Airport Extreme USB Drive

I finally got a little time to play around with the USB drive interface on the new Airport Extreme, here are some observations.

I have an external drive cabinet with two drives in it, I had set them up as RAIDed drives using the Disk Utility, but that was not supported which was no surprise. The cabinet supports stripping the drives (RAID-0) but I would have needed to open it up to support convert to that, so I reattached the external drive to my Mac and removed the RAID set, formatting each drive independently.

Now Airport Extreme saw the drives and could access them.

Mouting the drives was interesting as I needed to enable Airport on the Mac I was working on even though it was hooked up to the same physical network as the Airport Extreme, using it to get its IP address and to access the Internet. Once the drives were mounted, I could turn off Airport and I could access the drives normally. I did not try to creating an alias to remount the drive, once I had unmounted it, without turning Airport back on.

Even though there are two drives attached to Airport Extreme, they are presented as a single “drive” in the Airport Disk Utility, but mount as two drives. The Airport Disk Utility also allows you to list the drives in the Menu Bar for easy access.

Overall I was very happy with the system, I think not being able to see the drive without turning Airport on is a bug since you can still access the drives once they are mounted and Airport is turned off. The lack of software RAID support is a disappointment, but it is clear from the documentation that it is not supported, but I suspect I could easily use whatever RAID is supported by the external drive cabinet and that would work just fine.

Updated – I am now able to see the drive without turning Airport on, for some reason I could not before.


4 Responses to Airport Extreme USB Drive

  1. pigeonsavant says:

    Did you ever try it with just a USB thumb drive?

  2. No I have not and, unfortunately, I just gave mine away since I was never using it.

  3. usb says:

    This is very strange. Witch OSX do you use? This sounds like a driver problem.

  4. This is an old post, I was using 10.4.x, whichever was the current release at the time. I could have been an issue with the Airport Extreme base station I was using at the time, which has since been replaced. 10.5.x makes the process a lot smoother and better integrated, and the latest release of the Airport Extreme firmware sped up access to the USB drive greatly, making it much more useable as a network drive. I would have liked to see support for RAID and NFS too, which would make this a really good NAS option.

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