Mac Mini as NAS

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by sampdoria, Oct 21, 2012.

  1. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2010
    #1
    I currently have a 1 TB Time Capsule (2nd Gen) running as a NAS in my home network. We keep all of our documents, photos, movies, music, etc. on it. Each home computer has their iTunes library linked to it. I back up the TC manually, about once a month, to an external USB MyBook and store it off-site. The TC is also a wifi access point connected to a Verizon FIOS router, from which I can remote access the TC via AFP, but that's a whole other story. Very happy with this setup but starting to run out of disk space.

    I am thinking of getting a headless Mac Mini with an external 2TB HDD to replace my TC and run that as a NAS. I'd still keep my TC for wifi access point but not use its internal disk anymore, essentially turn it into an AEBS.

    The benefits I see from switching to a Mac Mini with an external HDD as a NAS are:

    1. Dedicated iTunes media server. We don't have to turn any of our computers on to run iTunes in order to stream to Apple TV 2, since the Mac Mini would be always on.

    2. Faster back-ups with DAS to DAS (with Thunderbolt or USB3 on the 2012 Mac Mini hopefully).

    3. External HDD allows me to increase capacity in the future.

    3. Remote access via FTP along with AFP.

    Possibly others...

    Your thoughts and suggestions are appreciated.
     
  2. macrumors 6502a

    northernbaldy

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2010
    Location:
    the north, UK
    #2
    That's what I do with my mac mini server
    It works well for me. It's not the cheapest way to do it, but I don't have any issues with incompatibility

    Remote access using Remoter VNC on the iPad is good too
     
  3. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2010
    #3
    Yes not cheap for sure. But this seems like a good long term investment.

    Doesn't have to be the mini server right? I was thinking the low end mini would suffice as a NAS.
     
  4. macrumors 6502

    OmegaRed1723

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Location:
    The Waste
    #4
    I use a base spec 2010 mini (2.4GHz C2D) as a home server. It's been on 24/7 for over two years and I've had zero issues. I serve up media from two Drobos connected via FW800 to multiple devices around the house, and have another 2TB external HDD connected for Time Machine backups of all the computers in the house.

    Even with the modest processing power I can simultaneously serve up music over Airplay, serve up 1080p video from the Drobo to an XBMC client in the media room, and serve up HD video to an iPad using Plex. I highly recommend using a full-fledged computer as a NAS device -- simply no compromises.
     
  5. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2012
    Location:
    London
    #5
    I'm interested in a setup like yours, can you please explain how you manually backup your TC?
     
  6. hfg
    macrumors 68030

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #6
    If you want the Server software functionality that comes standard with the top-end Mini, you can purchase OS X Server for Mountain Lion from the App store for $20 and it will run on any ML Mac, including the low end Mini.
     
  7. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2010
    #7
    Very low-tech, just plug in the MyBook to the TC, and from my desktop, just drag folders from the TC disk to the MyBook and then unplug it when its done and store it off site. I'm not concerned with backing-up the OS, just my data.

    I originally thought this process might not take so long - just copy from TC to MyBook, but it is pretty slow. Probably because it has to go through the network (router) and desktop, which is connected via wifi.

    Anyhow, if I go with the Mini, then the back-up process becomes DAS to DAS, which should speed things up, especially if it were through Thunderbolt or USB3, and no need to go through the network or wifi.

    ----------

    What would I gain from running the Server version for my home network? I am a bit intimidated by IT stuff.

    ----------

    Awesome. Sounds encouraging.
     
  8. hfg
    macrumors 68030

    hfg

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2006
    Location:
    Cedar Rapids, IA. USA
    #8
    Many of the functions you mentioned above: file sharing, iTunes server, Time Machine server, remote access, etc.

    Possibly a overkill for your needs, but it is so cheap at $20 that even if you use 1 or 2 functions it may be worthwhile (i.e. providing Time Machine backup to all clients similar to what you are doing on your Time Capsule ... and you can automate backup of that data). It only has pretty simple and basic server functions, but that makes it ideal for non-IT type home users who don't need complexity and extreme functionality. Take a look at what it does ... it might make some of your desired tasks a bit easier and more robust.

    Here is some information on OS X Server:

    http://www.apple.com/osx/server/features/
     
  9. thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2010
    #9
    Many thanks hfg. I will look into it!
     
