Considering the switch from local ripped media to iTunes purchases.

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by shorn, Sep 20, 2014.

  1. shorn macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    I have a Mac Mini as a dedicated media machine hooked up to an AppleTV. Its a late 2011 model, with 2 WD FW800 drives attached. One 2TB and a 1.5TB one. Ripped movies on one, TV Shows on the other.

    I'm running out of space, and starting to think about my media going forward.

    I am seriously considering selling all this gear and using the proceeds to purchase movies/tv shows as and when I want to watch them from iTunes. (or when they are on a good deal).

    On the plus side, I can purchase a movie/tv show and its then available to the Apple TV, and all my other iDevices via the cloud. No back up worries, no iTunes needed to be running etc. Also no time spent ripping/tagging/adding to a library.

    On the minus side, eventually it's going to get quite expensive I think. Also, I'm not sure I could get by with no dedicated iTunes library at all. Especially for when certain titles are not on iTunes (or not in HD). My other worry is the stories I've read (although not experienced) of titles being lost after being purchased because the copyright owner has changed hands.

    Wondered if anyones managed to make this switch?
  2. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Don't do it. Storage is CHEAP. Go buy a couple more terabytes and "own" your media. You can get 4TB (more than doubling what you have now) for < $130.

    Streaming everything from the cloud is begging for frustrations: everything from hiccups in playback when your stream is interrupted/slow to the reality of purchased movies or shows disappearing because the owner pulled it from iTunes (that does happen). What's the solution to that problem? You'll be encouraged to download a permanent copy. Where do you store that copy? You'll need to buy more storage. So if you have to buy more storage anyway...

    Also, when you go to the trouble of ripping your media, YOU control things like quality of the end result rather than leaving that to the Studios and/or Apple. And you OWN your media, which means you can choose to sell it to someone else, give it to someone else, will it to someone else and so on; try any of that with the cloud solutions.

    The idea of streaming everything from the cloud is a great concept. But another name for it is voluntarily separating you from your media, putting middlemen like your Broadband provider (cable company) and Apple in between. Why do that when storage is so cheap?
  3. shorn thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    I guess it's possibly because my current set-up, although working fine, is a bit clunky.

    I have two separate drives so it's not a case of just dropping the prepped files into iTunes. It ends up being a little long winded.

    Purchased via iTunes, I do enjoy just browsing on my iPad, for example, and checking out my purchases in the Videos app and being able to watch anything from it. And streamed, not even needing to connect it up to transfer stuff.

    I get what your saying with regards to it not being content that you directly control, but I've not had an issue with anything I've bought from iTunes in the past. Also how common is it really for movies/shows to get pulled?

    There is one thing that could really help pull me into iTunes movie purchases.
    I would ideally like to rent a new film before buying it. Now if you could rent a film, and then buy it after renting it for the purchase price minus the rental price, I'm sure that would generate lots more sales. It would certainly help sway me.

    I'f I stick with local storage then it's time to change things up slightly. Drobo is about the only drive option I can think that will allow the iTunes library on a single drive. Any other suggestions?
  4. HobeSoundDarryl, Sep 20, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2014

    HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    Any RAID setup (Drobo is it's own variation of RAID) can store your iTunes library. I have a 4-bay from OWC and companies like Synology make 12-bay units. There's even bigger ones out there if you wanted more than 12 drives.

    Since you are near full at 3.5GB, I suggest aiming for a 4-Bay RAID 5 setup and load the 4 bays with either 4TB or maybe 6TB drives. In RAID 5, you'll lose one of those drives to being your backup (of the other 3 drives) so that setup would yield either 12TB or 18TB that you could use. That's triple to quadruple what you have now so that should last you a good long time. Check out that OWC unit as one good choice:

    The point of paying up for RAID-5 is that you are getting into storage sizes where you need a solid backup plan too. What if your 2TB drive died? That would be a lot of re-ripping if you don't have a backup now.

    If you don't care about backing it all up or if money is really tight, again, you could add 4TB for < $130. Or consider spending $260 to replace both of your existing drives. Then, you'll still have a 2-drive setup but you'll add about 4.5TB to your storage pool. Your existing 3.5TB of storage could back those up until you exceed 3.5TB. Then, you could store duplicates (above 3.5TB) in the free space on each of those drives (Movies on your TV Show drive and vice versa) until they start getting full, at which time you might add another drive to back up the surplus above 3.5TB, freeing up space on the 2 drives again.

    Another option would be to move your Mac Mini and it's drives to some other location and put an :apple:TV in it's place. Then, you could "hide" 10 drives attached to that Mac Mini somewhere in your home and feed all that media to your TV via :apple:TV.
  5. esf215 macrumors member

    Aug 9, 2013
    I have made the switch and i have no regrets. The other user is right storage is cheap and east to add on, but its all up to the user. I would buy the DVD rip and tag and then put the DVD up. Problem was i had over 500 DVDs and didn't have any place to put it. Itunes was so more of a better solution. Yes i do still download the hd movie on my 4tb hard drive as a backup. So far i have never had a problem with my movies being taking offline, but i have heard other story from people who it has happen to. Now i only buy blu rays movies of the movies that i actually really really want, and most of them all come digital codes. I just felt it was easier to go digital. I love the fact that my movies are ready on all my devices when i want it. And if i go over some house who has an apple tv. i can just sign in and play any movie i want. The choice is yours. lol
  6. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    I'm in a remote location with slow DSL so I don't want my media in the cloud. I also have a Mac Mini as an iTunes server with over 500 movies and 400 TV shows. I paid about $850 for a new Mini and three 3TB disks (two for backup) this summer. For that price I could only have bought 85 SD movies on iTunes.

