MacMini + Synology DS1512+ = Mac Home Server?

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by barnsey00, Apr 27, 2012.

  1. macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2009
    Hi All,

    I’m trying setup “mac home server” so that my iMac, MacBook Pro, ATV2, iPads and iPhones can access a central repository of Photos, Music, Movies etc the usual story.

    Currently I have a iPhoto & iTunes library on the iMac, a iPhoto library on the MBP, and a Windows Home Server v1 with more photos, music and films. As you can see it is spread out and there is guaranteed to be double ups.

    I’ve bought a Mid 2010 MacMini as my server (it currently has Lion Server installed), and plan to purchase a Synology DS1512+ NAS, drop in 3x WD 3TB WD30EZRX for now and add more as needed.

    I’m very new to the “mac home Server” concept but this is how I see it working and stop me if I’m wrong. On the MacMini I’ll move the iPhoto Library to a NAS share and similarly for iTunes, this way they’re always on and always accessible via any device. I also plan to point the TimeMachine on each Mac to a NAS share.

    So far so good I hope.

    Your thoughts?
  2. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2006
    Washington State
    What do you plan to use the Mini for that the Synology NAS won't do?
  3. thread starter macrumors newbie

    Jun 28, 2009
    A couple of things. It's my understanding that ATV needs an iTunes account to authenticate against not just an "iTunes Server" enabled NAS. Music is stream ok but not video. Secondly i read that iPhoto has a database that manages the library, so that means I would have multiple libraries on the NAS. Plus I want to be able to take advantage of a family calander feature the lion server and a couple of other features.
  4. macrumors regular

    Jan 5, 2012
    Nice choice on the Synology mate. Epic amounts of storage too.

    Been looking at running the iPhoto and iTunes libraries from the NAS instead of a Mac but currently just use my iMac as like a hub and the other Macs will just dump stuff to it to be added to said hub.

    I do tend to use Home Sharing for iTunes to grab stuff on my MacBook Pro from the iMac, but not looked into sharing options with iPhoto, or if there are any along those lines.
  5. macrumors 6502a

    Mar 20, 2006
    Washington State
    You don't necessarily need a Mac server for those things. Any computer on your network that is logged into Home Sharing can share to your Apple TV for Movies/Videos/Photos/etc.

    The Synology supports CalDav, keep that in mind.

    I'm not saying there is anything wrong with having a server, but all those things could be accomplished Synology + Mac client.
  6. macrumors newbie

    Jan 9, 2008
    Antwerp, Belgium
    Mac mini & Synology


    I've both a Diskstation 410 and a Mini Lion Server. The Synology runs our iTunes and iPhoto flawlessly.
    We're also able to access the Synology externally via webdav whereas I've not been able to make that work with the Mini. We do that via LogMeIn. I still love the Mini though more as a client machine.
    Anyone care to explain how we set up the Syn. as a Calendar server?

    Thanks and regards

  7. macrumors 6502

    Jun 11, 2012
    Hi just a quick question.

    Why would you want to combine mac mini + NAS?

    Why don't just buy a multi-disk enclosure? As a server, the mac mini can do all things a NAS do, right?
  8. macrumors newbie

    Mar 21, 2012
    The problem of multi-disk enclosures is the price. How much is a FW800 enclosure? at least 60 Euro for a single one here in Europe, more than 100 Euro for a two-disks model. Ok, still cheaper than a NAS, but still... with a NAS you know it will work also alone, in case of need.
    Thunderbolt is too expensive of course.

    Another point: a modern NAS (Synology for example) has a lot of features, it would take a lot of experience and time to set up some of them in the Mini. For example, the surveillance functions! or SHR raid, something the Mini with Lion cannot do at all. Not to mention, Synology and others (FreeNAS) use sometimes ZFS, the mini? HFS+! XP

    However... the Mini has a GREAT advantage few people take into account: with Lion server you get Spotlight server too! You can search by content! on a NAS no way to get decent and fast results.

