Buying iMac - have large media collection

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Fresh Tendrils, May 14, 2011.

  1. Fresh Tendrils macrumors regular

    May 14, 2011
    Hi, I'm going to buy a 27" imac [prob low end model], that I'm going to put in my bedroom and stream to an apple tv in the lounge [haven't bought apple tv yet, but I bought an airport extreme a few months ago]. I have a fairly large media collection, and I need a little advice from anyone in similar circumstances concerning streaming and external hd options.

    My media collection consists of about 700 cds [which I plan on ripping into apple lossless], 40 GB of concert bootlegs, 30 GB of ios apps, 2,000 photos [which I plan on scanning at high quality], and 450 DVDs [that I want to convert to high quality digital copies]. My estimate is that this will take up around 2TB, but realistically with dvds and cds being so cheap these days, I'll probably need the imac to accommodate 3-5 TB over its lifespan.

    I'm reluctant to get my imac upgraded to 2TB, because there are no apple stores in my country, and I don't have confidence in the authorized retailers to open up my machine [they seem a bit clueless]. And now with the news that Apple have made it harder to swap out hd's I really don't want anyone messing with my machine. So I'm thinking about getting the standard 1TB model, and a large external hd [possibly thunderbolt when they come out], and leaving it permanently plugged into the imac.

    I've only ever used external hds for backup, so I have a few questions about using them on a more permanent basis.

    1) should I expect delays or problems streaming movie files from an external plugged into my imac to an apple tv in another room? In particular I'm concerned about playing music videos, since I'll probably watch them via iTunesDJ a lot, and I don't want constant lags etc every few minutes as it tries to load the next file from the external hd.

    2) how have those with a similar set up found browsing large itunes / plex / xbmc libraries that are on external hds? Has it run smoothly, or been slow and frustrating?

    3) when the hard drive dies in a few years, can I plug an external HD with OSX on it into the imac and still use it, or alternatively could I plug a mac mini or MBP into it, and use the imac as a screen? What about an external ssd with OSX on it? Would it run as fast as an internal ssd?

    Sorry for the long post, but I'd love to hear from anyone who has used their macs in a similar manner. Thanks!
  2. GGJstudios macrumors Westmere


    May 16, 2008
    There is no problem or performance issues at all in using an external drive to house part or all of your media collection, especially if you have a Firewire connection.
  3. dizzy130 macrumors member

    Jul 7, 2010
    My iTunes library is about 250 gbs, housed on a 1 tb USB external drive that's plugged into my 2007 MacBook.

    Just to give you a real world example, I can use AirPlay to stream a movie from the external drive to my iPad 1 and then to my Apple TV 2 with no lag except a few seconds for the movie to load. Not that I usually do that, of course, since I usually just stream from the computer to the Apple TV, but that just shows how easily this works on even old hardware. Enjoy - you'll love it!
  4. gmans46 macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2011
    can you use an external for backup and storage at the same time? for example im getting a 2011 high end 15 and going with the 128gb ssd. I want to purchase a 1.5-2 T.B h.d for media purposes (external) and want something super fast. If i purchased one of these would i need to get a 2nd hard drive to back up my actual computer? or could i just do time machine on it and also have all my media.
  5. macman312 macrumors 6502

    Oct 10, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia --> Cincinnati,OH
    3) If you have a 2011 macbook pro and a 2011 imac with thunderbolt

    (both MUST have thunderbolt) then yes you can use the 2011 imac as a display with a 2011 macbook pro
  6. The-Pro macrumors 65816

    Dec 2, 2010
    i use my external HDD's as Time Machine backup and storage. Should work fine, no need to get a second drive.
  7. gmans46 macrumors regular

    Feb 24, 2011
    is there anything special you need to do like making seperate folders or something and is there anything you would suggest for some speed? my price range is about 200$ and i want anywhere from 1-2tb of space (the more the better) is getting a firewire one for about 170$ worth it over spending under 100? or what about usb 3 does that work on the 2011 mbp

    this is the one i was thinking
  8. DakotaGuy macrumors 68040


    Jan 14, 2002
    South Dakota, USA
    If you want a fast external HHD I suggest going with a Seagate FW800 drive. I have been using mine for about 2 years as both a Time Machine back up on one partition and extra storage space on the other. Mine is the FreeAgent Desk for Mac, but I think since then they have a newer version they are selling now.
  9. Fresh Tendrils, May 17, 2011
    Last edited: May 17, 2011

    Fresh Tendrils thread starter macrumors regular

    May 14, 2011
    Hey, thanks for the replies guys! I figured everything would be sweet with streaming from an external, but it's nice to have a little reassurance before going off and spending all that money :D As soon as my uni exams are finished in a month or so I'll pick up the low end 27"

    Unfortunately my laptop is a 2009 MBP, so I guess I won't be able to use my imac as a screen for it, but that's no biggie since I'll be mostly using them for different tasks anyway. And besides I'll probably look at getting a new mpb or air in the next year and half :D
  10. talmy macrumors 601


    Oct 26, 2009
    I've got a Mac mini server with 6.5TB of external drives, of which about 2.5 TB is media (video, music, photos). I use Plex which streams it to other computers in the house, a couple being minis used as entertainment servers, and are connected via WiFi (using an Airport Extreme). This combination has been running nearly flawlessly, with rare lags caused by (probably) either the WiFi connection or server contention (it also acts as a TimeMachine server as well as other things).

    I connect the media drives using FW800 on principle, but it would probably work fine even with USB 2! The video I have is compressed and runs about 1GB/hour. That takes about 3 minutes to transfer over USB.

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