External/cloud storage for MBA

Discussion in 'MacBook Air' started by giodibe, May 20, 2014.

  1. giodibe macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 20, 2014
    #1
    Hi All,

    As my beloved 13" MacBook recently passed away, I am hours away from buying a 13" MBA. I'm set on buying the 128gb version, since I feel the $200 difference with the 256gb version can be spent in much better ways.
    So I am looking at an easy way to add/manage external storage.
    Pure cloud solutions don't work for me for a couple of reasons:
    1) Too expensive (I have about 500 GBs of videos and photos that I want to be able to access at anytime)
    2) Most of them require this data to be present on the machine itself

    At the same time I don't want a simple USB drive (I already have one). MBA is all about portability, so I'm looking for a wireless solution.

    For now I've come up with a couple of alternatives:
    1) AirPort Extreme and connect my 1TB USB drive
    2) Buy this, which is basically the same thing but cheaper and without any router capabilities: http://www.amazon.com/Drobo-CTP1D99...=1400620188&sr=8-1&keywords=drobo+transporter
    3) Buy this, which for the price may actually be the best deal: http://www.amazon.com/Cloud-2TB-Per...TF8&qid=1400620119&sr=8-2&keywords=wd+mycloud

    Any thoughts? I'm a bit surprised that this topic has not come up more often. The main requirement is ease of use. The last thing I want is to login some portal, enter username and password, and navigate through different screens just to access my data.
    The ideal scenario is: let me watch the XYZ video that I have saved on my external drive. And the video gets streamed (not copied) to my MBA.

    Thanks!
     
  2. bradl macrumors 68040

    bradl

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    #2
    Without knowing that much more about the Drobo, I would say to skip it and go with the Synology Diskstation. Either the 213air, or the 214play, especially seeing that you are wanting to stream video to your MBA. The 213air can also act as a router/hotspot, but the 214play handles video better.

    I'm about to do something similar, except I just want it to handle backups, and allow me access to my iTunes library from anywhere, which it should do as a personal cloud. Oh.. I also forgot to mention it's a NAS as well, so you'll be getting the benefits of redundancy if you set it up right.

    Good review of the Diskstation is here:

    http://9to5mac.com/2014/03/10/synol...every-mac-ios-user-should-have-a-diskstation/

    This is what will enable me to get rid of my hackintosh mini and go with nothing but my MBA, and connect to a monitor if I need to.

    BL.
     
  3. great high wolf macrumors regular

    great high wolf

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2006
    #3
    I'll just throw in a quick suggestion - if you want personal cloud stuff, be very careful about buying a WD MyCloud. The Time Machine portion works reasonably, but the remote access software is difficult to set up and keep working, transfer is slower than it really should be and it took them weeks to get a Heartbleed patch out when I had it done manually from the Debian repositories within 24 hours.

    They're advertising the hell out of these things at the moment (at least in the UK) but they aren't suitable for heavy usage. Approach with caution.
     
  4. giodibe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 20, 2014
    #4
    That is why I posted here. Thanks both for the fast replies!

    The Sinology Diskstation seems very interesting. A bit more expensive than what I was hoping to spend, since I would need to buy another hard drive, while I was hoping to use my USB one. But it seems a much more solid option than the Drobo I mentioned.

    And thanks for the heads up about the WD MyCloud. I like it a lot for its price, features, and (dare I say) Apple-like design, but I'm certainly concerned with security and ease of use as well.
     
  5. bradl macrumors 68040

    bradl

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2008
    #5
    They are doing this over here in California as well, as if they can't get rid of them fast enough. Definitely avoid them, as they are not suitable for what the OP is wanting to do.

    BL.
     
  6. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #6
    I got a 2TB Time Capsule and have moved my iTunes media library to it. So now I can access my 500GB library all over the house just like it was on my MBA and I have plenty of room to grow. I don't use the Time Capsule for backup (I have thunderbolt and USB drives for that), just as an inexpensive fileserver.

    I wanted to upgrade my router to 802.11 AC anyway, and for $100 more this seemed like the cheapest way to get a network disk. Eventually I may move to a real NAS, but this is working well for me now. On wifi, the Blackmagic disk test reports 31MB/s write and 28MB/s read. On ethernet I get 49MB/s write and 44MB/s read.

    I have not tried connecting a disk to the USB port on the Time Capsule (which is like the Airport Extreme), but from what I've read it is not as fast as the internal drive.
     
  7. giodibe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 20, 2014
    #7
    I do like the Time Capsule, but is it really worth the price difference?
    You can get something like this at half the price:
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822178318&ignorebbr=1

    Again no router capabilities but that's not something I'm concerned about. It just seems a bit outrageous to pay $300 for a Time Capsule. A good router is $50 nowadays, a 2TB drive less than $100. How do you get to $300?
    I know Apple is not a cheap company but the markup seems a tad too high here
     
  8. 556fmjoe macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2014
    #8
    The Transporter device works quite well. I have only tried it with Windows, but the UI is easy and it lets you access it from anywhere. For $99 plus the cost of a hard drive, it's worth it IMHO. No recurring fees, no data mining (though I'm not convinced about their data transit security), and it acts like a normal cloud service with the exception that you own it, not someone else.
     
