External hard drive with ethernet connection

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by hafr, Aug 6, 2012.

  1. hafr macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2011
    #1
    I've been looking for an external hard drive for a while, and finally I understand what I need and want. I'm going to connect it to my AEBS 4th gen. and use it mainly for my iTunes library which I'm streaming to my ATV2 using either Home Sharing when my computer is running, or ATV Flash (black) when it's off.

    Cheap, ethernet (gigabit) connection, single drive suffice (no backing up to it, no important files) and quiet. Those are the requirements I have.

    I had pretty much found three valid alternatives: Seagate GoFlex Home, WD My Book Live and Iomega Home Media Network Hard Drive. They're in the same price range and seem to have very similar performance. The MBL tests a bit faster, but lacks USB ports.

    But then I found this site: http://www.cnet.com/network-storage/seagate-goflex-home-network/4540-3382_7-34147061-4.html

    The user reviews are so bad for each and every one of these that I'm not sure what to think...

    Does anyone know whether CNet's user reviews are worth listening to, or should I just go with the professional reviews? And does anyone have any last minute input on which of these drive is the better, or do you have personal experience with any of them?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. DriverRonLes macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2011
    Location:
    North Carolina
    #2
    I purchased a Western Digital duo my book live with the same intentions, thinking that I could access my iTunes and aperture libraries wirelessly through my Airport extreme. Thus began a month long nightmare that I will love to soon forget. Although the MacBook Pro ethernet port communicates at gigabit speed and the Western Digital my book live ethernet port communicates at gigabit speed, the transfer rate is unbelievably slow. Loading my iTunes library which is close to 1 TB, Took almost 2 days. With a cat six ethernet cable connection. Once the library was transferred loading speeds were incredibly slow, the Western Digital picture share app also had major malfunctions. viewing the picture files on my iPad and iPhone or nearly impossible streaming through the network. I contacted AppleCare and the Western Digital technical support several times throughout the month to try to speed the transfer and streaming process. both technical support panelist claim that my system was working correctly and there was no optimization for the set up. needless to say i returned the Western Digital duo my book live to the retail store where I purchased. since then I have purchased hey Seagate thunderbolt hard drive in its replacement. yes itconnects with a thunderbolt cable to my MacBook Pro defeating the purpose of wireless, but with the transfer rate of thunderbolt, I was blown away by the speed. that same 1 TB iTunes library transferred, in less than two hours. I don't understand why a network hard drive for large file capacities would even the feasible at the transfer rate speeds. even hardwired with a cat six cable the speeds were tremendously slow. I hope I could shed some light on your quest to find what works for you obviously this set up did not suit my needs.
     
  3. aarond12 macrumors 65816

    aarond12

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Location:
    Dallas, TX USA
    #3
    You have much of what you need already: An Apple Extreme Base Station. It has a USB port on it that allows you to use your AEBS as a server. I have a USB hub on mine and share three 2TB drives. It ain't the fastest setup in the world, but it works just fine.

    The AEBS not only shares the hard drives (in HFS+ format) in AppleTalk (AFP), but also in Windows (SMB/Samba) format! This lets my Linux computers read and write files to the drives as well. (No Windows computers in my house.)

    If you want full speed, you're going to pay full price. Commercial-grade NAS is what you'll need to saturate a 100-base-T network. A multi-drive NAS is required to saturate a Gigabit Ethernet network.

    In short, take a USB drive that you probably already have around the house (even a USB key drive will do) and test it out. It's easy to set up and works well.
     
  4. hafr thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2011
    #4
    Wow, that sounds terrible! Thank you for your input, but I must say I had already disqualified the Duo version of My Book Live because of the immense number of stories such as yours. From what I can gather, the "single" version is actually faster, even when the Duo is in span mode. But maybe it's better to stay away from WD...
     
  5. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #5
    FWIW I've got a single 2TB WD and it works very well for its intended purposes. It's faster than my HP Mediasmart EX490 with the stock drive, but a bit slower after I upgraded its boot drive, but it is MUCH faster than my old Time Capsule.

    B
     
  6. hafr thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2011
    #6
    Thank you. I omitted a few details so that the first post wouldn't be a wall of text, but that's the way I have it set up now :)

    I feel the USB port is getting "clogged" with the two drives if I'm using both at once, and two of the ethernet options have USB ports that allow me to move one of the USB disks from the AEBS' USB port. That way I should get far better performance from all three drives, than if I connect three drives to the USB port on the AEBS, shouldn't I?

    I'm thinking the AEBS' USB port only has to handle one drive, and I probably won't ever reach even half of the Gbit speed so one or two extra USB drives in an ethernet drive should mean pretty much no real slow down on either of the drives... I'm no speed freak, but that way at least I won't have to worry about two HD videos streaming at once from two different drives :)

    I think it's so strange that the single gets such great feedback, but the duo that should be better gets bashed over and over... It makes me scared to even try it :) But thanks for your input!
     
  7. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #7
    FWIW they made a big deal of the enhanced throughput and lower power consumption for the single on the box of the version I got. I suspect that most of the duals that get bashed are still based off of their old controller board.

    I find no performance claims on wdc.com now.

    EDIT: Note, it is far from perfect. I could not get Time Machine working with Lion for several firmware revisions, and lost backups, but now it seems to be working well. It's just a real good price/performace point.

    B
     
  8. aarond12 macrumors 65816

    aarond12

    Joined:
    May 20, 2002
    Location:
    Dallas, TX USA
    #8
    I don't believe the problem is USB or even the speed of your LAN; I think it's a limitation of the relatively slow CPU inside the AEBS. I get 5-8MB/second for the drives, but if I were to attach the drive directly to my computer, the transfer rate would be closer to 30MB/second.

    If speed is your concern, you'll have to get a NAS.
     
  9. hafr thread starter macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2011
    #9
    Ah, that sounds perfectly logical actually!

    In that case you're probably either accessing the drives wirelessly or you're using two or all three at once. I get about 6-10 MBps using 2,4 GHz, double that using 5 GHz (if I'm close enough) and 20-25 being wired to the router.

    Speed is not a concern in terms of wanting to max everything out, but I have no problem paying 30 bucks more for an external drive with ethernet connectivity instead of (only) USB so that the USB port on the AEBS won't be a bottleneck :) Also, I can't justify a purchase of a NAS for 250-300 bucks plus drives at 100-150 bucks each when I can get what I need for 150-200 bucks... The sacrifices we have to make for our kids, huh? ;)
     

Share This Page