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Suggestions on AC86U with two USB drives

Discussion in 'ASUS AC Routers & Adapters' started by Aging Amateur, Dec 7, 2018 at 3:54 PM.

  1. Aging Amateur

    Aging Amateur New Around Here

    Based in large part on SNB's review, I just bought an AC86U instead of the Netgear R7000P recommended by Wirecutter. I have mostly Mac devices and I have had Airport Extreme and Time Capsule routers over the years. My most recent router has been a Time Capsule set up as a Time Machine backup drive for one wired iMac and two wireless MacBook Pros, plus a SanDisk SSD plugged into the Time Capsule with a SATA to USB adapter and used as a shared network drive.

    I got the AC86U up and working for main and guest networks very easily. Browsing performance seems to be at least as good and maybe snappier than the Time Capsule.

    Setting up an enabled Time Machine drive with a Samsung T5 in the USB 3.0 port and a shared network drive using my SanDisk SSD in the USB 2.0 port was a bit trickier. On my first try I thought I had set up both USB drives but only the Time Machine-enabled drive showed up as a connected server in my Macs' Finder windows. The Time Machine-enabled drive seems to be associated with my main router account, since the drive has the router's name in my Finder windows and the router name also shows up in the Device Name window in the top half of the web Network Place (Samba) Share page. When I called the Asus techs to see how I could get the network drive to show up in my Finder windows the Level 1 tech bounced me to Level 2, and the Level 2 tech created a ticket for "the engineers", who never got back to me.

    There are only a limited number of settings you can try on the web Network Place (Samba) Share page, so I began trying every permutation I could think of. At one point I got the network drive to show up along with the Time Machine drive when I opened the main account's drive in my Finder window. However, when I clicked on the network drive I got a message that it could not be opened because the original item (or device?) could not be found. I wanted each drive to show up separately in my Finder windows, so I kept tweaking and re-applying the various possible settings. I finally got the drives to show up separately when I set up a separate account for the network drive, typed NetworkDrive into the Device Name window on the top half of the Network Place (Samba) Share page, and highlighted R/W for all of the drive folders in both the main account drive and the NetworkDrive in my router's main account view and in the NetworkDrive account view on the bottom half of the page.

    Everything works OK now - I can do automatic wired or wireless Time Machine backups for all of the computers and the NetworkDrive mounts easily on the wired iMac and the two wireless MacBook Pros.

    One quirky issue I have now is that in the bottom half of the Network Place (Samba) Share page the router's main account drive (enabled for Time Machine) shows two folders - one for each of the MacBook Pros' sparse bundles. There is no folder for the iMac's sparse bundle, although the iMac does have its own sparse bundle when I open the main account drive. I did not set those folders up and I cannot delete them.

    I did set up a folder named Network Drive in the NetworkDrive's account, and it is the only folder that shows up for the NetworkDrive on the bottom half of the Network Place (Samba) Share page. However, when I open the NetworkDrive in my Finder it shows three possible shares that might be mounted - a NetworkDrive folder and the two MacBook Pro sparse bundle folders that show up in the main router account drive. If I mount the two sparse bundle folders I don't get the actual sparse bundles, which is not surprising since they are actually in the main account's Samsung T5 drive. What I get are some information and support files for the sparse bundles but not the actual sparse bundles.

    If anyone on the forum knows how to improve my Network Place (Samba) Share settings so that I don't get the sparse bundle folders when I open the NetworkDrive I would be very appreciative! Also, of course, I would appreciate any advice on how to set up my two USB drives "properly" if there is a better way to set them up!
  2. ApexRon

    ApexRon Senior Member

    Jun 17, 2018
    Apex, NC
    I have a less complex setup but am running ASUS Time Machine successfully on Merlin firmware after many attempts and versions using ASUS firmware. I have a single MacBook so my backup storage requirements were less than ΒΌ of my 1TB hard drive. I used the Mac to partition the hard drive and then just plugged into ASUS, configured ASUS Time Machine to use smaller partition and we're good to go. I made the larger partition a network drive for assorted uses on network.

    Realize that Merlin is ASUS firmware that is enhanced to a degree but most importantly a working firmware. Consequently, with regard to Time Machine and Samba improvements have been made but not the redesign that is needed. I should state that by redesign, I am primarily referring to the way a USB drive(s) is presented to users both on the ASUS router as well as in file manager of PCs and finder of Macs.
  3. Aging Amateur

    Aging Amateur New Around Here

    I was able to accomplish the setup I have now with the most recent Asus firmware. I'll probably leave well-enough alone since it seems to be working, for now at least. However, I would definitely appreciate advice from any forum members who have two USB drives set up and working on the AC86U. I suspect there are better ways to set up the drives than the trial and error setup I finally put together, which shows extra sparse bundle shares from the Time Machine-enabled drive on the NetworkDrive in our Macs' Finder windows.

    I use Carbon Copy Cloner on our Macs to do incremental copies of various files to the NetworkDrive, which serves as a shared file resource for all of our Macs. CCC is able to access the SanDisk NetworkDrive by itself and Time Machine is similarly able to access the Samsung T5 drive. The drives' presentation in the Macs' Finder windows is not as slick as it was with the Time Capsule, but the drives seem to be working fine.