    Since your server is older, you probably could only get 50 movies from the proceeds of a sale. Personally, that wouldn't interest me.
  7. JackieInCo Suspended

    Jul 18, 2013
    The good thing about buying on iTunes is that you can keep everything in the cloud. I've been buying from the iTunes store since 2008 long before they enabled the cloud for purchases. Several months ago, I finally got the nerve to delete all TV shows and movie purchases from my 7 TB of HD storage since I finally got an HD TV and was able to use the ATV2 that I bought nearly three years ago.

    I then started to use all that space for movies that I get from other sources but today, I lost about 80 movies when one of my 1TB drives refused to mount. If I had bought them in iTunes, I would still have them but many of them are not available on iTunes. Not sure there is a way to back up 5 1TB drives and one 2TB drive so this doesn't happen but it's a chance that I've always taken and eventually lose.
  8. GreatDrok macrumors 6502a


    May 1, 2006
    New Zealand
    At any time, your digital purchases can stop working. Don't do it. I only have iTunes purchases that came with discs I bought unless there's absolutely no other choice. I've had at least one example where the movie suddenly became unplayable and Apple were unable to rectify it - in that case the file they were serving via iCloud had inverted colours and they kept telling me I had set my TV wrong despite the issue affecting my iPad, iPhone, MacBook Air, Mac mini and Windows 7 PC all playing the same file and nothing else had the problem. It seems that despite their protestations, they have recently started serving a version with correct colours again but this taught me a valuable lesson about ownership of the media. My own HT solution is a Mac mini with a 3TB drive hanging off it which is just about full so I'll need to go out shopping for something bigger but the cost of those drives keeps coming down as I encode more of my collection so I'm fine with that. I consider digital purchases and iCloud streaming a nice to have but really couldn't see myself paying money for what turns out to just be a long term rental.
  9. shorn thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    Thank for the replies everyone, good to see other perspectives. This is rather timely but I've just had an issue that might stop me from making the switch!

    Back in March I purchased a book from the iBook store. (Walking Dead Compendium 1) which cost about £30.

    When i recently installed iOS 8 I wiped my iDevices. I opened iBooks and went to download some books again, but, lo and behold, The Walking Dead was not there. Checked iTunes and everywhere else and its not showing.

    I sent customer services an email to try and recover the book. They have just responded and said that because the purchase was over 60 days ago, it cannot be retrieved. Basically your SOL.

    I've responded and said that I am obviously unhappy and I'll wait to see what comes back.

    Most annoyingly is that on the iBooks page it touts about using iCloud to store your books, and that they will all show on all your devices. Despite this they seem to be happy to say that it's tough luck.

    I'm certainly not going to invest £100's if not £1000's into iTunes if this happens.
  10. preyan macrumors 6502


    Aug 31, 2007
    South Africa
    I have never experienced a digital channel being down. Remember, if you drop your hard drive or it crashes, all your data is lost. If it is in the "cloud", then you will always have access to it if you have an Internet connection.

    Also, it is available in the cloud but you can also download it locally and save it to a hard drive! It's your choice but I'd say digital purchases are the way to go. The best of both world; cloud and local storage if you want the latter ;)
  11. Lord Hamsa macrumors 6502a

    Jul 16, 2013
    Unless you're using RAID or similar. Or backing things up to other media.

    If you're doing neither of those things (and you should be doing both), then you are just asking for trouble.
  12. shorn thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    Did you see my previous comment. It's quite clear that purchases from the iTunes/iBooks store are not always there in th cloud. I've just received a further reply from the customer services representative who has said that the book I purchased is no longer available to me because it has been "modified" in the store.

    I'm pi$$ed to say the least!
  13. illusionx macrumors 6502

    Jul 4, 2014
    Brossard, QC
    When you buy something on iTunes or iBooks, your iOS device syncs a copy in your iTunes library. Consider keeping these files somewhere. Ie, iTunes library.

    If you want cloud access of all your music/videos, you can use plex.

    I use plex to stream my content from the cloud. Works flawlessly, but require that your computer to stay on just like how it is right now.

    The con? No Apple TV support. And quality is dependant on your internet upload speed.
  14. arbogast777 macrumors regular

    Sep 4, 2010

    I buy the physical copy and redeem the digital code it comes with. The physical copy (sans case) goes into storage. If there is ever something missing from the cloud, I have a backup in hand. Same price (and actually sometimes cheaper) to buy, no ripping and encoding, and no computers with daisy chained hard drives to purchase.
  15. shorn thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    I'm really not interested in storing physical media anymore, and shouldn't have to if iCloud worked as it's advertised.