  9. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #9
    Can you get a "good router" for $50 that supports 802.11ac wifi?

    You can still by old the Time Capsule for $169 if you don't want ac wifi, but I wouldn't do that with a MBA. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/802266-REG/Apple_MD032LL_A_Time_Capsule_2TB.html

    I think you will want ac wifi if you access storage wirelessly, the speed difference is significant. I wanted to upgrade my router to this capability, so the extra $100 for the disk seemed reasonable.
     
  10. giodibe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 20, 2014
    #10
    Can the Time Capsule really fit my OP purpose though? I bought my MBA yesterday (amazing!) and asked the Apple Store people about my plan, and they told me the Time Capsule wouldn't be a good option since it was designed for backup purposes, as opposed to file sharing / NAS. What do you think?
     
  11. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 2005
    Location:
    California
    #11
    It is not as full featured as a dedicated NAS device, but the lower cost reflects that. There is absolutely no reason you can't store whatever media you want in a folder on a Time Capsule to share among devices or just use as storage.

    The only issue, and this applies to a NAS also, is if this is where you store all your media files they are not backed up anywhere.
     
  12. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #12
    I think it is just a little AFP (Apple Filing Protocol) server, the backup functions are all provided by the Time Machine software running on your computer. I'm sure it was not designed with the goal of being a fast/rugged file server, but it seems to work pretty well.

    One problem is that the disk spins down almost immediately after it completes reading or writing. So there is a delay accessing files when it spins up. If you are streaming video in iTunes or another application, it will keep spinning though, so no problem there. I am using a little program called "Keep Drive Spinning" that just touches a file at a user-specified interval. With the interval set to 30 seconds there is usually no delay accessing the server.

    The Time Capsule performance is in the ballpark of cheap NAS devices. For example, see this review of the Seagate STCG2000100 in your link above: http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/nas/nas-reviews/32109-seagate-central-reviewed

    They got about 18MB/s write with 55 MB/s read in one test but only 34 MB/s in the other. As I posted above, using ethernet I got 49MB/s write and 44MB/s read on the Time Capsule. The 18MB/s write speed on the Seagate is pretty terrible since the AC wifi on the MBA is about 30MB/s.

    But just to be clear, I am not saying that it is the right solution for you. Just relating my personal experience. As I said before, I was going to get an Airport Extreme anyway and figured I would spend the additional $100 on the chance that it could also meet my needs as an AFP server.

    If I change my mind later, then I can still use it for the intended purpose of backup and simply plug a NAS into it.

    ----------

    Very true. I have a pair of thunderbolt drives and am using them alternately to backup the Time Capsule with Carbon Copy Cloner. If you have a lot of content, this is where you will probably want an ethernet interface. :)
     
  13. giodibe, May 22, 2014
    Last edited: May 22, 2014

    giodibe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 20, 2014
    #13
    Thanks for all your comments. However I've just found what I think is a big missing feature in the Time Capsule: no remote access. Let's say I'm in a hotel room in another country with WiFi, and I want to watch one of my movies or listen to my music that's sitting in my external storage back home. All these Transporter/WD MyCloud/Seagate Central offer apps or web portals to quickly access all your files. Correct me if I'm wrong but I think that's impossible with Time Capsule. If that's the case this is a complete deal breaker for me
     
  14. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #14
    I don't know, because I live in a remote location and my only option for internet is slow 2.4mb/s DSL. So that would be pretty useless for watching videos away from home. ��

    But I think this is supported by "back to my Mac" - see: http://support.apple.com/kb/HT4907?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US

     
  15. giodibe thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 20, 2014
    #15
    Doesn't that require 2 Macs? I only have 1.
    In any case it seems a bit too difficult. What I would like is a simple iPhone app and a web portal that I can access in a second.
    Synology does a fantastic job with that. But then again, if a DS214play plus a 2TB drive cost $450, and that doesn't even include any router capabilities, that is kind of hard to justify for me
     
  16. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2012
    Location:
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    #16
    I don't think you need two macs. The Time Capsule functions all by itself on the network. Have not used this myself, but from what I've read, it works the same whether you are at home or away.

    https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3699096

    Not sure about the iPhone. I know there are some apps that can open a file on a local or remote server and allow you to watch/listen to it. I believe one of them is called file browser (or something like that).

    I think you are probably going to have to spend some money to get what you want. And it won't be just the NAS and the router, but you also need backup drives if you're storing anything important. And you will probably want to get an ethernet interface (thunderbolt or USB 3) unless you want to be limited to 30MB/s when you load big files to the NAS. Then there are cables, and UPS'es….

    It always costs more than you originally think. :)
     
  17. thenumbersrbad macrumors 6502

    thenumbersrbad

    Joined:
    Jul 9, 2008
    #17
    I just upgraded my MBA and I previously had my iTunes library on an external hard drive....but when my old MBA died I moved everything off the external hard drive to my iMac.

    Now with this new MBA what's the best way to have my complete iTunes library with me any where I am? And keep it updated when I add new things to my library?

    Is it to keep my iMac at home with my iTunes library on it and use back to my mac or is it one of the NAS devices?

    At home I can use my iMac but when I'm away from home and want to take my 128 gb MBA what would you suggest?
     

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