Adding a media server to my setup

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by chiefdave, Feb 14, 2015.

  1. chiefdave macrumors newbie

    Sep 12, 2012
    I have an evolving media setup and I’m not sure which way to go on the next step. Current setup is:

    ReadyNAS Duo 1TB of storage - holds video files, time machine backups, torrent client

    Macbook Air - iTunes library - mainly audio, i tend to download iTunes video content in case it gets removed from the store and then move the files to my NAS due to capacity issues on the MBA with lots of HD video

    AppleTV - audio via iTunes Match, steam purchased iTunes video content, video streaming (mainly Netflix, NHL and WWE), Airplay

    iPad / iPhone - iTunes Match enabled. Watch videos either by sync to iTunes (having first moved video file back to MBA iTunes library) or using 8Player to stream from NAS.

    The NAS and AppleTV are connected to a Gigabit switch.

    The biggest drawback I find at the moment is playing back video files. One of two things happens at present. Firstly I have the odd situation where I have the HD iTunes files for a video purchased from the iTunes store sat on my NAS (physically right next to the Apple TV) yet to play that video on AppleTV I have to either stream it from the store, load it back onto my MBA and steam it using AirPlay or load it back on my MBA and play it using library sharing. Secondly, but similarly, any video files I download from non-iTunes sources have to be located on my MBA to play via AppleTV either using Airplay or library sharing.

    I’m thinking of adding in a Mac Mini at some point, am I right in thinking this will resolve my problems? I could then have ITunes running on the Mini and use library sharing to have it all playing through AppleTV (or indeed connect the Mini direct to the TV). There are some areas of this setup I’m not too sure about and would welcome any advise:

    1) What’s the best way to then sync my iPod, which is an old classic, or even my iPhone and iPad. Would I be better keeping the entire media library in iTunes on the Mini and sync from there. I assume it is possible to access the desktop of the Mini from the MBA, or even from my iPad? Alternatively I would need to maintain a second library on my MBA for sync purposes.

    2) What’s the best method for ripping DVD’s? I’ve never really bothered with this but it’s something I might consider. Obviously I’d need a DVD drive but is it as simple as ripping a CD? Does it rip chapters (i.e.: episodes) in a similar way to tracks on a CD?

    3) I’m likely to need more storage than the Mini will provide. At the moment I can just make use of my existing NAS but that is pretty old now so will need replacing sooner rather than later. Is it better to get another NAS or connect a USB drive (there is unlikely to be more than 1 stream from the Mini at any one time, absolute max 2) to the Mini and use a cloud backup. The main purpose of the NAS, apart from capacity, is a level of redundancy. Is cloud backup now a better option, I have fibre broadband which should be able to cope with that sort of system.

    4) Could I do the same thing cheaper with a PC? Although I’m invested in an Apple setup and very happy with it the media box is going to sit there doing not much than serving up media. Is there a significant cost saving going a PC route or any downside to that? Been looking at the HP Pavillion Mini which is half the cost of the Mac Mini.

    5) Is there any need to move outside of iTunes? I see lots of posts about Plex and other systems, would I need them? Most of my content is iTunes compatible. I do download some TV shows that aren’t in the correct format, usually mkv, but I just convert them using Smart Convertor and that’s not much of a hassle.

    6) Can I backup my MBA to the Mini via Time Machine?

    Sorry for the length of the post, was longer than I expected. Would appreciate any opinions or information.
  2. AFEPPL macrumors 68030


    Sep 30, 2014
    I've moved from a ReadyNAS 1TB duo just before xmas to a synology device as like you say it was getting old, but still worked well, be it with not a very nice interface. The ethernet connection is only 100mb, so it matters not that you have a GB hub (don't confuse a hub and a switch, they are not the same thing).

    You just need to move your library to the NAS drive and tell itunes where it now lives, the library does not have to be physically on your MBA. You then just use family share to share out the library regardless of where the file resides.

    You don't need to buy anything more than you have now, just move the library off as above and tell iTunes where it is. if you want it on a PC, no issues, you can do that too if you just have one laying around. sometime as iTunes is not the brightest tool in the box, when you download movies you have to move them over to the NAS drive and then just drag/drop them back into so it knows where it lives.

    Plex to me just adds another layer, i don't see the point unless you want to talk to say DNLA/chrome for example - but ReadyNAS can do that directly. ReadyNAS has a TM client you just install it and point the MBA at it and away you go. So i don't bother with PLEX at all, but still have all my BR and DVDs ripped and sat on the NAS drive played from iTunes.

    Like i say, i do everything from within iTunes, to 4 ATVs with the data stored directly on a NAS device.
  3. Boyd01, Feb 16, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2015

    Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    Here's what I did. Got a base model 2012 mini last summer for an iTunes server and have been very happy with it. It is completely stock, with the slow internal 500gb drive. But the internal drive is almost empty, it only contains the original install of MacOSX and a couple utility programs. The mini just runs iTunes 24/7 and nothing else. I have the stock Apple file sharing enabled so I can copy movies that I rip. It is quite fast over gigabit ethernet - over 100 MB/s. I also use screen sharing to control the mini from my MacBook Air.

    All my media is on a fast external 3TB USB 3.0 drive. I have two additional identical external drives that I rotate for backups, with a Carbon Copy script running every night to clone the drive. This would let me simply swap drives if I ever have a failure. The mini internal drive is backed up with Time Machine to an Airport Time Capsule.

    I have two Apple TVs and everything is hardwired with gigabit ethernet. Works really well and movies load quickly. I also use it with my MacBook Air over the fast 802.11 AC wifi (I have a USB gigabit ethernet interface for the MBA, but rarely use it).

    The mini is also connected to an old 23" 720p digital TV and I use it to watch movies in the dining room, although frankly I prefer the Apple TV with the simple "clicker" remote for watching TV. The mini is also connected to my home stereo that has speakers in different rooms.

    I have an iPhone but don't sync it very often. I could do this directly from the mini if needed. In the past I have always synced it with my MBA, which has a smaller iTunes library on it.

    I use handbrake to rip DVD's and have over 500 movies and 500 TV shows so far. Handbrake is really pretty straightforward and I only had a few disks that gave me problems. I use an app called IDentify to add artwork and tags to the ripped movies.

    I am in a rather remote location and slow Verizon DSL is my only internet option. So I rarely use any kind or streaming of cloud services.

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