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MacBook Air as Primary Computer:  Offline Storage Options

6239 Views 8 Replies Latest reply: Apr 20, 2011 5:14 PM by Peter Wendell RSS
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Dec 31, 2010 12:52 PM
Today I have my MacBook Air configured (via MobileMe) to store/access files on my Mac Pro. This works very well. In particular, I can pull Aperture Libraries and work with them on my Air, and can also access all of my iTunes content stored on my Pro through Home Sharing (i.e., copying only what I want to my Air when needed). Finally, I can print to the printer hooked to the Pro with Printer Sharing.

I need to separate my files from my Pro. One option is to buy another Mac (e.g., a Mac Mini, for example) and replicate the same network/file management process as I have now with my Pro.

However, I wondered if there is another option -- could I instead use a Time Capsule and a powered USB hub to fulfill my offline storage and network printing needs, without purchasing a new Mac. Specifically, I was considering: (a) a 1TB Time Capsule, using the Time Capsule drive as my primary storage drive for Aperture libraries and media, (b) a powered USB hub connected to the Air Disk USB port, (c) a separate 2TB USB drive for Time Machine (for both my MacBook Air and my primary Time Capsule drive) hooked to this powered USB hub, and (d) a USB printer also hooked to the powered USB hub.

I am reasonably sure I can get this working for my Aperture library as well as for other offline files, but an not sure about iTunes. I do not know how I would split-up my iTunes Library to function in a similar fashion as today (e.g., my library sits on my Pro and I only copy what I want to my Air for remote purposes). Finally, not sure about the performance of opening my iTunes library from my Air to this network drive if, for example, I wanted to use AirTunes to stream to my Apple TV.

I searched but did not find anyone looking to do something similar. Any advice, insight or considerations would be appreciated.


MacBook Air (Late 2010), Mac OS X (10.5.1), 4 GB RAM, 256G Drive
  • Rhyd Level 3 Level 3 (795 points)
    You can specify different locations for different applications and libraries. Each one can have the same or different locations.

    As to whether you want a mac mini or or a time capsule> depends upon whether you want a storage/wifi/backup (time capsule )or a computer/wifi/storage/backup. It really depends upon whether you want just storage/backup or a double-duty second computer.

    Message was edited by: Rhyd

    Message was edited by: Rhyd
    MBA 13" 4/2.13/256 (2010), 2.53 13"MBP, MBA1.6HHD  MBP 2.4 SR LED, 8G iPhone, Mac OS X (10.6.4), MBA MBP + PPC Mac notebooks, towers, and desktops now back to System 7.
  • gglockner Calculating status...
    Everything you describe is possible. However, I expect you will find that the performance will truly suffer: storage across the network is never as fast as with direct-attached storage. This is event true for a wired gigabit LAN, let alone WiFi or (worse yet) connecting to cloud-based storage over the internet.

    The MBA is a great computer but it's definitely a niche: for people who prioritize small and lightweight above all other features. If you want huge storage, the MBA isn't the right machine for you.

    That said, if you want to try to force the MBA into being the right computer for you, my best suggestion is to get a high-quality bus-powered external hard drive. You can attach this drive when you need the extra storage (photos, iTunes) and leave it behind when you prefer to be portable.

    Alternately, a 13" MacBook Pro may be a better choice because you've got much greater storage capacity.
    Mac Pro, iMac, MacBook Air, iPhone, AppleTV, several iPods, Mac OS X (10.6.6)
  • jozero Level 1 Level 1 (15 points)
    You can hold down option key when launching iTunes, it then lets select which itunes library to load. This somewhat offsets the large library on time capsule, small library on Air issue.

    There is a really good thread on accessible storage and how to set it up on your Air here :
  • tore john Calculating status...

    I have just bought, and installed, a new USB drive from Apple. I works without extra power and comes in sizes from 350GB to several tera bytes. It works fine and I have Time Machine on it, sharing the space with a lot of other things.


    Hope it helps.


    Tore John

  • robertd Level 1 Level 1 (65 points)

    Well I just wanted to say I wouldn't suggest using a Macbook Air as a main device.   Huge difference between it and say a macbook pro or even a macbook.   Just my two cents there.  

  • Peter Wendell Level 1 Level 1 (5 points)

    I've been using my MBA as my primary computer for a while now. I've had a DNS-323 NAS on my network for a long time and simply configured it to use AFP as well as SAMBA. (AFP performs MUCH better with the MBA than SAMABA.) I keep my Time Machine backups on it, as well as all my music files and photos. It works very well and performance for me is not bad all. The NAS uses mirrored drives for reliability. I can also back it up to my music server which contains a large hard drive using rsync. My Itunes and Aperture libraries point to the networked locations.


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