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Old Feb 20, 2013, 01:09 PM   #1
bca1313
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Home Network Mini Server vs. NetGear ReadyNAS

Hoping someone smarter than me can help me with this.

We are looking to network the house and rip all the DVD's, etc so that our kids stop scratching them, etc. Also a way to back up all photos, videos and docs that we use.

The recommendations I have gotten are the Mac Mini Server edition and the NetGear ReadyNAS. The NG has the iTunes server stuff built in and seems to work well at a friends house. He runs both Mac and PC equipment while we only run Mac in our house.

Here are the first glance thoughts I see:

Mac Mini is more expensive at 1K or a little more versus the NG at $500-800 with the drives installed.

Storage: Mini has 2tb where the NG is configurable so easy to do dual 2tb that one backs up the other for redundancy.

Mini is a full operating system so acts like another computer (am I right on this)

Can I wirelessly run movies to all our TV's with the Mini? I know with the NG I can put a WD wireless box at each location that will stream the movies, etc.

Sorry if some of these are dumb points or I am missing stuff. This is new to me but with so many kids in the house we are accumulating pictures and videos at a very rapid pace and need to get ahead of this. Plus streaming movies to different tv's would make life easy (getting rid of all the DVD's)

Thanks everyone.
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 01:30 PM   #2
Deadeyeshark
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The problem I found with a NAS, I had a Mediasmart HP Home Server, was that when it disconnected from iTunes it didn't pick up the files on the Server and I had the rescan the Library. Huge pain. The best solution I found was to get a USB External bay and attach that to my Mac.

I have the 4 bay version of this one:
http://www.scan.co.uk/products/shark...-with-sata-iii
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 01:39 PM   #3
talmy
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I've always liked the flexibility of a full computer. You can never tell what services you might want on it in the future. With the Mac mini you don't have to buy the server version. It's not the bargain it was back when I bought mine (when the server OS alone was $500!). Actually any mini would do fine or even a used one. You expand with external drives.
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 01:59 PM   #4
waw74
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you really don't need the mini server, the server software adds a bunch of stuff you won't use. everything you need comes in the stock OSX. the server adds another 1TB hard drive, but you can add more storage for the same $$ with external drives. and when you're doing movies, 1TB really isn't all that much.

as far as external drives go, even USB2 is fast enough for serving movies and music. straight Blu-ray rips are 4-6 MB/s and USB2 can handle 20-30 MB/s
which will also save you some money, you can get USB3 or thunderbolt, but will only really gain you anything on the initial dump. and even then not much, as you're limited by the speed of your DVD drive.

I recommend plex to act as your media server.
there are numerous clients for plex - roku, iOS, osX, windows, and jailbroken TV2 (not 3 as it can't be jailbroken yet)
Plex will convert files as you watch them, so if you have a movie that your client can't play, it will handle the conversion real time, leaving your original file intact, this does require a bit of processing power though.
the other option is to pre-convert your movies, (use the TV2 preset in handbrake) and all plex does is basic file serving, so you don't need much processor at all.

the base mac mini would probably be fine converting for one client at a time, but if you add multiple clients, you'll wan't something with more power. but if you pre-convert the base mini is ok.
(with the base, the preconvert will take longer but you only have to do it once, or if you have faster computers on the network, convert there)


plex also will hook into iTunes and iPhoto and share those libraries, and you can have multiple servers on your network so you can put the movies on the mini, but still keep photos on your computer. and access them all from any of the clients.

plex will not play videos purchased from iTunes, not sure if that's an issue for you or not.

--
so what i would do

main TV
-mac mini, either base or 1 model up
-apple remote to control it, although the plex iOS app can also function as a remote.
-external drives
-plex

remote TV
-roku
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 02:59 PM   #5
R.Youden
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Quote:
Originally Posted by waw74 View Post
main TV
-mac mini, either base or 1 model up
-apple remote to control it, although the plex iOS app can also function as a remote.
-external drives
-plex

remote TV
-roku
This is what i used to do but I had a few issues so i changed things around.

If you are adding content to you the mini server you really need remote desktop from another mac and a nice fast connection is ideal, hopefully a wired ethernet. If you download any content from your main computer to mini it takes a while, again a wired network comes in handy here.

Also if you have an issue with Plex Media Server you have to remote log in etc...

What I am doing is getting a NAS which runs Plex Media Server on it's own processor and having two Rokus around the house. The only issue with this is that the NAS probably won't transcode it so you need to do that with you media first (handbrake is your friend). This could take a while if you have lots of media. Buy what it does mean is you can export to almost any device, iphone, ipad etc... without converting the media again.

Hope this helps.

Any questions let me know.
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 03:18 PM   #6
bca1313
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Thanks for the updates

Great information.