  10. macrumors 6502

    OmegaRed1723

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2009
    Location:
    The Waste
    #10
    If you're planning on running a true headless setup (i.e., no display at all) you may experience some issues with QuartzExtreme graphics acceleration. If there is no display connected QE will be disabled, which may affect your screen sharing performance. When I would screen share my headless mini (using Apple's Screen Sharing or VNC), I experienced lots of lag, artifacts, and just overall sluggish performance. I ended up getting an EDID emulator to trick the mini into thinking a 1080p display was connected, and, voila, QE was enabled and my lag issues were solved.
     
  11. macrumors 65816

    marzer

    Joined:
    Nov 14, 2009
    Location:
    Colorado
    #11
    I run a 2009 mini as a headless server. It provides iTunes, file sharing and iPhoto services to 3 computers, an iPad and 5 Apple TV's throughout the house. As well as some network utilities like Airprint activator and Remote HD. I use 2 x 2TB disks for primary and backup storage.

    I have no trouble accessing the mini via Screen Sharing. I keep the resolution low so its easy to pipe over the network. The low res also makes it easy to read on the iPad, which is my primary means of accessing the machine.

    Since you already have a Time Capsule, i'd suggest you continue to use it as a dedicated backup location for your coputers. That's what I do, makes good use of the TC and frees my network storage from the ever expanding Time machine sparsebundles. Besides, Time Machine prefers a dedicated drive when possible.
     
  12. macrumors member

    Joined:
    Nov 2, 2011
    #12

    With OSX server can you mirror folders? without doing a full backup?
     
  13. macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2008
    #13
    You should look into small, dedicated NAS boxes. You actually get a lot for your money.

    I have a QNAP 210. It has space for two hard drives, which I've set up in a mirrored RAID in case my hard drive dies. It's essentially a small, low-power ARM-powered Linux box with a web-based front-end. It's got a ridiculous number of features, like:

    * Sharing folders as SMB (Windows), AFP (Mac) and NFS (Linux)
    * Creating a dedicated Time Machine partition with a certain size limit
    * Old-style iTunes share, before they brought out Home Sharing (DAAP)
    * BitTorrent client
    * uPNP server, for sharing videos across the network that the XBox, VLC (on the Mac), XBMC on the Apple TV if you've jailbroken it, and 8Player on the iPad.

    I leave mine in a cupboard and forget about it. I'm honestly quite impressed by how much it offers.
     
  14. tokyojerry, Jan 14, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2013

    macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2007
    #14
    MacMini or NAS? Reasons...

    I have to agree with you. I just bought my first ever NAS box, Synology DS213 in my case, and so far I am loving it. Being able to not only access data from it across my home network, but also the mobile access, whether I am on a train, or in another country. Personally, I don't do RAID1 (mirroring). I just don't like the waste of space for one. Another reason, if you have a problem with a corrupt file, or whatever, you 'mirror' the problem as well. I prefer to just stripe the drives (RAID0) and max the storage space. Many other ways to do backup protection. My Synology has two USB3 ports to which I have external drives connected. Also, because the backup is not done simultaneously is in mirroring, should I have a problem, I can always revert back to a previous day's back before I had a problem. Besides, mirroring will only protect you in the event of a hard drive failure. What if your fan fails and overheating occurs? Or, the power supply, or the NAS device itself fails? Best thing is, if you have the budget, is to get a double NAS box and back up one NAS to the other. You not only have two sources to stream from, if one NAS fails for whatever reason.... hard disk, power supply, CPU, any thing.... you've got the 2nd NAS with a 2nd set of hard drives to fall back upon.

    I am thinking to get a 2nd NAS to complement my Synology 1st NAS. I am thinking about making the 2nd NAS a QNAP product. Their firmware seems to be very Mac-user-friendly. And I agree about various features a NAS has to offer. Not only streaming at home on the LAN, but mobile while out and about... the ability to be able to access my media and data from any where, any time. Being able to execute a torrent download also on the run. The list goes on and on.

    Are you happy with QNAP? I am debating whether to go with a simpler 2-bay NAS (QNAP or 2nd from Synology) or consider a 4-bay NAS.

    In lieu of a 2nd NAS, one other option is to obtain a 2nd macmini, place it in the living room as a media server connected to the TV and then run external DAS on that. It could then become the backup of the NAS unit I already have. Except though, the backup would have to all happen over ethernet and ethernet performance between the NAS and the macmini acting as a 2nd NAS. The other issue is, would I be able to access that 2nd macmini from outside.... mobile as if it were a NAS? Probably not as the firmware is not there like it is for QNAP and Synology. Both NAS manufacturers have a number of applications available for access from iOS and Android devices as well.

