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Old Jan 4, 2013, 11:39 AM   #1
jmine83
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Question Mac mini as Media Server?

I'm thinking about buying a new Mac mini (2012 model, 2.5GHz Mac mini w/ 500GB hard drive) and configuring it as a media server. I would like it to be configured such that from my MCP, iPhone, and iPad that I can access the media and playlists on the Mac mini from "anywhere" I have internet access. I would be the only user to use and access the Mac mini. I hope the model of Mac mini I have chosen will be sufficient to meet this task. But if I need one of the other two higher-end models that has quad-core processors, please let me know. Would I need Apple's "OS X Server" software from the App Store? Will the server software run on the specific Mac mini model I am planning to buy?
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Old Jan 4, 2013, 12:29 PM   #2
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I'm thinking about buying a new Mac mini (2012 model, 2.5GHz Mac mini w/ 500GB hard drive) and configuring it as a media server. I would like it to be configured such that from my MCP, iPhone, and iPad that I can access the media and playlists on the Mac mini from "anywhere" I have internet access. I would be the only user to use and access the Mac mini. I hope the model of Mac mini I have chosen will be sufficient to meet this task. But if I need one of the other two higher-end models that has quad-core processors, please let me know. Would I need Apple's "OS X Server" software from the App Store? Will the server software run on the specific Mac mini model I am planning to buy?
The Mac Mini you refer to should be fine for you. No need for the server version. I would suggest using Plex
which is free. With the plex server installed on the mini and the Plex app on all your other devices you can watch / listen to all your media files, even when you're away from home.
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Old Jan 4, 2013, 12:38 PM   #3
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The Mac Mini you refer to should be fine for you. No need for the server version. I would suggest using Plex
which is free. With the plex server installed on the mini and the Plex app on all your other devices you can watch / listen to all your media files, even when you're away from home.
I already have a media server (sorry to hijack the thread), I have a DLNA server running Serviio... and I like it a lot. Will the Plex client play nice with a non-Plex DLNA compatible server?
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Old Jan 4, 2013, 01:10 PM   #4
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I already have a media server (sorry to hijack the thread), I have a DLNA server running Serviio... and I like it a lot. Will the Plex client play nice with a non-Plex DLNA compatible server?
I don't think it will, but it can't hurt to try. Sorry I can't be more definitive.
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Old Jan 6, 2013, 03:26 AM   #5
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I have MAC mini running XBMC server. It is free and works fine.
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Old Jan 6, 2013, 03:27 AM   #6
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Plex IS a DLNA server.
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Old Jan 6, 2013, 06:32 AM   #7
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I agree with other folks here: Plex is certainly the way to go.

If you have additional questions they have a lively, friendly support form too:
http://forums.plexapp.com/index.php/forum/103-mac/
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Old Jan 6, 2013, 07:07 AM   #8
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Mac Mini + Plex = A match made in heaven. Plex server just works and its clients for both mac and iPad/iphone are stunning. You can even install it on an apple tv! (jailbreak)
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 05:38 PM   #9
jmine83
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Thank you for the great responses guys and informing me of Plex.

However, I must say I am surprised and very disappointed that Apple doesn't have their own solution similar to Plex. Ideally, a solution that does not rely on third-party software is what what I'm looking for.

Someone please confirm if there is a way to get the functionality I am looking for (as states in the initial post of this thread) without using third-party software.

Doesn't the OS X Server software provide the functionality I need?
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 05:41 PM   #10
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I would just get an older Mac Mini if all it's going to do is serve stuff over iTunes.

You could also do a HP N40L with storage, but that takes more time to configure. I run it and serve to my whole household with 8-10 iDevices and multiple Apple laptops. No issues whatsoever. I even use it to backup files (Over 3TB of space).
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 05:52 PM   #11
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I would just get an older Mac Mini if all it's going to do is serve stuff over iTunes.