I plan on pre-converting all movies so they are stored on the storage device already run through HandBrake or such. I know this will take a while but just pop a DVD in and let it run and ever few hours change it. Will eventually get them all on there.

I probably don't really understand the Server application because it seems most people are telling me I dont need it and can use a regular mini...which then begs the question is the mini the way to go or is there a better way.

If the regular mini is used with the 1tb HD then I could put a larger HD as the back up. Is it easy to configure these to back up to another drive? I like the idea of having a back up. That was what originally pulled me to the NetGear ReadyNAS.

So the ROKU just acts as a window into the computer? Would I use the sharing function for accessing regular files off the mini if I am on my laptop? We want to be able to store all our docs on this device and each access them from our regular macs, etc. What about if a friend came over with a PC...would they be able to see the files if I used a regular mini>
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 04:52 PM   #7
danwilliams
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bca1313 View Post
So the ROKU just acts as a window into the computer? Would I use the sharing function for accessing regular files off the mini if I am on my laptop? We want to be able to store all our docs on this device and each access them from our regular macs, etc. What about if a friend came over with a PC...would they be able to see the files if I used a regular mini>
Install the Plex Media Server software on your computer. This could be a Mac Mini, iMac, Windows Computer, etc... You connect the Roku to your TV. Install the Plex App onto your Roku box. Point your Plex App on your Roku to your computer that is running the Plex Media Server software.

More details here: http://plexapp.com/roku/

I have this setup at my house. I have a Mac Mini in my mancave connected to my 60" HDTV (which is running the Plex Media Server). In the upstairs bedroom, I have a Roku connected to my 32" HDTV there. I now have access to all the videos on my Mac Mini in my bedroom. It is a pretty sweet set up!

If your friend installs the Plex Media Center onto his computer and points to your computer running the Plex Media Server software, he can gain access to your videos.

Plex is for multimedia (movies, TV shows, music, pictures, etc...) If you need to access "doc" files that is on your server, use something like WinSCP for Windows or Cyberduck for the Mac.
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 05:03 PM   #8
talmy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bca1313 View Post
I probably don't really understand the Server application because it seems most people are telling me I dont need it and can use a regular mini...which then begs the question is the mini the way to go or is there a better way.
You may think I recommended OS X Server just because I use it. First, the economics were different 3 years ago that made the server software effectively free. Buying the server system now really offers little over the lower models especially when you need external drives anyway (and you *will* need them -- you are looking at a 9TB system in the picture above not including the bare drive in the toaster that is part of my backup regimen).

As others have mentioned, you wouldn't need the server software. However it is inexpensive and you could add it later if you determined you wanted some of its additional features.

The Core 2 Duo + 4GB of RAM has been perfectly capable for the job I put it to which is more than just serving movies and music. A new mini with a quad core processor would be major overkill!

Quote:
If the regular mini is used with the 1tb HD then I could put a larger HD as the back up. Is it easy to configure these to back up to another drive? I like the idea of having a back up. That was what originally pulled me to the NetGear ReadyNAS.
I use the toaster to back up to bare drives which back up all the media-containing drives in my system. I do this as needed. An enclosed external does the backup of the rest of the server on an automatically scheduled basis, and one of the externals does the TimeMachine Backup of four Macs in the house that are used as personal computers. Except for TimeMachine, all backing up is done using SuperDuper! to make cloned disk images. Because I'm paranoid, important files are also backup up to the cloud (CrashPlan).

Quote:
Would I use the sharing function for accessing regular files off the mini if I am on my laptop? We want to be able to store all our docs on this device and each access them from our regular macs, etc. What about if a friend came over with a PC...would they be able to see the files if I used a regular mini.
You use permissions to control access. PCs can access the server. This is easier to set up with the OS X Server software but not impossible without.

There were remarks about remotely accessing the system. My mini runs "headless" meaning no display, keyboard, or mouse connected. The Screen Sharing app in OS X gives access, and with the VPN service in OS X server I can access the server screen and files even when not at home. I also can use an application on Windows, TightVNC, to access the server screen. If I don't need the display screen I use ssh to get a command line or transfer files with Cyberduck (free) or Forklift (paid). Again that will work away from home. I've grabbed .MOV files when away from home with no problems (note that I have a 25 Mbps "up" connection that makes it reasonable).
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 05:03 PM   #9
Panch0
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RAID 1 is NOT the same as backup. It protects from drive failure, but not from things like accidental deletion or file corruption. In the Apple world, time machine is the easy path to backup and you can use a cheap external drive as the target. Or multiple cheap external drives. There are other tools that can be used to clone all or parts of a drive to another location - Carbon Copy Cloner is my favorite, but a lot of people prefer super duper.

