Apple TV: How to manage 12TB of media

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by sgiera, Aug 15, 2014.

  1. sgiera macrumors member

    Mar 25, 2014
    Hi Everyone.
    Just like a lot of people, I need your advice on how to manage 12tb of media and its increasing. Everything is in the itunes format and all information has been updated on the media from using iFlicks2 or Sublar.

    I have a 2006 Imac, upgraded to 3tb hard drive to house some of the movies that I watch and has all my music.

    I also have a AMD Athon II x 4 cpu windows 7 PC that houses the 9 tbs that I have using Itunes Home Sharing. Works fine but Microsoft came out stating that they are going to stop with Windows 7 updates in the near future. Also, it runs hot and energy bill was up when it was on a lot or doing things. I love Mac OS and would like to move over everything to one OS system.

    What I would like is a computer that can house or gain access to my 12tbs or more media, on 24/7 using Itunes. That would be its only job. I currently have three apple tv's version 3 connected to my projector, and two tvs. Wife has learned how to use the apple tv so I'm afraid of asking her to use Plex or XBMC now.

    What are my options? Seems to be so many out there, I don't know where to start.

    Mac Mini: Plex/XBMC, NAS, connecting external drives, freenas? What version or year of Mac mini?
    Mac Pro: What year and what about it being on 24/7? Concerned about the energy costs.
    Windows PC: Upgrade to Icore 3 for energy efficient and keep windows 7?
    Hackintosh: I can buy one but scare of all of the future upgrades and it not working right.
    Server: What do I need?

    All my hard drives on my windows PC is in the microsoft format too so if any updates were need to be made to Mac or raid, I would have to move the media to an external hard drive, reformat the drive and then move back.

    I'm just lost, there is a lot of things out there, but I just want to be able to access my media without too much workaround, energy efficient and not have to spend way too much money. We got rid of cable and I enjoy watching movies with my wife and child and the apple tv has been working great.

  2. Intell macrumors P6


    Jan 24, 2010
    Windows 7 will be receiving updates until January 14, 2020. Possibly longer depending on its remaining market share at that time.
  3. Scubaman, Aug 15, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2014

    Scubaman macrumors member

    Nov 1, 2011
    Synology NAS

    Get yourself a current 4 bay Synology NAS (eg DS414), fill with 4x 6TB hard disks (!) and set up as RAID5 - should give you 18TB useable protected storage. Attach NAS to your network with the iTunes Synology App. Buy a simple / cheap Mac Mini and enable home sharing on the ATV via the Mac Mini. The Mac Mini will link to your media store and you'll be able to access it all via the ATV's.

    The system is very energy efficient (90W) and can be set to power down after a period of no access. Works like a charm and is network compatible with MACOS & Windoze. Pretty much what I do at home! :)
  4. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Second a Synology recommendation but with a few differences:
    1) They make boxes with more than 4 bays- think about the future.
    2) They have their own RAID5-like system they call Synology Hybrid Raid. It has a number of good benefits but one of the biggest is an ability to add drives when you need to expand (and these can be bigger drives).

    And I also second the Mac Mini recommendation as the central hub (computer running iTunes) though you could also buy a smallish, energy-sipping Windows machine for probably less (consider used or refurbished) and let it be the iTunes-focused computer.
  5. bri1212 macrumors 6502

    Feb 1, 2008
    I don't know anything about Synology, so I am asking this from a point of ignorance...Why would we need to use Mac mini as a central hub, and also have a windows computer? Can't it be done on the Mac Mini?

    Are two computers needed?
  6. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Mac mini OR a Windows computer- sorry that my use of "also" could be interpreted that way. Basically, you need 1 computer that can run iTunes. ANY computer including old technology will suffice as long as it can run iTunes. I brought up the Windows computer option because even used Mac minis can be more expensive than a windows computer.

    Synology is a hardware maker that makes great NAS boxes: There's others out there that are good too but I (also) like Synology for this purpose.
  7. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    Curious as to why you recommend a NAS. If you are using a Mini for an iTunes server, wouldn't this just introduce more network traffic and latency into the system? I have a much smaller library, but use cheap USB 3 drives connected to a mini and get over 160MB/s performance whereas NAS tops out at a little over 100MB/s (gigabit ethernet speed).