    The question is... gigabit ethernet can really transfer 100+ MB/s, but FW800 is limited to 100 MB/s theoretical. That would be ok anyway (the gigabit would limit it anyway). However, take data from FW800 and pipe it to the gigabit through the mini... how much can you get per second? :(
  9. macrumors 6502

    Oct 24, 2009
    Belfast, UK
    Why not just buy something like a mutli-drive external box, like this:

    I've got one with a pair of 2TB drives in it, in RAID1. As far as the computer is concerned, it's just an external USB drive. Plug that in to your Mac Mini, job done.

    WAY cheaper than a Synology.
  10. macrumors G3


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    The big disadvantage is you need your computer running in order to access the files. With a NAS it is connected to the network and you don't need another computer running in order to access the files on it.
  11. macrumors newbie

    Mar 21, 2012
    The problem of the Icy box is the interface: USB2!!! 40 MB/s if you are lucky, one third of what the gigabit ethernet could achieve. At least I have two USB2 controllers in my iMac mid 2007, if I put two USB2 disks in the correct ports I can get 80 MB/s total (I tried). I haven't tried building a RAID.
    That is why I considered only FW800 solutions: they saturate gigabit (almost).

    Concerning power consumption: I measured 65 W idle on my iMac 2.4 GHz mid 2007, LCD 1/3 brightness. I can estimate 25W for the LCD panel, that means 40 W idle with LCD off. Not so bad, after all: a NAS able to perform similar duties (not the basic models without floating point) would use 20W (plus HDD) when idle, that means only 20 W difference -> many years before I get on par with the price of a Synology. And the CPU power would be enough to do video transcoding with Plex, something a basic NAS (DS 212j, DS 212, DS 212+) cannot do.
    The real issue is configuring the services I would use: with Synology it takes minutes, with Lion... who knows.
  12. macrumors newbie

    Aug 6, 2012
    I have just done the same route with a Synology DS412+ and Mac Mini OS Server upgraded to 10.8.

    The reason for going for the two pieces setup is that I see them doing two different things. The Synology is my central storage pool serving storage needs to all the clients on my network.
    The Mac Mini Server is a server which is more managing the clients and serving various data and applications to the clients.

    It's true that either system could probably do both but IMO they would not be as good in the other area, i.e. the DS is a storage server, the mac mini is a configuration, data and application server.

    People have said you could just buy a RAID array and connect it to the mac mini which is true but the cost of the RAID array is very close to the cost of the NAS enclosure (disks you have to buy anyway). Once you do that you are limited to FW800 (Thunderbolt is not viable yet) pumping data through your Mac Mini doing "other stuff" as well as serving storage.

    The only draw back i have seen so far is the Synology does not have native HFS+ support. The data is stored internal in a Linux file system format and access to it is only possible through the NAS not direct anymore. Also the AFP implementation via Netatalk on DS is sometimes a bit slow for small files.

    Having said that on the other hand that also gives you platform independence of your data storage if you want/need to access from non-Mac systems.

    Worth considering if you want to throw everything on one box and suffocate it or if you buy dedicated boxes that excel at what they are supposed to do.
  13. macrumors 6502a

    Aug 29, 2006
    I've got a Synology (DS411J) and use it solely as a NAS. I haven't found any real use for the media services on it as none of them play nicely with Apple products. So I've got my iTunes library on it but need my MBP to access it, even from my Apple TV.

    I did use it for Time Machine backups but gave up on it as the backup was continually getting corrupted. There are lots of threads on this on the Synology forums but no real solutions. I use the surveillance service on it which works perfectly.

    Before buying a Synology over additional storage for a Mac, you need to have a good look at the additional services you get on it and whether you will use them. Then decide whether it is worth the extra money.

