In an ideal world, a NAS (Network Attached Storage) drive would be connected to every computer in your home via Ethernet cable for fast data transfers; in reality, however, most of your NAS connections are probably going to be over Wi-Fi.
And even if you have a 300Mbps 802.11n Wi-Fi router – the fastest standard currently available – you’re never going to actually see this only-on-paper wireless transfer rate, so moving large files – or large collections of files – onto your NAS can take forever.
So, here’s a simple tip for saving yourself tons of time and tumult when getting gigs of data copied to the NAS: use a direct LAN connection.
To illustrate, say you have (as I do) a 60GB collection of audio files on your PC that you want to offload to the NAS. Moving this data to the network drive via Wi-Fi can take hours. On my home Wi-Fi network, I started the transfer before going to bed; it was still limping along when I woke up the next morning.
But transferring the same 60GB file collection over an Ethernet cable – particularly if your PC and NAS each support 1Gbps network data transfer – can take almost no time at all, maybe half an hour or so. And it’s also likely that by using an Ethernet connection you’ll encounter less errors, timeouts and so forth.
So, when you unpack your shiny new NAS (I recommend the Buffalo LinkStation Pro), or if you have an existing NAS you’ve been waiting to use for centralizing your large media collection, try first connecting it to a PC via Ethernet cable. Even if you have a router with Ethernet ports, a direct PC-to-NAS Ethernet connection will likely work best. Get your large files and/or file collections transferred using this method, then connect the NAS to your wireless router for ongoing use.
If your desktop has both a Wi-Fi adapter (PCI, USB, etc.) and an Ethernet port, you can usually connect a NAS directly to your PC via Ethernet cable while still maintaining your Internet connection via Wi-Fi (you may have to play with your settings a bit depending on how old your PC is, but usually it’s just plug-and-play). But if you need to temporarily disable or unplug your Wi-Fi adapter during the transfer, that’s no problem, either.
Also, if your NAS-bound data is on an external hard drive, try copying it to your PC’s hard drive first, then to the NAS; the USB connection used by most external hard drives will be a bottleneck, slowing down the transfer significantly. Even if you connect the USB drive directly to the NAS (a feature supported by many modern devices), it will still be much slower than the USB to HDD to NAS method.
After your data is on the NAS the way that you want it, connect it to your router and configure it for use across your entire network; adding new files to the NAS a few at a time over the wireless connection going forward will be far less time consuming, and you can always reconnect the NAS directly to a PC via Ethernet again if you need to do additional large transfers.
Thoughts? Problems? Comments? Share in the comments section.