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Old Nov 18, 2012, 02:29 PM   #1
HMI
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Mac Mini 2012 iTunes Media Server/Wireless External Drive Setup

Will a BASIC Mac Mini 2012 meet the needs of a full-time iTunes Media Server and also serve other content from connected external drives in a fast problem-free wireless solution, or will I have to upgrade it somehow?

It will be connected to an AirPort Extreme Base Station via Ethernet Cable.

It will hopefully allow always-on wireless access to a LOT of high-res photos stored on an external drive for Photoshop/Aperture/Lightroom/iPhoto, and controlled wirelessly via iPad and MBP.

It will hopefully allow always-on wireless access to a lot of high-bitrate music and movies stored on another external drive for iTunes Media served through iTunes to AppleTV2 and Airport Express, and controlled wirelessly via iPad and MBP.

It will hopefully allow always-on wireless access to a Time Machine Backup Drive stored on another external drive for automatic, continuous, wireless backups of both the MBP and Mac Mini, along with all photos and iTunes Media.

Will I have "too much" lag in the home wifi to meet these needs?
Will the external drives "fall asleep" or become non-responsive / unmountable / unable to navigate wirelessly without trouble? How do you best manage an "always on" wireless drive setup?

What external drives do you recommend?

Will I need to upgrade (BTO) from the basic Mac Mini 2012 to something more capable to suit these needs?

What are some cost/performance suggestions and setup configurations that you would recommend to serve these purposes for the foreseeable future?

I want to spend as little money as possible, while being 100% assured that these needs will be met.

If I need to look at other solutions please tell me, but I prefer to stay with Apple products for this setup.

Is it best (low cost with enough capability) to stay with the mini, or better (value per $) to get an iMac or something else?

Please advise. Thanks.

Last edited by HMI; Nov 18, 2012 at 02:46 PM.
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 07:06 AM   #2
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Ignoring the Aperture etc my 2006 iMac acts as iTunes server to my network and Time Machine hub too with no problems. It serves 2 x ATV3's wirelessly with no problems. To work well e.g. allow server to sleep you will need an Airport Extreme at the centre of your network or the server will not wake when the ATV's etc ask it too.
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 08:06 AM   #3
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I have a base Mini and external drive connected to a 1080p monitor currently. It is my media server but I do not leave it on 24/7 and I have full access to everything on the drives via iPad and iPhone. Everything works fine but I am considered maxing out the ram on my mini.... I like the Western Digital passport external drives, they are very small and do not required a power supply.
Hope this helps.
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 08:10 AM   #4
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If you're using them to serve media then use drives with an external power supply to ensure they wake when you want them too
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Old Nov 19, 2012, 10:55 PM   #5
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Awesome tips!

Anything else I should know?
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Old Nov 20, 2012, 09:00 PM   #6
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I have a friend who is using a pair of the WD 3TB MyBook Live drives connected directly to his Airport Extreme (they only have ethernet connections) and can access them on any of the machines in his home. He uses one for storage and one for Time Machine backups. I'm planning on using a pair of the 2TB drives to do the same thing. WD also makes a 4TB and 6TB Duo version (2 drives in a single enclosure) but they are more expensive than two of the single drive units.
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Old Nov 23, 2012, 03:47 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by angelsguardian View Post
If you're using them to serve media then use drives with an external power supply to ensure they wake when you want them too
Any specific drives you recommend?

----------

Quote:
Originally Posted by angelsguardian View Post
Ignoring the Aperture etc my 2006 iMac acts as iTunes server to my network and Time Machine hub too with no problems. It serves 2 x ATV3's wirelessly with no problems. To work well e.g. allow server to sleep you will need an Airport Extreme at the centre of your network or the server will not wake when the ATV's etc ask it too.
Any specific settings you recommend?
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Old Nov 23, 2012, 03:52 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by HMI View Post
Any specific drives you recommend?

