Router_TP-Link_AC2800_Flipping external storage drive volume letters?

Flourgrader

Standard Member
Hi all,
I am running windows 10, version 21H1 (OS Build 19043.1110).
I have a Router TP-Link AC2800 (also known as the Archer VR2800).
There is a known problem with this router!
It is a Firmware problem!
When you connect multiple external hard drives to the shared USB3 ports
On the side of the router, it assigns a network addresses name to them.
EG: \\192.168.1.1\volume(sdb1)
Lets say the above volume contains all video
EG: \\192.168.1.1\volume(sda1)
And let’s say the above contains all music.
All works well at this point.
But when you switch off the router or re-boot it the router flips the volume labels.
So, volume(sdb1) now contains music and volume(sda1) contains video.
So, when the name of a volume changes (from sda1 to sdb1, for example) addresses become invalid.
That means all the programs on your PC that poll the router for data
Can’t find it.
My media player also accesses the same storage, which also will not work when the drives have flipped.
It’s pretty rubbish, and TP-Link are in no rush to ever fix this problem.
Millions of these routers must have been sold worldwide, so a lot of people in the same boat as me.
So, I am looking for a fix?
I was wanting to know if anyone has any ideas in how to fix this? can I add hardware to fix it?
Thank You.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
This isn't a "bug" as such, it's a facet of how Linux discovers and names it's hardware devices. (You router would appear to be running Linux OS - a lot of devices do as it free and can readily be customised.) The OS would tend to discover it's devices in the the same "order" each time it boots, but there's no mandate that it has to (AFAIK.) The "sdX" naming is based on the order the OS discovers things when it boots. Maybe the USB controller isn't reporting back the attached devices in the same order each time. IIRC USB is a common bus, so which gets to be A of B might be down to which one responds first to bus poll on boot, but I'm not intimately familiar with such things.

If your router offers the facility, if would be better to create Shares pointing to the relevant parts of the file system rather than the root of the physical devices. The should behave more consistently provided the OS can figure out where to put them in the file system structure (or let you specify it.)

So, for example, create a folder called "Video" on stick and share that, create a volume called "Music" on the other a share that. Trouble is, a locked down SOHO router may not let you do things like this.

A "problem"may be that USB attached devices might be regarded as "temporary" connections by your router and so not handled consistently. Often the idea for such a facility is to allow you to connect up stuff on an ad-hoc basis, I don't know like your camera card or something, rather than it be a permanent facility implementing a NAS.
 
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Flourgrader

Standard Member
Thank you Mickevh for your answer.
You are right in thinking
how the usb drives are polled.
Which ever answers first is given the volume label
volume(sda1)
Second volume label is:
volume(sdb1)
The Router TP-Link AC2800 is very basic and has very limited options.
It suits my purpose to have this setup,as the router is switched on permanently so the hard drives are available all the time to anyone on the internal network.
I did not want to go down the route of running a dedicated NAS system, as you know it's an expensive option,or turning a spare computer into a NAS and wasting electricity, and so on and on.
Thanks again for your thoughts Mickevh.
 

mickevh

Distinguished Member
There may be some Linux experts that know better than me, but I tend to suspect the versions of Linux baked into a SOHO router have probably been so "hardened" in order to operate on a turnkey basis that there's probably very little you can do to customise it. Unless you were to look at a 3rd party firmware perhaps. But that has implications for warranty, vendor support and so on.

NAS's don't have to be terribly expensive - some of them are pretty much the cost of the HDD's they contain (maybe MyBook's for example,) they don't need to be the QNAP's and Synologies of the world which have become rather bloated with "extra" functionality over and above what is strictly necessary to "just serve files" and have prices to match. Something like a Raspberry Pi might do the job if you want to DIY for low cost, but I'm not best placed to opine on NAS's, others here know the NAS market and options much than better than I if you want to kick off a conversation about how to create a basic file server cheaply and simply.
 

