Network Attached Storage Drive?

Ok, so I’ve been thinking about getting an external hard drive for quite a while, to be kept in the apartment, not a portable one, which I could attach my laptop to when home to get things I needed on or off it… however this would strap me to my desk in order to use it. I do have a home wireless network already installed, using a Linksys Wireless-G router, to connect my roomate’s desktop, my laptop and the Wii to the web. It’s got a WEP key so the neighbors can’t get in since I’m in an apartment. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyways… I have been looking into a way to attach an external hard drive to the network, so that I can access it wirelessly from my laptop. Attaching it to my roomate’s desktop in order to do this is a no go, as I wouldn’t have access to it when she wasn’t home, in case of a hardware issue. Attaching it to the laptop defeats the purpose. Attaching it somehow directly to the router seems to be the ideal situation. It could sit in the multimedia cabinet next to the Wii, the router, and the cable modem.

Sooooo… I’ve been researching on the internet… and it looks like what I need is a Network Attached Storage Drive. But there are some caveats on them, regarding their general behavior. So….. can one of my more in the know computer friends, explain the differences between a USB external hard drive, and a Network attached External Hardrive (aside from the obvious: the Network drive would be accessible to anyone on the network.)

Thanks so much!!!!

8^)

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16 Responses to Network Attached Storage Drive?

  1. darkjedi521 says:

    Network attached: Can have multiple users at once generally, platform agnostic. Can often be expanded to larger capacity depending on make/model

    USB: Limited to one host system, either tied to a specific platform, or to the lowest common denominator. To expand, buy another drive.

    Oh, and WEP isn’t all that secure.

    • admiralmemo says:

      WEP isn’t all that secure
      But it keeps out the lazy people who just want free Internet.

      Isn’t WSA more secure? *isn’t too keen on wireless security*

      • kreinm2 says:

        WPA, superseeded by WPA2 is what you’re referring to, in all likelihood.

        Bob’s on the money with Network (usually more expensive) vs. USB (cheeper).

        I wouldn’t like to use a NAS drive over wireless, especially when there might be 802.11b clients around — dog slow in my experience.

        Actually, what I would go for in your case would sorta be best of both worlds — how about a portable, attached hard drive that can be taken everywhere and used pretty effectively?

        http://www.apple.com/ipodclassic/

        Up to 160 GB that fits in your pocket, connected and powered/chargeable through USB2. The tether is a bit of a pain in the ass, but you certainly wouldn’t be limited to desks for it. I’ve also seen NAS boxes far more expensive than the iPod (haven’t looked, either).

  2. admin says:

    Ok…. new questions:

    1. How hard is it to do this WPA2 thing? Can somone point me towards a book or something on how to put that up?

    2. What types of things are 802.11b clients? Would that be like, the Wii, or my roomate’s dinosaur computer with the USB wireless card?

    3. Wouldn’t an iPod burn out a heck of a lot faster getting used as an external? I mean, there’s not a fan in one of those things and it’s tiny. I don’t want to loose my files and stuff. I read something about iPods having troubles with “sustained read/write,” which I dunno exactly what that is, but sounds like it would happen if one were using it as an external.

    Continued gratitude for the computer tips guys.

    8^)

    • darkjedi521 says:

      1.) It depends on your router make/model and what it supports.

      2.) There are 3.5 wireless standards, 802.11b, 802.11a, 802.11g, and 802.11n. 802.11n doesn’t officially exist yet even though stuff is on sale (mfgs not waiting for a standard), so we are going to ignore it. 802.11a is used by almost no one so we will ignore it too. 802.11b is the original mass market wireless lan standard. Top speed 11 MHz, operates in 2.4 GHz band. 802.11g is a newer, higher speed standard at 54 GHz. 802.11g units have the ability to fall back to 802.11b if anything using that old standard is present. Or, if 802.11g speeds can not be reached due to to distance or poor RF environments, it also falls back to 802.11b. So, without looking at your gear, the answer can range from all of it to none of it to “It depends” somewhere in the middle.

      3.) Yes. Bad idea to use as full time HD. One off transfers between points A and B, not a bad idea.

      4.) NAS + wireless is a bad idea. If the wireless link drops, you’re looking at best a loss of your unsaved work in the current app to at worst a Blue Screen of Death and/or kernel panic().

      5.) Option #3: Get a 2.5″ enclosure + laptop drive. A lot of them are low power enough that a USB or Firewire port is all you need, with no bricks required. Very easy to take with you. One downside is the case is used as a heat sink, so it will be quite warm when running.

