Airport Extreme, or something else?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by richard4339, May 23, 2007.

  1. richard4339 macrumors 6502a

    richard4339

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    #1
    I've been using a Linksys WRT54G for almost 3 years now, and am wanting to accomplish something specific with file-sharing, and am trying to decide what to do. Basically, I have multiple computers in the apartment and am wanting to setup file-sharing between them. I'm wanting to put in some redundancy as well, but it isn't a must-have. I've been using an old Windows box as a file-server for awhile, but it only supports IDE, so the limitations are there.

    What I've currently have is:

    Linksys WRT54G
    • AMD X2 PC with Vista (wired gigE)
    • P4 Gateway (wireless G or wired)
    • P4 Dell (wired)
    • HP printer (wireless B, not-upgradable)
    • Dell laptop (wireless G)
    • MacBook Pro (wireless N)
    • Tivo (wireless B)
    • iPaq (wireless B, not-upgradable)
    • Wii (wireless G, I believe)

    I've tried this in the past, and its always failed, for whatever reason. Windows didn't like the hostnames and would kill the sharing randomly, IPs would be re-assigned via DHCP, anything and everything you can think of like that can and has happened).

    What I'm getting at is, I'm trying to debate between purchasing an file server module for the network, such as the Linksys NSLU2 and hooking in external drives through it, getting a router with a file server built in, such as the Airport Extreme and hooking in external drives through it, or simply trying to get around the problems I've had in the past using one of my existing PCs and setting up a RAID array with that. I'm specifically wanting to be able to share the files on any computer on the network, but also be able to access the files remotely as well.

    I've looked into the Linksys solution, and it seems to be able to do what I want, but there are a ton of bad reviews out there on the device, mostly stemming from it overheating and having to be manually reset. It's by far the cheapest solution, though, weighing in at $90 shipped for this module on Amazon. I already have a 300gig IDE drive and a USB enclosure, so I think I could be ready simply by plugging it in.

    I've also looked at the new Airport Extreme, or the Linksys WRT350N, the new N routers. The Apple solution looks good, but the high price of the N routers just puts me off a bit. I have wireless N on my MacBook Pro, but from what I understand, other than local network file-sharing, I won't see too much of a difference in speeds. What I was thinking was that if I went this route, I could connect my internet connection directly to the Airport Extreme, and daisy-chain my old Linksys into it via ethernet, so that I can keep a seperate B/G signal going and not lose the associated N speeds. I also mentioned the Linksys WRT350N, but from what I've heard, the file-sharing aspect of it shares all of the same problems that the NSLU2 does, which puts me off it as well.

    I'll mention that I've got .Mac and have tried using the iDisk, but it still just isn't that reliable (imo) and doesn't work well at all on any of computers other than the Mac itself (it can be mapped via Map Network Drives in Windows, but never seems to be accessible from any programs). The web-interface is great, but that's all I can use on anything it seems, and I'm wanting to avoid that on my home network at the very least.

    The other thing I do want to do is restrict access to certain files or directories based on a username/password. I know that both OS X and Windows have the ability to do this, but it is not easy, and from what I can tell, the router or file-server options seem to make this easier. I've also got a USB-only printer I wouldn't mind connecting in through the Airport Extreme if I go that option.

    My new AMD computer does support SATA and does have RAID support built into the motherboard, but I've honestly never tried to do RAID. I also don't have any additional SATA drives sitting around, though I do have several IDE drives available which are all different sizes. I'm also not sure how easily I could set up file-sharing via a Windows Vista (yes, I'm using Vista) machine that would allow access from elsewhere. However, with this solution, I do get the benefits of RAID, which means my data can be redundant.

    So, I guess the summary is, I'm wanting to do file sharing over a home network, with remote access to the files. I've thought about a file-sharing device, a router with that built in, or attempting to do it myself on my Vista machine.

    Has anyone got any suggestions, or has anyone tried the devices and want to comment?
     
  2. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    #2
    I am thinking of doing something similar to your setup. I have a D-Link g router. I was going to use a small 4-port hub and run both the upstream links from the wireless routers to the hub then on to the cable modem. My ISP gives me two IP addresses so each router could have a separate one. I think this might make setup and operation a little bit easier and less troublesome. I like the idea of two separate wireless networks as it will (hoepfully) prevent contamination of b/g signals from slowing down the n ones.

    One of the added benefits of the Airport Extreme beyond speed is range. It is supposedly one of the best routers in that regard. One of its flaws is that many disks attached to the USB will not spin down when not in use. Your Vista box file server may be a better solution. I plan on turning one of my older PCs into an Linux server when the time comes.
     
  3. richard4339 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    richard4339

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    #3
    I've got two old boxes I could upgrade, in theory (one's a Dell box, which just adds complexity in itself), to a new motherboard/processor combo to get SATA/RAID support, and could do it from that. But then I honestly get into the gray area of not honestly knowing where to go from there. I can use Linux, but I'm a novice when it comes to setting most basic things up on a Linux box (though I suppose this could be a good chance to learn). Also, both boxes are name brand old boxes, so I don't know if a new motherboard would really work in them, and have the components line up properly. For example, I just found a MicroATX board with RAID, on-board everything, and a sempron processor for $90 shipped, but I have no clue if anything I have would hold it.

    Using a box with RAID does sound like the best overall solution, but it will probably end up being the most expensive in the long run, as well as the hardest to configure and keep up.
     
  4. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    #4
    Personally, I couldn't bring myself to spend money on a file server. I have three Socket A PCs that I will part out. From these parts (+ spares) I will have a working file server with 3 separate drives (non-RAID). Linux is not difficult really and I believe that RAID support is actually very good. Try something like Ubuntu. Since Linux is basically free, I would definitely play around with it on a spare PC to see if you can make it work for you before committing any money to hardware.
     
  5. richard4339 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    richard4339

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    #5
    Well, in theory, if I were to get Ubuntu to the point where I can get it doing what I need it to do, I'd still probably need to spend some money, just because I would want RAID and Sata support. I just don't have any spare parts that I could use to bring these two old boxes up to date. But that's further down the line.

    This may be off my own topic, but is there any good walkthroughs or tutorials on the basics of linux geared towards a novice going for an administrator approach? I've played with Linux for years, but never really on my own computer. I'd like to learn how to install bind, and apache, and FTP, but have never honestly gotten that far into it. I've always ended up breaking something, or never even knowing where to begin.
     
  6. flopticalcube macrumors G4

    flopticalcube

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2006
    Location:
    In the velcro closure of America's Hat
    #6
    I have always picked it up as I went along, but I have been working on Unix boxes for 20 years or more so I guess I never really needed tutoring. Maybe some kind soul who is following this thread can help you out?
     
  7. richard4339 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    richard4339

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    #7
    Hopefully.

    I really do appreciate your feedback though. =)
     
  8. richard4339 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    richard4339

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2006
    Location:
    Illinois
    #8

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