Best HDD speed for an iTunes Server?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by godslabrat, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. godslabrat macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2007
    #1
    (Note: This is mostly a hardware question, but I'm posting it here because I'm only concerned with how it applies to AppleTV)

    Hi all,

    I'm doing some cost analysis for setting up a home with video streaming via iTunes and AppleTV. One thing I am taking into consideration is outfitting the home's PC with a Terabyte drive or two for media file storage.

    My question is this: taking reliability into account, what would be the best speed for the hard drive? My gut instinct is always to grab the fastest drive available (prob. 7200rpm), but faster drives tend to encounter more issues down the road. So, I could go with a more conventional 5400rpm, but will that be fast enough to stream a full movie? If I have files that are 1, 2, or even 3 gigs of data in size, will I be bottlenecking things if I use a 5400rpm drive? The connection would be Wireless-N, with little interference over fairly short range.

    I'm mostly looking for personal experiences. Has anyone using a similar setup found issue with using a less than 7200rpm drive?
     
  2. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    London, UK
    #2
    You will not be bottlenecking if you use a 5400rpm drive. Then again, 7200rpm drives aren't more unreliable - they've been the norm in desktops for about ten years now. It is only the fact that manufacturers are now trying to capitalise on the green factor by selling 5400rpm desktop drives that makes them available now. If you want reliability, get two drives and run them in a mirrored raid setup - 7200 or 5400rpm, it doesn't really matter.

    What is it that you're planning on sharing? Just iTunes music or videos too? I don't use iTunes for any videos so my iTunes library is (relatively) small. My iTunes and iPhoto data stores are backed up with Time Machine but I couldn't afford to backup all of my video data. However, all my video stuff could be relatively easily restored by reripping or downloading whereas my iTunes and iPhoto libraries are very personal and couldn't be redone.
     
  3. godslabrat thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2007
    #3
    This will be for video, so I was concerned about large files being accessed. My comment about the hard drive speed affecting reliability came from some research I'd been doing, which of course is not always accurate. But, it did make sense-- the faster moving parts go, the more likely they are to fail. I really want this thing to be as reliable as possible, because if it does fail, it'll be a while until I'm able to service the machine myself. The concept of saving a little money using 5400rpm drives is appealing to me, if it doesn't affect performance.
     
  4. mstrze macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2009
    #4
    I don't think you will have any issues, even at 5400rpm. I don't know what my external is, but look at it this way:

    You are not streaming real-time per se as one would watching something online, you are loading data in the background to play back on the AppleTV in every case at a much faster rate than real time. I think a 2 hr Apple HD movie takes maybe a minute to be fully transferred to my AppleTV...it's certainly ready to view within seconds of choosing it...even when my computer that hosts iTunes is asleep and needs to be woken. My delay is maybe 10 seconds at worst if the computer was asleep.

    We are not talking real-time HD video editing where drive speeds is paramount. This is simply transferring files over a network. Files that certainly have a multi-minute leeway (no harm if a 2hr HD movie takes even 20 minutes to transfer...which it won't...it would still be ready to play in under a minute.)

    So, I guess I don't have an answer for you as to which you should buy. If it makes you feel better, get the slower RPM. With external costs dropping all the time, my 1.5TB that I just bought and have been using for the last month will likely be replaced by a larger drive within the next 2 years anyway...whether it's dead or not just due to increased storage needs and the continually lower prices. We'll probably see 2TB drives for under $100 within the next year.

    The drive I bought, was a WD eSata/FW/USB (Passport?) 1.5TB drive. Cost around $130. Works well so far.
     
  5. prostuff1 macrumors 65816

    prostuff1

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2005
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    Don't step into the kawoosh...
    #5
    Your bottleneck will be the wireless or wired network you are streaming over and not the drive itself. A 5400RPM drive is more than capable of doing what you need it to do.
     
  6. VTMac macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2008
    #6
    For that matter a 4200 RPM drive would be fine. You aren't going to be doing anything that involves lots of random seek read operations, so spindle speed isn't going to matter much.
     
  7. Spanky Deluxe macrumors 601

    Spanky Deluxe

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2005
    Location:
    London, UK
    #7
    Reliability really is pot luck and has very little to do with 5400rpm or 7200rpm drives. My 256gb SSD drive failed today and they're supposed to be far more reliable than HDDs, go figure.

    Just get the best bang for buck drives. The last time I checked, these were 1.5TB drives and the 5400rpm drives were only a few pennies cheaper than the 7200rpm drives so not worth the savings.
     
  8. cube macrumors G5

    Joined:
    May 10, 2004
    #8
    The WD Caviar Green varies the speed between 5400 and 7200. Efficient. Fast. 2TB.
     
  9. bondjw07 macrumors member

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2003
    #9
    Hi godslabrat,

    I use iTunes any my AppleTV heavily. Currently I have a MacMini running in my office with a 4 HDD external raid. To set this up I purchased a Drobo and told iTunes to look for the library on that external drive. In the drobo I currently have 4 500GB drives each running at 7200rpms. This gives me about 1.4 TB of storage space, plus all the data is backed up. The drobo is hooked up via USB (although now they have other options such as Firewire and eSATA.) I see no performance loss with USB, 7200, and using this all over WiFi.

    Also, as the previous poster said, 7200 is the standard these days for HDD speed so I don't see any problem using this. And there is no need to go faster such as 10k RPM, would just be a waste of money.
     
  10. prostuff1 macrumors 65816

    prostuff1

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2005
    Location:
    Don't step into the kawoosh...
    #10
    It does not vary at all (that is just a marketing term which has been interpreted incorrectly). I don't think I have heard of any WD Caviar Green drive running at anything other than the 5400RPM speed.
     

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