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Advice sought > Connecting 2 USB HDD to home network


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#1 lestatar

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Posted 05 January 2010 - 05:21 AM

Happy New Year to all!

Looking for some advice and guidance and experience from the kindly folks here. Just starting my research and figured BC is the best place to start.

Simple enough project and one I am pretty sure many folks will need to do at some point or already have.

I have 2 Seagate 500GB USB HDDs. They are currently connected to 1 of my wired PCs and fully shared. I want to find the best, cheapest and non-destructive way to connect these 2 drives as standard network devices so I don't have to have them connected to a PC. I basically want to convert these 2 drives into the poor man's NAS.

I am aware of several USB network appliances out there that have wildly varying reviews. Frankly, I am surprised that my searches so far have turned up only a few solutions - there are either not many of these types of devices out there [hard to believe] or I am not searching correctly [very possible].

I have done some reading about devices from Addonics, Hitachi Simple Net and Pogo. The Hitachi is actually almost exactly what I envisioned I would need, but I have come across several reviews that conclude that it is not quite ready for prime time use.

I have a ton of data, everything from mp3 to pics to videos and documents. My data, like yours, is very valuable. I will eventually invest in a full blown NAS device at some point, but right now seek a low cost alternative that is safe and does not require time consuming [and unnecessary, IMO] reformats and data copying.

Here are my requirements and relevant specs:

- a single device to support both existing USB HDDs; I have come across a Linksys or Belkin device which would work perfectly, but neither supports more than 1 USB HDD as far as I can tell;

- wireless not necessary, but a plus if possible;

- standard 10/100 transfer speeds adequate at a minimum;

- do not need empty NAS enclosures as the Seagates are self-contained;

- I am absolutely not interested in solutions which allow me to share my files on the web and require me to sign up for subscription services [so the Pogo may be out of contention right off the bat from what I understand]. My data is my own - why is it necessary to add a potential security hole/unwanted outside monitoring capability? :huh:

- absolutely must keep existing data, with no formats and conversions to other file systems [both drives are currently NTFS and must stay that way];

- full read/write capability once connected;

- ability to watch movies and listen to mp3s without hiccups.

That's basically it. Am I asking/expecting too much? Is there such a beast out there that meets all these criteria [which I feel are pretty standard]? I am not looking for any kind of RAID capability at this point.

I very much appreciate any advice/suggestions/experience/feedback you folks may have had. :thumbsup:

cheers,
-lestatar

Edited by lestatar, 05 January 2010 - 05:24 AM.


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#2 lestatar

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Posted 08 January 2010 - 07:12 PM

40 views and not 1 single reply?

Is it my breath? :thumbsup:

#3 garmanma

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Posted 08 January 2010 - 07:43 PM

It's not one of the more discussed subjects. I wouldn't give up just yet
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#4 caperdog

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Posted 08 January 2010 - 09:44 PM

so i think what you want is the drives to stand alone on the network so you can reboot or shut down the pc they are connected to without affecting other users on the network. correct ?
well, i am no expert and i am just going to throw these ideas at you. i am not familiar with the devices that you mention but i think a simple file server will do the job. an old pc running linux file server software would work. you won't need much processing power, maybe a pentium II with 128 mb ram. possibly ubuntu server software. arrange so drives will fit into case. configure to run headless (no monitor) and with no mouse or keyboard attached and use VNC or like software to access server for repair work. lets face it, a NAS would be much sleeker and simpler to set up but this would be a great use of old hardware and would cost basically nothing.

after reviewing your wish list, you may have to install a special ntfs driver to enable write capability if your chosen linux distro does not come with it included.

Edited by caperdog, 08 January 2010 - 10:22 PM.


