I have a file server that seconds as a media centre. Lets call the server Barton. It has 2 external hard drives plugged into it. It also constantly has video files playing on it which are outputting to a TV.

Now I have a laptop (both machines are running Ubuntu 13.10) on the same LAN and I would like to organize my files on the two external hard drives connected to Barton, without having to use the actual machine Barton because it is being used to watch video files. So I've trying SSH and Samba connections with the laptop, which is fine for moving files around on the same disk, but when I want to transfer a folder from one external drive to another, this is where I have an issue.

If I copy a folder from one external hard drive to another from the local machine Barton I get a transfer rate of around 10-20mb/s (which is pretty much the maximum that Barton will allow given it's hardware specifications. Now if I do a similar transfer from my laptop using SSH or Samba I get a transfer speed of around 100kb/s and this is not usable for trying to organize files.

So I figure when using SSH or Samba that the files have to get transferred over the network and that is why they are so slow. Is there any way to get my laptop to tell Barton to do the file transfer locally instead of trying to do it over the network? As in, some way I can run commands from the laptop and have Barton carry out the transfer at 10-20mb/s? Thank you.

1 Answer 1


When you SSH from your laptop into Barton, and issue a command, all the disk transfer is actually taking place on Barton. It should be no different than if you are logged into Barton.

SMB is a different beast. On Windows it can get pretty ugly if you're doing this with Windows Explorer. The Microsoft people couldn't seem to keep it simple, and there's all this extra analysis on the files during the copy operation which adds a bunch of overhead (it's digging for file properties, icons and so forth)

SSH or local login should theoretically always be faster.

  • I've been doing my file transfer by opening Nautilus, clicking connect to server and then typing: ssh://freedom@ which is the local ip address of Barton. When I copy a folder from one drive to another I get the 100kb/s speed, but the same transfer done from Nautilus on Barton does 10-20mb/s
    – Ibuntu
    Jan 22, 2014 at 1:24
  • I've never been too keen on doing things that way, so I can't speak from experience. It may very well be passing data from the source on Barton, to your laptop, and back to Barton again. That would be very, very slow.
    – Xavier J
    Jan 22, 2014 at 6:09
  • Yeah, that's what is seems like, but are you saying that when I connect to a server using SSH with Nautilus that Nautilus is lying to me and not doing an SSH connection? Or is SSH passing the files through the network? Should I be looking for another connection method or another medium to do SSH through?
    – Ibuntu
    Jan 23, 2014 at 19:31

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