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I'm looking to replace my aging DIR-655 and the new DIR-857 looks appealing. This C-Net review has this to say about the USB port on the device:

SharePort is a useful feature of D-Link USB-equipped routers that enables the router to support any USB device as though it were connected to a network computer directly. Over time this technology has evolved from allowing only one computer to access the connected USB device at a time, to multiple access, and now, the ability to share data via the internet.

But I'm having a hard time finding any concrete details on how that port works and what it really supports. D-Link's product page is lean and so is their brochure.

  • Can I connect a drive array to this port such that multiple Macs in my network can do their remote Time Machine backups to that attached storage space?

  • Will it handle a HFS+ formatted file system?

And as a bonus:

  • Will it handle a Drobo?

I know none of the above is possible with the DIR-655 I have now.

Some clarifying points:

  • I realize I could do this with a TimeCapsule but I have all the disk on hand already with the Drobo and I happen to really like the features of the D-Link firmware (see my comments in Kyle's answer below for details)

  • Daniel Beck has found out that the SharePort software does work on Mac, but is it Time Machine friendly? There are non-Apple, remote storage devices that do support Time Machine (see this ReadyNAS FAQ for example) so is this similarly blessed and compatible?

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Perhaps a better question for superuser.com? –  jtbandes Mar 23 '12 at 19:14
    
@jtbandes If he prefers to ask here, he has every right to do so. It's clearly related to OS X. –  Daniel Beck Mar 23 '12 at 19:27
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Some more info. It might actually work. –  Daniel Beck Mar 23 '12 at 19:52
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The additional downloads contain a PDF manual that mentions SharePort working on "Macintosh OS X (Ver 10.2.7 - 10.6)"... –  Daniel Beck Mar 23 '12 at 19:55

2 Answers 2

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Product description

According to the datasheet, it looks like this device's share functionality does not work with Macs at all, since you need to install a driver to get USB-via-Ethernet support. From the footer of the last page of the PDF you link to:

Minimum System Requirements

Computer with:

  • Windows® 76, Windows Vista®6, Windows® XP SP26, Windows® 20006, or Mac OS® X (v10.4)5 + Internet Explorer® v6 or Mozilla® Firefox® v3.0

And 5 translates to:

The software included with this product is not Mac-compatible.

SharePort drivers

There are SharePort drivers for OS X though:

  • This forum page links to a driver download for OS X up to 10.6.
  • This manual (zipped PDF) is linked as Additional downloads and also mentions support for OS X up to 10.6.

This is for the "USB via network" feature, so this might work. The advantage is that the file system on the drive should be transparent to the router just forwarding the USB connection. That's why they can say they support any USB device: They don't actually care what kind of device is connected.

Regular sharing

It doesn't look like this device has any regular sharing functionality. Wouldn't surprise me, given the networked USB feature.

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@AdamEberbach Read the question again. The user quotes the part of the product description clearly requiring software support, how else would drives connected to another device show up as local drives? Google for "USB over IP", it's probably similar to that. –  Daniel Beck Mar 23 '12 at 19:33
    
@DanielBeck interesting -- I guess it depends if I need special software to see the shared drive or if the router makes it available to the network via SMB or AFP. I know the DIR-655 requires special driver software (and that's why it's limited to one device at a time). But is this true for the latest generation DIR? The D-Link documents leave a lot to be desired in terms of answering that question categorically. –  Ian C. Mar 23 '12 at 19:47
    
@IanC. To clarify, I was only referring to "make network disks appear locally connected". Regular shared drives over the network are a standard feature of OS X and should work without client software. –  Daniel Beck Mar 23 '12 at 19:49
    
@AdamEberbach Thanks in advance. –  Daniel Beck Mar 23 '12 at 19:50
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@IanC. Since I found additional information, it's still a work in progress, and I don't want to update every ten minutes. Let's see whether I find something else. // Although I have to say, even if it works well(ish), I wouldn't trust it with backups. –  Daniel Beck Mar 23 '12 at 20:04

I suggest being very conservative when it comes to your backup strategy. The more pieces you have, the greater the chance that one of them may not work 100% all the time, especially when dealing with third-party hardware. If something does fail and you're not aware of it, you may find yourself in a situation where you only find out your backup is bad/out of date/nonexistent when your primary drive fails.

If you're looking to do over-the-air backups, I suggest doing them to a Time Capsule or setting up AFP sharing on another Mac and backing it up that way. Both those solutions are supported ways for Time Machine to work, and, yes, if you're so inclined you can hook your Drobo to the Mac and use that.

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I'm already doing it over AFP to another Mac+Drobo but I'm looking for a less power-hungry and space-saving strategy. I'm not sure the iMac I'm clustering my backup strategy around will be around for much longer. The Time Capsule is nice, but I have very demanding network needs -- that's why the 857 interests me. It's also much more cost effective. –  Ian C. Mar 23 '12 at 19:31
    
@IanC. What needs do you have for your network that a Time Capsule or Airport Extreme won't handle? –  Kyle Cronin Mar 23 '12 at 19:34
    
The firewall management, VPN support and traffic shaping utils on the Time Capsule fall short of what I need. I run my business from home and I do a fair bit of traffic shaping to keep my machines from being killed by the kids games and Netflix sessions when I'm working and for remote connections back in to my network when I'm slumming it in a coffee shop. I know I can do this stuff with the DIR firmware so familiarity, necessity make it the most attractive line for me. –  Ian C. Mar 23 '12 at 19:36
    
Admittedly you have my thinking about a Time Capsule now though...I have more questions because of it. :) –  Ian C. Mar 23 '12 at 19:39
    
@IanC. You can still do all that with your current setup, and use the Time Machine as a switch that happens to do backups –  Kyle Cronin Mar 23 '12 at 19:39

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