Flourgrader

Standard Member
Yes, I think we are on the same page in a lot of what you are saying.
I had been in TP-Link forum talking about replacing the firmware.
I had not thought about a Raspberry Pi.
I will look into that and see where it leads?
I do have a lot of storage for my data and media currently I have 40TB but not all connected to the Router TP-Link AC2800 at the same time.
I was thinking on the lines if my external hard drives were connected to a USB hub that then connected to the router that could be powered with maybe a 10 second delay in connecting to the Router for each individual drive then I would have it solved.
A drive connecting to \\192.168.1.1\volume(sda1)
10 second gap,then
B drive connecting to \\192.168.1.1\volume(sdb1)
I hope that makes sense?
Problem is, I don't know of any hardware on the market that would do such a job ?
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
With 40TB of storage I would be looking for a better solution than via your NAS as usb isn't that great in reality for that use case. It would also solve the problem of ordering too. I appreciate though you might not want to invest in additional hardware/power consumption
 
A raspberry pi or even a mini-computer should solve this, but would require some minor linux work. There's also the possibility that for the best results your drives might not have the best file format, but that might not be an issue.

There's lots of technical Linux stuff at this point, and there's still no guarantee it will work, or perform that well, however since your drives are plugged in to a router via usb, I would think they should work at least that well.

Since a Pi or other computer has a full Linux install, it should be able to stamp a volume label on them, e.g. /dev/sda = /dev/video and /dev/sdb = /dev/music, or some iteration like that. It does vary by the flavor of Linux, and I haven't tried this with Raspbian (We're a RedHat shop). At that point the mount point could be against /dev/video and /dev/music (or sometimes /dev/mapper/video and /dev/mapper/music, again, it depends on the Linux OS) which is independent of sda or sdb. You would mount the volumes somewhere in the OS like /mnt/video and /mnt/music. You would also have to add smb (samba) to the PI, and share those two folders.

The only thing I am not sure about, this labelling stamp is usually done at volume creation - which is before you partition and format it. That could be bad news for your data, however you can rename a volume (vgrename), so there should be a way.

If this sounds like something you want to pursue, we can talk further, or you can google
"raspberry pi share usb drive over network"
and get an idea of what you'd be in for.
 

Flourgrader

Standard Member
Hi ajohnson30,
Thanks for your thought.
It was an interesting read in what you had to say.
I know virtually nothing about raspberry pi
except they are a tiny computer.
After saying that I had thought about this and have done
A little reading on the subject.
What appealed to me, is that this little tiny computer will use minimal electricity as whatever device I end up in using will be switched on permanently.
Those that are more knowledgeable about raspberry pi
say that you can install windows 10 on them?
Which just so happens to be what my network backbone is run on.
The raspberry pi comes with a 1 gigabit ethernet RJ45 connection
as I understand? Is there any chance I can swap this for a 2.5 or a 10-gigabit connection? Or is this just Pie in the sky? Sorry about the pun
Thank You….
 
There is a way to put windows 10 on it, but it's not really "standard" and it's not easy or native as far as I know.

I do not know of a way to add 2.5 or 10 gig ethernet to it. I think some people have "hacked" cards onto it's pcie bus, but there's nothing officially available and I wouldn't do anything like that for normal use.

I'd either stick with Linux, or purchase a small mini pc, like this one:
Amazon product...and be done with it. You're probably making this much harder than it needs to be

There's also a smaller "SFF" lenovo available but since I'm in the states I can't tell if its available:
Amazon product...that one has windows 7, however you can upgrade any windows 7 to windows 10 for free
 

Flourgrader

Standard Member
Hi ajohnson30,
I can buy both of the mini computers you
Suggested on Amazon in the UK.
I am going to go for the simple option!
A cheap mini computer with this
PCI-e 10 Gig card add.
You can buy the card from Amazon here:

Amazon.co.uk : ASUS XG-C100C PCI-E Network Interface Card

For anyone who is reading this topic and is interested in going the Pi route I found this video online! I am sure there are plenty of others if you Google for it:

 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
I love raspberry pis and have a few round the house doing various jobs. As a lower power NAS they work well but don't necessarily expect to be able to saturate a 10Gb connection. Especially with usb you might struggle to get saturate a gigabit connection.

Even in a mini pc you might not benefit from 2.5/10 Gb speeds as the usb and spinning rust will be the limiting factor. Assume the rest of your network supports 10Gb as that's not cheap.
 
