Multiple hard drives, multiple Macs

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by cmeirick, Oct 3, 2013.

  1. cmeirick macrumors newbie

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    Oct 3, 2013
    #1
    I've just spent the last hour looking for something and I'm almost convinced it doesn't exist. It's the most obvious thing in the world.

    I want to share 3-4 external hard drives between my iMac and my Macbook. That means switching them back and forth as needed. Presumably there would be a hub that would allow me to do this, but I can't find a single thing. Preferably it would be USB 3.0.

    Yes, there are USB hubs that connect to one computer. There are switches that allow two computers to connect to one device. But what about having both, two computers connected to a hub of, say, 4 devices.

    At the very least, does anyone know of a setup that will accomplish this, even if it is a combination of two devices.

    It's just insane that I can't find this. If anyone has a solution, I would greatly appreciate it.
     
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    #2
    Why not just connect the drives to your iMac and share them on your network? Both Macs will then be able to access the drives.
     
  3. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #3
    I think what you need is a NAS. Connect your drives to your local area network and both your computers can access them at any time.
     
  4. cmeirick thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #4
    We are doing a lot of video work, both iMac and Macbook. It involves a lot of uploading/downloading of video, etc. So the connection between USB and both Macs need to be fast. The speed of the Macbook presumably would be incredibly slow that way, I assume.
     
  5. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere

    GGJstudios

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    #5
    Rather than assume, you can easily test it to see if the speeds are acceptable.
     
  6. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    #6
    Yep, either put them on your iMac and share over your network (downside is iMac must be on), buy a NAS, or an old Mac mini and use as a server. I went with a server. Handles as many drives as you want to attach. My setup below idles at 40 watts and runs 24/7 (for 3.5 years now) and has 9TB capacity. Drive "toaster" is used for backing up. There are 6 other Macs here that use it.

    I do use it for video. Just use a GB ethernet cable and it will perform like it's directly attached to your computer.

    [​IMG]
     
  7. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #7
    I don't know how much speed you need, but some NASes are quite fast. I've seen promotional material taunting over 200MB/s transfers.
     
  8. tomnavratil macrumors 6502a

    tomnavratil

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    #8
    Usage of NAS should be sufficient and if not just use ethernet cables to connect to the router.
     
  9. Giuly, Oct 3, 2013
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2014

    Giuly macrumors 68040

    Giuly

    #9
    Gigabit Ethernet tops out at 125MB/s, 250MB/s are possible if you have a NAS with dual Ethernet ports, a Mac with either dual Ethernet ports or a Thunderbolt-to-Ethernet adapter and a network switch that supports link aggregation (i.e. Cisco SG200-8/18/26/50).
     
  10. cmeirick thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #10
    Thanks all, I'm still not fully understanding how the NAS works and solves the problem, but hey, I'm not an expert.

    Okay, here is one:

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...E16822122130&gclid=CLaov7CN-7kCFZFFMgodQVAAfQ

    How does that solve it? I can't connect my 4 hard drives to it all at once. It's accomplishing all kinds of things I don't really need it to. How does it allow the one thing I do: a fast connection between 4 hard drives to two computers at once.
     
  11. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

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    #11
    You don't. You put bare drives in the NAS. If you want to use your existing external drives you need to go the server route (see my post earlier).
     
  12. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    #12
    I personally would go with direct Attached storage to the iMac and share over your network to the Macbook. The DAS to your iMac will be as fast as the hard drives can share, and the Ethernet to your Macbook will top out probably around 100MB/s (although theoretically 125MB/s). If this isn't good enough, then you will need to take more drastic measures (multiple gb ethernet or 10gb ethernet), but all of this will begin to cost you. Eventually you will have to start talking about RAID 10 or RAID 5/6 to max out the network bandwidth.....

    Anyway, go cheap. See how it works and then ramp up from there. You might be surprised how well a simple DAS shared between the two computers really works.

    Oh and not all NAS's are created equal. To many of them are consumer grade meant to only really transfer at 20-30MB/s, so you really need to do some careful reading/reviews if you need a fast NAS (and they aren't cheap).
     
  13. cmeirick thread starter macrumors newbie

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    #13
    Thanks all. Here is an option we are starting to consider.

    http://www.amazon.com/Plugable-One-Button-Swapping-Between-Computers/dp/B006Z0Q2SI/ref=pd_cp_pc_

    That or something similar.

    Just buy one of those cheap things for each drive. Then we just switch each drive back and forth between the iMac and Macbook.

