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Old Jan 11, 2011, 12:48 AM   #1
blackwoodfx
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Storage Ceiling on iTunes Content; NAS Solution? iTunes Server Component?

I've got 2 upgraded Mac Minis with 750 GB hard drives sharing content for the home right now. One Mini is hosting music and apps and the other, TV and movies. We combined those with 6 of the new Apple TVs, 4 Airport Expresses, 1 Airport Extreme to host and a few iPhones and iPods to control things with.

Problem is, I've just about maxed out the HD space on both and there aren't very many options on where to go from here.

Switching over to an iMac (for iTunes hosting alone) is a huge waste of resources, electricity and a big pretty screen. Further, we've already got an iMac and a Mac Pro. Those machines are dedicated for work and play and I don't want to use them to host gobs of data. Buying another Mac Pro is absurd and forget the notebooks.

What is left in Apple's product line for us to use? Yet another Mac Mini to spread data around? Then we need to connect to the correct library just to fish out content that should be accessible in one place.

Suffice it to say, there doesn't seem to be any Apple products that fit this bill and that seems like a somewhat glaring omission in the product mix. Why isn't there an "Apple Media Server" or something like that - easily connect with an iPad or similar and add content via iTunes, network or USB transport.

I know there are other options like building a noisy small form factor PC shell stuffed with a few HDs. But again, even that seems like a waste of resources.

What about using a NAS with an iTunes server? I've been looking at the Synology NAS DS410 kit:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produc...82E16822108050

According to the Synology website, this NAS kit does support iTunes server. Anyone have any experience setting things up this way? Does it stream well? Is it easy to browse and buy new content? Can I, for example, log onto the Synology NAS system and buy content off the iTunes store, watch it download then quickly stream to an Apple TV? OR, do we need to buy from another authorized machine, then transfer to the NAS first? In which case, not a very family friendly option.

Your input and assistance is appreciated. Thanks.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 12:51 AM   #2
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How bout an external firewire drive? I just got a miniStack v3 and I highly recommend it...Fits up to a 2TB drive, and it can be daisy chained.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 12:56 AM   #3
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How bout an external firewire drive? I just got a miniStack v3 and I highly recommend it...Fits up to a 2TB drive, and it can be daisy chained.
Interesting suggestion. I've used Western Digital MyBook external drives and the performance was utter garbage for streaming content. Easily took 3-4x longer to start a program with the iTunes library on a USB external.

Is this completely mitigated with a firewire external? What about multiple users? At most we'd be streaming content in two rooms, to 2 Apple TVs. The Mac Minis alone handle this well but would that change if they relied on external storage?
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 12:58 AM   #4
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Also with external hard drives, I currently have Western Digital MyBooks performing Time Machine backups from both Mac Minis. How would backing up an external firewire drive work? External USB Time Machine backup from the external firewire drive?
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 01:01 AM   #5
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Well the miniStack v3 has FW800 which is theoretical 800Mbps and STABLE, versus USB is 480Mbps theoretical MAX. Not to mention USB utilizes CPU power to move data, while FW does not.

As iTunes uses a "library" xml to keep track of everything, it will work just fine with users/etc...

Currently I use a Mac Mini with the miniStack as a file server/webserver/encoding box on top of streaming to two other computers in the house.

Backing up is done the same way as any other drive.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 01:20 AM   #6
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Thanks for the insight! Not a bad solution.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 02:09 AM   #7
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As mentioned, you certainly can use an external drive - USB or FireWire. I use an Addonics box found HERE and have 4, 1TB drives in there now. I have it set to RAID so I am protected against one drive failure. If one goes, I can swap it out and it will automatically rebuild on the fly.

I have the USB one, but there is an eSATA/USB model as well.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 02:19 AM   #8
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As mentioned, you certainly can use an external drive - USB or FireWire. I use an Addonics box found HERE and have 4, 1TB drives in there now. I have it set to RAID so I am protected against one drive failure. If one goes, I can swap it out and it will automatically rebuild on the fly.

