates prove as much. However as previously stated, its likely $200+ more than the other two configurations. The Time Capsule appears to blow away the ZyXEL in read speeds.

Updated Prices:
Asus+Zyxel+3TB = $440
eBay Time Capsule 3TB = $370
eBay Time Capsule 2TB = $250

I was thinking that since I'm only using 1TB of media so far and have only a 256GB SSD on my MBP, 2TB could get me by for quite a while. Reading articles it appears upgrading the drive is also a rather simple process (I know it voids warranty but I'm not too concerned about that and Apple hasn't caught me / punished me in the past when I've cracked open laptops, iphones, etc).

Router settings wise, I'm not as intuned with what Asus provides over Apple in features. Not sure if there's anything I'd really be missing. Apps with the Synology don't seem to be something I need.

Lastly it does appear partitioning the Time Capsule drive is tricky to do over the network, but can be easily done if removing the HDD and plugging directly into my computer to partition?
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