#5 the_patriot11

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 01:54 AM

i think caper has the right idea, Only catch is most motherboards with pentium II technology will not recognize a 500 gig hard drive, not alone 2, that is if you want to mount them internally. however, that being said, if you can get your hands on say a socket 478 motherboard should be able to do the trick. you can either remove the hard drives and put them internally, that being said you need to check and see if theyre SATA or IDE. if IDE no problem if sata you might need an adaptor card. if you plan on keeping them in their inclosures, then its possible an ol pentium II may work. :D

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#6 lestatar

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 04:04 PM

caperdog and Patriot:

Thank you both for responding!

While both of your suggestions have merit, this is not really what I am looking to do.

The existing USB drives are enclosed standalone units. They are both connected to an XPPro Sp2 PC and are both fully shared on my home LAN so accessing them is no problem.

But what I am looking for is the best way to REPURPOSE the drives as they are so they can be typical network resources, read/write capable, and independent of any device like a file server.

I am not really interested in trading 1 always on PC [to power the USB drives] for another always on file server. I'd like to simply add network device capability to the USB drives, WITHOUT need to reformat.

I very much appreciate your responses. But I must admit I am surprised - I cannot be the only person with mulitple USB HDD storage who wants to create this sort of "poor man's" NAS.

Thanks both again,
-lestatar

#7 caperdog

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Posted 09 January 2010 - 10:17 PM

what we are suggesting is a poor mans NAS. to my knowledge the drives cannot stand alone without a power supply, network capability, micro processor and some type of software to make it recognizable on the network. all of this would be built into the NAS or those adapters you mentioned earlier. if you can figure out another way let us know. there may be a simpler solution. oh, the file server would not require you to format the drives

#8 lestatar

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 01:35 AM

Guys: Thanks again for your continuing input!

Seems I may not have been specific enough - there are examples of a few products which may fit my bill exactly. I was looking for alternative products like these below and also, more importantly, for any real world experience with these kinds of things.

My same post on ComputerHope forum yielded these images and suggestions. Can't figure out inline images on this forum so links below to see what I mean...


First, what appears to be a networkable USB hub from a company called Newlink which could be perfect. Interestingly, Google results on the model number seem to yield largely UK links. Is it possible this kind of thing has not yet made it over here to the States, the Brits are more clever than we are or is this such a crappy idea we don't even bother with it? Also of concern is that my preliminary scan of the Newlink homepage DOES NOT show this product so I don't even know if it is discontinued or not.

http://www.kenable.co.uk/product_info.php?products_id=1836


Second, what appears to be another ideal solution for what I am looking for, especially in terms of price - the Hitachi SimpleNet. But I am concerned about what appears to be a rather wide range of real-world reviews on Amazon and a few other sites. This is a new [2009] Hitachi product but again, has received varying reviews and only on a few sites. Of course, Hitachi is what I consider a fairly reliable company, but still...

http://www.amazon.com/Hitachi-SimpleNET-Po...T/dp/B002CMEIV6


Both these devices would appear to be plug and play types. I should be able to simply keep my externally powered USB drives, plug them into these devices [instead of locally to a PC client] and then see/use/write to them on home LAN. This would be logically the absolute easiest way to create my poor man's NAS as far as I can tell. My questions are:

Will these work?

Are they dependable?

Or are they cheesy-half-baked ideas?

I appreciate your suggestions on setting up a limited file server, but I am seeking to accomplish this poor man's NAS in the cheapest, easiest, no muss-no fuss way possible.

My disbelief is that my preliminary search so far has yielded only these 2 products. I simply cannot believe that with the ubiquitous nature of USB external drives, there are not more people looking to do what I am trying, with at least a few more options. And I just can't believe I am the only one who is in love with the idea of a device which I can easily turn perfectly good USB externals into "real" networking devices.

I am trying to seek informed opinions from folks like you who are knowledgable and experienced technologists. So, what do you think of these devices?

Thanks again and look forward to your thoughts....

cheers,
-lestatar

Edited by lestatar, 10 January 2010 - 01:58 AM.


#9 lestatar

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 01:57 AM

Update:

Some more nosing around may indicate that the Newlink device has been rebranded under something called Darkstar with another company [sounding kind of ominous now].