    For a big library, wouldn't some kind of multi-bay DAS box be simpler/better choice? You could run file sharing on the mini if you want to make the disks available on the network, and use Time Machine or CCC for automatic backups.

    What advantage would NAS have over this?
  8. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Jan 1, 2008
    I agree. While a NAS is a good choice for many tasks, I do not think that storing an iTunes library is one of them.

  9. wildcat1, Aug 16, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2014

    wildcat1 macrumors regular

    Jun 21, 2010
    I would recommend a NAS too, in my case I use QNAPs which are great. Synology are nice too. Definitely set yourself up with at least a RAID 5 array, RAID 6 if you are pushing serious capacity per disk to ensure some form of redundancy.

    You can start with whatever is in your budget although do keep in mind that if your storage requirements are likely to grow then get a NAS with enough bays to allow for array expansion (outside that of what can be expanded just on individual disk capacity itself.

    The NAS is perfect for your needs as you can run them 24x7 any many (QNAP & Synology) allow apps to be run on them directly (installed as packages) such as Plex etc therefore negating the need for a Mac Mini or other computer as an intermediary. Only time you would want to consider a Mac Mini in the equation listed here (for serving media) would be if you want to use something like Plexconnect to serve your media to an ATV but even then there are ways to run that on your NAS directly now.

    The QNAP I know & Synology (I believe) also feature built in iTunes servers as well therefore allowing the NAS to catalog your iTunes media and appear as a server in your iTunes library therefore again allowing you to continue accessing the media without the need for a dedicated PC/MAC as a server.

    Many benefits of the NAS route for this situation you mention also not limited to the savings in power that even an 8-10 bay NAS would have over a power sucker like the big PC's etc (Mac Mini somewhat excluded due to its low consumption).

    Was going to add that also depending on your needs, be selective on the processor (or at least upgrade path of processor) within the NAS you select. Intel Atom based or similar will not handle transcoding of 1080p very well especially with something like Plex so depending on your media and on the client this may or may not be an issue. If it is an issue then you would want to look at something like an i3 based NAS or similar.

    Hope that helps
  10. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2013
    100MB/s is still well beyond anything you will need for the operation of streaming videos. The only real burden you would see is the initial upload of the movie to the storage.

    A movie encoded with a bitrate of 20 megabits per second (which is well within the upper limits of 1080p Bluray quality for MP4), still only needs less then 3MB/s to stream. 20 megabits per second divided by 8 = 2.5 megabytes per second.

    Remember that an Apple TV only has a 100mb/s Ethernet connection. Which means at best it will operate at 1/10th of a gigabit connection.
  11. Boyd01 macrumors 68040


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I understand, and that is why I said it would add latency. There was a recent post here by someone who got rid of their NAS for this reason. It takes awhile for a movie to start playing after you click on it under the best circumstances on the Apple TV, so why increase this?

    But putting all this aside, I still don't see any advantage to using NAS strictly for an iTunes library, which is what several people here are suggesting. Just seems to add a further layer of complexity, latency and cost with no benefit. The NAS devices I looked at, like Synology are just low powered Linux computers. If you have a Mac Mini, it is already much more powerful and has much higher speed interfaces than ethernet (USB 3, Thunderbolt) so why not just use them directly?
  12. mcnallym macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2008
    The Synology iTunes Server specifically states that cannot access from an AppleTV. You will still need a Mac/PC running iTunes to present to the AppleTV

    Qnap doesn't mention if can stream direct to an AppleTV or not however seems to be setup the same way with home sharing and connect too it from Mac/PC running iTunes. Only mentions music playback from media devices, and no Apple Devices mentioned. As such cannot say but from googling most people seem to use Plex on the NAS to remove need fro Mac/PC.

    It seems unnecessarily complex thing to do unless looking at using some of the other functionality of the NAS box.

    If you are concerned with Energy Usage then forget the Mac Pro for this use.

    When setting up my home media environment back in 2009 then went with the mini and a Drobo Pro ( wasn't convinced the 4 Bay Drobo available at the time would hold enough ). The mini wakes up when the ATV connects to it, and this also wakes the Drobo with the mini.

    When I come to replace then will get the current min and a Drobo 5D ( or what is out then ) The 5D is comparable in price ( in the UK anyway ) with 5bay NAS from Synology/Qnap if not cheaper.

