Went out today to get a replacement for the busted hard drive. I think we landed on the ultimate solution.
I picked up a cheap USB 640Gb hard drive from FutureShop along with an Apple Airport Extreme router.
The router supports both attached usb hard drives as well as printers. The shared hard drive now sits on the network so we don’t have to plug in directly in to one of the laptops to use it. The router and hard drive can hide out of the way and remove some of the clutter from my desk.
The Apple Airport Extreme router is perhaps one of the best you can buy. It not only supports file and printer sharing, but also is one of the few routers on the market that support IPv6. One unusual feature is that the configuration tool is software installed on the computer whereas most routers have a web interface.
If I ever need to add more space I have the option of attaching more hard drives using a USB hub. I’m hoping that this new hub will improve the performance of the network especially for using the Vonage phone while downloading big files on the computer.
The other thing that influenced the decision was that I wanted a network accessable location so that when I get something to replace the media computer I won’t have to do any work to get movies over to the TV. The Airport Extreme shares the disks as a windows share so it will work with an XBox360 or a Linux/Mac Box.
Overall I’m pretty pleased with the upgrade.