Best option for additional storage for a Mac Mini HTPC

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by gana, Aug 16, 2012.

  1. gana macrumors newbie

    Aug 16, 2012
    Hi there

    I’m planning on buying a Mac Mini as a media center (with Plex for the movies and itunes for the music), but I have some questions about the best option for additional storage.

    I need at least 2TB of storage for all of my media files (music and movies), and would like the possibility of easy expansion. I would also like to have a backup of all of the files.

    I would like to be able to download files from the Internet onto my MacBook and wirelessly drag-and-drop them to wherever the media is stored. I'd also like to wirelessly stream the video files to an iPad and an iPhone via AirVideo for example.

    From what I gather, my two options are external hard drives hooked up directly to the Mini, or a NAS setup--except I've researched a whole bunch, and I still have no idea if one is a better option than the other for what my goals are. (What would be the point of a NAS if my mac mini would be dedicated to the media center ?)

    Some information that may or may not be relevant:
    - All the computers in my household are Macs running OS X Lion and Mountain Lion
    - The Mac Mini would be in the ground floor and plugged to my DSL modem, a videoprojector and an AV Amplifier (would it be possible to watch movies on my lcd TV screen in the first floor ?)
    - I'm okay with doing manual backups once a week or so of my media drive--constant synchronization is not a necessity but would be the icing on the cake
  2. radicalcentrist macrumors member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Portland, OR
  3. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
    Agreed! It is a nice match for the Mac Mini.

    I have owned the previous version for several years and I haven't had any problems. You can buy an empty enclosure and install a drive or get an enclosure with a drive installed. Unless you happen to find an incredibly good deal on a bare drive it's usually about the same cost to purchase an enclosure with a drive vs. going to the trouble of installing a drive yourself.

    The brand of drive used in the enclosure is available in the enclosure specs but OWC reserves the option to use a different comparable drive, so I suppose that you could wind up with a different brand than is in the specifications.

    You do pay extra for the design. The earlier versions also doubled as USB hubs so that offset the cost somewhat. As far as I can tell the new version doesn't function as a USB hub.

    I am waiting to get a Mini until the new models are released. I plan on stacking the Mini and miniStack to save some space on my computer desk.
  4. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    Just get a media NAS. It does the same as the mini, and costs the same as the external drive bay. Then you can sell the Mini to someone who puts it to full instead of 10% use.
  5. evilpaddy macrumors regular

    Aug 2, 2012
    You ask which is better, direct attached storage (DAS) or network attached storage (NAS) ... the answer of course depends on your usage...

    Do you need to access the files from multiple sources on a network? If so you don't necessarily 'need' but would benefit from a NAS. If you only want to access them from a single source, i.e. the mini, then you need an external hard drive. Don't over complicate things! :D

    External hard drives are cheap - work out what you need then double it! 4TB is not that expensive and will address your needs and also provide room for expansion. The mini will stream to your other Apple sources.

    I use a 5x3TB NAS in a RAID 5 array. I can stream to all my devices anywhere in the world. It cost a lot more than the external hard drive though!
  6. philipma1957 macrumors 603


    Apr 13, 2010
    Howell, New Jersey
    I second this . In the case of the op I would get a synology nas

    this is a lower priced model
  7. ToothTooth macrumors member

    Oct 8, 2010
    North Carolina, USA
    Save Energy

    Personally, I use a couple of these 2.0TB models hooked up to my mini via FW800.

    The FW800 powers the external drives and they automatically spin down when not in use. Even better, when the mini is scheduled to go to sleep the drives also power down. This provides for a very convenient, and significant, way to conserve energy vs. leaving the drives powered up and spinning 24/7.
  8. Mojo1 macrumors 65816

    Jul 26, 2011
  9. LeandrodaFL macrumors 6502a


    Apr 6, 2011
    You can also get a My Passport 2TB, they are extremely portable

    Has anyone tried the NewerTech miniStack? How is it noise?
  10. comatory macrumors 6502a


    Apr 10, 2012
    I'd go FW800 route, some of the harddrives can also be powered by the cable - you can daisychain them and it saves space (no power bricks).

    If the price is no concern, I would get this and run it as JBOD - plenty of space for media files.

    I am longing for 2TB version of iOmega Minimax personally.
  11. evilpaddy macrumors regular

    Aug 2, 2012
    Personally I'd stick to USB3. Far more portable and compatible when you want to use a different computer. After all, *most* computer's don't have a dedicated FW port.

