OK, this could work - Thecus NAS / iTunes.

Discussion in 'Mac Apps and Mac App Store' started by Sesshi, Jan 28, 2007.

  1. Sesshi macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #1
    So, having finally tired of the limitations of the QNAP TS-101 NAS's I consigned them to the junkyard. They're not bad vanilla single-drive NAS's but when you try to take advantage of their other functions they don't fare so well.

    I looked for something more capacious or with RAID1 capability not using USB external storage (i.e. two internal drives), still quiet, and better compatibility with iTunes. The Thecus N2100 came up as a potential buy, so I got one.

    You know what, this ain't bad.

    As I mentioned above, the Thecus N2100 has two SATA drive slots - which can be run in JBOD, RAID0 or RAID1 configurations. JBOD just provides contiguous storage. RAID0 improves performance (in theory) by striping the data but provides no resilience against data loss. RAID1 duplicates your data on two drives of the same capacity (but of course halves your storage capability).

    LAN speeds haven't been a huge upwards jump from the TS-101 which was pretty dire, but there has been a slight jump for the better. It has two LAN sockets so can sit on two networks at once - not so useful for many perhaps, but if your network runs to slightly more sophistication then this is a nice feature. The documentation also makes reference to the fact that it will work with some USB wireless dongles - so it seems that you can fairly simply make this a wireless NAS. Havent tried it. Failing that you can stick this on a low-cost wireless Access Point / Bridge anyway.

    Noisewise, the N2100 has a 'smart fan' which powers on when necessary. I expect it'll be on full-time in summer, but for now since it's in the cold kitchen cabinet (What? You don't have CAT6 structured wiring run throughout the house including your kitchen cabinet? How do you survive?) the fan is off all the time. I won't delve too far into the network features, and while it can be a little hard to get in for NAS beginners on the whole this is a competent NAS.

    So onto the big point - iTunes compatibility.

    The Thecus is one of the first I've seen which doesn't use the (now I realise to be) dire Twonky middleware - it actually appears as a shared iTunes library on any iTunes machine configured to look for shared libraries. You simply drag your music files into the iTunes folder of the NAS, the N2100 parses the files at a predetermined interval and it appears in the shared iTunes library list of any PC with network connectivity and iTunes installed. Library showing-up time is about the same as a shared library on a regular PC. Track selection / library browsing performance hit is zero from what I can see. Search - as fast as searching your own library. And as long as the machine you're looking at the shared library is authorised, you can play back iTunes DRM tracks as well. It doesn't however work with video - not even for video podcasts.

    The things you can't do are in common with other shared libraries. You can't create a playlist, etc. It also doesn't keep a play count because there's no shared library file. If, apart from the usual stuff to do with a NAS - backup or use as main storage - you just want to casually share music throughout your home while keeping one PC for iPod syncing and library management (which will directly address the iTunes folder of the NAS), then this could be quite a good solution.

    http://www.thecus.com/products_over.php?cid=1&pid=1
     
  2. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

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    #2
    When used for iTunes, and disregarding the disadvantage of USB2 disks, wouldn't one of the new AirPort Extremes, with an USB2 hub, and a disk or two, connected either wirelessly or wired through the AE's hub, be better?
     
  3. Sesshi thread starter macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #3
    What iTunes sharing feature does the Airport Express offer?
     
  4. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

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    #4
    None, AFAIK, except of course you can keep the music files on it and share those (either by having one of your computers act as iTunes server or by having different libraries all pointing to the music, or subsets of the music, stored there). :)
     
  5. Sesshi thread starter macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #5
    Yes indeed - so two boxes doing the work of the N2100. (Sharing + regular file storage)
     
  6. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

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    #6
    Yes, you might say that, but I already have the Mac (;)) and managing playlist (many of which are smart lists depending on play count and last played) is a big part of my iTunes experience... and then there's updating the iPod (nano) playlists... :)
     
  7. Sesshi thread starter macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #7
    Multiple libraries held on multiple Macs / PC's - even if they're sharing common storage - don't work well because there is no method to sync them easily so you can't update information on changes to the library easily. Sharing a library is perfectly possible on either Mac or PC of course, but you're tying up a machine which has to be on and not asleep.

    The N2100 allows an iTunes library stored on it to be seen as files by a Mac / PC because it is a NAS after all, and you can of course manage / playlist the library held on the NAS from one (or more, if you don't mind the irritations as listed above) Mac or PC - but it also offers the handy iTunes sharing option so that all computers in the home can access the shared tunes without additional software (apart from iTunes) or configuration, the nightmares of library syncing, etc - and a computer doesn't have to be on sharing music either.

    It may not work for you. And it is not manufactured by Apple so it will undoubtedly strike some on this forum as a load of crap regardless of its merits of course :p - but it is perhaps an option for some based on it's spec-set.
     
  8. Mitthrawnuruodo Moderator emeritus

    Mitthrawnuruodo

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    #8
    Ah, that sounds more like it... excellent... :)

    Edit: If I can administrate the library from my MacBook, play songs from that (over AirTunes) and sync my iPod, and the playcount and last played gets updated along the way, then this migh be just what I'm looking for... :)
     
  9. danielbriggs macrumors 6502

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    Manchester, UK
    #9
    Have you considered the D-Link DNS-323?

    http://www.dlink.com/products/?sec=0&pid=509

    Not USB: Yep
    iTunes Server: Yep
    RAID: Yep
    More than 1 Drive: Yes

    Well, that's satisfyes you criteria.
    Sorry if you've just bought one, but you could take it back and try this one.
    The D-Link site has a demo navigation site, so you can browse around the web gui of one.


    Dan :)
     
  10. Sesshi thread starter macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #10
    How does the iTunes server behave? Is it uPnP middleware of variable implementations like that to be found on Twonky based NASs?

    I ought to clarify - Many NASs advertising "iTunes Server" rely on middleware which may or may not actually work usably with iTunes.
     
  11. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #11
    This looks nice! Even the file system looks very nice. Does the permissions and ownership scheme look like POSIX when it's accessed from OS X? Are you mounting it as an SMB share for files?
     
  12. Aegelward macrumors 6502

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    #12
    i'd be interested if this worked with videos. just think, big fat storage for appletv compatible content
     
  13. Sesshi thread starter macrumors G3

    Sesshi

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    #13
    There's nothing stopping you form using this as your iTunes library for video and audio. It's just that the built-in sharing server only caters for audio.
     

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