Beginner's Crash Course on Extending ATV Storage Capacity

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by hypersapien, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. hypersapien macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2010
    Hello- I have been contemplating the purchase of an Apple TV for a couple of months now, doing my best to educate myself on different methods of adding additional storage to the ATV. Having never used one before, I'm getting confused as their seems to be several different ways of accomplishing this. Some of the how-to's I'm finding were written years ago, and I'm not sure if they still work, or sometimes I don't know which methods may carry more risk.

    I'm not looking for a technical step by step set of instructions here, but I would appreciate it if any one could give me a basic, simple rundown of the different routes I could take to expand the storage capacity of an ATV (that work with the current version of the ATV). Ill be happy to do the nitty-gritty research on my own, I just don't know what terms or software names I should be searching for.

    From what I've read so far, it seems as though the preferred route to go is to rig the ATV to retrieve video's from a large, external USB drive. Is this correct?
  2. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    I would just have the ATV stream content from storage elsewhere on your network. Unless your network is awful the storage does not need to be local.

    If your network is bad, just have the library elsewhere and have the ATV sync only certain content.
  3. hypersapien thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2010
    I guess I am unclear on how the device works. My home setup consists of 1 iMac, and then (eventually) the Apple TV. I plan on digitizing my entire dvd collection over time, and that will require more space than my iMac has room for. I was thinking of getting a 1 or 2 TB external drive.

    That said, can I stream directly off of the external drive automatically? or does it require hacking to gain that capability?
  4. keeper macrumors 6502

    Apr 23, 2008
    I also can't make my mind up.

    A number of choices as I see it.
    Store content on ATV max 160gb
    Store content on ATV and stream some content. - MAC running itunes req'd
    Store no content on ATV and stream content. - MAC running itunes req'd
    Break open ATV and install bigger hard drive
    Hack ATV and use USB hack for external hard drive.

    Install MAC Mini as HPTC
    Install MAC Mini and have external storage
    Install MAC Mini and have external storage streaming to ATV.

    Im sure more options exist, but they are all out their because Apple won't produce a decent media player to replace the ATV.
    I like my ATV stored under the TV but have an issue spending £500 for a MAC mini just to use it as an itunes streaming server.

    Im currently using.
    ATV connected to DAC and HiFi for music duties.
    External QNAP NAS with raid one plus external back up, movies sync'd to ATV. Once the HD is full i'm going to stream the extra content from my MAC book pro.

    Im just waiting it out to see what comes along. So many options I can't make my mind up. I did think of a Mini connected via ethernet to the router and NAS and it can serve media to the house.

    lots of info on here but it would be great if we had a media centre diagram thread which showed how people constructed the home media systems.

    Cheers Phil
  5. mfillhart macrumors member

    Apr 4, 2009
    as long as its in itunes, you can just stream automatically, the apple tv can be linked directly to your computer over the network.
    works beautifully, thats how i have mine set up
  6. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    I can't comment on how they work once hacked, so keep that in mind.

    The product isn't designed to be a repository for anything. It's designed to either sync selected content from your iTunes library or stream content directly from your iTunes library.

    So the real question is where do you want to store your iTunes content?
  7. hypersapien thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2010
    attempting a response to the last 2 replies:

    I am still a little unclear on the definition of "streaming" content. I mean I understand that it means I would be playing a video file that is not located on the ATV itself, but are you saying that the ATV has the capability to stream content located on an external drive?

    Here's what I'm thinking, please tell me if this set up would require hacking, or if this will work right out of the box:

    ATV----->iMac running iTunes----->External 2TB Hard Drive containing all media

    So if I am understanding correctly, this setup will work right out of the box so long as my itunes library is on the external drive, and I leave the iMac turned on when ever I want to watch that content. Is this correct?
  8. gazpilot macrumors member

    Oct 1, 2008

    That would work right out the box as long as iTunes is running on your iMac, I have considered all the above options but decided that hacking was not an option as my Library is already 850gb and getting bigger.

