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External USB Drive vs. NAS ? What's the Difference??

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
So, I'm in the process of setting up a basic home media-sharing network, and am looking at what sort of device to use to store all of my digital media (mp3s, Avi's, pictures, etc). What my goal is, basically, to have a storage device which connects to either, I guess, my router or my computer (not sure which). From that device, I'd want to be able to exchange files between, and play music, videos, etc, on both my PC and my 360 (connected to my HDTV). My living room's easy to run wires around, so wireless isn't really a necessary consideration.

Obviously, I want to make sure that whatever device I use doesn't bottleneck playback of even the largest media files (HDTV with 5.1 sound, etc), and that I can easily move files between my PC's hard drive and it easily. So looking around, I see a bunch of different options, but mainly comes down to either - External USB hard drives (USB, SATA, etc), and Network attached storage. In terms of functionality, what the hell is the difference between the two of these? Very confused.... Any help?
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post #2 of 12
As it's name implies, the NAS is permanently attached to your network. It is more than hard drives, and functions seperatly from any of the computers on your network. Think of it like a server that is accessible from your local network's computers only. A major advantage of NAS devices is that they are almost designed to be RAID arrays - so you could keep all of your files safe with redundancy, while also offering some increased speed depending on what type of RAID you were to choose.

USB is attached to one computer at a time, just a drive with a SATA or IDE to USB adapter and a case. Not much different than adding an additional hard drive to one of the computers in your network.
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post #3 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the explanation.. and I understand the differences in those terms... I guess more specifically what I was wondering is this...

I need an extra drive with 750 Gigs or so to keep media on (avi's, mp3, etc). I need something that won't be strictly for archiving, but something that I could, for instance, play a high res .avi from using my 360 or computer, or whatever, and not encounter any slowdown for any reason.

So for those purposes, wouldn't a USB basically do the job just as well as a NAS? I mean, is there any additional slowdown in accessing a dvd file, etc, from an external drive?
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post #4 of 12
The USB drive would work just fine for your application. The "bottleneck" would be the actual speed of your network.

However, be advised that if you go the USB route the PC it's connected to has to always be on and you have to assign a share to it. NAS devices are also a little "safer" as most of them are set up in RAID1 or RAID5 and offer some sort of redundancy. Meaning, if one of the hard drives go out, you can just replace it and still have all your files intact.

If your USB drive fails and you have no backups, you're basically SOL.

For moderate to heavy usage, I would go for the NAS. They're more expensive, but worth the investment.
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post #5 of 12
I've heard nothing but bad things about NAS drives. There don't seem to be any good ones at a low price; the cheaper ones are too slow (100Mb/s) and/or have problems.

If you think about it, 100Mb/s is slower than USB (480) and even PATA (133). I wouldn't get a 100Mb/s, but then again the 1Gb/s (1000Mb/s) NAS drives/enclosures are too expensive...

I haven't found a solution yet. Check reviews on Newegg and you'll see the possibilities for problems.
post #6 of 12
just wait a few hours until the linksys NAS device comes available here:
http://www.thingfling.com/home/index.rails

it will be the next item up.

attach a usb external harddrive to it, then you have a NAS using your usb hdd.
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post #7 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Hundred Gunner View Post

If you think about it, 100Mb/s is slower than USB (480) and even PATA (133). I wouldn't get a 100Mb/s, but then again the 1Gb/s (1000Mb/s) NAS drives/enclosures are too expensive...
Either way, unless he has a gigabit connected network (which he doesn't since the xbox is only 100mb) the speed of the external device is irrelevant.

I do agree though, that for the purpose of xbox streaming and so on, the USB drive will be fine.
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post #8 of 12
when you're talking about ethernet speeds, you are talking about 100 mega BITS per second, NOT 100 mega Bytes per second. there are 8 bits per byte. so 100 mega BITS per second is roughly equal to 12.5 mega BYTES per second.

USB 2.0 has a raw data rate at 480Mbps.


these numbers are theoritical.

so speaking from this usb 2.0 is faster. but streaming over your network, which is most likely 100 mega bits per second, will "bottleneck" / negate the advantage of the transfer speed of the usb 2.0 device.

either way, going over a 100 megabits/second network will only yield a max transfer speed of 12.5 mega bytes per second no matter how fast your device can read/write.

now if your network is 1000 megabits/second (giga-bit). this is a different story.
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post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by this n00b again View Post
when you're talking about ethernet speeds, you are talking about 100 mega BITS per second, NOT 100 mega Bytes per second. there are 8 bits per byte. so 100 mega BITS per second is roughly equal to 12.5 mega BYTES per second.

USB 2.0 has a raw data rate at 480Mbps.


these numbers are theoritical.

so speaking from this usb 2.0 is faster. but streaming over your network, which is most likely 100 mega bits per second, will "bottleneck" / negate the advantage of the transfer speed of the usb 2.0 device.

either way, going over a 100 megabits/second network will only yield a max transfer speed of 12.5 mega bytes per second no matter how fast your device can read/write.

now if your network is 1000 megabits/second (giga-bit). this is a different story.


What I said...just not as eloquently.

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post #10 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by pacmantravis View Post
What I said...just not as eloquently.

lol i know. i was just trying to make it a little more clear and prove the point that no matter which device is used, the max transfer rate will probably be 12.5 mega bytes per second
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