    I also run Elgato TV Tuner on my machine which is why went mini as only runs on OSX.

    A Drobo 5D with 5 x 4Tb will leave you with 14.5Tb of available space.
    If start to run out of space then can swap a larger drive in for a 4TB. Do it one at a time and let the storage rebuild. ( done this with the Drobo Pro and works like a charm ) Also allows the 6TB drives to come down in price.

    Mac mini 2011 onwards has a Thunderbolt port and any spec processor will do. The dual core processor one will do fine.

    That is what works for me.

    If happy to stay with Windows then what are very interesting looking are the Avoton systems. These are Quad/Octo Core Atoms with 14W/20W TDP, usually in an iTX or micro-ATX formats, match up with a cheap 8 port SATA card and away you go. Boards are approx £220/Quad/C2550 or £270/Octo/C2750 in the UK for the MB/CPU.
  13. ixxx69, Aug 17, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2014

    ixxx69 macrumors 65816

    Jul 31, 2009
    United States
    The NAS is good - I've found the Synology particularly slick. However, my experience with the Synology for this exact same purpose was mixed - I don't know if this is an issue with all NAS devices working with Macs. I found SMB performance inconsistent... sometimes I got speeds of 100MB/s, but sometimes it literally slowed to 1MB/s write speeds (and my network was perfectly fine - I didn't have this problem with Windows computers). Once you get everything completely set up, it shouldn't be a problem.

    Also, I don't see the need for the Mac Mini if the iMac is going to stick around to be the computer "hub" for iTunes. I definitely would not go the Windows computer route if you like OS X. A Windows computer is a major pita to keep maintained with various security updates, etc.

    Someone can correct me if I'm wrong (this kind of stuff changes all the time), but I don't believe the NAS iTunes server software can handle iTunes DRM, so if you iTunes DRM protected movie/tv show/music, it still needs to be streamed through iTunes hosted on a computer (unless you want to stream it from the iTunes Store every time you want to watch it). The files can still be stored on the NAS, but it needs to go through a computer hosting iTunes (i.e. the iMac or a new Mac Mini, Windows computer, etc.)

    If a newer Mac comes into play as well, then a Thunderbolt attached RAID enclosure might be the easiest and fastest way to go.

    There isn't a latency issue with a NAS in this situation. Whether the ATV3 is streaming from a computer or a NAS, the buffering is going to be dependent on the network connection.

    The benefit of the NAS is the RAID, which you're not going to get with a bunch of drives hooked up via USB/TB (well, unless you get a TB RAID enclosure, which is maybe the best solution if that's practical).
  14. charlien macrumors 6502

    Jul 3, 2006
    Look at an Intel NUK class PC. They are very energy efficient and run Stablebit drive pool. This lets you add all the drives you want to one drive pool and duplicate folders between different drives. Keep adding USB3 hubs and USB3 drives as needed. I'd avoid the MS way of pooling drives.
  15. betman macrumors 6502


    Jan 15, 2013
    Just curious but with new encoding coming out every so often, does it make sense to transfer all of one's films/shows to a hard drive since it's not really a long-term solution and everything will probably have to be re-encoded in the not-too-distant future? :)
  16. 960design macrumors 68030

    Apr 17, 2012
    Destin, FL
    This is the way to do it. I only have 3TB of movies ( ~5-6GB each in HD ) running via Twonky NAS setup. I can access my movies from home to any display in the house or when I'm traveling.
  17. ianj1972, Aug 18, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014

    ianj1972 macrumors member

    Nov 16, 2011
  18. rayward macrumors 68000

    Mar 13, 2007
    Houston, TX

    The OP Said "What I would like is a computer that can house or gain access to my 12tbs or more media, on 24/7 using Itunes. That would be its only job.".

    In that case, attaching his media library on the network, rather than directly to his media server PC, adds unnecessary traffic on his network. I have been there and done this (on a gigbit network) and, while performance of my hardwired ATVs was acceptable, anyone else trying to do anything else on the network had a long wait. I switched to having my media attached to my iMac and things were much better all around.
  19. Panch0, Aug 18, 2014
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2014

    Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    To maintain Wife Acceptance Factor, you need a computer running iTunes. It can be OS X or Windows. It doesn't need to be very powerful, other than having a way to add plenty of storage.