    If money is no option, then I cant rate my Synology DS1512+ highly enough!
    fill that with 15TB and you wont get much change from $2K AUD however...
  12. smellalot macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2011
    I'd go for external hard drives with USB 3 for future proofing.
    For example get two 3TB or 4TB drives. Attach both to the mini. One holds your media files and gets backed up to the other one with time machine. It's the easiest and cheapest way to go. Also saves energy when compared to a NAS I'd guess.

    Not sure why you download to your MacBook. But you could let the Mac mini handle you downloads of that's interesting for you.
  13. jmxp69 macrumors 6502

    Dec 10, 2008
  14. marc.garcia macrumors regular

    Jul 26, 2010
    I would be interested in knowing about standby cycles in Mac Mini with external hard drives. Could you elaborate a little more on this?

  15. mikepro macrumors 6502

    Sep 3, 2010
    I just got this 3TB Seagate Firewire external drive hooked up to my Mac mini. Nice amount of storage for the price. I can upgrade to USB3 in the future if I want by buying the $17 adapter. (Note the firewire 800 adapter includes USB 2 port). Works great, plus with file sharing turned on on the Mini, all other computers can see it on the network. Also powers down/goes to sleep when the mini does.

    I think for $169 you'd be hard pressed to come up with a better options for 3TB of space.
  16. GoCubsGo macrumors Nehalem


    Feb 19, 2005
    I have two external drives hooked right up to the Mini.
  17. Omnius macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2012

    I'm not sure anyone mentioned this. You can actually open up a 2011 mac mini, buy an oddly shaped SATA III connector and FIT another harddrive inside. Replace the original hard drive with another big 7200 speed hd and you can have a mini with a ton of internal storage. You'll avoid all the extra wires that way.

    My buddy's media 2011 mini has a major collection of music and movies. He's only now considering external storage because he suffers from a condition shared by many people here. He deliberately tries to fill big HDs with anything and everything. That said, I would go the internal route, there are plenty of step by step guides that will show you how to do it and what you need. It's relatively cheap, the drives are fast and internal > external almost every time. If I'm not mistaken, I believe the 2011 mini can fit two 2 TB hds inside. I would double check that but I seem to recall his machine has 4TB.
  18. knarzie macrumors regular

    Aug 5, 2008
    ooh, 4TB internally, that sounds very good.

    I watched videos to help me replace RAM and HDD in my unibody macbook a year or so ago, wonder if the same people do one about the mini

    edit: found it.
  19. lilsoccakid74 macrumors 6502

    Apr 13, 2010
    Since switching to an SSD, I needed space for my media and went with a Seagate Goflex Desk 3TB/7200rpm. Im using usb 2.0 as the only lag is when trying to open a file while the disk went to sleep occasionally, and don't think the firewire adapter would solve that. The drive also supports usb 3.0. Thought it was a pretty good deal, $139 at Walmart (Said $160 online!).:)
  20. shortcut3d macrumors 65816

    Aug 24, 2011
    Today I played with the new Thunderbolt Drobo due in Oct at VMworld. Very nice piece of gear. It may be worth waiting.
  21. ToothTooth macrumors member

    Oct 8, 2010
    North Carolina, USA
    Sounds good, but not possible. Don't believe a 9.5mm HDD larger than 1TB exists today. So a total of 2TB internally would be your max.
  22. Omnius macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2012
    I was just speaking to him earlier. He's got 2TB internally. He only recently hit 4TB total storage using a firewire external.
  23. rpmucha23 macrumors newbie

    Aug 22, 2009

    Not silent, but i'd say about on par with the noise from the spinning of the HDD, but a slightly different pitch, unless you are OCD, it shouldn't be a big deal.

    One oddity is that when you are connected via USB, and unmount the drive in finder, the drive will sleep and the fan will turn off. Go back into disk utility and remount the drive, the drive will spin up but the fan will not. I could not replicate the issue when connect via FW800 (which is how i am currently connected, 2 of them daisy-chained). I am holding out for the next revision of the mac mini on the hope of USB3.0 being included with it, to take advantage of the USB3.0 included on these mini-stacks, i may have to have to wire a thermo-switch & resistor to provide the fan with ~8v (which it meters at when running currently) when the drive is warm & then have it shut off after the drive has cooled off from being asleep. Then again may just leave it connected via FW800 as i am only streaming video.

    Purchased these mini-stacks because the usb3.0 interfaces on the new mybooks and the goflex desks have given me nothing but trouble. both manufacturers point the finger at apple and refuse to fix the problem. chose the owc/newertech enclosures because i purchased a newertech usb3.0 hard drive dock and it has served me very well for a year with zero problems. the drives from both of those enclosures inside the mini-stacks have also been flawless 'so far' (i've only had the mini-stacks for a week now).

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