Network Attached Storage that Supports Firewire

I want Network Attached Storage that supports Firewire (IEEE 1394) for additional expansion. I’ve come to the realization that I could really use a Network Attached Storage (NAS) device these days. Since the Windows XP desktop is mostly dead, we’re using the iBook all the time which means the 40GB drive in the iBook just isn’t cutting it. If I had a NAS device I could plug it into my home LAN and access it from the iBook via WiFi. My external 250GB Firewire/USB drive is handy but it’s just not as portable as the iBook. I’m stuck with the iBook and external drive in a static location if I need anything on the external drive. With a NAS device I could be free! ;) Yeah, I know, 802.11g is only 54Mbps and it would suck to pull lots of stuff off of a NAS device over wireless but for most of the stuff I’m doing it would be fine.

Now, as to why I’d like Firewire on the NAS device. Firewire allows daisy chaining of devices. A NAS device could provide one Firewire port and then you suddenly have the ability to add many more Firewire external drives to that NAS device. Currently I’ve only been able to find NAS devices that provide USB2.0 connections. Yes, most offer more than one USB 2.0 connector but you can’t daisy chain using USB.

The other problem I discovered is that almost every vendor out there offering a home NAS device has to include a hard drive (or drives). For example, I really like the Buffalo Technology TeraStation Home Server NAS but I don’t need a 1TB or 2 TB device. I’d love to be able to just buy the TeraServer box and add drives as I require. Of course, you don’t get the full set of features (like RAID 5) until you have 4 matching drives in the TeraServer, but heck, I’d still like it. The only other thing that would make the TeraServer better is adding a Firewire 800 or Firewire 400 port. Yes it has 4 USB 2.0 ports but going back to my initial complaint, that’s only 4 additional devices that can be connected, and only at USB 2.0 rates. Since the TeraServer supports Gigabit Ethernet, it could easily handle having a Firewire 800 port and the performance of those additional external drives could be better.

Hmm, I wonder if I can just find a Firewire to Ethernet device that would provide the required interfaces so it would show up in OS X, Windows and Linux. I’m guessing the answer is no. Same as the answer to my search for Network Attached Storage that supports firewire.

6 thoughts on “Network Attached Storage that Supports Firewire

  1. Allan

    Wait a sec here.
    You want FW port on your NAS so that any you’ll get better performance from any external drives you add to the NAS.
    Um…. let me rephrase:
    You think you’ll need to add additional external drives to a 2TB Terra Station? ??!?

    Just in case that wasn’t nutso enough. You want FW800 @ 800Mbps because USB2.0 @ 480Mbps is too slow for your 54Mbps WiFi??

    Do you really think you’ll have more than 4 USB devices hanging off your NAS (that’s probably next to your router which is probably in a closet (or simlar))?
    ..and if you do, how about getting a cheap USB hub.

    Cheerio!
    A.

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  2. Jeff Ivany Post author

    So the whole WiFi side is a bottleneck no matter what sort of device you have – external drive (FW or USB) or actual server. I was more think about if you had a Gigabit Ethernet LAN then a NAS with FW800 would be able to almost keep up with the maximum (theoretical) throughput of a 1000Mbps LAN. So I guess I’m looking for two different devices – a NAS with SATA drive(s) (for maximum performance on a GigE LAN) or a device that can turn an external FW drive into a NAS (for my current desire to have a remote drive accessible over WiFi).

    I was also thinking that a single FW800 port must cost less from a hardware point of view than multiple USB 2.0 ports. Or maybe USB 2.0 ports are so cheap no that it doesn’t matter.

    Hehehe, the 2TB TeraStation was probably a bad example but it has a kick ass set of features. Two that stand out are RAID 5 capability and “UPS awareness” to try and save data before losing power.

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  3. Jeff Ivany Post author

    I started looking again and came across the N2100 from Thecus which is pretty close to what I’m looking for. It can support two SATA drives and still has USB 2.0 ports for adding more external drives.

    It supports Mac OS X too! I found a couple other devices that were similar but none explicitly stated support for OS X.

    The downside of the N2100 is that the best price I can find in Canada is about $470 just for the device with no drives. A little steep IMHO.

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  4. Peter Meyn

    Hy Jeff,

    I would be also interested in an device like the Freecom or QNAP NAS running Linux, having a Firewire Port and low energy consumption, all the Servers plus can run the TwonkyVision Media Software. There are a bunch of FW periperals out there which are only available with FW (for ex. SONY equipment).
    I heared about small polnish box running DDWRT having a micro pci bus which accepts a FW card but can not find any further info. For sure there is the chance to use that as a platform. But yes, I would prefer to have an alredy working system.
    Regards Peter

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