Use the right cable.

Lately I had become somewhat dissatisfied with the speed of my QNAP 509 Pro NAS. In particular with the speed of transfers to and from it. I was thinking about getting another one, or replacing the drives in and effort to speed it up.

But then I gave it some thought and figured I should probably first do some more testing and research.

QNAP advertise the NAS I have as being able to get a sustained 60 megabytes per second in file transfers over a single gigabit ethernet link. This is pretty respectable. However, I was only getting at most 12MB/s. At first I thought that my iMac not supporting “jumbo frames” could be the problem. But with a little more digging I discovered the QNAP doesn’t support jumbo frames either so that wasn’t going to help me anyway.

In an effort to rule out the iMac as the problem I hooked up my MacBook Pro, which is normally only connected via Wi-Fi, to the Apple Time Capsule that is serving as my gigabit ethernet switch and did some more testing. The MacBook Pro was having similarly bad performance transferring to and from the QNAP. In an effort to discover if data transfer performance was just generally bad or if it was just the QNAP that was suffering bad performance I tried transferring files between my MacBook Pro and my iMac. This is where things started to get interesting. My MacBook was happily transferring data to and from my iMac at around 60MB/s.

It was at this point that a silly thought popped into my mind. Perhaps the cable connecting the Time Capsule to the QNAP just wasn’t up to snuff when it came to gigabit ethernet. So I changed it, and things got better. Fast.

Afterwards I realised that the cable I had been using all this time, to connect my QNAP to the rest of the world, the cable that I had just randomly selected from the large collection I have, was a cable I made myself a long time ago when CAT5 and 100MBps networks were the norm. The cable I replaced it with was a professionally made, modern, CAT5E cable. One designed to work with gigabit ethernet.

What a difference using the right cable can make.

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