    One nice new feature they've got is a cloud service - think Dropbox but hosted on your Synology box instead. The OS integration appears to be a straight copy of Dropbox but doesn't quite work as well at present.
  14. macrumors regular

    Apr 13, 2010
    I've had a Synology DS1511 running for a few months now combined with a Mac Mini as a media server. All the files reside on the DS1511 with the Mini running iTunes. Time machine backups are stored on the DS1511 too.
    Couldn't be happier.
  15. bonimac, Jan 6, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2013

    macrumors newbie

    Feb 4, 2010
    thx, i didn't know that! As a home user i've uninstalled the server software on my Mac mini server version (two internal drives) bought in summer 2011.

    Indeed, very irritating.
    I have also a new Synology DS-413. And only recently discovered HFS+ is not supported on external drives while QNAP does...

    If i could start from scratch again, knowing what i know now, i would go for a new Mac mini again;
    If money is no issue: Go for the Server version which contains now 2x 1TB internal drives.
    Cheapest Mac mini model will also do (server software can still be installed). Then buy a new drobo 5D thunderbolt for mass storage.
    Or a lot cheaper complete external mass storage (850$): a western digital My Book thunderbolt Duo. 4TB drives configurable in RAID-1 (mirror) or RAID-0 array which means that you can hold up to 8TB on one logical volume. Some cheap usb3 drives can be used for Backup.

    another option:

    No need for a linux file system formatted NAS anymore. If still buying a NAS again, it would be a QNAP.
  16. Guest

    Aug 19, 2008
    I bought a Synology DS411j because it was supposed to be fast and affordable.
    But if I could restart from scratch, I wouldn't do it AT ALL!

    It's just a waste of time and money and I should have better buy a RAID drive enclosure to connect it directly to a MacMini I could use as a server. Right now, I had a regular USB drive connected to my iMac and shared on the network.

    And it was working fine... except that I needed to keep my iMac turn on all the time and I didn't had RAID 5 (in case of disk failure). It's been over a week now that I'm fighting with the Synology to get it work and it's not working properly.

    I have done all test (SMART test, network test, blah blah blah) I could and read online. I sent mail to tech support, they ask me to update the DSM with a new version that should hopefully fix the SMB for Macs... and result: NOTHING GOOD.

    Very BAD performance... I can do faster backup with Dropbox over the Internet than on the NAS over a Gigabit connection. I tried to backup my Aperture files (20GB big) and it's running for hours and hours and it's still not even close to be done.... running the backup at few KB/s only.

    I know a lot of people do claim to have great performance with their Synology, but it's definitely not in my case. And worth part, now I have some of my file on the NAS, I can't go back to what I was doing before to start the transfer (and I'm stuck in the middle). And I also discover I can't connect an HFS+ drive on the USB port to be able to copy the files from or to the NAS.

    I'm stuck to wait the end of this stupid freak show:


    From my bad experience: Stay away from Synology...

  17. macrumors newbie

    Oct 16, 2008
    DS 1812+ and iPhoto Question

    I have a Synology DS 1812+ and wanted to off-load the iPhoto Library and iTunes Library from my Mac Pro and get ready for the new Mac Pros with NO user installable internal hard drive capacity.

    I moved my iPhoto and iTunes Libraries to the DS 1812+ and have not suffered any problems, yet... except I can't access my "photos" (stored in my iPhoto Library on the Synology 1812+) when I use iTunes to try and sync my iPhone and add new pictures - I just watch it swirl and try and find the iPhoto library when in iTunes, under the "Photos" tab of iTune for my iPhone.

    So I started looking.... I found this:

    Which basically states that iPhoto is designed to only work on hard drives formatted as Mac OS extended (journaled). The Synology has a Linix file system.

    Basically, the tread states that I'm playing with a time bomb and that the iPhoto Library could crash on me at any time and I'd lose my photos...

    Anyone know if this still holds true (that tread was from 2010ish).

    Basically, I want to keep my iPhoto Library in my "home" directory on the Synology NAS (so I have restricted use of my photos) and my iTunes Library in the commonly accessible "music" directory on the Synology 1812+.

    Anyone able to shed light?

    Thanks in advance...

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