Airport Express Base Station-How reliable as network server drive? Which hard drive?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by markw10, Jan 15, 2007.

  1. markw10 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2006
    #1
    I made the choice to get a Airport Express Base Station and actually ordered one today and can't wait to get it. I have a network set up where I have a MacBook Pro and soon my fiancee will be getting a MacBook Pro as well. My main server computer is currently a Windows XP based machine but my original plan was to replace this with a mac pro this summer.

    We both have our own home based businesses which are as well internet based businesses so a reliable computer network and internet is important. Currently our Windows XP server is not that reliable but most of our data (Office files, inDesign files, PDF's, Photoshop files, as well as Dreamweaver and other web page development files) is actually stored on our laptops themselves. Also, even many of our media files (mp3's, some videos, and especially photos is stored on our laptops. Larger files such as final cut pro projects we are working on as well as other media files we don't store on our laptops and files that we share in our businesses or rarely used files are stored on this server hard drive but most often this server acts as a 'backup hard drive' for our laptops in case we were to lose one or have a hard drive crash and it acts vice versa of course also. It also works as a printer server for a usb all in one fax/copier/printer.

    The more I looked at the airport base station I realized this could act as my server. Obviously the usb printer could be hooked in to it to act as a network printer but now that it can accept one or more hard drives it looks even more likely. I can see myself purchasing a 250-500 gig usb external hard drive and simply plugging it in to make a 'network' drive which my server currently has.

    1. Reliabilty: My main concern is reliability. When I first switch to Mac a couple months ago I was warned that when it comes to external drives use firewire, not USB, since USB is not as reliable. Maybe someday airport base stations will offer firewire but how reliable are these usb hard drives?

    2. Speed: I know USB 2.0 offers 480Mbps which seems like more than enough speed but does that offer enough speed compared to if I had a hard drive directly in the computer? For example if I'm using Final Cut Pro working on a video file will it work okay working across the network at 'n' networking speeds or will it want me to be doing it on a computer with the hard drive actually inside that specific computer?

    3. Which hard drive: For internal drives I've always preferred Maxtor but now that it's coming to External drives is there any specific type, brand, etc? that I should look for? I have seen some very nice, under $200, 500GB drives. As well, I like the western digital portable hard drives and have seen a 120GB model for around $100 which would be great to use as a backup drive (which can then later be stored in a safe) or even on the go in a laptop bag.

    4. Backup Type: In addition to the main hard drive and printer I want to use a hard drive at times for backup. Is there any specific Mac sofware that is great to do either a file by file backup or one large file (compressed file) backup to a network hard drive?

    5. Hubs: Obviously with these multiple devices I need a good USB 2.0 hub but beyond that do I need any specific hub?

    I know this won't totally satisfy my desire for a desktop Mac. I'm sure I'll get one with time but at least I can put off my purchase longer having a reliable network drive/printer and also when I purchase a desktop Mac I can likely get a less costly setup.
    I know this is a lot of questions but thanks in advance for any help.
     
  2. benthewraith macrumors 68040

    benthewraith

    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
    Location:
    Miami, FL
    #2
    USB was constructed in such a way that you could add hubs to hubs to hubs. If you were looking for a media server, why not just format the Windows computer hard drive and install something like Ubuntu?
     
  3. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #3
    One minor issue: The AirPort Express does not (at this point in time at least) support hard drive sharing, only printer sharing (and shuffle charging). It's the new AirPort Extreme that will allow you to share one or more hard drives and/or printers.
     
  4. benthewraith macrumors 68040

    benthewraith

    Joined:
    May 27, 2006
    Location:
    Miami, FL
    #4
    But that's if the hard drive is physically connected to the router right? If it's connected to the desktop, there should be no problem.
     
  5. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2004
    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #5
    Yeah, but:

    And that is not quite there, yet... ;)
     
  6. ogee macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2006
    Location:
    Earth.
    #6
    I have 2 external USB hard disks. Both work ok. I dont see why Firewire is mor e reliable than USB. The most likely points of failure are the connector falling out (happens on all systems) or HD failure (again not dependent on USB/Firewire).

    The main difference is that you can boot from an external firewire drive but not from a USB version. FW800 is fast but USB 2 is faster than FW400 (in real use).

    I would thing the network speed limitation of 100Mbps would be more of a limitation (unless you are using megabit network of course). Standard Cat 5 networks are 100Mbps. The hard disk is 480Mbps, so the disk is faster. For 2 or 3 users on cable direct to the router the HD should cope well. You will get slow down if both of you try to get large files at thesame time, but a PC based solution would have the same limitations I imagine.


    When Leopard eventually hits the shelves, this could be the ideal backup device using Time Machine. In the mean time there are several programs around such as De-Ja-Vu (sp?), .Mac backup utility, etc

    No, but try to get a good powered USB 2.0 version. Dont just get the cheapest possible, they dont last long and often overheat.
    YMMV of course.

    Finally, the new router is Airport Extreme, not express. Small but important difference!
     
  7. e12a macrumors 68000

    e12a

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2006
    #7
    You mean gigabit?
     
  8. ogee macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2006
    Location:
    Earth.
    #8
    Yes :eek:
     

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