External Hard Drive Setup

Discussion in 'iMac' started by Doigger, Jan 4, 2013.

  1. Doigger macrumors newbie

    Jan 4, 2013
    I just got a 3TB external hard drive to store all my movies. I have an iMac and an Apple Airport Extreme. I also have an Apple TV, which pulls in everything from iTunes so I can watch all my movies. Both the Apple TV and iMac access the network via Ethernet cable (no wireless). I need to put all my movies on the external drive because my iMac hard drive is not large enough.

    My question is, should I connect the external hard drive via USB to my iMac or the Airport? Does it matter?

    As a side note, I will be connecting a second external hard drive to use for Time Machine backups. This will use whatever connection the first external hard drive doesn't use (either iMac or Airport).
  2. Boogsephine macrumors 6502

    Feb 28, 2011
    I think it will depend on which model iMac you have. If you have an older one that only has USB 2.0, it will most likely be quicker putting them on the external hard drive connected to your Airport Extreme.

    If your iMac has Thunderbolt or USB 3.0 and the drive is Thunderbolt / USB 3.0, that will be the quickest way.

    I backed all of my music & movies (roughly 400gb) on my iMac via USB 2.0 and it took about 3 hours or so. This makes me want to upgrade to a newer iMac or a Thunderbolt drive. :)
  3. Doigger thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 4, 2013
    So it turns out the hard drive is USB 2.0. So it will be better to have it connected to the Airport? It's connected to the airport via USB 2.0 as well. So this is faster than being connected to the iMac via USB 2.0?

    The iMac does have Thunderbolt, but this hard drive does not.
  4. Bear macrumors G3

    Jul 23, 2002
    Sol III - Terra
    I would say you would want the movie disk connected to the iMac. If I understood your setup correctly, the iMac needs to read the data to send it to the Apple TV. If you put the disk on the Airport, the data would have to go over WiFi an extra time to get to the AppleTV.

    It will be faster to directly connect the drive to the iMac.
  5. Boogsephine macrumors 6502

    Feb 28, 2011
    You can always download the speed test app that lets you see how fast it reads and writes to the hard drive via USB and the Airport Extreme.

    It'll probably be the same speed since both are USB 2.0 (computer and Airport) so which ever is more convenient for you would be the best bet.
  6. Paulywauly macrumors 6502a


    Sep 26, 2009
    Durham, UK
    If you plug the hard drive into the Airport Extreme you would need to use the built in USB port and would be limited to USB 2.0 speeds, you would also have latency over the network as the files will still pass over the network to the Mac before being shared to your Apple TV.

    However, USB 2.0 isn't the network bottleneck here, the 10/100Mb Ethernet port on the Apple TV is (USB 2.0 = 480Mb per second) but either of these should be enough for HD streaming.

    The setup which would make most sense would be to plug your external drive directly into your mac and share your library directly, then use the other one as an Airport Time Machine
  7. Boogsephine macrumors 6502

    Feb 28, 2011

    I was trying to say this indirectly.. I don't know if it did or not, haha. I agree with the latency part over the network so the best bet would be the computer itself. :)
  8. Doigger thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jan 4, 2013
    Thanks everyone! Now, if I wanted to share those files over the network, would it be easier over the Airport or from the iMac? On our network we only have one other computer, and it's a PC. Other than that we have iPad's and iPod's.

    If it's connected to the iMac, does it matter if it goes to sleep? AppleTV should still be able to access the files right? How about sharing files over the network from there if the iMac is asleep?
  9. Boogsephine macrumors 6502

    Feb 28, 2011
    AppleTV will NOT be able to access your files if the computer is asleep and the hard drive is plugged into the iMac itself. Sharing files between computers is fairly simple either way but this again will depend if the computer is in sleep more or not. When it is plugged into the Airport Extreme, the computers will be able to access the files with your iMac in the sleep state; if you have the hard drive plugged directly into the iMac then your computer cannot be in the sleep state if you want to share the files.

    I have my shared stuff on my iMac because I have certain permissions set for different users (even though I'm the only one that uses file sharing in my household). You can set different read / write permissions and require user name and password to access the drive (shared folder).

    Hope this helps.
  10. harcosparky macrumors 68020

    Jan 14, 2008

    What was said above.

    Directly to the computer holding the program that will send it to the Apple TV.

    Too many routes in the transfer could adversely affect streaming.

    The iMac has to be awake to stream/share.

    This is why I wish they would put a HDD back inside the Apple TV.

    You load up the Apple TV with your media ...... everything else gets turned off.

    Of course with the new TV's these day, you might be able to hook up the HDD directly to them and read the movies from the disk. We have a SAMSUNG TV that we connect two 32GB Flash Drives with movies on them and watch directly. Works out good, people create lists of movies they want to watch and we load them on the flash drives.


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