I have the USB one, but there is an eSATA/USB model as well.
Thats a good box! However the reason I suggested fw800 is for the increased throughput over USB, and he can hook it straight into his Mac Mini and call it a day. Sadly, Mac Mini doesn't use eSata. However there are hacks available to give it eSata if you are into that...
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 02:33 AM   #9
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However the reason I suggested fw800 is for the increased throughput over USB, and he can hook it straight into his Mac Mini and call it a day.
I have mine hooked to my Mac Book Pro through USB and stream music and HD movies wirelessly to my Airport Express and 2 different Apple TVs and never have a skip or a hitch. It works extremely well.

Sure FireWire is faster, but in my experience USB works well too.

I was thinking about going the NAS route or building a server, but this was much easier and I was feeling lazy at the time so i gave this a shot and haven't been disappointed in any way.

Just my $.02
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 03:25 AM   #10
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According to the Synology website, this NAS kit does support iTunes server. Anyone have any experience setting things up this way? Does it stream well? Is it easy to browse and buy new content? Can I, for example, log onto the Synology NAS system and buy content off the iTunes store, watch it download then quickly stream to an Apple TV? OR, do we need to buy from another authorized machine, then transfer to the NAS first? In which case, not a very family friendly option.
You cannot use the iTunes store within the DiskStation.
I have an old 207+ and not the lates 211j.
Streaming is slow when it comes to the initial view. Ones the music-library is loaded, I don't have any problems and I don't know it this is slow for any other remote-library on a different mac as well.
ReIndexing is slow. But I'm using iTunes on an account to manage the content remotely. Managing the metadata over a remote library is painful, too.
I don't know, if reindexing would work better, when just copying the files directly to the NAS. Or if the faster processor of the 211j would do the trick.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 03:55 AM   #11
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Problem is, I've just about maxed out the HD space on both and there aren't very many options on where to go from here.
Why not just buy whatever flavour of Drobo fits your needs and budget and attach it to one of the minis? You could even partition the Drobo and use one of the volumes for your TM backups. I have one of the older FireWire Drobos and streaming performance from it via my mini is fine.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 04:14 AM   #12
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Just purchased the 411j, and loving it!!!! Added 4 2-TB drives and with RAID5 ended up with 5.83TB availalbe. I have not problems streaming from it as I have 1 Gig network so not to allow network cause any bottleneck.

The iTunes Server that is on Synology website is a bit misleading. i thought at first that had somehow gotten a service to run to allow no iTunes to run. NOT True. What it does is allows the NAS to show up as a iTunes shared Library is all. However if you put your movies there and point iTunes to it, all is fine.

I don't beleive anyone has a solution that will allow iTunes content without iTunes running on a Mac or PC.

The 411j is already has been tested and capable of supporting 3TB drives as well if you can find them internal drives.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 04:23 AM   #13
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Great responses, thanks everyone.

To clarify about the DiskStation, what would be the process then for migrating all of my content from the Mac Minis? Do I simply copy the iTunes libraries onto the DiskStation, then path the library from within iTunes on whatever machines I want to use?

For example, if I drop all of my iTunes library onto the DiskStation, then path a Mac Mini to find the iTunes library there, what happens when I shop in iTunes from then on? Will anything I purchase automatically get deposited onto the DiskStation or will there still be a manual process involved?

Very important I have a solution that still uses a friendly iTunes Store interface for the family. Thanks again!
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 05:01 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by revelstudios View Post
Great responses, thanks everyone.
For example, if I drop all of my iTunes library onto the DiskStation, then path a Mac Mini to find the iTunes library there, what happens when I shop in iTunes from then on? Will anything I purchase automatically get deposited onto the DiskStation or will there still be a manual process involved?
Wherever you tell iTunes to store its media, iTunes will move any purchases there, wether you buy them from within iTunes or from your atv. No handling by you necessary.

Once you set it up in iTunes preferences, you should be fine from then on.