    I may do some testing of the iMac-Macbook ethernet connection route and see if we think it works good enough, but more and more I think buying a cheap "switch" for each drive we are sharing makes sense to me.
     
  14. BrianBaughn macrumors 601

    BrianBaughn

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    #14
  15. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #15
    You could get a new router that supports external USB drives, then use a USB hub to plug all the drives into the router. Each machine on the network would be able to see and use the drives that way. Apple's Airport Extreme as well as many other routers can be used in this way.

    It won't be as fast or as configurable as the dedicated NAS solutions mentioned, but it would work exactly like what you described you want to do.

    I agree w/others... those USB switch things are very likely to result in data corruption.
     
  16. priitv8 macrumors 68020

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    #16
  17. John Kotches macrumors 6502

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    #17
    Practical limit on a 1GBit network is around 115 MB/second.

    You'd need LAGs (Link AGgregates) at 1Gbit or a 10 Gbit connection on both ends to get much higher than that.

    ----------

    Only a question of when not if...

    ----------

    Weaselboy:

    Have any of the USB shares from a router been shown to deliver better than about 30 MB/sec?

    If throughput is of the essence, a network based solution is likely the best option. Whether that is a share off of the iMac or a NAS is something yet to be determined.
     
  18. Weaselboy Moderator

    Weaselboy

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    #18
    Nope... lucky if you get that. I only offered it as an inexpensive solution since OP seemed resistant to the expense of a full blown NAS setup and wanted to reuse his existing drives.
     
  19. John Kotches macrumors 6502

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    #19
    The homegrown "NAS" where he attaches to the iMac is probably the best solution for that.
     
  20. cmeirick thread starter macrumors newbie

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    Oct 3, 2013
    #20
    I would be willing to pay some for NAS... I guess what I'm seeing when browsing what I think you're all talking about are solutions that are accomplishing a lot of things I don't need and paying a ton for it.

    I guess what I'm saying is, I think I'd be willing to pay $200-$300 for something that doesn't have the bells and whistles but allows these two computers to have a fast shared connection to 3-4 devices. We deal with large video files and so slower connections are a liability. But I don't want to spend $1k or more when what we are doing now (switching drives back and forth) is annoying but not $1k worth of annoyance.
     
  21. John Kotches macrumors 6502

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    #21
    I'm reading this, and I have to tell you that I am personally scratching my head. It's your business, yet you don't want to invest in the tools needed to conduct that business efficiently.

    Did I miss something along the way?
     
  22. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

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    #22
    Your cheapest way is just attaching them to the iMac and use file sharing! That's a homegrown NAS that costs you nothing!!! It's already built in and multiple computers can write to the drives at the same time! The only downside is you have to leave your iMac on (but you can turn off the screen!).
     
  23. meistervu, Oct 7, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2013

    meistervu macrumors 65816

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    #23
    I think your best option short of a NAS is this new router from ASUS with a USB3 port. Assuming the USB3 port on the router support multiple drives, all you need to do is to plug the drives into the USB3 port on the router and share them.

    http://www.trustedreviews.com/asus-rt-ac68u-802-11ac-router_Peripheral_review

    As for performance, if 110 Mb/s is too slow, perhaps you could copy the file the your local drive, work on it, and then copy the file back when done.

    Or even better, you can use GIT to version control the files:

    http://stackoverflow.com/questions/11635493/push-git-changes-to-a-shared-network-drive
     
  24. John Kotches macrumors 6502

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    #24
    USB performance was abyssmal. One of the problems is that these (as of yet) don't implement UASP (USB Attached SCSI protocol). UASP dramatically improves disk IO in USB 3.0.

    Maybe yes, maybe no. Depends on the target drive, how close to capacity it is and how much contiguous space is available for the local scratchpad copy.

    Would this be practical with video files? Seems like the deltas could be a significant fraction of the baseline, and that could eat up space in a hurry.
     
  25. meistervu macrumors 65816

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    Jul 24, 2008
    #25
    Well, it all depends on OP's needs.

    If the goal is (1) a shared video library for streaming and (2) ability to work on files on said shared library, then my suggestion would make sense.

    First, #1 doesn't require that much bandwidth, so it's a non issue. Second, #2 only require a single file to be checked out to the local drive at a time. Most modern computers certainly have enough space for a single video file, if not more. For a single user, copy it down to local, then copy it up to shared drive when done is pretty simple. As for the GIT repository solution, I would consider that if version control is a requirement. The deltas storage space is only a problem if the user commits too often. So, it's under one's control.
     

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