Become a MacRumors Supporter for $25/year with no ads, private forums, and more!

Can I use a Mac mini and Synology NAS with my ATV4Ks?

Boyd01

Moderator
Staff member
Feb 21, 2012
5,160
2,406
New Jersey Pine Barrens
I have used 3 different Mini's over the years as iTunes servers. They all ran 24/7 with no sleep and the disks never spinning down. When I want to watch something, I don't want to wait for disks to spin up. ;)

On the Apple TV, go to the Computers icon, then select your server. From that point on, the only content that you will see will be local files on that machine (the AppleTV doesn't know anything about your NAS, it's functionally the same as a disk on the server).

You can easily try this out without buying anything. Just put some movies in iTunes on any Mac (you probably already have some) and turn on home sharing. You will then have an iTunes server, it's just that simple. You should be able to select it through the Computers icon on your AppleTV.

As far as using the AppleTV app (as opposed to "computers"), I am under the impression that it will stream your iTunes purchases from Apple's servers directly. I don't think it will access them on a local server, but I really don't know for sure. I just upgraded from an AppleTV 3, and there are a number of things that still confuse me about the new(er) models. :)
 
Comment

mpainesyd

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2008
654
157
Sydney, Australia
Thx Boyd01. Maybe I should clarify: my vision for this setup is that with a Mac having the Store and iTunes and its Library on my Synology NAS, I want to download HD copies of my Apple Store purchases, and unless the movie is 4K I would likely use not the cloud but instead the Synology.
As I explained at the start of this thread, the iTunes media library is (best) located on the Mac. The actual video files can be stored on the NAS and simply linked to the media library - they don't take up space on the Mac. This works for iTunes purchases as well as ripped videos.
 
Comment

laserfan

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2012
74
3
I have used 3 different Mini's over the years as iTunes servers...
Thanks for telling!

You can easily try this out without buying anything. Just put some movies in iTunes on any Mac (you probably already have some) and turn on home sharing. You will then have an iTunes server, it's just that simple. You should be able to select it through the Computers icon on your AppleTV.
You're right, I should fiddle with wifey's MacBook a little. I used to have iTunes on this Windows PC but ditched it...

As I explained at the start of this thread, the iTunes media library is (best) located on the Mac. The actual video files can be stored on the NAS and simply linked to the media library - they don't take up space on the Mac. This works for iTunes purchases as well as ripped videos.
Thank you for reminding me! Lemme tell ya when you surf on the media library and moving-or-relocating it you get a lot of confusing takes on this. Iirc too Synology has an "iTunes server" which turns out is misleading in the sense that I think it means just music, not video.
 
Comment

GLS

macrumors 6502
Jun 26, 2010
376
138
I'm echoing what others here have done, but I've done this for going on 10 years now. I've replaced the Mac Mini with a newer one when the logic board died, and I've upgraded from a USB drive to my current 32TB NAS, but the process is the same:

Mac Mini runs itunes
NAS has a share (named itunes)
In the preferences in iTunes on the Mac Mini, point the library to the mounted NAS share

Then make sure home sharing is all configured in iTunes, etc. Also, make sure your Mac Mini is networked using ethernet, not wifi. Helps with performance.

The only time we have an issue is if for some reason the NAS share is not mounted and iTunes is running. You get a generic message on the Apple TV's about content not available. Mount the share, close iTunes, start it back up, make sure it is pointing at the share and all is well.

We have 5 Apple TV's in the house, and we can stream from this single library to all 5 at the same time, if we wanted.
 
  • Like
Reactions: laserfan
Comment

laserfan

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2012
74
3
Thanks GLS! A question about performance. Can you tell me/do you know where the Mac Mini bottlenecks might be? I have flexibility re: placement, but not all of my house is networked via Ethernet. I could, for example, put my Mini and NAS in the same rack with my ATV4K. Or I could put my Mini and NAS in another location but that would mean WiFi to ATV4K.

Or could you just confirm what I mentioned above: I thought I read that once the ATV4K communicated with the Mini/iTunes, that it streamed directly from the NAS i.e. the Mini is not in the way...?

p.s. would love an excuse to get a Mac Pro (not the new one, the cylinder I mean) but you agree GLS that is crazy for just itunes yes?
 
Comment

GLS

macrumors 6502
Jun 26, 2010
376
138
Thanks GLS! A question about performance. Can you tell me/do you know where the Mac Mini bottlenecks might be? I have flexibility re: placement, but not all of my house is networked via Ethernet. I could, for example, put my Mini and NAS in the same rack with my ATV4K. Or I could put my Mini and NAS in another location but that would mean WiFi to ATV4K.

Or could you just confirm what I mentioned above: I thought I read that once the ATV4K communicated with the Mini/iTunes, that it streamed directly from the NAS i.e. the Mini is not in the way...?

p.s. would love an excuse to get a Mac Pro (not the new one, the cylinder I mean) but you agree GLS that is crazy for just itunes yes?

For this purpose, the bottleneck would be networking, if you were using wifi on the mini. That's why I advised against it. I was using a 2009 mini with 4 gb ram for my mini until it died. Now, I'm using a 2012 mini in it's place. As for our Apple TV's, all of them are using wireless and have no issues with playback.

Itunes on the Mini is sharing a library; the only difference in this scenario is where the media is stored (NAS). So, you want your NAS to be using ethernet as well instead of wifi (if there is even such a thing as a wifi NAS).

A Mac Pro of even 2008 would be too much overkill for this, much less a trash can Mac Pro. Really, all you are doing here is sharing a media file. A proper functioning network environment is more important to all this than the individual performance of a Mac Mini or whatever you are using to share the media.

As for your other question, once the movie starts streaming it is coming from the NAS, not the Mac Mini.
 
  • Like
Reactions: laserfan
Comment

laserfan

macrumors member
Original poster
Jul 13, 2012
74
3
Thank you. Whatever I do then, I will make certain the Mac is ethernet to NAS. I had to press you on this because my network is a bit tricky i.e. my router uses a 5GHz WiFi link to a Bridge, and I also have between the router and my HT rack a PLC pair.

I think I will buy a newer Mac Mini if only to stay current with wife's 2018 MacBook. I have run Snow Leopard in a Virtual Machine on my PC but as the years go by I have decided I need to simplify, simplify, simplify (and am doing a lousy job of that!).
 
Comment

mpainesyd

macrumors 6502a
Nov 29, 2008
654
157
Sydney, Australia
Why not start more simply w/ Synology's Video Station solution? You can also run Plex right on the Synology.

If you decide to get a mini, while I run Plex on mine, it is pretty complex and I've found that Air Video HD works really well, with much less complexity.
But I understand none of these will run iTunes purchases due to DRM - you need a Mac, iTunes and Homesharing to watch these off-line.
I agree Air Video HD (a server running on the Mac) works well For non-Apple video, although the ATV app is a bit clunky.
 
Comment

x-evil-x

macrumors 601
Jul 13, 2008
4,919
2,673
just get an Nvidia shield with their plex server and connect your drives to that. You'll gain another streaming box with capabilities and have a plex server that you can use on your appletv.
I use infuse for all my stuff also(even though the shield has audio passthrough). Sometimes ill use the Shield but I feel the picture on apple is better than on the shield.
Thats 150$ for a shield instead of worrying about running your computer all the time the shield's USB ports stay active when the system sleeps.
Also, infuse direct plays my media and I have no issues playing my 30-50gig 4k rips in all their glory.
 
Comment
Register on MacRumors! This sidebar will go away, and you'll see fewer ads.