Please help me design my new system/network

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Leia1912, Jun 13, 2010.

  1. Leia1912 macrumors member

    Jan 29, 2007
    Hi, all,

    Thanks to a job upgrade, I am now in a position to take a Great Leap Forward technologically. I have a few questions about my choices here, so I would like your input, if possible.

    Current set-up: Ancient (late 2003) iMac (lamp-shaped design) with slowest external hard drive one earth, attached to a 1st generation Apple Extreme and router. Wireless devices: MacBook (approx. 3.5 years old), iPad, and iPhone. Both MacBook and iMac have access to two printers, attached to the Airport and to an Airport Express on the upper floor of the house.

    My issue: I want to streamline my computing. The iMac is primarily used for DVD copying (slow but then I can walk away and let it go), and as the base for my giant collection of photos. The iPhone is synced with the iMac. Meanwhile, I do about 99% of my work on the MacBook, and the iPad (used as my mobile device at work and my e-reader) is synced mostly with that. (Although I do think I have it syncing photos from the iMac, if I remember correctly.)

    My plan:

    1.) Improve the base station--I am thinking of buying a new Airport. Do the newer models have better range/reception? Due to being online since the pre-wireless era, my router is in my basement.

    2.) Get a Time Machine for back-up, instead of the horrendous and slow hard drive attached to the iMac, plus the occasion CD/DVDs I rip of stuff from the MacBook. And, oh, horror, flash drives o' backup, too.

    (Is it possible to attach the ancient hard drive to either Airport or TM, to make it an online drive, for access? And what size TM should I get? And linked to that, will TM let you back-up multiple devices on it?)

    3.) Get a MacBook Pro, since I really, really, really want a dream machine. I know, I'm a professor, a writer, and a crazy relative who is always taking photos of the babies in the family, so it's a bit excessive for my needs--but I feel about it like a car fan feels about a Lamborghini. Now I'm just trying to figure out 15 vs. 17 inch, and what other specs to get. MBP will become the hub for the iPhone, iPad, and iPod (if I keep my ancient mini), as well as my camera.

    4.) Get a handle on the MBP. I'm thinking of getting a handle-type device (like this: Case-Mate) because I carry my laptop up and down stairs frequently. I suspect this is the reason my MacBook--and iBook before that--developed pressure spots on the screen, from my grip. (Which I still think is idiotic, given that I'm not a bodybuilder and should not have the grip to maim a laptop, but still. I want to do what I can to keep the new toy perfect.)

    5.) Get AppleCare on everything.

    (Oh, and FYI, the only other device on the network is my mother's iBook that comes visiting with her on occasion.)

    Can you guys give me some feedback on my plan? I am very interested in hearing what you'd recommend.

    Thank you very much for your thoughts. :)
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    I don't have any statistics or else but yes, it should have a lot better range. It also supports newer wireless standards thus it will be faster

    I wouldn't get TM because there have been a lot issues with it e.g. failing after 18 months. If you get AirPort Extreme, just grab an external HD and plug it though it'll be even slower through wireless that with your current external thus I would use it via USB as it's several times faster (it's okay to do it like once week)

    It sounds like you are in need of a brand new setup thus MBP would be great for you. Seeing that you have iPad, I assume portability isn't that huge concern so I would get 17" if money isn't the issue here. Of course 15" with hi res screen is also amazing

    Always a good idea. Check LA Computers for cheaper but still legit AppleCares

    Also, if portability isn't even needed, take a look at 27" iMacs, they are beasts!
  3. djdavidgallant macrumors member


    Jul 11, 2009
    Boston, MA
    Dont use the old drive for time machine. Either buy a new one as they are fairly cheap, or stick with a cloud solution like mozy.
  4. Leia1912 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 29, 2007
    Thanks, you guys, for the feedback!

    So the gist is:

    --yes on the new Airport
    --ixnay on the TM; use instead either an external drive (a new one, not the ancient one) or cloud-based system (Mozy)
    --the MBP should be fine. (I'm leaning towards 15 inch, just because I don't know how portable I want to go yet. 17 inches seems to be a lot for a computer I use mostly on my lap or on my table.)

