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nicho

macrumors 601
Original poster
Feb 15, 2008
4,210
3,181
Hi all,

I decided a little while ago to make my video storage/playback independent of itunes and syncing and currently have a 4TB USB3 hard drive attached to my Asus RT-AC88U. Performance is OK, but nowhere near what the reviews suggest I can get. I have it formatted in HFS since it was formerly attached to my mac. Write speeds are roughly 18MB/s over gigabit ethernet - reviews suggest I should be able to get up to 3x this. Would reformatting it as NTFS or EXT4 make that difference? I'd be willing to bite the bullet and wipe it and re-copy everything over there if it will lead to a long-term improvement.

I've considered a separate NAS, but where I am the costs are fairly prohibitive - an empty Synology DS118 would cost more than replacing one of my Apple TVs (currently using a 2nd gen and a 3rd gen) with a 4K model. My storage requirements also aren't particularly high and even a DS218play + 2 hard drives feels like overkill.

At my MILs is my old (gen 2?) 1TB Time Capsule which is currently out of commission. Would I be able to put a 6TB Seagate Ironwolf hard drive in there - most of the upgrade guides I've found are a little old now and these capacities were not as common nor as cheap back then, given that the thing is approaching 10 years old. I don't need advanced NAS features - just an SMB share with decent read/write speeds.
 

hobowankenobi

macrumors 68020
Aug 27, 2015
2,040
838
on the land line mr. smith.
Generally speaking....I have found over the years that low-cost file servers are slow. Brand does not seem to matter...low end gear seems to be starved for resources (RAM/CPU), and performance is throttled.

Based on that, I don't have a recommendation that is low cost.

As for formatting, I would not expect that to matter much. You could test with something else, even a decent speed flash drive. You could test it in a USB3 port to see what sort of R/W speeds you get, and then set it as share and test again, and compare, to see how it compared as a file share. Repeat with different file systems to see if performance improves.

I am partial to Synology, but I would not buy their lowest end gear, for fear of the same issue.
 

SandboxGeneral

Moderator emeritus
Sep 8, 2010
26,482
10,046
Detroit
You could build your box using FreeNAS. That's what I did last year.

Just yesterday I was transferring a bunch of video from one machine to the NAS over my 1 GB LAN. I didn't look at the throughput, but it ripped right along quickly. The one metric I did observe was that of the 32 GB of RAM in the FreeNAS server, during the transfer it was using around 24 GB of it.

Am I reading that right, you were doing the transfers over your Asus device? Was that over WiFi or Ethernet? For large file transfers, Ethernet is always the best option.
 

nicho

macrumors 601
Original poster
Feb 15, 2008
4,210
3,181
You could build your box using FreeNAS. That's what I did last year.

Just yesterday I was transferring a bunch of video from one machine to the NAS over my 1 GB LAN. I didn't look at the throughput, but it ripped right along quickly. The one metric I did observe was that of the 32 GB of RAM in the FreeNAS server, during the transfer it was using around 24 GB of it.

Am I reading that right, you were doing the transfers over your Asus device? Was that over WiFi or Ethernet? For large file transfers, Ethernet is always the best option.

Over Gigabit ethernet. I will look into freenas options, though i'd prefer minimal setup/building work. Thanks!
 

hobowankenobi

macrumors 68020
Aug 27, 2015
2,040
838
on the land line mr. smith.
To add to my first post, a fan of Synology, especially for anybody wanting a fairly easy (as file servers go) setup.

Just would reiterate: if you want performance, don't look at the entry-level boxes. I would look at something like this. Nice to have a second bay, either for redundancy or a second volume (more space), and the RAM is upgradable. Most low-end boxes are not.

Could you build your own FreeNAS for less? Maybe...if you have surplus gear or can scrounge it up. Unlikley to be small, quiet, and low power with older hardware though.
 

nicho

macrumors 601
Original poster
Feb 15, 2008
4,210
3,181
To add to my first post, a fan of Synology, especially for anybody wanting a fairly easy (as file servers go) setup.

Just would reiterate: if you want performance, don't look at the entry-level boxes. I would look at something like this. Nice to have a second bay, either for redundancy or a second volume (more space), and the RAM is upgradable. Most low-end boxes are not.

Could you build your own FreeNAS for less? Maybe...if you have surplus gear or can scrounge it up. Unlikley to be small, quiet, and low power with older hardware though.

I'd been considering a 218play... though more (and upgradable) ram sounds like a plus. As a compromise I'm thinking of getting it, but only outfitting it with a single drive for now and hanging the usb 3 drive off the back of it - I think I've read that the synology software allows "backing up" of the contents to an external drive in that way? In future if the external drive fails (it's my oldest, i've had it 4 years or so I think now) I can replace it with a drive in the 2nd bay.
 

hobowankenobi

macrumors 68020
Aug 27, 2015
2,040
838
on the land line mr. smith.
I'd been considering a 218play... though more (and upgradable) ram sounds like a plus. As a compromise I'm thinking of getting it, but only outfitting it with a single drive for now and hanging the usb 3 drive off the back of it - I think I've read that the synology software allows "backing up" of the contents to an external drive in that way? In future if the external drive fails (it's my oldest, i've had it 4 years or so I think now) I can replace it with a drive in the 2nd bay.

Yep, that should work.

There are a couple of different software options, including Hyper Backup.

If you have surplus drives, you can add two for redundancy, and if one fails....no worries. Just swap out the failed drive and let the array rebuild, no downtime. Their hybrid RAID is very flexible so you can use different brands and sizes, almost any drive will work. One of the best things is being able to expand a volume on the fly, when you add newer, bigger drives. One of the only limitations is that drives added must be equal to or larger than existing drives (which seems very logical and reasonable.
 
Last edited:

nicho

macrumors 601
Original poster
Feb 15, 2008
4,210
3,181
As for formatting, I would not expect that to matter much. You could test with something else, even a decent speed flash drive. You could test it in a USB3 port to see what sort of R/W speeds you get, and then set it as share and test again, and compare, to see how it compared as a file share. Repeat with different file systems to see if performance improves.

I decided to try it, and got very excited when transfer speeds were around 32MB/s - approaching double what i'd been getting. Then about 30 seconds later they dropped back down again. I'm at about a 10% performance increase at best.

I've read the time capsule is limited by the SATA II interface and a slow controller, so i'm not sure now that it's worth the effort of pulling one apart and upgrading it. I may just wait another payday or two and get the synology 218+. First job is to get my new apple tvs and check performance when it comes to streaming directly from the router-attached usb 3 drive.
 
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