----------



Any specific settings you recommend?
Tbh I have a mixture from eBay serving as Time Machine targets & iTunes library but mainly Western Digital. No problems so far and always wake they should. Note the iMac only wakes from sleep when prompted by the ATV's if there's an AirPort Extreme acting as router. Unfortunate but true and I tried various alternatives before having to invest in one. Now with the exception of a printer and the ADSL modem is Apple and exceptionally reliable.
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Old Mar 11, 2013, 02:02 PM   #9
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Question

Question for those who use the mini as a dedicated iTunes server:

I have an iMac and MBA and would use iTunes on both to add to my library (songs, music, tv shows, etc). if say, I'm on my MBA and am in iTunes and am accessing the iTunes library on the mini (via home sharing) will I be able to add to (or delete from) the shared library? In other words, if I make music purchase, will iTunes store locally on the MBA and the mini simultaneously?

If so, would there be a way to have purchases only go to the main server's (mini's) library and not the MBA local library?

The reason I ask this is because my MBA only has 128gb and I'd rather not fill it up with itunes content, which will fill up my drive quickly. I'd rather just maintain the mini as the hub for all the content and access that content via ATV or home sharing on the iMac and MBA.
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Old Mar 11, 2013, 09:01 PM   #10
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To anyone who is using Time Machine to backup to an external hard drive plugged in to a networked Mac -- how are you doing that? I'm trying to move all Time Machine duties to my Mac mini so that I don't have to feel OS X freeze every 5 minutes when it spins up the external HD for no reason. I can't get it to work though. I've given the mini a static IP, shared the drive, created an account for myself, etc. I can select the drive as the TM location, but I usually get an error during the "Preparing backup" phase. When it DOES go through, the back up is incredibly slow... after 14 hours it had only copied 6.5 GB. Both Macs are plugged directly into the router via ethernet. For comparison, CCC can do a complete clone in under 15 minutes.

Any advice would be appreciated.

Quote:
Originally Posted by digitalgopher View Post
Question for those who use the mini as a dedicated iTunes server:

I have an iMac and MBA and would use iTunes on both to add to my library (songs, music, tv shows, etc). if say, I'm on my MBA and am in iTunes and am accessing the iTunes library on the mini (via home sharing) will I be able to add to (or delete from) the shared library? In other words, if I make music purchase, will iTunes store locally on the MBA and the mini simultaneously?

If so, would there be a way to have purchases only go to the main server's (mini's) library and not the MBA local library?

The reason I ask this is because my MBA only has 128gb and I'd rather not fill it up with itunes content, which will fill up my drive quickly. I'd rather just maintain the mini as the hub for all the content and access that content via ATV or home sharing on the iMac and MBA.
I'm not sure what you're asking. If you're on the MBA and buy something, it's going to go to the MBA. There's no way to stop that. You can cancel the download, but it's still going to try and start downloading. It can also automatically go to the mini if you set the mini to automatically download new purchases (preferences option). As for stuff that's not from iTunes, you can add it to the mini by copying it to the "Automatically add to iTunes" folder (assuming you're sharing the drive containing the "server" iTunes library on your home network), but no, you can't delete anything or change stuff around. You'd have to remote in using "Back to my Mac" to do that. Or simply access the mini directly.
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Old Mar 11, 2013, 09:32 PM   #11
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You can get a mac app called ^^^^



"TimeMachineEditor is a free, simple application that lets you change the default setting for your Mac's Time Machine hourly backups.

TimeMachineEditor lets you set a new hourly interval, or even specify multiple calendar intervals for hourly, daily, weekly, and monthly backups--whether you want daily backups at 2 a.m., weekly backups at a certain time every weekend, or any other possible combination. You can also set Time Machine to automatically back up when disks are mounted or when the computer wakes from sleep.

Time Machine's default setting may be adequate for most users, but for certain situations--for example, if you frequently deal with large files that don't require backup, or if multiple Macs are sharing the same backup drive and your network becomes extremely slow during backups--TimeMachineEditor provides an easy way to get more control over Time Machine."


