Firewire-capable Network Storage Link?
July 31, 2007 7:24 AM   Subscribe

Does a Network Storage Link for a firewire HDD and OS X exist?

I have a Lacie 250 GB external HDD that is firewire. I was looking at the Linksys NSLU2 network storage link, but it only allows USB devices to be plugged in. Does a similar device exist that allows me to plug in a firewire drive? A quick google search does not turn one up for me.

If such a device exists, I'm trying to decide between purchasing that device vs. purchasing a full-blown NAS. Currently I'm looking at the Buffalo Terastation II and the Infrant ReadyNas NV. I realize these devices are much different than a network storage link, but would still appreciate any comments re: pros and cons of each solution (besides price, which is why I'm looking into the NSL to begin with).

My current drive has ~ 60GB free, so space will also quickly become an issue, another reason to go with a 1TB NAS.

I'm running Mac OS X.
posted by cahlers to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Mybook World Edition II, is a cheaper NAS alternative. You might want to look at that.
posted by oddman at 7:49 AM on July 31, 2007

You could take the hard-drive out of the firewire enclosure and put it into an enclosure that has a network storage link.

I have a readynas nv and it seems to work reasonably well with os x, although I haven't fully utilized/exercised it yet. Be aware there are some issues if you use both smb and afp. In particular they deal with . files differently. This can be an issue if you are using the readynas with both windows & os x. It's also an issue because speeds aren't as good with afp as smb. They are apparently starting to address some of these issues in new beta releases of the firmware.

Also, if you buy a driveless readynas and your own drives (recommended as you can save some money that way) make sure you check the compatibility list. In particular the Western Digital 500gb drives, though the best bytes/dollar plus the quietest half terabyte drive right now, have issues which prevent them from being used reliably in a readynas.

Also, though it is one of the quietest nas's on the market, you probably still want to stick it in a closet, or at least a closed door or two from your bedroom.
posted by lastobelus at 7:53 AM on July 31, 2007

I was asking myself the same question a while ago, when I was exploring NAS boxes. I did not find any that have firewire interfaces. I wound up getting a no-disk Synology box and stuffing it with a half-TB drive.

Since your existing external is near to full, and drive mechanisms are so cheap, doing something like that wouldn't be much of a sacrifice.
posted by adamrice at 8:36 AM on July 31, 2007

You could take the hard-drive out of the firewire enclosure and put it into an enclosure that has a network storage link.

Be careful with that -- some of the NAS units on the market use proprietary / nonstandard disk formats, and won't use a hard drive that already has data on it. And if the NAS dies, you're stuck with a hard drive that has irretrievable garbage on it (unless you buy a new, identical NAS appliance).

The other thing to look for, both in external Firewire/USB drive boxes and NAS units, is whether it allows the drive to spin down. No spin down will dramatically shorten the life of most drives, particularly if there's insufficient cooling. If you're using a network link box that plugs into external drives, you need to make sure that both the drive boxes (USB or Firewire boxes), and the network-interface appliance support spin-down when the drives aren't in use.

There's a good review of network storage appliances, including the 'network link' (external) options, e.g. the NSLU3, and the 'NAS' (internal) ones, e.g. TeraStation, here.

They all seem to have serious caveats; I guess it's just a matter of deciding which you can live with. Didn't see any external-Firewire ones there, though. Best bet might be to get an old PC and use it as a controller, using a NAS-ifying Linux or BSD distribution.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:52 AM on July 31, 2007

Just a third option as well, though you are probably alread aware of it -- Apple's new Airport Extreme base station allows you to plug any USB external drive into it and have it function as NAS. Since you are already using a Mac and your existing external is almost full, this might be a cheap and functional approach, if you don't mind shelling out for a new drive.
posted by modernnomad at 8:56 AM on July 31, 2007

Wow this is interesting because I just finished setting up a NAS server for my home/abroad use. I used FreeNAS ( to build a nas server out of an old P3 1GHz computer I pulled out of a dumpster. I was lucky in that it uses PC 133 ram which I had laying around from my Sawtooth. It was amazingly simple to set up and is controlled using a WebGUI. I have now set up an AFP server for use with my OSX machines, SAMBA (CIFS) for my XP machines, and FTP for when I'm out of the house. All three share the same disks and I can access the files very easily. FTP was easy to set up once I set a static address and forwarded port 20-21 to that address. I even set up slimserver using slimnas to stream my music to a nokia 770 and I should be able to access this from anywhere on the internet. I highly recommend FreeNAS and if you have any questions let me know.

If you don't have an old PC laying around that meets the very modest requirements (Pentium and 96 mb ram I believe) then you might try something like a Micronet SC90GB1 Dual Firewire San Cube Storage HDD Item number: 250149170653. I'm not sure this is as useful as a FreeNAS box, but you might not have an old PC available.
posted by eleongonzales at 10:32 AM on July 31, 2007 [1 favorite]

Oh and after reading from above- it will allow you to spindown drives, create RAID setups, and can be run entirely off a compact flash card (super quiet).

Feeling kinda like FreeNAS fanboy right now...
posted by eleongonzales at 10:34 AM on July 31, 2007

I kept considering building a NAS, but when I saw the DNS-323, I gave up the idea. It + 2 500 GB drives = 1 TB NAS for about $400. (I RAIDed mine, so I only have 500GB.) (I use it with Linux through samba; don't know how much of a pain setting up samba on a Mac would be.)
posted by Zed_Lopez at 4:49 PM on July 31, 2007

The readynas is definitely quieter than the average elderly pc with 4 drives is going to be.
posted by lastobelus at 12:48 AM on August 1, 2007

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