What is the difference between a network drive and an external usb drive

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by macgrl, Apr 2, 2009.

  1. macgrl macrumors 65816

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    Jul 17, 2008
    #1
    This may sound like a stupid question so my apologies if it is but I have been searching the internet to try to find a definitive answer and cannot find a simple one that I understand lol .

    Basically my question is if I want to have some extra storage on my network and want to plug in an external hard drive into my router does it have to be a network drive or will any external hard drive that I use to plug in directly to my mac work?

    Thank you :)
     
  2. whitefang macrumors 6502

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    Mar 1, 2009
    #2
    It can be a NAS drive or a NAS enclosure containing a regular drive. NAS drives are limited to network speeds and latencies which are very slow compared to a USB/E-SATA/Firewire connection.
     
  3. macgrl thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Jul 17, 2008
    #3
    Thank you for your reply. :) What difference does it being a NAS drive make? Does it mean that it has some software or drivers so that it can work whereas a normal usb external drive doesn't
     
  4. whitefang macrumors 6502

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    Mar 1, 2009
    #4
    NAS = network attached storage. If you connect through wireless, it will be even slower. You don't need any drivers or software. It's a network device so you should see it under the network devices list.
     
  5. macgrl thread starter macrumors 65816

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    #5
    Super, thank you for taking the time to explain that :)
     
  6. codalo macrumors newbie

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    Jan 27, 2008
    #6
    USB on Router

    one thing to think about also is that an ext. USB will power down after a period of non-use so it will have to be "re-connected" to the router before you could see it available.
     
  7. whitefang macrumors 6502

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    #7
    Not really, it's connected through ethernet not usb. Most NAS drives have USB ports though.
     
  8. macgrl thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Jul 17, 2008
    #8
    What would be the best way to connect it? Via ethernet or usb? I have a time capsule that I use for back ups and it is connected wirelessly to my network. My wireless router is a netgear
     
  9. whitefang macrumors 6502

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    #9
    USB is faster. Ethernet is slower especially if it's wireless.

    Esata > Firewire > USB > Ethernet
     
  10. macgrl thread starter macrumors 65816

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  11. codalo macrumors newbie

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    Jan 27, 2008
    #11
    you will get faster data speeds with USB if directly connected to your computer, if contecting the drive to the router you will only get network speed for data xfer
     
  12. yippy macrumors 68020

    yippy

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2004
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    #12
    There seems to be a little confusion.

    If you want a drive that is shared on your network, you have to get a NAS drive. However, some routers, like the Airport Extreme, have USB ports on them that you can plug in a USB drive. On these routers, when you connect a USB drive, the router shares it on the network the same way a NAS drive shares itself and there is effectively no difference other than cost.

    With that said, connecting an external drive via USB directly to your computer is faster than any of the networking options, especially if you are using wireless.
     
  13. macgrl thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Jul 17, 2008
    #13
    Thanks yippy. That clears things up I was wondering why a normal external hard drive is used sometimes and then a nas drive other times
     
  14. Tomorrow macrumors 604

    Tomorrow

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    Mar 2, 2008
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    #14
    I wouldn't say "very slow." I use a USB drive directly connected to my iMac and a NAS, and I've yet to see any evidence of one being any faster than the other - and my network is wireless. People like to call out how the theoretical max speed of USB 2.0 is faster than 100BaseT, but that speed isn't sustainable.

    The biggest difference is that the NAS plugs into your router instead of to a computer - so any computer on your network can access it, even if that's the only computer turned on.

    If you connect a USB drive to a computer, you can access it through the network only if the computer connected to the drive is turned on.

    The only real drawback to using a NAS is the cost - there's a significant premium over USB or Firewire.

    There is also some misleading information in this thread - some NAS drives DO require drivers or special software to use them, access them, or set them up. Netgear makes a NAS enclosure (you provide the disks) that doesn't work with OS X. Buffalo makes NAS's that do work. I can't speak for the others as I haven't bought them.
     
  15. macgrl thread starter macrumors 65816

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    Jul 17, 2008
    #15
    I will have a look at the Buffalo drives, thank you :)
     

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