Last edited by Omne666; Jan 11, 2011 at 05:14 AM.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 06:32 AM   #15
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Wherever you tell iTunes to store its media, iTunes will move any purchases there, wether you buy them from within iTunes or from your atv. No handling by you necessary.

Once you set it up in iTunes preferences, you should be fine from then on.
Cool, thanks for clarifying. Technically you can't buy to own anything on the new Apple TV (rent only), but that makes sense for everything else. Good to go. I'm going with the Station NAS.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 06:37 AM   #16
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Cool, thanks for clarifying. Technically you can't buy to own anything on the new Apple TV (rent only), but that makes sense for everything else. Good to go. I'm going with the Station NAS.
Personally not keen on NAS. To slow. Using the Drobo V2 (FW800) myself.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 09:43 AM   #17
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I just migrated my large iTunes library (~3TB total) from a ReadyNAS NV+ using an AFP share to a new ReadyNAS Ultra 4+ with iSCSI and have been very pleased with the results. To the Mac, the iSCSI volume appears to be locally attached which has led to better performance and stability within iTunes itself. If you're willing to have one computer act as the master iTunes library (since only one system can access an iSCSI volume at a time), I think this is definitely a good way to go.

At this point, I would recommend not using an AFP share for iTunes or other iLife applications. The release of Snow Leopard introduced a lot of changes to the protocol, and the open source project most of these vendors utilize (netatalk) has had issues. I know they have been working on it, but at least in Netgear's case the stability has not returned.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 02:51 PM   #18
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Drobo

I also recommend a Drobo for this purpose. I have the FW800 model with 4 2TB drives attached to an iMac that is left on 24/7. This feeds 4 Appletv 1's, an Appletv 2, as well as several Playstations. It can stream multiple 720 video feeds without any problems, although I haven't tried to max it out to see the limit of what it can handle. I have tried a Synology Diskstation 407 in the past, but I found a NAS slower to respond. The Drobo is quiet and sits on my desk without being too noticeable.
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Old Jan 11, 2011, 08:30 PM   #19
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Sounds like the DiskStation, accessed locally by one of the Mac Minis over Firewire and using Share Desktop to access from any of the other machines in the house is the right solution. Ordered! Will post results later this week. Many thanks.
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Old Jan 12, 2011, 10:25 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by NightStorm View Post
I just migrated my large iTunes library (~3TB total) from a ReadyNAS NV+ using an AFP share to a new ReadyNAS Ultra 4+ with iSCSI and have been very pleased with the results. To the Mac, the iSCSI volume appears to be locally attached which has led to better performance and stability within iTunes itself. If you're willing to have one computer act as the master iTunes library (since only one system can access an iSCSI volume at a time), I think this is definitely a good way to go.
Don't you need an iSCSI driver on the Mac? Does Apple now supply one? If not, which 3rd party driver are you using?

Or am I completely misunderstanding how you have set things up?

Thanks
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Old Jan 12, 2011, 10:37 PM   #21
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I use an Iomega Maxmini with my Mac Mini. They are the same footprint which means they are stacked. It is the 2TB model with 800 FireWire. I stream to a ATV1 and an ATV2 without any issues. Keep in mind that I run a Gig-E wired network (although the ATV's only support 10/100 Mbps) as I don't like to take the chance to stam video over a wireless connection. Just my preference.

Hope this help you.
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 08:30 AM   #22
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Don't you need an iSCSI driver on the Mac? Does Apple now supply one? If not, which 3rd party driver are you using?

Or am I completely misunderstanding how you have set things up?

Thanks
Sorry, I just saw this question. I'm using the free globalSAN initiator from Studio Network Solutions (http://www.studionetworksolutions.com). On the advice of members of the ReadyNAS forums, I am not using the v4.1 builds yet (due to reported instability with the ReadyNAS product line), but the older v3.x one. It works with Snow Leopard, and I have yet to have any issues with accessing data stored on this volume.
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Old Jan 28, 2011, 10:25 AM   #23
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I'll throw out my 2cents since I have a similar set up, one Mac Mini (08 version) 2 Apple TV2's and 1 Apple TV1.

