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Ask Max: Network Drive Hard Drive Compatibility

Asked on 10/29/2008:

Im a relative newbie to the Mac world; have been a PC user for years. I recently purchased a 2.4 GHz MacBook Pro (unfortunately, not from your site I learned about your site the day after I bought my laptop). For the most part, I think Ive learned my way around but Im having trouble finding much documentation on network hard drives.

I have three computers networked through a Linksys router (the MacBook, an IBM ThinkPad and a Dell Desktop). I want to purchase some type of a shared network hard drive that will allow me to access shared, common files across all three computers. Ive done this for a while now with the PCs, but my old network hard drive croaked on me shortly after I bought the Mac. Before I drop a couple hundred bucks on a new one, Im trying to figure out if I need to worry about crossover compatibility. Im looking to share mostly good, old-fashioned files (.xls, .doc, .ppt, maybe some movies, and if its possible my iTunes library).

Ive done a little research on the web but Im not really sure what to look for. I really just want a hard drive that can connect through my router to all three computers and be compatible with both the Mac and the two XP machines.

Any advice?


Right now I am a big fan of LaCie's Ethernet Disc for home-based network storage. Not only does it support PC and Mac computer file sharing, but it has a built in iTunes server. This will let you drop a library on the drive and have it appear as a shared iTunes library that all iTunes software can see. There is also a USB port on the drive used to backup your data to USB hard drive. If it holds your full library make sure you keep a backup some place, all drives will fail eventually.

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