NAS vs Local Hard-disk

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by HishamAkhtar, Nov 26, 2012.

  1. HishamAkhtar macrumors 6502a

    Oct 22, 2011
    Hey everyone,

    I'm looking at getting some external storage for my Mac and ran into NAS which sounds quite tempting but is more expensive than buying a simple USB 3 harddrive.

    Now my understand of it is that essentially you connect the NAS to your router and then suddenly you have multiple TB of storage that you can access from anywhere (so essentially creating your own Cloud server). Am I way off here or is that the point?

    How is NAS better than local storage? Is it possible to use the NAS in the same way as a regular harddrive if I want?

    And finally, is it compatible to use with Macs? Is the fact that it's not an official Time Capsule hinder it's use?

    Lastly, what do people use for local storage? I ran across a WD 3 TB USB 3 Passport which looked quite tempting...
  2. BRyken macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2008
    I bought a LaCie Network Space 2 NAS a few years back. Overall the thing has served me well. I may have over estimated how much I would access files outside of my own home, but at the same time it may have been due to my terrible ISP upload which made downloading things unbearable.

    At the same time, it was extremely convenient to connect multiple Macs in the house to the same local storage and even use it for Time Machine backups. However, I think the slow speeds of the user interface and connecting/disconnecting made it kind of a pain (probably related specifically to this NAS).

    So now I just directly connect it to my Mac and use it a local backup disk.

    NAS is good for local home storage, but IMO stinks for external use (bad connection speed). But the option to use it as both sees me leaning more towards NAS since you then have the option.

    Hope this helps.
  3. HishamAkhtar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 22, 2011
    Thanks for your reply. The main thing I'll really be using it for is to access photos and movies stored on the NAS from anywhere and editing/uploading/streaming them. So I'm still not sure whether I can leave my NAS on at home, go away and still access the content.

    The NAS options are also around double the price of the local storage options and obviously less portable so if I can't get those features from it, there's little sense in actually getting a NAS.
  4. BRyken macrumors 6502

    Jul 17, 2008
    Most NAS will let you access your file externally.
  5. Penn Jennings, Nov 26, 2012
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2012

    Penn Jennings macrumors 6502

    Apr 22, 2010
    Network attached storage works as well as locally attached storage in nearly every way and for nearly every purpose with one major difference. The difference being speed.

    The speed of FW800 storage is about 65 MB/second, USB 3.0 storage is about 100 MB/second and thunderbolt should be able to keep up with a 500 MB/second SSD. Two macs connected via 1000 MB ethernet can sustain transfers above 80-90 MB/second. I've never heard of a router with external drive attached that will sustain above 40 MB. I'm not saying that there isn't one, there maybe a lot of them... but I doubt it. In the vast majority of cases, routers that support NAS features do not perform well, they work but they are slow. After all, NAS functions require much more processing than simple network functions. Routers don't have the CPU, memory or filesystem optimizations to do it well. If you look a high end NAS devices from QNAP and Synology, their low end CPU and memory specs blow away what you see in a consumer router. High end consumer Netgear routers have 128 MB or memory. Low end Synology DS213 NAS has 512 MB. Memory = cache. Cache = better performance. I'm guessing the 2 GHz proc in the synology blows away wahtever is in the neargears too and even with all of that the Synology NAS performance is fast but no where close to the speed needed for "working storage" in my opinion.

    To make a long story short, you COULD add an extern drive to a router and get NAS, and technically it will work... Just don't expect it to be fast. If you are using the storage very infrequently or as long term storage that is great. If you plan using it as working storage, for example reading images from it while in photoshop, I strongly suspect that you will be disappointed.

    IF you are connecting to the network wirelessly, then don't worry about speed too much. I doubt that you'll get more than 20 MB/second wirelessly so the "slow" NAS units will still exceed the slow performance of your wireless network.

    Getting Time Machine to work with most NAS units requires varying amounts of "trickery".
  6. MisterKeeks macrumors 68000


    Nov 15, 2012
    I highly doubt that you will be able to stream video off and NAS from "anywhere". It all depends on your uplink speed.
  7. MattInOz macrumors 68030


    Jan 19, 2006
    There are a few brand name home targeted NAS that will work with Timemachine these days without any Tricks. They are fairly lightweight by NAS standards but will handle back up duties for a couple of laptops in a home situation.

    I picked a Western Digital MyBookDuo and reset it to mirror the two drives. So far been pretty good. Not the fastest by also don't have to worry about plugging it in to get connection.

    Laptop or Desktop?
    A wired drive will only be useful if plugged in which turns out to be not that often if you have a laptop. The NAS might be slow but it'll always be there.
  8. yoak macrumors 65816


    Oct 4, 2004
    Oslo, Norway
    A NAS is slow. I have a netgear pro 12TB NAS and I find using it as storage and back up is so slow it kills me. It depends on your needs though. If you only back up and transfer smaller files it can work well. Yesterday I needed to back up a file of 70GB and it took 10 hours! That WD one video file so it would have been even slower if it was a folder of photos or other small files I think.
  9. designs216 macrumors 65816


    Oct 26, 2009
    Down the rabbit hole
    I have the ReadyNAS duo with fast HDs connected via CAT6 and a fast router but transfers are quite slow. The manual claims that I can access files from the NAS over the internet but I've never attempted to do so. I use it mainly for redundant manual backups and storing media.

    Many similar devices I've seen have multiple connections and may be formated with Mac or PC file systems so one may attach to a network or directly to a computer.
  10. HishamAkhtar thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Oct 22, 2011
    Thanks for the replies everyone! The speed issue is important because with a DSLR, I'm going to be transferring large files back and forth and doing it over a slow network would suck.

    I think I might just go for the WD USB 3.0 harddrive :)
  11. mikepro macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    You can still share files on your local mac and locally attached storage with other computers on your network, and over the internet (requires some router and sharing setup. Many ways to do it). You have to leave the computer on when you are away.

    Just making the point that, just because you didn't go NAS, doesn't mean you can share the storage space on your network. I share the 3TB firewire drive attached to my Mac Mini with all the machines on my network, and can stream movies over the internet from it with Plex. Essentially your computer becomes the NAS.
  12. DeusInvictus7 macrumors 68020

    Aug 13, 2008
    Kitchener, Ontario
    Yeah that's what I did with my old iMac, worked great.

    Now that I have replaced it with a MacBook Pro, I've just plugged my external drives into my Airport Extreme and have 1 drive doing my Time Machine backups (did the initial backup wired that way it was faster, incremental backups are all done wirelessly), and the other drive holding all my media (movies and tv shows, photos I keep local on my computer).

    The wireless solution I have is a bit slower than when it was all connected with wires, but really the only delay that I get is waiting for the drive to spin up after being idle for a little while (which I would have to do even if it was wired anyway). That's about it. I haven't had any real slow downs transferring files, or even streaming to my AppleTV. If something becomes time critical, I can always just unplug the drive from my Airport Extreme and hard wire it to my computer for faster speeds.

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