The mini us upgraded to a 500HD and store my music, apps and photos. Around 200 GB of free space left. I then stumbled upon the Netgear Stora NAS at Best Buy for only $179. It comes equipped with a 1tb drive and one empty slot. I added a second drive ($62) which automatically sets up a RAID 1 array of everything on it.

Itís connected to the mini directly via Ethernet and it stores all my movies and TV shows. This of course creates the issue of 2 libraries in two locations. I point iTunes at the folder on the internal HD. So when I purchase anything from the computer it's downloaded to the internal drive.

If its music I just leave it there. Movies and TV I will move over the NAS every couple weeks and redirect iTunes to look at it. If I rip a DVD I just add to the NAS from the start.

Pretty simple setup and gets the job done.
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Old Jan 30, 2011, 04:42 AM   #24
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Sorry, I just saw this question. I'm using the free globalSAN initiator from Studio Network Solutions
Thanks for the info on iSCSI. I have seen that initiator mentioned before but haven't tried it, since I don't have a NAS yet. (Haven't made the build/buy decision yet).

From reading various forums, the situation with OS X is "challenging". E.g. I just read on the ZFS list some advice to use Netatalk instead of CIFS. Your previous advice is that iSCSI is better than Netatalk.

It's too bad that Apple dropped ZFS. A MacPro would probably make a pretty good file server.

So many alternatives. So little time.
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Old Feb 5, 2011, 10:28 AM   #25
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Follow-up to my original post.

The DiskStation has proved a very mixed bag. First, performance with the Mac Mini was below expectation. Files transferred slowly over both USB and ethernet and the drive spin up time on access is about 10 seconds, which makes workday music switching off/on a bit tedious.

Then I thought, maybe I should just use the DiskStation as a local backup and file server for my Mac Pro and wedge a bigger hard drive into the Mac Mini I use as a home media server.

The Mac Mini HD upgrade was a piece of cake. Dropped a 750GB HDD in, connected a 2 TB external drive over FireWire, dumped media files onto that 2 TB and now good to go. Setup Time Machine to run to a 2 TB over USB external for backup of media library.

On the Mac Pro with DiskStation side, things went horribly. First problem, I misunderstood the purpose of the eSATA ports in the back of the unit. They are not for connecting directly to a computer, but are instead for eSATA external drives to expand the DS storage space. Unfortunately I only discovered this after spending $250 on an eSATA card and installing that on the Mac Pro.

Then I tried connecting the DiskStation to the Mac Pro over USB and the performance outright sucked. Backups were very slow and I couldn't utilize the DS as a file server on FCP or AE media projects. Transfer rates dragged everything down.

Finally I decided to upgrade the Mac Pro with 2 TB HDDs, then add a Gigabit switch and connect the DiskStation to the Mac Pro over ethernet and utilize it solely as a Time Machine store.

That works wonderfully -- decent transfer rates, good speeds on the Mac Pro because I'm using internal HDDs, reliable backup system, etc.

But now I have a new problem.

The Time Machine software is auto-set to do backups once each hour. This sucks. The DiskStation needs to wake up from sleep mode, mount the drive, connect to my Mac Pro, build a backup package, then perform the transfer. As you can imagine, after hours of this, it gets aggravating and the performance hit while doing other work is unacceptable.

I looked around for a solution -- the "Apple Think Different" way doesn't allow for a simple Time Machine backup routine setting. What I found was a Control Panel hack called "Secrets" that lets you adjust things like the Time Machine clock. Great, I thought. Only it doesn't seem to work. Time Machine ignores the custom setting and sticks with its own routine.

So now what? DiskStation, for being relegated to a glorified Time Machine local storage backup, is proving, now the fault of Time Machine, to be an annoying piece of kit.

Suggestions please.

Meanwhile, with those eSATA ports I recently added to the Mac Pro, I'm looking forward to utilizing a nice media storage kit that I can bring around the studio from workspace to workspace. That proved to be an unexpectedly nice improvement in the workflow.
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