AirPort Disk: Easy Network Storage

by Chris Stone

Apple announced its new Airport Extreme Base Station (AEBS) this week with a bit less fanfare than enjoyed by its other two new products. Sure, the new AEBS won't change the world, but it does have one new feature that will bring joy to quite a few households. Apple calls it AirPort Disk, and it provides cheap, Apple-simple network storage to home networks.

53 Comments

Tom Boucher
2007-01-13 13:06:32
If you could find out how it's routers perofrmance is. This is what is holding me back right now.


The Airport Extreme Base Station while a great product, destroyed my internet bandwidth. I didn't figure it out right away but I paid extra for an 8Mb pipe from the cable company only to find that when my AEBS was involved - wired or wireless - it stripped my speed down to a 768Kb/s at best download speed.


I've since gotten a Netgear but the idea of upgrading to N on my Mac Pro and the disk sharing capability obviously has some appeal, but not at the expense of wasting my internet bandwidth

Mike Abdullah
2007-01-13 14:06:31
And why no Gigabit ethernet eh?
anon
2007-01-13 14:28:41
Have you confirmed the file sharing protocols and disk formats with Apple? I have not seen other references and am very curious about what the AEBS uses.


I'm curious as to why the new AEBS does not support gigabit ethernet. And I wonder if a NAS model may arrive in the future with a built-in disk. I expect that we'll see special external disk enclosures similar to the ones for the mac mini that will stack with the AEBS.


Finally, after dissing 802.11a, has Apple indicated why the AEBS includes it? The apple TV does not.

Mike
2007-01-13 14:30:08
Hey Chris, thanks for the info. I've been looking for data on the usage of the AirPort Disk since I saw it mentioned for its release. Do you believe it's targeted more for use as a Time Machine backup device or for the home network file server or both? Also, what mechanism in this AEBS allows it to host multiple printers? Could this be attributed to the embedded OS X? I thought I would be able to do this with the current AEBS, but I quickly found out otherwise when I attempted to hook up all my printers through a USB hub.
Chris Stone
2007-01-13 17:58:48
Anon, yes, all the specs were confirmed with Apple. I should have answers regarding funtionality early in the week, but getting answers to the "why's" and "why not's" may be harder to come by. You're free to speculate among yourselves, though :-)


--Chris

anon
2007-01-13 22:49:26
Cool. Thanks for the info, Chris. While I also don't expect answers to the "why's" and "why not's", please don't feel bashful passing on our requests...


Thanks again.

Charles
2007-01-13 23:05:05
Hi - does anyone know if there is ftp included? To access a plugged in drive from outside the network and upload files as you could with an NAS drive from Buffalo, for example. In short, is this a good replacement for an NAS drive? Thanks, Charles
aswitcher
2007-01-13 23:58:12
This is going to make Time Machine so useful for MacBook/Pro users.


Does anyone know if the Apple TV also acts like a base station?

Alexey
2007-01-14 02:10:45
Thanks for the info, Chris. I mostly buy FW 800 enabled drives, but not dragging a drive around and having it readily available via AEBS sounds very appealing. As far I as understand you're not supposed to have an external drive plugged in at all times. Or does this only apply to mounting? Any idea if this kind of setup is going to be safe for the drive itself (overheating, etc)?
JulesLt
2007-01-14 02:55:11
From what I can work out from the Apple site, there's no direct way for the AEBS and AppleTV to work directly together - the implication is you need a machine running iTunes (running a Bonjour share of it's iTunes library) for the AppleTV to see it.


Can't see why it would have been a huge problem to add this in, if they're already using custom embedded software, but no doubt there are good reasons.

jw
2007-01-14 03:21:23
does anyone know whether i can share an ethernet disk with AEBS as well? after all it has 4 LAN connectors?
handsomefish
2007-01-15 03:44:04
When my wife and I switched to macbooks I had all sorts of problems recreating a wireless network setup that had worked fine under windows. You might be able to get an overview of the problem here, at the apple support forums. A few people suggested that the problem was Finder and its fundamental handling of wireless networked storage. Might the whizzy new airport solve my problems? In the end I just bought a couple of USB hard disks and ditched network storage. If this worked, I could always plug them into a base station.
woVi
2007-01-15 05:13:16
do You know if it's going to be possible to stack it with the Mac mini? At least it has the same meseaures. No as the Apple TV witch is bigger. May be under a Mac mini it get into interferences troubles..
Alex Waddell
2007-01-15 05:21:47
Does anyone know if this would work with the Iomega MiniMax firewire disk? If it did this would be a really awesome looking stack....

2007-01-15 05:36:55
Argh! This is Apple... where's the firewire disk port? :(
James
2007-01-15 06:42:44
Judging by the dimensions (and shape) of the Airport Extreme it looks like Mac Mini compatible external drives will stack nicely, very nicely.


http://www.lacie.com/uk/products/product.htm?pid=10727


Can anybody else give me a better reason as to why the Airport Extreme is the size it is?