    A NAS does not replace the computer running iTunes in your situation - the 'iTunes server' that is built into many NAS devices is NOT HomeSharing. There is a way to make an ATV view a Plex server running on a NAS (has to be a bit higher than an entry level device), but it is not going to put your content in the same place you currently find it - therefore Not Wife Approved.

    Now you just need to decide how you are going to attach storage for the iTunes Media. If you get a Windows box, you may be able to just use internal storage, depending on the open drive bays. Other than that, you are choosing between NAS and DAS (Direct Attached Storage).

    All of the NAS Solutions listed above are good - Synology & QNAP make good devices and FreeNAS is pretty robust if you really want to 'roll your own'.

    Using NAS for your iTunes media storage works, but it is not drop dead simple. It will cause issues anytime the iTunes computer restarts - the NAS will not reconnect before iTunes starts, leaving you with iTunes thinking all your media files are missing. Restarting iTunes will fix it, but really - is that what you want in a media server?

    DAS is drop dead simple - the drives will be mounted before iTunes starts, and everything will just work the way you expect it to.

    if the only reason that you need/want a NAS is to store iTunes media, then it is not worth the effort. If you have a NAS already, or want one for other purposes, it will work, but it has no advantages over DAS specifically for iTunes Media.
  20. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2013
    I have not experienced the network congestion you have and I put as many devices as I can on hardwire. I have 3 "desktops" and 4 or 5 consumer electronics on Ethernet.

    However, it is entirely possible to get the $30 Thunderbolt to Ethernet adaptor and a $10 CAT5 "crossover" cable and have a dedicated connection between the NAS and the iTunes server. It would be entirely separate traffic from the rest of the network.

    I do fully agree with direct attached storage though. The problem with Apple is that doing so on a iMac or Mini can be very cost prohibitive. I think a lot of owners will have a hard time justifying paying $700-$1000 for a Thunderbolt RAID enclosure, when they can get the same storage space in a commodity NAS that is 1/3 to 1/2 the price.
  21. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    USB2 is sufficient for iTunes Library. USB3 and/or FW800 are still readily available. You don't need Thunderbolt for this.
  22. sgiera thread starter macrumors member

    Mar 25, 2014
    Thank you all for those who provided advise. I had time to look at everything and determined the following:

    Mac Pro: Not worth it. Energy bills would get higher.
    Plex: Not worth it since I would have to change everything up and my wife would have to get to know something else plus wouldn't resolve the other apple tv's connected to my other tvs. Plus would need to pick up a mini mac since I have a 2006 Imac.

    NAS: Too expensive, and the work around would take too long since I don't have a lot of time.

    Hackintosh: Worried about things not working correctly and the money spent on getting the required motherboard, cpu and having to do the hack.

    For the direct attached storage, what brands are good ones? Also, how would it work with Itunes and the movies on it? Would I have to update Itunes so that they don't load onto my computer hard drive and stay on the DAS. Would the DAS see all of the gigs and combine them all? What is the difference between raid and non raid? Again, my 2006 Imac only 2 400 wirewire, 3 2.0 usb ports.

    Again, thank you all for the help, just in a pickle and don't know where to go on all of this. I wish there was an all in one fix but I love the Apple ecosystem and don't want to move away from it.
  23. CaptainCurd macrumors newbie

    Aug 18, 2014
    I use a Synology 1813+. 8 HDD bays filled with 4TB drives connected via gigabit. 28TB of usable space, and serves my HTPC Mac Mini up with over 2000 movies and 500 TV shows.
  24. csfarris macrumors newbie

    Aug 21, 2014
  25. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010

    I've had good luck with Western Digital, G-Tech (G-RAID) and OWC externals. I had a bad Seagate enclosure, but I think that many people are just fine with them. Drobo might be a good option, although you'll pay a bit more for the enclosure.

    Do you have a budget?
    Are you willing to manage your own library (you can use a bunch of cheap enclosures), or do you want iTunes to keep everything organized for you (you need a larger/more expensive enclosure)?

    How tolerant are you of lost data?
    Do you consider your original disks to be your backups (you would have to rip/encode/tag them again), or do you need to include extra storage for backup (like Time Machine)?

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