Base 2011 Mac mini: Time machine target and media streamer/transcoder

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by visual, Dec 6, 2011.

  1. visual macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2005
    I’m currently looking at implementing a back up strategy for my 13” AIR and soon to be purchased Macbook Pro. Obviously a stand alone Time capsule would fulfill this role adequately; however I do feel that I would be paying over the odds for (what is essentially) a glorified NAS. This is especially true as I wouldn’t use any of the Airport functionality.

    I’m currently migrating from a mixed OS environment to a solely Apple Mac household and would really like to replicate some of the functionality of my Windows Home Server (WHS) during the transition. So here are my questions:

    Baring the lack of storage expansion options, can the mini make a good time machine target for the two MacBooks? – I intend to reuse a FW800 caddy with a couple of 2TB HDs & fill the mini with 2x750GB with the mini hardwired to a gigabit network
    I also intend to use the mini as a file server for a couple of Humax PVRs and a Popcorn Hour (am I right in thinking there are some quirks to the SMB protocol under Lion)
    Over the years I have amassed a fairly large video collection and would like a media “server” that could transcode (preferably on the fly) video formats to play on all of my devices (iOS, PVRs, BluRay player etc).

    Transcodeing is the point I’m most interested in. How much grunt has the low end mini (with 8Gb RAM) got when it comes to doing this sort of work? I’m not expecting to stream multiple Bluray rips to multiple clients or anything, but could it take a 720p TV show and stream it to a couple of iOS devices using (for example) airplayer? Would it be able to transcode a Bluray Rip in real time?

    Thanks in advance

  2. MacForScience macrumors 6502


    Sep 7, 2010
    Well this post is incredibly confusing:
    1.) How much media do you have? 100's 1000's of movies?
    2.) Which generation of Mac Mini 2011, 2010, 2009?
    3.) How many TBs of storage do you have? (My DVD collection would require ~10TB of storage if I ripped it (at high res) and I have around 150DVDs) If you are ripping BluRays etc you are going to need a lot of space. What format are ripping the media to?
    4.) Why do you want a centralized backup?
    5.) Why wouldn't you backup your laptops to separate drives and use a RAID 1 for your media?
    6.) What model of HUMAX PVR do you have? What video formats are supported?
    7.) What model BluRay player and what formats does it support?

    There is a good start.

  3. visual thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2005
    Thanks for the reply, I'm sorry I didnt go into specifics. Hope this helps

    >1000 videos, approx 10,000 photos
    As post title, Base 2011
    I've currently got about 10TB. Most video media is ripped to MKV or VIDEO_TS, although I'm happy to re-rip if necessary.
    An "always on" WIFI accessible backup appliance is the only way to ensure backups are done. Relying on plugging in external drives is a recipe for disaster (for me at least).
    As above. I will eventually store all media on RAIDed hardware; however I would ideally use a raid level with parity.
    Humax hdr-fox t2 & Humax hd-fox t2
    Hard to find a definitive list but...
    Xvid, DivX, DivX HD, WMV HD, VOB ,AVCHD .mts, .trp.ts but not MKV :(
    Sony BDP-S570
    Again it's hard to find a definitive list but...

    To be honest I'm not too bothered about the size of the storage pools etc, I'm currently looking into 4 bay (and greater) RAID solutions from LACIE & Pegasus etc. At the end of the day I don't need to move all of my media over just yet I can always keep some stuff on the WHS. I've been using centralised backup and storage now for about 5 years at home and it works really well for me and my digital lifestyle. It's just my current all in one WHS (HP EX475 MediaSmart) is begining to fall short on processing power and I think it prudent not to invest in an all in one solution again but seperate processing from storage - thus mini + DAS. In addition the WHS doesn't play nicely with Time Machine, which, if truth be told, was the final nail in the coffin.
  4. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    I'm using a 2011 base Mini for the exact same things you mentioned and it works fine. The system performs well and there's plenty of streaming options with transcoding. Add in Firewire, Gigabit ethernet and Thunderbolt and you can get plenty of high speed storage connected.
  5. Phoizen macrumors newbie

    Dec 9, 2011
    long long time reader and this post made me have to comment.

    I also run the 2011 mac mini as a standalone media streamer in my house. It links up over a gigabit network and wireless with 4 other macs and two other hdtv's that also have older mac mini's. The internal drive space i found to be limiting and so I purchased a Drobo S and filled it with 2tb drives running firewire 800. This setup is pretty much a dream as you can run full 1080p hd movie's across the hardline network on at least 4 different sources simultaneously. I use "back to my mac" to access the server across the network and when away from home, it's super easy. Over wifi I found it useful to use Mplayer and set the preload cache to about 500gb, and it will stream video seamlessly using a wireless N router.

    We also use it to transcode video's for our ipad and iphone's. Everything works as expected. Go for it man!
  6. disconap macrumors 68000


    Oct 29, 2005
    Portland, OR
    To go against the grain, I actually suggest picking up a 2010 mini in the refurb store for this purpose. Streaming servers (that aren't servicing thousands of machines) don't benefit from the CPU difference, and you can get a better price on the 2010. I've been researching this quite a bit, and aside from the optical drive, the real main benefit to each over the other breaks down, to me, to one thing each:

    2011: Thunderbolt, which I HOPE will eventually have an eSata adapter.

    2010: Power consumption. Idle power consumption (which, with a server, is a real concern) is listed at 10W. Idle consumption for the 2011 is 13W. I realize 3W is next to nothing, but if the machine is going to be on 24/7, I think it's a pretty reasonable thing to take into consideration...
  7. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    The i series from Intel are generally shown to be more power efficient than the older Core 2 Duo processors. Some Googling on the subject of racing to idle will explain what I'm referring to. I suspect in the real world, the 3 watts you might save would be easily outweighed by the choice of almost any other component, ie. one hard drive vs. another, one network router vs. another, etc...
  8. visual thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2005
    @Dustin & Phoizen,

    Thanks for your input! I'd love to hear more about any transcodeing you're doing.

    What format is your media in?
    What clients do you stream to?
    What software do you use for transcodeing?
    What sort of load do you see while transcodeing is going on?
    Can you recommend any DNLA (or similar) server software?


    I've not specifically looked at the Drobo, however I have seen some horror stories - seem to recall slow transfer speeds (although look through the internet long enough and you'll never buy anything). Which Raid are you running? How long have you had the Drobo? Any issues?


    Thanks for the info, unfortunately in my mind a 3W power saving definitely loses out to Thunderbolt connectivity. Granted it may take a while to roll out, however a reasonable TB-ESATA interface can't be too far off.
  9. visual thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 14, 2005
    As a side note.

    I was in the Apple Store on Sunday (getting a quote on repairing my wife's MacBook) so took the opportunity to have a play with a base level mini. It was only running 2Gb RAM, however, it was clearly no where near as "snappy" as my MBA which I'll put down to the SSD (although could easily be due to the lack of RAM).

    For what I'm planning to use the mini for...

    File storage (via DAS)
    Time machine backups (via DAS)
    Ripping and encoding etc

    Does anyone care to comment on the worth of using a SSD as the system disk for the above? As the majority of storage will be offloaded to a FW800 device (at least in the short term) will it actually make any difference? I suppose it, ultimately, depends on where any files are written during the transcodeing process either to disk or RAM
  10. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    thunderbolt has an eSata adapter

    with any of these

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