Best external media storage and streaming?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by .Logan, Nov 9, 2015.

  1. .Logan macrumors member

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    #1
    Looking for recommendations for best NAS/media streaming device that would play well with OSX and Smart TVs/Xbox's for streaming?

    I currently have this: http://www.wdc.com/en/products/products.aspx?id=1140

    Regularly when trying to connect to it from my macbook it is "asleep" or something despite settings and I have to restart my computer to get access.

    What's a fast, always on solution for transferring movies/TV and to stream from for other devices?

    Love to hear about current set-ups people are using.

    Thanks,

    Logan
     
  2. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #2
    What do you mean by best? The best is a dedicated computer like a base Mini with OSX server running, although the $30 server option may not be necessary . Plex is what many here use, I use iTunes. Then connect a TB multi bay disk enclosure for TBs of media storage and media backup.

    Fast is usually limited by your local network. Using wired instead of wireless where possible helps.

    There are less expensive solutions that provide less speed, reliability, function. I am much happier since moving away from a NAS to a mini server, as I quickly outgrew the storage capacity and got tired by the clunky performance.
     
  3. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #3
    There are some NASes with far more processing power than a Mac Mini and many offer dynamic expandability so that you can expand capacity as time progress so that you do not outgrow it.

    Take a look at the offerings from Qnap and Synology, ideally, the models with 4 bays or more.
     
  4. ColdCase macrumors 68030

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    #4
    There is a big difference in processing power and "best" or "useful", although NAS fanboys like to express this opinion. You can certainly spend more money on a NAS solution that may have a bit more processing power on paper than a mini, but you are close to a computer and why not just buy a computer with all its advantages? With any of the current NAS offerings you will always be hampered by scalability and ease of use issues. Now those that love to hack and tinker can have save a ton of cash at the expense of free time, but then tinkering may be a hobby (nothing wrong with that).

    NAS does have their place for inexpensive file sharing, but for media... look elsewhere.

    By the way, If one intends to transcode on the fly, you may want to invest in a higher end mini.
     
  5. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #5
    What??? There is a difference in processing power between what? What is best or useful?

    What is a NAS fanboy?

    That's exactly what NASes are!! They are computers that handle file serving!! What did you think they are??

    How are you hampered by scalability when most offer dynamic expandability? How is this more hampered than a Mac Mini?

    You must not have used a NAS in a while. To install Plex is a matter of clicking the mouse. How is ease of use an issue?

    When the hard drive on your Mac Mini is full, where do you put additional media?

    That are you transcoding that needs so much horsepower???
     
  6. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    I've never used a WD My Cloud, nor anything similar, but it seems like it's just a network-attached storage device and should work OK. I wonder why restarting your computer would cause it to start responding? Has it had this problem of being non-responsive (my words) when you try to connect to it ever since you got it, or did it suddenly happen?

    Personally, I decided on an always-on Mac Mini as a household "server" that does a bunch of stuff for us. It some external drives for media and I run Plex Server on it to stream movies/TV shows to an old Roku/TV and to other Macs in the household. This has worked well for me. The Mini doesn't have a display or keyboard connected so I can just tuck it away in a closet; I use Screen Sharing to log in occasionally and do whatever I setup or maintenance I want. This is a nice flexible setup, but it does mean you have one more Mac OS X installation and associated software maintenance to keep up with, plus the cost of the Mini. But it's easy and cheap to add external drives when you want to increase storage.

    Still wonder what's up with the My Cloud, though, and if it's a common problem.
     
  7. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #7
    No offense, but I equate products like the WD My Cloud to a Fisher-Price toy. I don't find it surprising at all that they are unreliable and I feel they do a serious disservice by giving people horrible impressions of what a NAS is and can do.

    If you are going to invest in a NAS, I would recommend going to something like the offerings from Qnap or Synology with at least four bays. Then set it up with at least single disk redundancy. Choose a model with enough processing horsepower to serve up the services that you need.
     
  8. Cbdboz macrumors regular

    Cbdboz

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    #8

    I looked at Nas ( both brands mentioned) but in the end decided that my Mac mini still needs to be in the mix in my HT set up, .... Among other things due to fact that when connected to amp/TV I can get access to multiple streaming options that standalone streaming devices don't support.

    I am working through the attached storage options at the moment, but a dedicated NAS would seem overkill... But had looked at getting a mutibay enclosure and using Macmini to provide NAS capability.

    At the moment have a bunch of seagate and WD xTB drives interchanged for backup at various stages.... But need something more robust going forward.
     
  9. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #9
    You have many, many options. You can use a DAS like a multi bay Thunderbolt enclosure or a Drobo so that you can have all your data in one location. You can set them up with some redundancy to protect you against drives that fail.

    The benefit of a DAS over a NAS is that it can be much faster. Gigabit ethernet, which is most common in home networks, top out at a theoretical limit of about 125MB/s. A DAS connected via Thunderbolt or USB 3 can achieve speeds several times faster. I put emphasis on "can" because actual speeds can depend on many factors including type of array that you run, type of drives you have in the array, whether or not you have a cache, etc.

    A NAS has the advantage of easy access by all the computers on the network. But you can easily share drives connected to your Mac Mini so that other computers on the network can access your DAS too. IDK if there is any overhead that would severely impact speeds, but I suspect that even if there were, it would be pretty minimal. As mentioned earlier, many modern NASes can run applications such as Plex and do things like transcode. One usage example would be, having a NAS with al your media stored on it. Then having media players such as an Apple TV connected to all the TVs in your home which can access and play the stored media at will. This example would be more cost effective than having to get a Mac Mini for each TV in your home. Plus, it would probably more power efficient.