      • kreinm2 says:

        11Mbps/54Mbps corrections aside for 802.11b/g (both standards operate at ~2.4 Ghz, not MHz or 54 GH), you’re absolutely on the money here.

        3.) How do you intend to use the hard drive? Regurgitating what was said, your intended usage should tell you what to get.

        Short-circuiting the whole conversation here, how much storage are you looking for?

        If you want some extra space and whatnot, have a look at
        http://www.westerndigital.com/en/products/Products.asp?DriveID=314

        250 GB Internal HD (assuming you have a SATA internal HD, not sure) without any of the mobility problems of the other solutions – also, the density of information packed on a drive like that spinning at 5400RPM pretty much guarantees that it’ll blow your current hard drive out of the water in terms of speed – not promising certain % speedups, but you’ll most definitely notice your computer is faster. 🙂

        Cheers,
        -Mike

        • admin says:

          My intended use for whatever I get is to double as backup for my laptop hard drive, especially in cases of re-image or new laptop, and to store media files I don’t use frequently to free up space on my internal HD for software.

          Unfortunately the backup function precludes the replacement of my internal HD with a bigger one internally. Since that would still be all my files in only one place.

          8^)

      • admin says:

        NAS + wireless is a bad idea. If the wireless link drops, you’re looking at best a loss of your unsaved work in the current app to at worst a Blue Screen of Death and/or kernel panic().

        Forgive my petulance, as I did ask for advice, but I’ve never gotten blue screen of death at work when my computer suddenly can’t find a network drive. Why is that different if the network drive in question isn’t in a server? And, what’s to stop me saving the file to my local hard drive if it can’t find the NAS?

    • Yury says:

      Everyone would bneefit from reading this post

  3. admin says:

    The IT guy at work, suggested this . He says he hasn’t researched it much but it sounds like what I need. It does certainly sound like what I thought NAS would do for me… perhaps one of these instead?

    8^)

    • Ack! No! Way overkill! and Crappy!

      Here’s my $0.02:
      NAS sounds good for what you need to do, however keep this in mind: NAS over wireless would suck if you wanted to back up all of your files nightly. However if you were to do a backup of your system via plugged in Ethernet, you’d be fine.
      For day to day use and streaming media and the like, going over wifi shouldn’t be a problem at all, even on 802.11b networks. Your router is G, which should be fine.

      As for the actual backups themselves, keep this in mind: Having a backup copy of your data is a great thing, but it’s not fool proof. What happens if the drive in the NAS device dies? You’d still be out of your data. Granted the likelyhood of this happening when your laptop dies is remote, I like planning out to plan C.

      Simple solution, buy one of these:
      http://www.lacie.com/se/products/product.htm?pid=10994
      I’ve used them, they’re easy, and they’re great. They don’t have any disk redundancy, but you get what you pay for. If you go this route, buy some archival DVDs and back up your really irreplaceable stuff to them as well.

      Better solution, buy one of these:
      http://www.lacie.com/se/products/product.htm?pid=10953
      It has basic disk mirroring built in so it gives you a bit of extra protection.

      Best Solution:
      http://www.lacie.com/se/products/product.htm?pid=10876
      Fast, powerful, and redundant. Also slightly expensive. Lacie may not be the best in performance in this arena, so you may want to look at buffalo technologies or Linksys small business products.

      Also, http://www.smallnetbuilder.com/content/view/30107/77/ a good primer.

      • Oh, for Archival DVDs, I highly recommend:
        Gold Archival DVD-R 8X from MAM-A. They may not last 300 years, but they’re much better than what you’d get in CompUSA.
        http://www.mam-a.com/products/dvd_product_list.htm

      • admin says:

        THANKS!!!! I certainly don’t mind jacking into the network at the hub for mass backups, most of my more valued files aren’t used often enough that I’d need to back them up over and over. The “Best Solution” is certainly out of my comfortable price range, but I’m weighing the cost/benifit of the “Better solution” over the “Simple Solution.” I know with the simple solution there’s the possibility of loosing things compleatly if both drives croack at once… but it’s certainly 100% better than no backup at all, which is what I’ve had since I graduated last August.

        *Thinks alot.*

        8^)

    • Ceyhun says:

      LOL if you use *WEP* on your wireless nertowk, that’s probably the most secure part of the internet your connection will go through. Consider that once your connection reaches the wireless router, it connects to your ISP’s nertowk, which in turn connects to the big cloud known as the internet. Your packets, with your IP address attached, go over all kinds of nertowks, most of them unencrypted. Along the way they can run through routers which grab sensitive info and forward it to hackers

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