Networking 2 iMac with hard drive

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by TheTruth101, Jul 26, 2017.

  1. TheTruth101 Suspended

    Mar 15, 2017
    Hi guys

    I am planing to buy two imacs that will be sharing an external raid hard drive. The hard drive is thunderbolt. Is there a way to connect the hard drive to the two imacs via thunderbolt? or do I need to use ethernet?

    Thank you.
  2. Boyd01, Jul 27, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2017

    Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    AFAIK, the only way to use a single disk on two machines would be as a network drive. This can easily be done by connecting it to one of the Macs and enabling File Sharing in System Preferences > Sharing. It will then show up in the sidebar of Finder windows on the other Mac. With gigabit ethernet you should get around 100MB/sec throughput like this, which is a lot slower than some directly connected drives (for example, I have an external USB SSD that gets 400MB/sec).

    There will be a small performance hit on the machine that does the sharing, probably not much of an issue in most cases. And, obviously, the machine that is connected to the disk will have to be turned on and connected to ethernet for this to work.

    If you don't want to go that route, you will need a dedicated fileserver of some sort, such as a NAS. There are some relatively inexpensive products for that, but last time I looked their performance was not very impressive. You don't really give any detail on what kind of storage device you are using, if it has ethernet ports then maybe it actually is a NAS?

    The newer Macs all have 802.11ac wifi that is pretty fast. I use that on my MacBook Air but only get around 60MB/sec throughput over wifi, as opposed to 100MB/sec on ethernet.
  3. theluggage macrumors 68040

    Jul 29, 2011
    Further to Boyd01's answer:

    Instead of ethernet or WiFi, you should be able to run a thunderbolt cable between the two iMacs to get super-fast mac-to-mac networking. This shows up as "Thunderbolt Bridge" in the Network control panel. It's still a network file-sharing setup, though - one machine is directly connected and shares the drive, the other connects via network file sharing. In theory, it should be faster than an ethernet cable. (Caveat - I haven't tried this myself, but you used to be able to do the same trick with FireWire and I have used that).

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