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Author Topic: Networks and external drives  (Read 3438 times)
SKesselman
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« on: February 09, 2010, 04:42:38 PM »

Hi,

I'm on Windows 7.
All of my data is kept on an external drive, and everything else is on my laptop.
But, this is very new to me. I keep forgetting that the drive is there, and dropping it when I pick up my laptop.

Maybe it's because I've been on laptops for 7 years without one, and 3 months with one, I don't know.
Although it happens much less frequently now, I'm still forgetting it.
It's happened so many times now, that the USB ports in my VAIO are actually getting loose.

Is it possible to set up a wireless network with just  laptop and and external hard drive?
Or, should I hook up one 6 ft. USB extension cord to another, to another?


Perhaps someone out there has a better idea than either of these?

Thanks in advance  smiley
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-Sarah
ljbirns
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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2010, 06:26:50 PM »

I have a Western Digital My Book network drive.  The drive is plugged into my D-Link  wireless router.  My laptop can access that drive. I am  running Vista but I don't think
it would be a problem on Win 7.

Lew
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Lew
kyrathaba
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2010, 06:27:51 PM »

Sounds like you need Network Attached Storage.
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4wd
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2010, 08:29:07 PM »

Depending on how much data you shift around and access from the external storage I would suggest that WiFi connection be your last choice for an alternative.

In my experience, WiFi is only useful for traffic that's sent in packets that is not time critical, eg. WWW, email, etc.  Any large transfers will take a long time at ~300kps which all I ever get on 802.11g at a distance of 700mm.

The most obvious alternative is to modify your behaviour, as a suggestion to help you:
1) Take a length of nylon string.
2) Tie one end to the PSU cable just behind the DC output plug.
3) Tie the other end to the external storage' USB cable just behind the plug for the PC USB port, leaving no more than 1-2cm of slack between the two, ie. just long enough to reach the USB ports closest to the power input on the laptop.

Now when you remove the power to move your laptop you should remember to remove the USB plug or at least wonder, "Who tied string to my power cord?"

Otherwise, if your WiFi router also has network ports then any of the devices I suggested here.

Oh yeah, if you really have been dropping your external storage you might want to consider backing it all up to another HDD.
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SKesselman
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2010, 09:45:28 PM »

Wow. Thanks all, for your suggestions. You got me on the right track.

I can't do the string idea as I have 2 power supplies & I'm forever unplugging from the back of the pc in one room, then plugging another one in, in another room. So it sounds like there would be a good amount of attaching/reattaching.

But I'm scrapbooking your replies, including that great link to all of those different models, until April or May, when I have the time and money to fix this.

Thanks again, this is great info for me to have.

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-Sarah
4wd
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« Reply #5 on: February 10, 2010, 02:48:08 AM »

There's also cheaper alternatives available, (no BitTorrent client), from DX with free postage:

US$38.05 - UNITEK Network USB 2.0 Server for Sharing USB Printer/USB HDD/Web Camera/USB Speaker
US$38.05 - Network USB 2.0 Server with Hub Support for Printer/USB HDD/Web Camera/USB Speaker

As well as a 4 port version for a bit more:

US$59.80 - 4-Port Network USB 2.0 Server for Printers/USB Devices

NOTE: I don't work for DX nor am I in anyway associated with them..........other than seeming to spend quite a bit of money there smiley
« Last Edit: February 10, 2010, 02:49:45 AM by 4wd » Logged

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SKesselman
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« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2010, 11:08:01 AM »

Oh yeah, if you really have been dropping your external storage you might want to consider backing it all up to another HDD.

4wd,

Good point! The data on my little WD drive is minimal. Just some pictures, Outlook data & data from programs I haven't installed.
I'm at least getting in the habit now of disconnecting before doing anything where I know the drive won't be needed.
Do you think, since the data has (almost) never been actively used while being suddenly disconnected, that it will be OK?
My Outlook stuff is fine.  undecided
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-Sarah
4wd
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« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2010, 01:39:22 AM »

Do you think, since the data has (almost) never been actively used while being suddenly disconnected, that it will be OK?

As they say, "It's not the fall that kills you, it's the sudden stop at the end."  smiley

If the drive happened to have been spun up at the time, all the more likely damage could have occurred.  If it was summarily disconnected without being properly "Safely Removed" from the OS then you run the risk of data corruption, less so with NTFS but the chance is still there.
If the laptop was powered down at the time then the only likely source of data corruption would be a mechanical fault, eg. the heads bouncing off of the platters due to being dropped, (if it was powered down then hopefully the heads were parked at the time).

While you say you weren't accessing the data on it at the time there's still the possibility the OS was doing a little background housekeeping.  So to be sure I'd be copying all the data off of it, (this will at least make sure it's all still readable), and do a full format to see if any bad blocks have appeared due to, possibly, head bounce.

Even then, I would still consider the drive suspect and not use it as my only backup source.
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SchoolDaGeek
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2010, 11:03:16 PM »

Also there is another solution that requires a purchase, you could get a 2.5" HDD in an external case (I like MovingStar) that uses 2 USB jacks to provide the power so there is no AC adapter.  Then get some 3M Dual Lock tape (from ACE or Radio Shack) and mount the drive on the back of your laptop.  Viola!  Removable External.....
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JavaJones
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« Reply #9 on: March 09, 2010, 12:25:25 PM »

I'd be careful with USB powered drives on a laptop as laptops don't always provide the level of power needed. Most of those drives push the limits of the USB power spec, which is why they often have 2 USB jacks (not always). Self-powered drives have more cords, which is "inconvenient", but they're more reliable.

- Oshyan
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40hz
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« Reply #10 on: March 09, 2010, 12:39:07 PM »

This might sound dumb, but you could always get a 6' USB cord and tape a loop of it to the back of your laptop lid with some easily removable flavor of tape.

That way, every time you close the laptop lid, your USB cable will be staring you in the face so you'll remember to remove it.

Alternatively, you could drape the cable across the back of your laptop by the monitor hinge such that you can't close the bugger without removing the cable first. I do this when I'm at client sites and I've brought an external drive with me. (I've had the same problem redface )

Luck! smiley

« Last Edit: March 09, 2010, 01:35:17 PM by 40hz » Logged

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Innuendo
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« Reply #11 on: March 10, 2010, 08:54:37 AM »

Here's another option that I don't think anyone else covered. Some routers these days have USB ports on the back to attach external drives & then that drive becomes a NAS you can access through the wireless router from anywhere on the network.

This might be the best solution, especially if your existing router is getting long in the tooth. (And everyone should run a router even if they are the only person in the dwelling using the internet.)
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3of0
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« Reply #12 on: March 12, 2010, 04:38:20 PM »

I like SchoolDaGeek's idea, & just McGyver it to the lid of your laptop with some Velcro.
http://www.lifehacker.com.au/2010/02/from-the-tips-box-external-drives-userscript-organisation/
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