    Whatever solution you end up choosing, I highly recommend you set it up with redundancy to protect against at least one failed drive. Over the years, I have had many hard drives go bad on me and I have never lost any data that were protected by redundancy. Another thing that I have found to be extremely useful is dynamic expandability. I started off years ago on a 4 bay Drobo with four 2TB drives and slowly swapped them out one at a time as I needed more storage. Today, I have transferred all those drives to a 5 bay Drobo which has five 8TB drives. It grew with me as my storage needs increased (I know... I'm a data hoarder...).
     
  10. fhall1 macrumors 68040

    fhall1

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    #10
    How do you back up all that data?
     
  11. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #11
    I don't have a back up. I just rely on redundancy to protect me against dead drives.

    If some sort of disaster hits me and my home, chances are, I won't be alive to worry about not having a backup anyway, Barring a disaster of that magnitude, redundancy is enough for me.
     
  12. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

    Crazy Badger

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    #12
    My fingers are crossed for you and I just hope your Drobo is configured with 2 parity drives and not just 1?

    If it's just one, the chances of resilvering 4x8TB drives without throwing up further errors is almost none existent at which point you'll regret ever thinking redundancy was a good replacement for a backup.

    For what it's worth, I think a Mac mini with some external drives it a better media/storage solution than any of the off the shelf NAS products at a similar price point, although not as good a solution as a purpose built NAS, running something like FreeNAS ;)

    I've got 2 parity drives on my FreeNAS server, but still have a 2nd one as a backup to the first!
     
  13. BeatCrazy macrumors 6502a

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    #13
    You mean if that Drobo power supply goes up in smoke and takes all 5 drives with it?
     
  14. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #14
    I highly doubt a dead power adaptor will take all drives with it. If the adapter dies, I either buy a new adaptor or move the drives to a new drobo.

    I trust my APC UPSes to do their job.
     
  15. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #15
    I've been using Drobos since the second gen and have never lost any data and I've gone through plenty of dead drives.

    A Mac Mini with a bunch of drives hanging off of it offers no automatic redundancy. You'd have to run some sort of app to sync it and the cable clutter would be a mess.
     
  16. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

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    #16
    OSX has RAID functionality built in, so whilst it might not be the best idea to configure a bunch of external USB drives in a RAID, it's certainly possible.

    When you've reached 20-30TB of storage, it's a good bet that you've not lost any data, or not lost any for a reasonably long period. That's what makes my data even more valuable, and not something I'd even consider relying on redundancy as a form of backup.
     
  17. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #17
    I know very well that redundancy is not a backup. But I've managed my data well enough over the years to know the risks and trade offs. I'm very comfortable just relying on redundancy.
     
  18. BeatCrazy macrumors 6502a

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    #18
    Power supply (internal) is not the same thing as power adapter (cord/plug). Yes, I've had a blown power supply kill a drive as well as other components. And power supply failure rarely has anything to do with a UPS. Power supplies can and do fail via their own accord even with a pure, clean 120v input.

    But, you said you know the risks. I had a similar mentality a few years back. But one close brush with data loss, and I changed my tune.
     
  19. pastrychef, Nov 16, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015

    pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #19
    This is the Drobo power ADAPTOR.

    power-adaptor.jpg

    In all my years, the only time I've ever lost data was when drives died on me. I've lived through several blackouts including when Hurricane Sandy knocked out power for over a week, and when terrorists took down the world trade center and my whole building shook. None of the natural disasters ever affected my data, only dead drives.
     
  20. fhall1 macrumors 68040

    fhall1

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    #20
    RAID type redundancy is good for some hardware failure type issues....but doesn't prevent the "oops - I didn't mean to delete that copy of my PhD dissertation"...that's what a good backup is for.
     
  21. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #21
    Unless you have real-time backups, nothing will save you from accidentally deleting a recently written file.

    For the truly paranoid, they would probably have backups in a remote location (maybe half a world away is safe?) with real-time backups.
     
  22. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

    Crazy Badger

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    #22
    I must be truly paranoid :D

    Overnight off site (about 30 miles away) replication of my FreeNAS server with hourly Time Machine backups to the local server. The irreplaceable stuff has been accumulated over many years, and I can afford to loose an hour for an 'oops' moment (which does happen very infrequently)

    My house burning down or being broken into is probably the biggest fear, and I would expect to survive both of these without loosing any data!
     
  23. pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #23
    Hypothetically speaking, if you lived in Japan when the tsunami hit, having the backup 30 miles away would not have helped you. I think multiple backups across different continents are safer.
     
  24. Crazy Badger macrumors 65816

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    #24
    Or I could just prey to the redundancy gods and sell my backup server ;)
     
  25. pastrychef, Nov 16, 2015
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015

    pastrychef macrumors 601

    pastrychef

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    #25
    Under my disaster scenario, either would result in the same.

    My point being, planning for hypothetical situations can be an unending quest. Redundancy is different. we are planning for WHEN a drive fails.

    Use whatever you are comfortable with and deal with the consequences when your data is lost. I'm comfortable with how I handle my data and I'm ready to deal with it when it's all gone.
     

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