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Old 11-08-2012, 10:19 AM   #1
marcplante
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Default Living with an SSD notebook and WIFI external file access

My wife is a heavy notebook user, and I'm slowly migrating away from my beloved desktop and 24" monitor to be more sociable in the Living room with a notebook of my own. The notebook I have has a 750G 7200RPM HD, and I'm thinking of changing it out for a 256G SSD to improve battery life and start/stop responsiveness (Different usage pattern in the LR). I want to maintain portability and wouldn't want a tethered external HD, but I'm wondering about the practical limits of accessing files over WIFI.

I'm trying to think of file types that would be problematic in this scenario. We have smart TVs and BD players that I can tether storage to for video and music, so the big thing I might see doing is accessing the growing library of photos and home movies (HD videos shot on smartphones) to entertain the kids (and some day organize into meaningful order).

I've noticed the WIFI is generally not good for heavy freight hauling (i.e. I wouldn't want to load a game over the Net) Has anyone else come across use cases that stress accessing files over WIFI?

Anyone BTDT and have thoughts on limitations?
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Last edited by marcplante; 11-08-2012 at 10:28 AM. Reason: cleaning up typos
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Old 11-08-2012, 08:12 PM   #2
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Have you considered re-purposing the notebook HDD? If you don't use the optical drive often, you may be able to get an adapter that allows you to use your HDD in there as a second drive bay.
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Old 11-09-2012, 08:30 AM   #3
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I spose I could look into a converter for the Optical drive bay, though I don't know if my notebook is that modular. Hadn't thought about that, though I haven't used it yet. All software installs are downloads these days. I've already bought an installed office and BF3 (yes it runs reasonably well), via download, so maybe I just blow away the Optical drive.

Still wondering about the practical limitations of "cloud" computing. I suppose I could google and get back to the group next time I get some surfing time.
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Old 11-09-2012, 09:27 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcplante View Post
I spose I could look into a converter for the Optical drive bay, though I don't know if my notebook is that modular.
It doesn't have to be modular. It couldn't be any less modular than my Macbook, and this adapter worked fine. (With a couple caveats. Read the reviews, it gets mentioned by a couple.)

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004FM4UGE/

It'll probably work fine for you, too (unless your laptop has an IDE/PATA Optical drive, in which case you just get a different adapter.)

Quote:
Hadn't thought about that, though I haven't used it yet. All software installs are downloads these days. I've already bought an installed office and BF3 (yes it runs reasonably well), via download, so maybe I just blow away the Optical drive.

Still wondering about the practical limitations of "cloud" computing. I suppose I could google and get back to the group next time I get some surfing time.
It just depends on your use model. 802.11g with a decent signal is enough for most things, most of the time. (Video streaming yes, video editing, no. Watching a single HD video stream - yes. Watching five of them, not so much. Installing software from a digital download stored on the NAS? Sure! Running software from a /Program Files/ folder you've set up on the NAS? HOLYCRAPNO.)

5ghz 802.11n is better. (So I hear. My base station supports it, but none of my wifi devices do.)

For me, storing all my music, movies, and files I haven't needed in a couple months on a little NAS has been fine, and it's nice being able to get at it from any computer, the Blu-Ray player, FTP from work, etc.

The exception being those media catalog programs like Photo Gallery or iPhoto - or, hell, even iTunes - you'll want your index/database files to be on that SSD, even if the media itself isn't. Yowza.

If you're doing audio/video editing, keep it on the local drive.
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Last edited by dave_the_nerd; 11-09-2012 at 09:30 AM.
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Old 11-09-2012, 11:04 AM   #5
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Great. That's what I figured. I have two wifi hotspots in my looong house. One is an "N" hotspot. Like you, I don't have 5ghz devices yet, but my existing Wifi seems OK to stream video, even HiDef to our TVs and players from Netflix or my desktop/server. though I'll probably just plug my extra HD into the USB port of the WIFI hub itself to provide NAS. If I edit Video, I'd want to sit at my desktop with lots of RAM and a 24" monitor.

I searched and found a selection of adapters that slide right into the slot abandoned by my Optical drive to provide a slot for an extra HD, SSD if I want the data locally. As use cases evolve, it's hard to figure which drive I'd use less. I suppose I'll start by trying to live off my local cloud and get the HD adapter if I hit bottlenecks.

The reason I'm agonizing so much is not for myself, but also for my wife who I got an identical PC for. She'll love the relative instant gratification of an SSD in her new notebook, but I'm trying to assure she doesn't hit bottlenecks accessing her beloved photo library on the occasions that she tries.

Time for some empircal research.

802.11g has been OK, especially since I hardwired my source (desktop server) to the backbone rather than accessing wirelessly. Now I just need to wait for the magic price point on a 256G SSD to make the jump
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Old 11-09-2012, 12:03 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by marcplante View Post
My wife is a heavy notebook user, and I'm slowly migrating away from my beloved desktop and 24" monitor to be more sociable in the Living room with a notebook of my own. The notebook I have has a 750G 7200RPM HD, and I'm thinking of changing it out for a 256G SSD to improve battery life and start/stop responsiveness (Different usage pattern in the LR). I want to maintain portability and wouldn't want a tethered external HD, but I'm wondering about the practical limits of accessing files over WIFI.

I'm trying to think of file types that would be problematic in this scenario. We have smart TVs and BD players that I can tether storage to for video and music, so the big thing I might see doing is accessing the growing library of photos and home movies (HD videos shot on smartphones) to entertain the kids (and some day organize into meaningful order).

I've noticed the WIFI is generally not good for heavy freight hauling (i.e. I wouldn't want to load a game over the Net) Has anyone else come across use cases that stress accessing files over WIFI?

Anyone BTDT and have thoughts on limitations?
NO problems here with (old and slightly decrepit) SSD equipped laptop accessing pics\files\720p movies on file servers over wifi.
None whats so ever.

Can't remember the last time I tried some of our 1080p movies but the laptop in question can barely play those locally.
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Old 11-09-2012, 01:20 PM   #7
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For me 802.11g is fine for most things, I don't have a media server setup but I don't have any problems streaming netflix, hulu, etc in HD, although I know it's compressed so it's probably not a fair indication of the capability of WiFi. The only time I notice I'm on a wireless connection is I try to transfer large files to the server, for example when I have 4gb of photos from my vacation that I want to copy. To be honest, even with a wired ethernet connection transferring that much data is going to be noticeable. It takes a long time to load thumbnails (especially photos) when viewing files stored on the server, I could probably turn off the thumbnails but I like the feature and I can wait 30 seconds or so for thumbnails to start showing up.

I have a hard time with cloud file storage, on one hand it's nice to be able to access the data anywhere and it's nice that you don't have to worry about backups, but I'm not sold on the idea that my internet connection is what will determine the speed of any file transfer. A NAS or file server on your local network will always be several times faster.

Last edited by kornphlake; 11-09-2012 at 01:23 PM.
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Old 11-09-2012, 02:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zap View Post
Have you considered re-purposing the notebook HDD? If you don't use the optical drive often, you may be able to get an adapter that allows you to use your HDD in there as a second drive bay.
This. For both the extra capacity as well as peace of mind. I wish I had suggested this to some of the people I converted to SSD's, if only for the redundancy factor (regularly backing up important data to the mechanical). I've had a few unhappy customers already.

When an SSD dies, it dies. There is no recovery, or warning. Your data is just gone. Almost every mechanical I have ever worked on at least acted funny first, which let me run a SMART test to determine it failing, which allowed me to boot in to a PE and at least recover the data. Not the case with SSD's unfortunately.
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