    BTW, interesting login name... YanniDepp.... Yanni is a favorite performer of mine and I like Johnny Depp as an actor. Any relationship to either?? :)
     
  15. macrumors 603

    blueroom

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #15
    I'd get a second Synology.
     
  16. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2009
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #16
    One word - Synology.

    No reason to look anywhere else. Does just about everything you could ask for in a NAS. Pricing starts at about $150.

    www.synology.com
     
  17. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2007
    #17
    So does the QNAP lineup as well, which seems to have a more mac-user-friendly-oriented type of firmware, interface. I have the Synology DS213. Why would you recommend a Synology over the QNAP? Just curious...
     
  18. macrumors 603

    blueroom

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #18
    I've used both and stuck with Synology and they are very Mac friendly. Nothing wrong with QNAP but I prefer the Synology front end.

    Why would you want to have two different interfaces?
     
  19. macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2009
    Location:
    Orlando, FL
    #19
    The Synology stuff is very Mac Friendly - You can update firmware easily through your Mac browser or with the Disk Station itself. They just released Disk Station 4.2 beta that you can use to compare features. Been using them for years and they seem to be very proactive on updating and introducing new features. I'm sure the QNAP stuff is great as well - but I have more experience with Synology.

    I can very much give Synology the thumbs up. Great stuff.
     
  20. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2007
    #20
    It's part of the thought process I am going through right now. Having two different interfaces would increase time, effort and work load.

    Why the QNAP consideration versus Synology, well, having watched a couple of QNAP's promotional videos at their live demo site......

    http://www.qnap.com/en/index.php?lang=en&sn=3541

    it seems their firmware interface is a bit more user-friendly and mac-like whereas the Synology is more of a Windows / Linux type of interactive feeling. Perhaps a poor excuse but I can understand the logic in doing every thing under one interface. And, I presume a NAS to NAS backup would be easier rather then going through rsync? (never used it, yet)
     
  21. macrumors 604

    thejadedmonkey

    Joined:
    May 28, 2005
    Location:
    Pa
    #21
    I think a Synology NAS is a better choice.
     
  22. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Nov 22, 2007
    #22
  23. macrumors 603

    blueroom

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Toronto, Canada
    #23
    The DS413+

    Thoughts, I had a DS412+ and sold it (had 4 2TB Seagates in RAID)
    1. It's very slow to startup from sleep, seems staggered HDD power up was the reason.
    2. The Link Aggregation mode for very fast transfer rates isn't going to work on anything without dual GigE (iMacs or MacBooks). So your transfer speed is limited to 75mbps (the limit of a single GigE port)
     
  24. macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2011
    Location:
    Charlotte NC
    #24
    I would stick with a Synology.
    I have a ds2411+ with a mixture of WD 1tb & 2tb drives and seagate 3tb drives under a SRH raid and have only had a few problems. One was during an expansion and the other was when the ups did not signal a power outage. All of which synology was quick to respond and take care of within one business day.

    As for speeds transferring large files I average 85 to 105 MB/s read and write with the nas using link aggregation MTU 1500 connected to a HP1810-24 using a single gigabit port on a 2011 MBP and late 2009 mini. I did not notice a speed difference with dual ethernet ports using a thunderbolt adapter on my MBP.

    However when I enabled jumbo frames speed boosted to 107MB/s constant read/write under single gigabit and or a bonded ethernet connection, no difference. I run a wd tv live in my network, which can not handle jumbo frames so the increase in speed is not worth the hassle having to switch each time i want to watch a video off the synology.

    The only down fall is transfers of a complete itunes library and iphoto library or equivalent it falls on its face under 5-10MB/s for over half of the transfer and then picks back up. Those same folders moved onto a gofelx desktop thunderbolt drive is blazing fast.

    The mac mini is great as a nas, it is what i used before I got a synology, but wanting to have an auto sync of all documents/pictures/work between my laptop and mac mini via synology cloud station, synology was a no brainier for me. I could not find a ron popeil "set it and forget" package that worked inside and outside of my home or i might have not got a synology in the first place but I am glad I did now, no regrets.
     
  25. macrumors 601

    ActionableMango

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2010
    #25
    Can you recommend one?
     

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