NAS for iTunes, iPhoto and - most important - Time Machine?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Mitthrawnuruodo, Jan 2, 2007.

  1. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
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    Bergen, Norway
    #1
    --- Long explanation, (potentially) short question at the bottom ---

    I have a MacBook (coming from an iBook and befare that a Pismo), love the portability and don't know if I've ever going to get another desktop (my last one was a PowerMac 7500!). I'm not doing anything extremely resource demanding, so my only issue (which I share with a lot of laptop owners, I guess) is: I need more storage space.

    My iTunes library are steadily growing (even if I just use aac@128 for CD-rips and re-encoded aac@96vbr for files I get elsewhere (e.g. friend ripping in higher encoding). Also my iPhoto library has out-grown the magical "1 DVD" size, and when I get my new DSLR I guess the need for space will just increase. I've also started ripping DVDs, and even though I'm quite happy with relatively moderate bitrates, the GBs just fly away, etc, etc...

    I have a couple of external HDs, but they are filled and I'm getting tired of the wires, and have started looking for other options, and it probably boils down to either setting up an old Mac as a file server or get a NAS. Having one solution for both my girlfriend's any my own machines would also be great. I don't have a Mac to use as a server (the above mentioned 7500 is just too old, IMO) but could probably get an old B&W or something, but I don't have an obvious place to have it and would have to invest a bit in wiring (or another wireless base), so I'm leaning on the NAS as my best option.

    But, and there's always a but, isn't there, even though the NAS I've got my eye on, the Synology Disk Station DS-101j, which has room for one internal disk and a couple of external USB2 drives (right?), is said to fully support Mac OS X, I suspect this means for setup and as a file server, and that the Photo and Backup solutions are based on some proprietary systems and not what I want.

    Now, I can probably live with my iTunes and iPhoto libraries on my internal disk, especially if I get some easy way to store other stuff™, but thinking ahead I would love whatever solution I end up with to support Time Machine. Having a laptop, which is restricted to one internal disk, I'm looking for an (easy and practical) solution for accessing an(y) external disk(s) from my MacBook. So, does anybody know if Time Machine (and possibly also iPhoto and even iTunes) works on volumes mounted from a NAS? Possibly even the above mentioned NAS?

    ...or would I be better of with another solution, like one monster 4 bay firewire DAS, and just learn to live with the wiring (;))?
     
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Location:
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    #2
    From what's been said so far, there isn't anything *proprietary* per se about Time Machine... but there are two caveats that are important in relation to NASes:

    1) It needs the entire partition to itself. Not an entire drive, but it does need an entire *partition.*

    2) The partition must be a MacOS Extended / Journaled partition (e.g. HFS+).

    Number 2 is where NASes tend to have the big issue... HFS+ is only really supported on OS X, and the server in most NASes is clearly not a Mac. :( So the problem is unless Time Machine ultimately gets support for other POSIX journaled file-systems (i.e. EXT2FS and EXT3FS, the latter of which is supported on the NAS you linked), it won't work. :(
     
  3. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    New England
    #3
    I'm in the same boat, but I'm hoping an iServe will be a companion product to iTV. So I'll wait until iTV sees the light of day before examining my options.

    B
     
  4. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #4
    I don't see any obvious reason why EXT2 / 3 are not powerful enough for Time Machine, although I don't really understand filesystems that well... The major barriers seem to be that Apple would have to implement the EXT2/3 drivers itself (whereas right now, they're extensions provided by the OSS community). But Apple seems to be charging towards ZFS, which is open, unlike HFS+, but which is not supported by any NASes, much like HFS+.

    Erm... cheap mini-ATX Windows box, 3.5" hard drive, and hacked OS X x86? :eek: Or perhaps a used older PMG5 and that G5 Drive Bracket, set up a multi-terabyte RAID? :D
     
  5. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    Location:
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    #5
    My opinion? Buy the cheapest Mac you can find with gigabit ethernet (used, refurb, whatever) and hook external drives to it (preferably FW800 or eSATA, but, if you're going cheap, probably FW400 will have to do). I'd avoid USB 2 drives if possible, based on experience, but I suppose they aren't horrible.

    It's scalable, it's price-competive with all but the lowest-end NAS solutions, and it runs OS X and so can provide the safeguards you'd like. Plus, of course, being a Mac, it's scriptable, Xgrid enabled, etc.

    Edit: for example, without even looking to eBay or other sites, a refurb Core Solo min is US$479 at the Apple Store now, meaning you could add a fair amount of external FW400 capacity for ~US$600 or so... not too bad, and of course things like RAM and integrated graphics don't much matter at all for your purposes.
     