You could also do a HP N40L with storage, but that takes more time to configure. I run it and serve to my whole household with 8-10 iDevices and multiple Apple laptops. No issues whatsoever. I even use it to backup files (Over 3TB of space).
The "Home Sharing" feature of iTunes makes it really easy within one's "home network." What remains unclear, however, is a "non" third-party solution that will allow me to setup a Mac mini as an iTunes media server, and then use my iPhone or iPad to access the content on the Mac mini from "anywhere" over Wi-Fi or cellular network (cellular access functionality not required, but would be nice).
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Old Jan 10, 2013, 06:34 PM   #12
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The "Home Sharing" feature of iTunes makes it really easy within one's "home network." What remains unclear, however, is a "non" third-party solution that will allow me to setup a Mac mini as an iTunes media server, and then use my iPhone or iPad to access the content on the Mac mini from "anywhere" over Wi-Fi or cellular network (cellular access functionality not required, but would be nice).
You can use Airvideo to stream video from your home media server to your iPhone or ipad while you are away. Remember, video quality will depend on your connection speed though. But it works. Just verified it on my iPhone on LTE and my media server Mac mini upstairs on wifi.
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Old Jan 12, 2013, 08:16 PM   #13
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I have a Mid 2010 Mini for this. i just use it as an iTunes server (easy for the wife and kid to use) and 2 Apple TV 3's. I just got a base model, and just upgraded the RAM a few days ago (8GB) and put a fresh install of Mountain Lion. I had a 2TB external hard drive for my iTunes, a magic track pad, and bluetooth keyboard. The set up works great.
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Old Jan 12, 2013, 08:28 PM   #14
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Doesn't the OS X Server software provide the functionality I need?
No. Absolutely not. Apple wants you to use the iTunes store to purchase and watch your movies, obviously. That is the part of their business dedicated to consumer media. OS X Server doesn't come into play at all.

If you own your own media (DVD/BD/CD rips, whatever) you have to find a third party solution (with the exception of music and the iTunes Match service).

Plex is indisputably one the best options, in my eyes it is head and shoulders above the rest. Nothing is as seamless and complete.
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 09:12 AM   #15
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Originally Posted by jmine83 View Post
The "Home Sharing" feature of iTunes makes it really easy within one's "home network." What remains unclear, however, is a "non" third-party solution that will allow me to setup a Mac mini as an iTunes media server, and then use my iPhone or iPad to access the content on the Mac mini from "anywhere" over Wi-Fi or cellular network (cellular access functionality not required, but would be nice).
The Apple solution (without third party software) will do what you want on your local network. I have all my music & video content in iTunes on my Mac Mini, and can access it from my iPhone, iPad, and Apple TVs in the house (I've already converted my DVD library to .M4V files and imported them into iTunes). Using iTunes Match, I also have access to my entire music library from anywhere; but not my video library. That's satisfactory for me, but if you want video access outside your home network it can be done with 3rd party server software as mentioned in this thread.
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 01:16 PM   #16
tomjleeds
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You could use OS X Server to set up a VPN, then VPN into your home network, then access your content.

Added bonus that you can poke around in your network from anywhere
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 02:02 PM   #17
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My household has 7 Mac computers (desktop and laptop) which is more than the iTunes limits of 5 computer devices. Can either "home sharing" or setting up a server or Plex with the master iTunes Library be used to just listen to the music from any of the 7 computers? I don't need to copy them be local on the remote computers, just to be able to listen to any selection.

Apple doesn't seem to have a way to increase the 5 computer limit, even by paying more (short of setting up 2 IDs and purchasing the content twice).

Thanks...
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 07:57 PM   #18
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My household has 7 Mac computers (desktop and laptop) which is more than the iTunes limits of 5 computer devices. Can either "home sharing" or setting up a server or Plex with the master iTunes Library be used to just listen to the music from any of the 7 computers? I don't need to copy them be local on the remote computers, just to be able to listen to any selection.

Apple doesn't seem to have a way to increase the 5 computer limit, even by paying more (short of setting up 2 IDs and purchasing the content twice).

Thanks...
That 5 limit was probably ok years ago but now it's not. I know a few people in your shoes. They should at least make it as long the computers are on the same network, it's unlimited. It shouldn't be that hard for Apple to do.
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 08:44 PM   #19
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... Can either "home sharing" or setting up a server or Plex with the master iTunes Library be used to just listen to the music from any of the 7 computers?
iTunes Clients that listen to your shared library that has been shared with "Home Sharing" do not increase the number of devices. You should be fine.

I've got mine setup with Home Sharing right now. Been that way for about 2 years now, with no addition to the number of devices "authorized" to listen to content purchased with my Apple ID.

Also, I've tried Plex on my Synology NAS, and it works great as well for listening to music.

