How Fast is USB Disk on an AirPort Wireless Base Station?

Warning: This is a technical post, mostly to document and share my experience so others interested might stumble upon it. 🙂

So, I purchased a couple of new 1TB USB hard drives this week and have been trying to figure out how to best set them up for optimal speed and accessibility.  The latest setup is to connect them via USB to my Apple AirPort Extreme Basestation as AirDisks.  I’ll be backing up my laptops to these drives daily (I’ll share the backup details later), so I was curious just how fast I could dump data to them.

How fast should I be able to copy data to the USB hard drive attached to my Airport Extreme?

  • 210 GB/hr (480 Mbps) peak from server – limit of USB 2.0 is lower than my gigabit network
  • 131.8 GB/hr (300 Mbps) peak from laptop – limit of 802.11n

But are those numbers realistic for average write speeds?  I’m currently averaging about 10.5 GB/hr.

Somebody suggested that the Airport Extreme is limited to about 5 MBps (17.57 GB/hr).  This has something to do with the processor in the Airport Extreme (APEB).  Here’s what they’re experiencing:

  • reading from APEB: 16 MBps
  • writing to APEB: 3.5 MBps average and 5-6 MBps peak

3.5 MBps = 12.3 GB/hr which is about what I’m experiencing so far.  I have 4 USB disks connected to by AirPort, but I think this throughput should be for all drives combined.

If you have a USB disk attached to a network with something like the AirPort Extreme, let me know what kind of read and write speeds you are averaging.

What If…

Last week I was reminded that in January of 1994 I’d signed up to attend the JB Hunt truck driving school.  I was totally into truck driving and the transportation industry back then, and I was searching for where God was wanting to lead me professionally and personally.  If I remember correctly, attending that truck driving school required me to drive for JB Hunt for the next 3 years after graduating.  For some reason I changed my mind about 10 days before the school was to begin.

A month ago I was also remembering how I’d signed up for the Navy ROTC program when I was a college freshman.  I’d initially applied for NROTC for the tuition scholarship that came with the program.  But, I ended up getting another full scholarship that didn’t require me to sign over my life after college.  So, after the first 2 weeks of college and NROTC, I began to question why I was still in NROTC and ended up dropping out of it before I had any commitment to our US military.

While ‘signing over’ a few years of your life to a trucking company or to the military might not sound like your cup of tea, I think either experience could have been good for me.  I’m sure my life would have been both better and worse from either experience and I’d likely be in a whole different situation, better or worse, than I am now.

I really like where I am now.  It’s not perfect, but it’s good and God has definitely worked some big stuff in my life over the past few years.  I don’t regret any of the big life-choices I’ve made, but I sometimes just wonder how things might have been different.

God, thanks for leading me along my life’s journey.  Often times life’s choices are hard and unclear, but you are willing to offer us guidance and wisdom about such decisions.  Thanks so much for your guidance in my life.  I can’t wait to see what lies ahead along our path!