Convinced now that the Newlink type devices are a very Euro thing. These 2 reviews are all I could find and again, mileage seems to vary widely...

http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/...productId=33846

http://www.aria.co.uk/Products/Components/...productId=33845


I may be the only guy on the Web [in US] looking to do this kind of thing!

Edited by lestatar, 10 January 2010 - 02:02 AM.


#10 caperdog

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 04:12 PM

Can more than one computer access drives attached through this device over a network at the same time?
-No, only one machine can access the drives at a time.


that would be a drawback. i like the idea of being able to connect a USB printer. looks like your going to have to buy one and test it for us :thumbsup:

#11 caperdog

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Posted 10 January 2010 - 04:27 PM

ok, i think i have decided. i like the Addonics device. would have to add USB hub.

nope, changed my mind, its $100 bucks and looks like you can connect almost anything. Belkin Network USB Hub
http://www.belkin.com/networkusbhub/#

Edited by caperdog, 10 January 2010 - 05:33 PM.


#12 lestatar

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Posted 11 January 2010 - 11:19 PM

ok, i think i have decided. i like the Addonics device. would have to add USB hub.

nope, changed my mind, its $100 bucks and looks like you can connect almost anything. Belkin Network USB Hub
http://www.belkin.com/networkusbhub/#



caperdog:

DING DING DING! You may have a winner there!

The Belkin would appear to be exactly what I need. Of course, reviews vary widely...

Have to decide if I want to take a chance...Belkin has been hit and miss with me historically [most notably a powered USB hub which was supposed to be able to power my 2 USB external Seagates, but failed miserably].

I will contact Belkin and Hitachi and Addonic tech support to see if I can coax some honest, real world answers out of them before I make up my mind.

You [and everyone else here] have been great...will try and keep you posted if I move forward with one of these devices.

cheers and be well and thanks again!!!!
-lestatar

#13 caperdog

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Posted 13 January 2010 - 09:54 PM

for anyone still reading, i stumbled upon the software for the old pc = file server and its the kind we like, free, based on FreeBSD called FreeNAS .. http://freenas.org/doku.php

#14 bc109

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Posted 25 January 2010 - 04:59 PM

The Belkin F5L009 device does appear to be a good choice. I am looking to configure an inexpensive NAS solution using a Seagate FreeAgent 500g external USB drive that I already have.

I don't believe the Addonics will do NTFS. I had also looked at the SimpleNET NAS Head
USB 2.0, which seems very similar to the Addonics, but is compatible with NTFS.
I have also found a device by Arkview which also looks to have a similar function.

Here are links to these devices:

http://www.belkin.com/networkusbhub/
http://www.simpletech.com/products/storage...t/simplenet.php
http://www.arkview.com/eshop/goods.php?id=59

I am very surprised that we don't hear more about these devices with so many multiple PC households. It seems a bit confusing as reviews of these devices are rather spare. Additionally, many times a device will work well when properly configured - many times a negative review will stem from a poorly configured device that would otherwise have worked just fine.

I will most likely choose from one of the above devices. Thanks for starting this post. Hopefully, the best device for this purpose will soon be clear.

FreeNAS looks to be confusing for me and I am not clear that it will work with a freestanding USB drive such as the FreeAgent. Am willing to spend something for a simple, dependable device.

#15 bc109

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Posted 27 January 2010 - 04:37 PM

If anyone is still reading this topic, I was at my local Office Max today and found that they have the SimpleNet device for $79.99 (which is high, but it was good to see the device in a store).

Additionally, I saw a Belkin N+ wireless router there which is also $79.99 - what caught my eye was that it has a USB port specifically for adding a hard drive to the network. So for $79.99 you can get the hard drive added to a network, but if you don't already have one, a wireless N network at the same time.

http://catalog.belkin.com/IWCatProductPage...oduct_Id=459640

If anyone is familiar with this device I'd be interested in any feedback.




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