Airport Extreme + USB HDD vs. NAS

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by cristovao, Mar 19, 2011.

  1. cristovao macrumors 6502a

    cristovao

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
    Location:
    Calgary
    #1
    I've read a number of threads on the various NAS solutions out there, some that work with minimal issues on OS X, others that have nightmare problems. Considering this and the fact that NAS prices are a bit out of my range, I'm thinking of going with an Airport Extreme with a USB HDD plugged in to it so all my Macs can access media (movies, music, photos) and other documents on via the network. I'd like to know your thoughts.

    Here's what I have currently;

    • PowerMac G5 with secondary 1TB HDD (where all media and documents are currently stored.
    • MacBook Pro late 2009 model
    • Linksys WRT54G

    As it stands right now, I treat the PowerMac as a media server but don't like keeping it on constantly (or even scheduled for daytime only) as it's a waste of electricity. The tower sits downstairs in the basement while the MBP is almost always upstairs in the living room or kitchen, so running downstairs to wake up the G5 can be a pain, which is why I'm exploring this option.

    So here's the ultimate questions; Is this a viable solution? I already have the hard drive and USB enclosure so all I'd need to purchase is an Airport Extreme. Is hooking up a USB drive to the Airport really that simple and problem free? Will upgrading to it from a wireless G be sufficient enough to stream music, photos (mostly) and video (not as often) to be worthwhile or am I just going to be frustrated with the throughput speeds? And are there any foreseeable problems with this setup?

    Thanks!
     
  2. MacForScience macrumors 6502

    MacForScience

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2010
    Location:
    USA
    #2
    Depends on the video, music and images. If you are dealing with large audio files, video files and image files then the airport will be too slow. The airport solution is in fact the slowest option of all. Your bandwidth will be about 6.75MB/sec which is not counting overheads. So to answer your question yes you will be frustrated by low throughput.

    If I were you, I would buy a bus-powered portable drive and put your media on that so that you can take it with you anywhere. Or if your house is wired for ethernet use that to "stream" the media.

    I am not a fan of consumer NAS drives (low-bandwidth, low capacity, low throughput) and using them you will run into all the standard network accessibility issues as you do with any-other network device.

    Cheers
     
  3. cristovao thread starter macrumors 6502a

    cristovao

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
    Location:
    Calgary
    #3
    It can't really be worse than my current setup though, can it? I'm talking mostly streaming music (avg 5-10MB) and photos (1-10MB). I would hardly stream video for viewing and more likely transfer video files to a USB stick for viewing on an external player.

    Currently, when streaming music off the G5 to the MBP via the Linksys wireless G, I have little to no problems. Previewing photos on the other hand, I encounter serious lag and transferring any file over wireless G is pretty slow. Surely file transfers over wireless N should be better or are these advertised rates of 200-500MB/s just marketing BS?

    I realize the speeds of using bus powered portable drive would be much better but I prefer having my media drive in a central location so that I could view these files from either computer without having to go move them.

    Ultimately, I'm not looking for a miracle here, I'm just looking for convenience and ease of use. I understand streaming anything wirelessly isn't going to be great but compared to my current setup, it can't be that much worse, can it?
     
  4. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2010
    Location:
    Winnipeg, MB
    #4
    Marketing B/S. I have a Synology NAS (THIS one) that gets about 35 megs-per-sec write and 45 or above read when directly connected. Connect Wireless N to it and it maxes out at 12 megs-per-sec max both directions. 150/300 are the advertised speeds of wireless N, and the only way to get 300 is with multiple independent antennas (MiMO router and receiver). So you're maxed at 150, and 12 'real' megs is about the upper limit.
     
  5. cristovao thread starter macrumors 6502a

    cristovao

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
    Location:
    Calgary
    #5
    That Synology looks great but far beyond me price range.

    I guess I'm stuck dealing with slow transfer rates over wireless.

    My next question then is, with a USB drive connected to AEBS and the G5 connected to the gigabit port, what transfer rate should I expect there?
     
  6. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2010
    Location:
    Winnipeg, MB
    #6
    You should get 'about' the same speeds as I quoted above. If it's over gigabit, the bottleneck is actually the USB connection. The NAS has a USB backup ability, and when I write directly to that drive, I top out at writing 25mbps and reading at about 35, which should be about what the APE can do too.
     
  7. 231audi macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    #7
    synology

    blevins, how do you like that synologo nas? do you use it just for backup or storage as well? I want to add one to store my iphono and itunes library data, hoping to share it from my various computers and accounts. also debated if i should just stay within 'apple' and add a usb harddrive to my airport but speed is a big concern as i have a large iphoto library.
     
  8. blevins321 macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2010
    Location:
    Winnipeg, MB
    #8
    I really do love my NAS. I use it for everything: Time Machine, Media Storage, etc... One thing that you'll find is that iTunes libraries can only be written by one computer at a time, and that restriction applies to all types/brands of drives. Not a big problem for me, but I only have my iMac and my HTPC. As far as photos, I use Aperture (Apple's pro-line version of iPhoto). I keep all my masters (15-ishMB) and the entire library on there. No lag issues except a couple extra seconds when the program first loads. The majority of the work for iPhoto/Aperture is preview generation and compression; which are processor-intensive, not storage.

    I think what really made me a convert was the Time Machine support. I didn't know about it going into the purchase, and seeing the option in the UI was a great surprise. There are ways to get Time Machine to work on any type of NAS (custom spare images and automounting scripts), but the native quota-enabled support is excellent.
     

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