If you don't like the hourly backups
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Old Mar 12, 2013, 03:43 AM   #12
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Afp

This is part of the reason why time machine doesn't like most network drives:

"Time Machine requires an external harddrive to be connected via Thunderbolt, USB, or Firewire and formatted as HFS+ (Mac OS Extended), unless it is shared via AFP (like TimeCapsule by Apple). SMB or FTP won't do, sadly. Formatting the drive won't help you either, because then the network protocol would still get in the way."

Here is an old MacRumors thread that seems to have some info about this:
http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=774164

It mentions the process used here:
http://www.readynas.com/?p=253

Creating a "ComputerHostName_EthernetAddress.sparsebundle" according to their instructions should hopefully help solve the network drive issues, but I haven't tried it personally to say that it worked for me yet.

I have read elsewhere that .sparsebundles can become corrupted leaving a drive of useless data if you're not careful, but I recommend you read more for yourself. I guess it seems to work fine for those people.

If you want multiple computers to backup to the same external drive, then you need to create a separate HFS+ partition for each computer on that drive.

Carbon Copy Clone says that you can use both CCC and Time Machine at the same time for extra protection, so I recommend using both if you are able, and especially if you want to experiment with time machine across a network.

Last edited by HMI; Mar 12, 2013 at 03:49 AM.
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Old Mar 12, 2013, 11:31 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Carbon Copy Clone says that you can use both CCC and Time Machine at the same time for extra protection, so I recommend using both if you are able, and especially if you want to experiment with time machine across a network.
I don't want to "experiment" with anything, I just want to set up a backup solution and have it work. Time Machine is supposed to do that for me. All this file system rubbish and formatting hostnames and blablabla, I don't care. Apple is supposed to take care of all that stuff in the background so I can simply click the button that sets my machine to back up to the Mac mini's external hard drive. That's what I pay the Apple Tax for!

Oh well, at least Bombich still has a clue. CCC is simple to use and "just works." Imagine that!
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Old Mar 14, 2013, 11:20 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by NMF View Post
I don't want to "experiment" with anything, I just want to set up a backup solution and have it work. Time Machine is supposed to do that for me. All this file system rubbish and formatting hostnames and blablabla, I don't care. Apple is supposed to take care of all that stuff in the background so I can simply click the button that sets my machine to back up to the Mac mini's external hard drive. That's what I pay the Apple Tax for!

Oh well, at least Bombich still has a clue. CCC is simple to use and "just works." Imagine that!
Apple's recommended and supported solution is to buy a Time Capsule, and use that for your Time Machine backups. It is easy and works well with little to no hassle, until it potentially doesn't work anymore after ~18 months (according to customer reviews).

If you don't want to risk having your $300+ router/backup drive die randomly on you 12-24 months after you buy it, your only other (unsupported) solution is to "experiment" with adding your own external drives to your router and/or Mac mini. Some people say it works well and some people have problems with it, and Apple will not officially help you with unsupported solutions and setups.

Those are your only two options (which is unfortunate), but technically Apple does have an easy supported solution for you if you don't want to "tinker" with anything. You have to decide if the price and potential risks are worth the added convenience for you.
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Old Mar 14, 2013, 12:25 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by HMI View Post
Apple's recommended and supported solution is to buy a Time Capsule, and use that for your Time Machine backups. It is easy and works well with little to no hassle, until it potentially doesn't work anymore after ~18 months (according to customer reviews).

If you don't want to risk having your $300+ router/backup drive die randomly on you 12-24 months after you buy it, your only other (unsupported) solution is to "experiment" with adding your own external drives to your router and/or Mac mini. Some people say it works well and some people have problems with it, and Apple will not officially help you with unsupported solutions and setups.

Those are your only two options (which is unfortunate), but technically Apple does have an easy supported solution for you if you don't want to "tinker" with anything. You have to decide if the price and potential risks are worth the added convenience for you.
There's actually a third option, and I'm kicking myself for not thinking of it earlier.

OS X Server. $20 on the Mac App Store. I downloaded it and set the external hard drive attached to the Mac Mini as a shared Time Macine location. All Macs in the household are now backing up to it without issue, and this is an officially supported function of OS X Server. All I had to do was buy a damn app!
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