As ChuckMountain says, getting a 2.5gb/5gb/10gb network going is something else entirely. That card does require a PCIe x4 slot, which the larger of the two units I linked has (actually a PCIe x16, but that works), but that doesn't take care of what's on the other end (cabling, switch(es), etc))

Most people run 1gb. The ones that run some form of 2.5-10gb usually get a switch with a couple 10gb ports and plug their storage into that, and run everything else at 1gb. Few run a whole 10gb network at home.
 

oneman

Well-known Member
If you want to stick with USB drives then I would go the thinkcentre. As mentioned above, USB drives are barely going to tax 1gb network let alone 10gb. If you are serious about 10gb networking then you need to move your storage to internal RAID device.
 

Flourgrader

Standard Member
Thanks for your thoughts oneman

Well for those that are following this topic.
I was going to use a dirt-cheap computer to
Act as my NAS system, I was originally looking for the absolute basics. No bells or whistles.
As it turns out surprise, surprise ,these are the specs I am going to be using:
ASUS ROG MAXIMUS X HERO Motherboard.
Intel Core i7 8700K 3.7GHz Hexa Core (Socket 1151)
X2
Corsair Vengeance LPX 16GB (1x 16GB) 3000MHz DDR4
4X
10TB WD Black WD101FZBX Hard Drive, 3.5" HDD, SATA III - 6Gb/s, 7200rpm, 256MB Cache
2X
ASUS XG-C100C PCI-E Network Interface Card
compatible with current network standards,
including 10/5/2.5/1Gbps and 100Mbps,
for seamless backward compatibility.
Windows and Linux Support.

Direct ,PC to PC connection.
I may in future include a Netgear 10 gigabit switch.
But at the mo I don't need one!
Cheers
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
What are you use cases?

the thing to watch is with that pc it will swig quite a lot of electricity. For every 100w of power on 24/7 it used to cost 100 pound a year. It’s probably nearer 120 then, so old non efficient or even new but too powerful will cost you in the long run. Compare to a nas or pi which will be under 30w depending on model.

You would to buy a 10Gb card on the other end to. Also the 10Gb over Ethernet generates a lot of heat hence the heat sinks on that. It will waste power if you don’t need it. A single drive will only just be a bit over the gigabit speed
 

Flourgrader

Standard Member
The case, is a small tower case.
I agree with you on the point of heavy usage of electricity.
In comparison to using a Pi..
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
The case, is a small tower case.
I agree with you on the point of heavy usage of electricity.
In comparison to using a Pi..

No, sorry I meant what will you use the nas for as in what “use cases” so will it just be a file server, are you going to transcode, are you going to run docker containers/virtual machines. If you are only to use file share then there is little point in having a high end processor that even when idle will use more electricity than a lowered power one on the same range. No point buying a “K” version either as you shouldn’t overclock, you want stability and lower power consumption.
 

Flourgrader

Standard Member
It is use as a file server but primarily
I use it for moving huge chunks of video around.
On many occasions I will move 40/50 Gig in one go
That is why I have a problem with 1 gig.
For small data file that it is just fine. No probs.
 

ChuckMountain

Distinguished Member
Your limit though is the hard disk though in that case, as I said with a single hard drive that will be the limiting factor and not significantly more than gigabit..

To warrant going faster than 2.5Gbps you would need Raid (or alternative) with multiple hard drives or hard disks or ssd buffering. My 6 drive array cannot saturate a 10Gb network
 

oneman

Well-known Member
It is use as a file server but primarily
I use it for moving huge chunks of video around.
On many occasions I will move 40/50 Gig in one go
That is why I have a problem with 1 gig.
For small data file that it is just fine. No probs.
that is hugely over spec'ed for a file server but its your money. I would expect you are hitting around 100W at least on idle on that.

Also as mentioned in the post above you single HDD is going to be a bottleneck, the read speed on that drive is 120MB/sec and write at 100MB/Sec MAXIMUM. You 10Gb network is completely wasted.

You either need to move to SSD or a RAID system. I have 6 x 7200rpm drives on a hardware RAID 5 controller with 2GB cache and that can just about gets 600MB/sec read and 450MB/sec write and also am moving around 50 or 60 GB files.
 

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