In the end, I've settled on using the Mac mini and iTunes Home Sharing, because I've found that it gives me the most seamless experience with my Apple TV and other devices in my home.
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Old Jan 13, 2013, 08:56 PM   #20
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iTunes Clients that listen to your shared library that has been shared with "Home Sharing" do not increase the number of devices. You should be fine.

I've got mine setup with Home Sharing right now. Been that way for about 2 years now, with no addition to the number of devices "authorized" to listen to content purchased with my Apple ID.

Also, I've tried Plex on my Synology NAS, and it works great as well for listening to music.

In the end, I've settled on using the Mac mini and iTunes Home Sharing, because I've found that it gives me the most seamless experience with my Apple TV and other devices in my home.
Thanks for the information.

That was my plan ... to put the master iTunes library on my Mac Mini Server and share it. I will follow through trying it out...

Could you tell me more about using Plex on a Synology NAS? I hadn't thought of that, and I have a Synology DS1512+ that I use for backup on all of the computers.


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Old Jan 14, 2013, 04:54 AM   #21
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My household has 7 Mac computers (desktop and laptop) which is more than the iTunes limits of 5 computer devices. Can either "home sharing" or setting up a server or Plex with the master iTunes Library be used to just listen to the music from any of the 7 computers? I don't need to copy them be local on the remote computers, just to be able to listen to any selection.

Apple doesn't seem to have a way to increase the 5 computer limit, even by paying more (short of setting up 2 IDs and purchasing the content twice).

Thanks...
The 5 computer rule only applies to actual computers, not iphones, ipads, etc.... to my knowledge. So if you have 7 actual computers (desktops, notebooks) in your house and you want them all to use the homesharing option I would say to just have one computer setup as the main media server and have homesharing enabled on it. Then access that computers content from the other computers. Worsecase you setup a new apple id for the 2 extra computers you have and still access everything via homesharing from the media server computer. Nothing says you have to buy anything with the 2nd apple id. Put a debit card information in the account section with a zero balance so purchases can't be made on them. I don't have 7 computers but I have 1 Win7 netbook, 2 Win7 laptops, 2 ipads, 1 Mac mini, 2 iphones, and three ATV3s in the house all using the same account.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 10:40 AM   #22
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The 5 computer rule only applies to actual computers, not iphones, ipads, etc.... to my knowledge. So if you have 7 actual computers (desktops, notebooks) in your house and you want them all to use the homesharing option I would say to just have one computer setup as the main media server and have homesharing enabled on it. Then access that computers content from the other computers. Worsecase you setup a new apple id for the 2 extra computers you have and still access everything via homesharing from the media server computer. Nothing says you have to buy anything with the 2nd apple id. Put a debit card information in the account section with a zero balance so purchases can't be made on them. I don't have 7 computers but I have 1 Win7 netbook, 2 Win7 laptops, 2 ipads, 1 Mac mini, 2 iphones, and three ATV3s in the house all using the same account.
Yeah ... it is 7 actual computers (laptops and desktops) used by myself, wife, and kids. There are also IOS devices, which shouldn't be a problem.

If you use "Homesharing" from the master library, do you have to keep iTunes running on that computer (like previously when you shared your content)?
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 12:10 PM   #23
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Yeah ... it is 7 actual computers (laptops and desktops) used by myself, wife, and kids. There are also IOS devices, which shouldn't be a problem.

If you use "Homesharing" from the master library, do you have to keep iTunes running on that computer (like previously when you shared your content)?
Yes
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 12:20 PM   #24
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Unfortunately yes. I had to do this on my Win7 laptop and now my Mac Mini. I just leave it running with the monitor off. It sits on the desk and is super quiet. My laptop ran for 2 years like this with zero problems. It just didn't have the processing power to handle streaming HD content to three devices (one ATV3 and two iPads) at the same time. I really wanted a more seamless system between my idevices, ATVs and computer.

I would just run the computer with the master iTunes library as a server and run it with the least amount of stuff running in the background to reduce power draw and processor and memory usage.
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Old Jan 14, 2013, 12:26 PM   #25
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Post Mac mini as Server

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Originally Posted by tmanto02 View Post
Mac Mini + Plex = A match made in heaven. Plex server just works and its clients for both mac and iPad/iphone are stunning. You can even install it on an apple tv! (jailbreak)
Pretty sound advice here. I've got a Mac mini and I'll be trying out your suggestion this week.
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