    (I'm thinking of moving the stuff off the old drive and letting the old drive go to the Great Floppy Disc in the Sky.)

    As I think about moving together my computers' files into one system (esp. the photos), I want to know how does everyone manage gigs (and gigs, and gigs again) of photo storage? Mozy & external HDs?
  5. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Don't use cloud based storage unless you have insane (+10Gb/s) upload speed, otherwise it's EXTREMELY slow.

    You can put up to 1TB (or up to 2TB if you replace the SuperDrive with HD) in MBP so that should be fine for photos or just get nice 2TB external for them and hook it to the AirPort Extreme for easy (but slower) access.
  6. Dana Beck macrumors member

    Dana Beck

    Jun 13, 2010
    Blackwell, OK
    Just to add re: the external hard drive

    If your external hard drive is for photos, I strongly recommend getting a mirrored RAID (Raid 1). I have--and like--G Safes from G-Technology (Hitachi hard drives); Other World Computing also has them, I believe, as well as Iomega and Verbatim. You can then buy a user replaceable separate drive, both for backup and swapping. Can still upload them to the cloud.

    MacPro 1,1 dual core 2.66, 30" ACD, UMBP 2.93, iMac 2.8, ipad 3G, ipod Touch Gen 1
  7. Eclipse278 macrumors regular

    Jan 21, 2007
    You can do this if you need access to that data at all times without interruption (which i doubt it on a home network), but raid 1 is not a backup solution. Any file change on one drive (virus or accidental deletion) will instantly be done on the second drive at the same time.

    What he needs is data backup, which means it's stored on two separate systems. If it's accidentally deleted from one disk a backup copy resides somewhere else.

    What the OP should do to prevent data loss is use time machine once a week to back up to an external USB drive, or to an internet drive like others have suggested.
  8. Christina1971 macrumors regular

    Jan 1, 2007
    Just a reminder (though this may already be a part of your thinking) you can save a little money in upfront costs by not buying Applecare until you get to the first year anniversary of your purchase date. I'd still go ahead and buy the Applecare, at least on the laptop, but it's an expense that can be put off for some months.

    I think you're going to love that Macbook Pro. I also think the 15 inch sounds sufficient for your needs, but you would really love looking at those baby pictures on a big screen, so maybe instead of the 17, you might want to consider getting an external monitor? But you don't have to do that right away, either.

    I'm just going to throw this out there to get your thoughts: you've already thought of and eliminated the iMac+iPad idea? There's not a thing wrong with the setup you've currently envisioned. It's just that you'll get more for your money with an iMac, but of course you lose the portability.

    The best protection for your important files is to have redundant storage. That could work by having the periodic Time Machine backups at home and then cloning the whole drive once a week or so and storing it in a alternate location (maybe the office?) Perhaps you could use your current external drive as the clone drive, in addition to buying a new drive? Does the old drive have enough space? Maybe it's slow, but if you're just using it for that once-weekly clone job, it might be good enough. No need to throw away something if you can still get use out of it, to my way of thinking. Unless it's already starting to behave erratically.
  9. Leia1912 thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 29, 2007
    Thank you all again for the thoughtful responses!

    To recap a couple of the comments/questions:

    --I am inclined to go with a laptop because, in my home, I tend to use my current laptop a lot more than I use my iPad. I just don't type fast enough on it for it to replace my laptop for home usage. Plus, although we've seen Steve type on the iPad on his lap, I can't do that without doing it really slowly. (I pick up speed when I'm at a table, but I like to do a lot of my typing while bumming about on the couch.)

    As for a laptop vs. an iMac, I found out when I got my current set-up--well, iMac and iBook, later MacBook--that I just gravitated more to the flexibility of the laptop. Plus, my job got me an iMac for my office this year, so I do have a desktop--it's just not at home.:D

    --The Applecare won't be as big an issue for me, since I get the educational discount. (That always helps.)

    --So we're thinking external drives for back-up/possible on-demand access? (I'm thinking now of trying to copy over the bazillion photos from the iMac into the new computer, or at least give the bazillion photos their own drive.)


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