Alex
2007-01-15 09:49:44
Could this feature be available on airport express ?
phil
2007-01-15 09:58:59
Magnifique enfin
Edward C
2007-01-15 10:35:21
Few questions. Some ( most now ) mid range NAS drive has itunes server included. So any songs on the HD / Airport Disk will show up on itunes share. Is this available on Airport Extreme?


Any Chance of a BT Client / Download Manger?
FTP Server?

Island in the Net
2007-01-15 13:04:36
I see no mention of CIFS/SMB networking protocol support anywhere on the AirPort Extreme section of the Apple web site. Bonjour is the only one mentioned. How did you determine that this device supports those protocol?
Chris Stone
2007-01-15 13:20:46
Bonjour is not a sharing protocol, but for service discovery. The two sharing protocols provided by the new AEBS are AFP and SMB as confirmed to me by Apple.


Thanks,


--Chris

ExplodingBolts
2007-01-16 10:45:15
Yeah, but...


The problem with the AEBS is that it's missing a GigE wired interfaces. With a max of wired network speed of 100MB/s, the value of 802.11n, and the value of NAS, is greatly diminished!

Art Chen
2007-01-16 16:14:11
Interesting. I am looking at networking two Macs, two printers, a shared storage, and have DSL available to both. This tells me I need a switch or router. How well with this new device fit my needs?


I use the wireless to move around the house.

emmayche
2007-01-17 10:14:44
The AEBS has always performed the functions of a router; no reason it won't continue to do so.
Rumplestiltskin
2007-01-17 15:17:53
The 100mb Enet ports don't worry me. However, how fast would data transfer be from an attached USB2 hard drive to an Ethernet-connected Mac? Theoretically, lots of speed there but virtually every NAS I've examined (the less costly ones) have terrible performance...2-4MB/s usually. Might this puppy -really- give us something in the 10MB/second range?


I may have to buy one just to test it. :D

Bob Jenkins
2007-01-21 21:24:48
It is impossible anything close to 10Mb/sec will be achieved, since this would be pretty much maxing the 100 base t wired connection bandwidth! The most you could expect would be something like 3-5 Mb/sec.


This is WHY people care about the gigE wired ports. With a gigE connection, you might be able to utilize most or all of the bandwidth of the USB 2 drive interface. With 100 base T, you're going to have speeds more like USB 1, even with a USB 2 drive.


ChamFan
2007-01-23 08:42:26
Useful info Chris - thanks.


What's the chance this Airport Disk Utility will work with the old airport extreme? ie could I attach USB storage to the old AEBS and have it available to the network?

Robg
2007-01-24 14:49:49
Could you store your iTunes library here, have every computer on your network point to this drive as their iTunes library and then any music digitized on the network would go here and be available to all?


I'd like to have a centralized file server that can stream music to my stereo via Airtunes and an Airport express, using any computer on the network's iTunes as a controller. Maybe eventually get some sort of non-computer music thing for my stereo but initially just centralize my iTunes library here. What happens with music you purchased from the iTunes store if you do this? Would you run into authorization problems?

iJo
2007-01-29 05:03:53
Hello,


sorry for my english but I'm french.


Do you think I'll can put an USB 2,5 inches Hard Drive on the new AEBS ?


Thanks.


feverdog
2007-02-06 14:03:28
I am essentially looking to do the same thing as Robg -- store my iTunes library on an external USB drive connected to the AEBS, then stream using AirTunes from my Powerbook to Airport Express connected to my stereo. My concern is that streaming will be too slow using wireless across the Network.


I tried D-Link DI-624S a while back, but that thing was horrible. Only supported FAT, and wouldn't even see the drive most of the time. I'm hoping the AEBS will make all my dreams come true, but I am skeptical.

Joe
2007-02-08 14:55:28
(1) Yes you can put your iTunes library on your AirPort disk. The streaming is more than fast enough for audio, and also works fine for .avi, .mov and .mp4 files.


(2) The bigger problem is that, at least on my new Airport Extreme N router, the AirPort Disk performance has been intermittend. The drives just seem to vanish off the network for no reason and I have not been able to figure out why or how to get them back up (the also seem to reappear for no reason) - when my shared netork drive is offline for hours at a time for no apparent reason, it's not very useful for ANY purpose.

Robert Craig
2007-02-20 08:53:45
Does anyone know if its possible to add RAID 1 with two USB disks and the Airport Extreme? Mirroring?


Thanks,


Rob

Doug Zolmer
2007-04-05 16:39:19
Saving a large file from my Windows Vista laptop to a Western Digital My Book attached to my AEBS is not only slow (~2MB/s), but it truncates any files larger than 2^13 bytes (2GB).