  6. islandman macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Sep 13, 2006
    #6
    I recently bought an Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ with 1.5TB of space and I LOVE it. The form factor alone is really awesome (it's small and the finish/style even looks kind of like a Mac Pro). It holds 4 Seagate SATA drives (500GB each), has a great control panel, has streaming support (for iTunes and other media) and a whole list of other features. I highly recommend it. It even works with a wireless bridge, which I use sometimes to connect it to my network. Otherwise, it's plugged in via Gigabit Ethernet.

    I can't directly answer your question about Time Machine, but I would imagine that Time Machine would be just fine with a NAS. iPhoto (and Aperture, for what it's worth) works just fine on my NAS! And same goes for iTunes. It's really awesome having a NAS because I can access it from any of my computers at home, and I have peace of mind with it (thanks to RAID). The only thing I haven't quite figured out yet is that I want to create a subset of my iTunes library to keep on my laptop (for travel). It's not the point of this thread, but I am just mentioning it because it's the ONLY drawback I can come up with with a NAS.
     
  7. httpd macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2005
    #7
    any NAS

    You can also use any NAS with ChronoSync (or any "mountable" network device for that matter). It just makes a copy of the files so therefore it should be no problem to switch to TimeMachine. I use it on a Lacie NAS that has a Microsoft OS (so I use Samba to connect).
     
  8. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #8
    FWIW, if you hold down the 'option' key while starting iTunes, you can create or select a new library, after which you could use that new library to point to local music when you're on the road. When your return home, point back to the network drive.

    This brings up another plus to the Mac-based NAS: it can be an iTunes server so you can avoid having to mount an external drive to use remotely-stored songs - just browse for shared tunes. :)
     
  9. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #9
    Yeah, but you can do that with mt-daapd and Linux too. Even on a cheap NAS like the NSLU2 with unslung.

    EDIT: And you won't have the 5 machine/day limitation from iTunes.

    B
     
  10. Mitthrawnuruodo thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

    Joined:
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    #10
    Which could be good. Just one issue: Most of my "listening flow" are based on live updating smart playlists which picks songs based on a combination of play count, last played, my rating and/or a couple of other playlists (which in turn can be smart playlists depending on the same criteria, or jut regular ones). So, if - especially - play count and last played aren't updated the whole system collapses.

    So, if you play "shared tunes" will those be updated (and can I update my rating on those)?
     
  11. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #11
    Yes, play count and last played are updated when playing shared tunes remotely. At least on my Dell server. You can't however modify tags or create remotely within iTunes.

    Don't know if this works on FireFly/mt-daapd.

    EDIT: I'm wrong. Though I could swear it worked before, it doesn't seem to work with iTunes 7.

    B
     
  12. jsw Moderator emeritus

    jsw

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    #12
    You people and your smart playlists. :rolleyes:

    ;)

    I'm not sure, but I suspect that's all stored in your local library (not the music library, the "iTunes Library" files in you Music folder), unfortunately, although there might be a way around that....

    Edit: I guess it does work - thanks balamw! I'm at work and couldn't verify.
     
  13. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    #13
    The trick is that the smart playlists that get updated are on the server not on the client. Plus you can't mix and match local and remote items in a playlist smart or not.

    My main library lives on the Dell and I access it from both the iBook and iMac.

    B
     
  14. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    Jun 3, 2006
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    One Nation Under Gordon
    #14
    If the Synology allows for Twonky Media Server to be loaded it could work as a 'proper' iTunes server. I also have other media clients which can work with Twonky so I'm kind of keen to get it up and running.

    Currently I am very occasionally wrestling with the Twonky implementation on a QNAP TS-101. So far not much progress, probably due to lack of twonky geeking inclination on my part :eek:

    But looking at how Twonky (and other middleware) works, if it does indeed work with iTunes it'll be the ideal solution for those with multiple Macs. But generally speaking, as all-purpose network storage for Mac users as jsw & others have said I think an obsolete / closeout machine + FW storage if required might be a better bet.
     
  15. aristobrat macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2005
    #15
    Wow, I didn't know it was that easy! :eek: Looks like iPhoto works the same way too. That's awesome! :D
     
  16. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #16
    There's also this which I'm about to try.

    http://supersync.com/index.php

    I've come to the conclusion after reviewing all the documentation I've collected so far but not bothered to read to date that Twonky + iTunes does my head in. The XML sync is the nightmare bit and there's playcounts on top of that. I think I'll give up on that one.