If I were going to go the NAS route, I would (and do) use a Synology device. They have boxes running from 1 to 15 total drives and they all use the same management software. Excellent devices.

Think about what devices you will use to consume your content. I use an AppleTv 3, which I love, but it requires a real computer running iTunes to access my library. The 'itunes server' built into many NAS devices is not the same as Home Sharing, which the ATV needs. Other devices like the Roku can probably stream direct from a NAS - I tried one for a while but ended up giving it away as I just prefer the ATV interface.

One thing I don't recommend is trying to host your iTunes media on a NAS. It seems like a great idea and you can make it work, but it's not worth the trouble. A direct connected external drive is a better option for iTunes. If you are going to use Plex, it may not matter.
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Old Feb 20, 2013, 05:20 PM   #10
Hammie
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I have the ReadyNAS, but it is only for backup purposes.

I find the iTunes server to be very limiting, especially with Apple TVs in the mix as the other poster mentioned.

I have 4TB and 2TB FW800 drives connected to a 2009 MacMini. I have had zero issues with movies or music. Please keep in mind, that all but one Apple TV in my house is wired.

The Apple Remote app on my iPad is how I control everything.
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Old Feb 22, 2013, 08:42 AM   #11
Bobby.e
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bca1313 View Post
Great information.

I plan on pre-converting all movies so they are stored on the storage device already run through HandBrake or such. I know this will take a while but just pop a DVD in and let it run and ever few hours change it. Will eventually get them all on there.

I probably don't really understand the Server application because it seems most people are telling me I dont need it and can use a regular mini...which then begs the question is the mini the way to go or is there a better way.

If the regular mini is used with the 1tb HD then I could put a larger HD as the back up. Is it easy to configure these to back up to another drive? I like the idea of having a back up. That was what originally pulled me to the NetGear ReadyNAS.

So the ROKU just acts as a window into the computer? Would I use the sharing function for accessing regular files off the mini if I am on my laptop? We want to be able to store all our docs on this device and each access them from our regular macs, etc. What about if a friend came over with a PC...would they be able to see the files if I used a regular mini>
I would get a NAS based on what you just said. Then hook it into your router. I just bought a 3TB WD MyBookLive for $150 from microcenter the other day.
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Old Feb 22, 2013, 09:29 AM   #12
SDDave2007
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For a NAS based solution..... Check out SYNOLOGY

I did weeks of research on NAS solutions a year or so ago, and compared NetGear, Qnap, Synology and a boatload of others...... and in my opinon Synology is the best choice.

It has built in software to handle almost any kind of "server" you want, plus it supports TimeMachine.

Mine is TimeMachine backup for 3 Macs, iTunes server, Video server (and it would be a webserver if my ISP would allow it)
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Old Feb 22, 2013, 11:07 AM   #13
NightStorm
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ReadyNAS Ultra 4+ and iSCSI has been the most stable I've found to serve up my iTunes library from an enclosure. I had some reliability, speed, and data corruption issues when trying to do the same with an AFP network share.
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Old Feb 22, 2013, 12:08 PM   #14
dragje
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I would recommend using an iMac mini. It does cost some dollars but I've bought one myself and I wished I've done so before. The good thing about the Mac Mini for use as server:

+ it's a whole computer, so under new circumstances, like codex of specific updates it can handle it all while on NAS based drives you're basically depending on the updates of your NAS devices when it comes to update the software. In short, with the mac mini you've tons of possibilities to choose from and at the end you'll love that freedom of choice part...

+ because it's a computer you yourself can pick which media server you would like to use. I'm using Plex. It's free and has a highly advanced graphical user interface. The whole setup took me just a few seconds and because my server is always 'on' I can sit wherever I want and 'beam' the content to my tv using the Plex app on my iPad. In short, I use my iPad to scroll trough the various series and movies and just by selecting one I can watch it on my iPad or directly on my tv or by using my beamer. There is nothing that comes that close when talking about devises that are easy and simple to use.

+Mac Mini really doesn't need much power and is very very extremely silent. It simply doesn't make noise, so I always leave it on.

+ Because the Mac Mini is a computer as well you 'can' choose to plugin some USB based hard drives, but since I've connected my Mac Mini to my netwerk I can also choose using Plex to browse to my media content which is stored on my QNAP backup server (which I primarily use for work). So no lot's of black boxes next to my mac mini

+ because the Mac Mini is a computer you can, for just a few bucks, buy Mac Server for it and start using it for server purposes next to streaming media content.

It cost more, yes. But you'll get so much more fun for it plus, also important, lot's of freedom to choose which servers you would like to use. And by using share screen your mac mini doesn't require a extra external monitor as well, it's so small that you can put it everywhere without seeing it and still enjoy the flexibility of it.
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