The My Book hard drive is formatted as HFS+ (Journaled) and my Windows Vista machine connects to it (through the AEBS) using SMB/CIFS and it appears to WV as a FAT32 drive.

Colin Smith
2007-04-14 18:00:33
From the Airport Utility Help Page:
Format the hard disk using your computer. On a Macintosh, format the hard disk using Mac OS Extended. On a Computer using Windows XP, use FAT32. AirPort Utility does not support formatting disks.


I tried to format as HFS+ but my Airport Extreme detected an error and refused to mount the drive. I think you need to update your article.
What makes this even more difficult is XP cannot format as FAT32 anything larger than 32GB. You have to find another utility to do this. Ug, I hate Windows problems!
Colin

LDG
2007-04-22 20:59:07
I'm using a Lacie Hub drive with the AEBS and so far it works fine with my Powerbook; showed up right away in the network browser and I'm currently using it as my iTunes library. I'm streaming it to my stereo via AirTunes on an Airport Express and the bandwidth is fine even on my Ti PB (802.11b) with hi-quality sound files.


I formated the drive from my G5 as HFS+. The AEBS will network to PCs via Samba regardless of the drive format, so there theoretically should not be any advantage to using FAT32 unless you need to connect it directly to a PC. In fact, using FAT32 will force Macs to use Samba to connect to the drive from what I understand. My guess is that the version of Samba Apple is using has a 2GB filesize limit as far as that issue goes.


I can print to my HP LaserJet 1022 from both Mac and PCs but for some reason the PC won't authenticate the attached drive, even as a guest. It works fine on the Macs, so I can only assume it's some problem with Windows XP Home (the only XP version I have at that location). It's an older Dell laptop which has had other network problems, so I can't say if this is an isolated incident or not.


I'm not really worried about the lack of a gigabit port for now and I don't think this device was designed for the purpose that the people who are worried about the lack of it are. Sure, it would be nice to use it as a giga-switch, but I doubt that most people will be using the ethernet connections at all. Couldn't you have a giga-switch attached to this device and get around the problem that way? You could have as many ports and level of management that you needed for your wired uses and still use the wireless features of the AEBS. Yes, you would have to have any network drives attached to a computer on the giga network to use shared drives at that speed, but if that's what you need, again, I don't think this is the device for it -- set up a little Linux box for your NAS. (This is essentially what I do in my office with the Express.)


Also, the 802.11n standard has a spec of 100-200 Mbps for typical datarate (I doubt you will see 700 Mbps in real use), so it's not going to slow down anything attached to the ethernet port all that much.


The one thing I would be worried about is if the Express for AirTunes would slow down the network since it is a 802.11g device -- would this negate the advantages of the "n" speed?

samantha
2007-04-29 11:33:28
I spend part of my time in Linux. I can get to my AEBS printer just fine from Linux wired and undwired as a normal Internet printer at the address of the AEBS. I don't know though what protocol to use to get to the AEBS disk I have hanging off it. Has anyone done this? If so, what did you use?
Tarik
2007-06-25 16:41:44
Thanks for the info, Chris. I bought the Airport Extreme router for my home network to share my music library between my Macbook Pro and two Windows-based PCs (one running Vista). I was able to hookup an external USB HD to the router and am able to see the new "server" on ALL computers (hurray for me!).


Here's where I get confused. With iTunes, I was able to add the same music library across all the computers. However, I'm having trouble ripping CD music from the PCs. Also, I will be adding an additional iPod to the system (for use on one of the PCs). Can someone point me in the right direction? I haven't seen a similar issue -- combining a Mac, PC, Airport Extreme, HD, iTunes and multiple iPods -- out there.


Anyone? Thanks!

Saeed
2007-06-30 16:53:47
Anyone noticed problems while sharing USB disk with windows PCs?
I never made i work with FAT32, have formatted my 500 GB Hitachi disk to HFS+.
Every now and then, accessing files from my PC makes the AE restart.
Would apprecite help from all, but in particualr from someone who actually is using this feature with PC,s, (XP as well as Vista).
guillaume
2007-07-05 02:49:58
thanks for all those infos. but can i update my old Airport extrem to mount a hard disk? if yes, it can really help me. i have look for the software AIRPORT Ulity 5.0. but i couldn't found. if anybody could help, thanks a lot.
my email is : XU_hai_hua@hotmail.com
Terry
2007-08-21 09:12:28
I found with windows I can now see HFS Extended disk using the fee utility HFS Explorer or the shareware program (is better polished) MacDrive.
koryodell
2007-08-23 08:51:08
I'm having much difficulty doing the following:


Using Airport Extreme with netdrive to stream lossless music files to my stereo via and airport express.


