Wednesday, June 04, 2008

A new hard disk

Well I purchased a new hard disk as my old one finally said it had run out of space. I have been looking at new disks for a while and I have been putting off the purchase of a new disk. I have a mix of firewire 400 and 800 ports on my existing disks, but my computer only had 400M ports. I did not want to use USB2, even though it is cheaper as I have a shortage of ports and I am constantly rearranging the ports to plug in various devices. Not much point if I have to unplug the hard disk all the time. Also my experience it that my existing drives are somewhat slower than USB. After all of this deliberation, I purchased a LACIE Network Server drive. Alas it has not been a happy experience.

First, get the drive home. Pug it into my wireless ADSL router. I set it up. Not particularly clear how to do so, but also, not many things to set up and it is fairly easy.

Now, try to copy some files. It is painfully slow. So I think, maybe it is the wireless connection, also putting the driver where I have means that I cannot put it on my UPS. So I move it. Resurrect an old hub I had been saving in case I wanted to do this. However, it is still painfully slow. I copy one directory of my old drive. It starts off for the 85GB copy requiring 25 hours. But quickly this blows out to 450 hours. This is ridiculous. I leave it and the first file (about 4.8GB takes a day and a half to copy. So I abandon this.

But there is a problem. I can now no longer access the Internet. This is strange, I can still access my wireless modem. A look into the network settings reveals the problem. My Internet is set up to use Ethernet in preference to the airport. I change the order and now I can once again access the Internet.

Then out of the blue, apple release MacOsx 10.5.3. So I install this. Now my copying goes very fast. It is good. I have copied lots. But my computer is now occasionally crashing or freezing. This is bad. After one crash nothing works. I power everything down. And then power it back up. But my computer will not recognise the network drive. I am in despair. I try running the set up program. It crashes. I send a report to apple. It crashes again. I log into the drive using http. This works. Yay. FTP also works. Yay. Eventually I find the problem. When it powered back up it did not restart the apple file server. I turn the server on and my driver happily reappears. I hope this is not going to happen every time I power down the drive.

6 Jul 2008 update - well the problem did not go away. When storing aperture projects and vaults onto the network drive, it goes very fast if the project contains the source images. But when the project only contains references, it goes at about 10 kbit/s. It is very slow. As I am using it as a backup, I will have to compress my backup projects to move them to the network drive. This worked for the vault. It seems to be something to do with the way that Aperture stores the projects and vaults as some kind of pseudo drive. Looking on the Apple support site one comment says: "Network volumes are not recommended or supported for Aperture.".

7 Jul 2008 update - went to the LCIE web site downloaded the latest software including the patch for the drive. It took several goes, but eventually I was able to get it to load. I have yet to see if things have improved. I am now using FTP to transfer files on and off. The finder is very very slow. I do not seem to be able to work out how to set up the drive as a drive icon. I think this may help if I can. I turned off the windows disk server.

8 Jul 2008 update - well I seem to have it going as best I can. Certainly I am getting speeds of nearly 8MB/s now, so long as the files are big. Copied the Itunes files back to my firewire hard disk. But it seems that the I tunes problems are related to 10.5.3 rather than the Ethernet disk being too slow. I am moving my aperture masters over and this seems to be going smoothly. The only down side is that I have to log into the disk. The keychain does not work as it should here. At least I have added it to my start up items. Reading one article, it says that LCAIE still need to improve the way that the Ethernet disk works with Bonjor, which seems to be the discovery system to auto mount the disk.

22 Jul 2008 update - I had a little difficulty logging into my account recently, so there has been a bit of a delay in the post. I sent off a trouble ticket to LCAIE, when the update did not work properly. They sent me this complicated instruction on how to reset the disk to it's factory default. I did this and tried to upload the udpate again. It worked. But I found that I could not update the disk using Safari, but when I used firefox, it worked fine.

So the upshot? I am stuck using the disk as a backup. It will not work with Itunes or Aperture. In fact, even though I am using AFS, my mac does not seem to be up to the task of using the network disk. The technology seems to be too immature.

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