    My setup is an iMac running iTunes shared ----->FW800 Drobo with 4TB containing all media. I only sync latest 5 movies, all pictures and all music. I never have a problem streaming with my AEBS network.
  9. hypersapien thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2010
    Well thats nice to know I can get this working with out needing to hack anything. Definitely reassuring.

    So if i'm planning on streaming movies in this manner, what should I keep in mind when purchasing an external drive? Are there any particular specs I should be mindful of that will make streaming video flow more smoothly?
  10. gazpilot macrumors member

    Oct 1, 2008
    capacity increases and prices drop so the bigger the better, the only reason I went for the Drobo ( very expensive ) was the the RAID type backup and expandability.

    A lot of people have had probs with them but I never have, the whole experience has been flawless for me.
  11. hypersapien thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2010
    I guess what I was trying to ask is if I would experience choppy video playback, or otherwise experience any sub-par movie quality by taking this route. Any thoughts?
  12. gazpilot macrumors member

    Oct 1, 2008
    never experienced any myself, started with a 500gb usb before increasing size then opted for the FW800.

    I think the bottleneck will be your wireless network but again I've never had a prob. I've had my atv since they first came out, used G, N and now 5ghz N and never suffered from any delays.

    all my movies are encrypted with handbrake to an average bitrate of 2500 and end up @1.5gb, again no probs and great quality.
  13. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    Pretty much any drive you buy will outperform a wireless network.

    I'm streaming straight Blu-ray rips at full quality on wireless N and the AppleTV content won't be anywhere close to as demanding as that.
  14. Bevz macrumors 6502a

    Oct 23, 2007
    I use an external HDD plugged into my ATV.

    Streaming on a wireless N network worked lovely, when it worked.
    I don't have a server machine, just my main macpro which is used heavily for everything, my work and by all my family; i wanted to lighten the load on it and i got tired of getting hassle from my partner about the ATV loosing connection and "not working". She's not very tach savvy. Don't get me wrong, streaming works beautifully most of the time, but every now and again the network would drop or iTunes would loose the ATV or the computer wouldn't wake from sleep etc etc... just niggling little things every once in a while, but enough for me to get grief about it from the rest of the family ;)

    I gave up with streaming in the end and I installed ATVFlash and used an Antec MX-1 fan cooled external HD enclosure, popped a spare internal SATA 500gb HDD in it. ATVFlash has a function to use an external drive as if it's an internal one so i used that function. Now i have a 500gb ATV! It works brilliantly! Even shows up in iTunes as a 500gb ATV lol... I have all my movies and tv shows synced to it now so my macpro isn't pushed quite so hard and can sleep in peace and i don't get any grief from my family anymore about dropped connections to iTunes! ;)

    The MX-1 enclosure is unbelievably quiet and i can put ANY size drive in it... Currently saving up for a 2TB internal as the 500gb is full already. Also even though i used ATVFlash i've since read there are free options available (e.g. patchstick); you'd have to check to make sure they do the internal drive trick though, but if they do it'll be a cheaper option that ATVFlash!

    Some additional benefits are that i now have an iTunes backup on my ATV external so i can exclude my iTunes library from Time Machine saving space on my backup drive, and fast forward now works properly lol ;)

    The setup has been running for a few months now; local HDD USB storage with N wireless syncing (no streaming) and absolutely ZERO issues. I'm extremely happy i went this route!

    Hope u find a way that's good for you!
  15. hypersapien thread starter macrumors newbie

    Mar 12, 2010
    So I was at the apple store today, and I explained the setup I had planned on using (as I have posted about here), and he pointed something out to me...

    If I'm planning on running my imac, which is connected to an external drive containing the movies I want to watch, then there's really no need to even buy an ATV. Frankly, I feel a little dense for not thinking of this on my own. I just needed to buy the necessary cables to use my TV as a monitor in place of buying the ATV.

    So unless I'm overlooking something, this should suit my needs perfectly and save me about $200+
  16. brentsg macrumors 68040

    Oct 15, 2008
    It all just depends on the proximity to your TV, and what interface you wish to use. I don't particularly want to manipulate iTunes or Front Row on my TV.

Share This Page