I can occasionally get the setup to work, but only at night? Usually I just get intermittent music playing. I have even placed my laptop, next to the airport extreme (3 feet) and airport express and still have had problems (even with a 70% signal)


I believe the problem is between the laptop and the airport extreme since I can see that my incomming music file is not keeping up (I can see this in the Itunes graphic equalizer).


I'm wondering if I don't have enough band width on my laptop or the airport extreme to stream full size music files from hardrive on airport extreme to laptop and then to airport express?


Please note, I had and have no problems streaming lossless files from the laptop hardrive to the airport express.


Internet connection between laptop and airport extreme is great.


Any thoughts would ge much appreciated.


Thanks

Haybarn
2007-09-24 10:15:25
I bought the latest AEBS with gigabit, to gain the AirDisk capability for our mixed platform home network (2 PC's, 1 Mac). My Seagate SATA III 400gb drive, in a dual interface (eSata III/USB2) Antec external case could be read by my wife's Mac G4, but not written to because it was NTFS. Converted the drive to FAT32 and USB2. I use Terabyte's Image for Windows and Image for DOS. The former locks files and backs up Vista, etc. from within Vista - cool! A 50gb data image took <1 hour in eSata. It now takes over 4 hours using AirDisk and USB2. Ouch! Instead of Firewire ports, or in addition to, I wish for eSata III. Otherwise, I'll be looking for a better solution than AirDisk. In all other respects, with allowances for my Win culture of tweaking everything to death, the AEBS works fine, including VOIP.
John
2007-09-24 15:33:49
If you want to wall mount your new apple airport extreme then check out www.applemountingbracket.com


Works great!

Henry
2007-09-29 17:41:41
hi, i wanted to know if there is a tutorial anywhere that could show me how to access my files outside of my network over the internet. I see the Wide Area Bonjour link above and just get lost. anyone? or is this even possible?
brian
2007-10-02 23:35:50
I have the same questions as Henry above.
Jake Smith
2007-10-08 21:53:14
Henry & Brian, I may be able to help you. I set up mine yesterday and think its an amazing feature, I even took my macbook to a Starbucks and accessed my flash drive on my home network. First off you of course want to go to the AirPort utility and select share disks over WAN and advertise glabally using Bonjour. These are found under file sharing. Next you want to head over to advanced and click on Bonjour. I filled in my hostname as my airport name, Name as applenet and then the airport password. Be sure that the use a wide-are hostname box is checked. Now only thing that should be blank is the domain. This can easily be found by clickin g on the internet button in the Airport utility and will say domain name next to it. For example I have Road Runner as my ISP. My domain is columbus.rr.com . Next thing you need to do is find out what your DNS server is. You can find this by head ing to this website http://www.dnswatch.info/ and entering your IP. Your DNS should be in the "Answer" box. Now to access your AirPort disk using the internet.... in Finder click Go>Connect to server (or Apple+K) Then in the Server Address box type in the DNS that was given to you in the DNS watch answer box and put afp:// before it. If you have any questions feel free to email me at at360(at)mac(dot)com
Jake Smith
2007-10-08 21:53:23
Henry & Brian, I may be able to help you. I set up mine yesterday and think its an amazing feature, I even took my macbook to a Starbucks and accessed my flash drive on my home network. First off you of course want to go to the AirPort utility and select share disks over WAN and advertise glabally using Bonjour. These are found under file sharing. Next you want to head over to advanced and click on Bonjour. I filled in my hostname as my airport name, Name as applenet and then the airport password. Be sure that the use a wide-are hostname box is checked. Now only thing that should be blank is the domain. This can easily be found by clickin g on the internet button in the Airport utility and will say domain name next to it. For example I have Road Runner as my ISP. My domain is columbus.rr.com . Next thing you need to do is find out what your DNS server is. You can find this by head ing to this website http://www.dnswatch.info/ and entering your IP. Your DNS should be in the "Answer" box. Now to access your AirPort disk using the internet.... in Finder click Go>Connect to server (or Apple+K) Then in the Server Address box type in the DNS that was given to you in the DNS watch answer box and put afp:// before it. If you have any questions feel free to email me at at360(at)mac(dot)com
Jake Smith
2007-10-08 22:45:12
For those trying to setup their AirPort disks over Wide Area Bonjour. I threw together a PDF file that should guide you through the process (includes screenshots). You can download the guide here http://www.mediafire.com/?1sgpgei03mz
Dave
2007-10-23 23:48:43
Does anybody know how to access whatever the AEBS w/ Airport Disk uses in place of a smb.conf file? I want to hide the "dot" files so Windows users (including me!) don't see them.


ssh and telnet don't seem to be supported, nor is there anything in the Disk Utility, at least from what I can see.

Bill
2007-11-09 00:12:51
Has anyone been able do download Jake's PDF on using Wide Area Bonjour? I tried to get it but MediaFire told me the file no longer exists. If someone knows where this file can be had, I'd greatly appreciate hearing about it. Thanks.