    Just picture me on a rocky clifftop, NAS, DAC, Mac and PC in hand, ready to chuck them over the edge shouting "WHY CANT YOU MAKE IT FREAKIN SIMPLE AND FLEXIBLE!!" :(
     
  17. kalisphoenix macrumors 65816

    kalisphoenix

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2005
    #17
    I'm buying a Mac mini for this purpose (along with being a media center). I was hoping to buy an iTV, but the chance that it will do exactly what I want is pretty small. So I'm just attaching a bunch of 400GB HDs in enclosures to a Mac mini and hooking it up to the router and TV.

    As for iTunes, you can remote-mount the drive that the iTunes library is on, and open the entire library (ie, not just the sound files but also the binary/XML library files). Performance is decent over a LAN. It's fairly lousy over the intertubes, but it works. And you have all of the functionality of iTunes on your own machine. I'm unlikely to be able to afford a laptop HD big enough to accomodate my 120GB music library, so I've been doing this for a while.

    Alternatively, you can use ARD or something for adding music and other intensive iTunes operations (read: things you need local access for). And just listen to it through the shared music interface for most of your listening. There are AppleScripts that will update all of this information based on remote listeners' activities. I don't have any links off the top of my head, but I'm going to use them on my system, I think.

    I have a lot of 5.1 music (upmixes, DVD-A, etc), that it's best to hear in 5.1 (uh, because it's white noise in stereo), so most of what I'll be doing from this point is controlling the Mac mini through Front Row. If I need to listen through headphones, then I'll do the shared music thing. And if I need to add music to the library, I'll just open up VNC or something and do it "locally." Speed matters nothing in that case. If it starts to matter, both my Macs have gigabit ethernet.
     
  18. Diatribe macrumors 601

    Diatribe

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2004
    Location:
    Back in the motherland
    #18
    If you try that, please let me know how it is. That be cool to have all libraries synced.

    The other thing I am thinking will happen is that iTV will be able to receive the stream from any one Mac to the iTV of everything on the Mac, which will basically mean that we'll need one server Mac and only iTVs. With 802.11n this will be more than viable.
    So one Mac mini and 2-3 iTVs for each room. At the price of an iTV this will be nice if it happens as I think.
     
  19. kalisphoenix macrumors 65816

    kalisphoenix

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2005
    #19
    The AppleScript I referred to, for anyone that's interested.
    http://www.dougscripts.com/itunes/scripts/ss.php?sp=sharedmusicmonitor

    Edit: *reads the ReadMe file*

    There are a couple of caveats. Apparently, it's fairly high on processor usage because it needs to scan the library directory fairly often in order to detect a song that's being used. You can increase the time between scans, but that means that shorter songs become increasingly likely to "slip through the cracks."
     
  20. balamw Moderator

    balamw

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    New England
    #20
    I was wrong

    I just double checked, and although I could swear I checked this before, the playcount was not updated after I played a few songs from my iBook. I edited my post above. Maybe they disabled this like the autoupdating of smart playlists on the iPod. :(

    I guess the applescript is the only way to capture this.

    B
     
  21. Mitthrawnuruodo thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

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    #21
    Funny.... I just now tried that myself - from my iBook... :)

    ...but reached the same conclusion... :(

    And speaking of iBooks, I'm considering using that (temporarily) as a file server (hooking up my external USB2 LaCie drive), just to see if something like that could be a viable solution for me... at least until it's time for more space and upgrading to Leopard...
     
  22. Mitthrawnuruodo thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

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    Location:
    Bergen, Norway
    #22
    Well, it seems like this won't be a problem, after all...

    Once again it's Apple to the rescue: The new AirPort Extreme supports several USB2 disks and a printer (with a USB hub) and will probably be ideal for my use, especially since I already have 2 USB2 disks (and one old USB1) that I can use...

    Now, I'll take one of those and Leopard any day now... :)
     
  23. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #23
    I know... I don't really need 802.11n and I already have an AEBS that's excellent, but this sounds super tempting! Who wouldn't want a terabyte or so of wireless disk space? :)
     
  24. joshhannah macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    #24
    readynas with iPhoto

    Does anyone know how to run iPhoto over the NAS? I have the readynas... we have one mac running iPhoto but also a PC accessing the same photos using Adobe PSE2, and getting another mac so another iphoto instance -- OK, the last one can be done by sharing photos. But how do I even point iPhoto to the NAS to look for the photos? And if I do that, and import more photos from another PC, will iPhoto find them? Has anyone done this successfully? thanks!
     
  25. Mitthrawnuruodo thread starter Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

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    #25
    islandman says so just a few posts up... :)

    Yes, iPhoto likes that, so if you set iPhoto to manage the library (which IMO is a good idea™) then this probably won't work too well... you can, however, keep your photos in any kind of hierarchy and tell iPhoto to leave them where they are...
     

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