    I'm not sure why the policy differs to the App Store whereby I can still download apps that have even been removed from the store.

    Seems crazy that there is no viable, safe, alternative to either storing lots if physical media, or backing up (preferably) multiple times digital media. iCloud should solve that problem, but clearly doesn't.
  16. LV426 macrumors 6502a

    Jan 22, 2013
    Yes. I would be hacked off, as well.

    Apple say that you should back up your iTunes purchases because they might not be available for download if they disappear from the iTunes store.

    Which is very poor in my opinion. They are probably under some contractual obligation to do this, unfortunately. There are certainly movies I've bought on iTunes that are no longer available for purchase, but I can still stream them from Apple to my Apple TV. But if a movie rights-owner insisted that previous purchases were off-limits, I guess there's not a lot Apple can do.

    I know the above sounds a bit lame. I'd really like to see Apple make it part of their terms that they'll host your iTunes purchases – whatever they are – forever.
  17. shorn thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    Again, I could somewhat understand if it disappeared from the store and was no longer possible to purchase. But when it's still sat there without any noticeable difference it's a bit galling. I've only made about £40 worth of purchases from iBooks, so this represents about 75% of everything I've spent in the store. The risk of losing stuff, for me, far outweighs the convenience of iCloud.
  18. GreatDrok macrumors 6502a


    May 1, 2006
    New Zealand
    Well, it seems you've found out the hard way just as I did. While Apple offered to refund my purchase (the faulty video) the process of getting to that stage was arduous to say the least. The support staff on the store were less than helpful and after much back and forwards discussion about how the problems simply couldn't be with my equipment, how I had a version I had previously downloaded that worked fine and the problem had to be with the file they were serving via iCloud they finally gave up and said I could have my money back. I had already told them I would no longer be buying media from the store because the DRM meant that if there was a problem I was out of luck. The whole concept of movies in the cloud is flawed because you're buying to rent, not own. When I get Ultraviolet (spit) codes, or iTunes codes, I redeem them but I file the disc and usually rip the disc so it will play everywhere anyway. The library on iTunes played through the various Apple TVs and iPads around the house is a great benefit but I'm determined to keep getting physical copies and ripping them. DRM is the enemy here.
  19. breezeblocks macrumors newbie

    Sep 24, 2014
    A lot of conflicting answers here!

    I made the switch from a mac mini with an external drive of ripped media to all iTunes purchases recently and am much happier.

    Personally I realised that despite owning 600+ films ripped to a hard drive I very rarely watched many more than once. I've since sold it all and between Netflix, Now TV and a few HD purchases of my favorite movies on iTunes enjoy a much more streamlined experience over all my (apple) devices.

    I do agree drm on movies and TV shows sucks if you ever want to move away from Apple devices though!
  20. 2010mini macrumors 68040

    Jun 19, 2013
    ITunes extra is what swayed me to purchase content rather than ripping. I've been slowly removing all my media with iTunes versions
  21. shorn thread starter macrumors regular

    Jun 29, 2010
    It's the ease and simplicity that makes me want to switch. If they could guarantee that all my past iTunes purchases would always be available to me then I think I would definitely do it.

    I have had a senior customer support advisor contact me today, and is going to attempt to get me access to the book again.

    I told her that I could understand not having access to a newer updated version of an item from the stores, but access to the original item should remain.

    She has said that can see that this would be better, and will submit it as feedback/an idea.

    We'll see if anything comes from it.

    Thats also an added bonus!
  22. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Easiest solution is of course to add more drive space.

    Another approach is to dump the ATV entirely and use the Mac Mini itself as your media center and again, add more external drives. Drives don't have to be fast so enclosures with 5400 or 5900 rpm are fine.

    If you were to opt to use your Mac Mini as a media center you might want to explore both XBMC and Plex (free) as front ends along with of course iTunes.

    The advantages of using the Mac Mini with XBMC and Plex is that if you opt to expand your drive space/storage, you don't have to really convert the files from DVD or for that matter Blue Ray. Instead, take the DVD and merge all the VOB files into one VOB file. Similar for M2TS files for 1080p etc. The video quality will be superior to SD and HD iTune files respectively. As for audio, OSX only allows for Dolby+ and DTS but you can leave the files (Blue Ray level) with only the HD audio stream and XBMC or Plex will use the core Dolby and DTS streams within. It is a win/win.

    NAS vs DAS. I have 2 NAS units that feed other systems including my Mac Mini and a smart Blue Ray player for media playback. I also use DAS for other purposes. In your case, DAS would be cheaper and since you must have the Mini accessible to ATV, then the DAS option makes plenty of sense.

    Just tossing more peanuts from the gallery
  23. preyan macrumors 6502


    Aug 31, 2007
    South Africa
    Yeah, saw that. I had a similar issue like yours. An email to Apple sorted it out and they readded it to my account for download. 99% of your purchases should be there though. No one is perfect and the fine print says that publishing companies and labels can pull an item from the Apple Store at anytime :confused:
  24. davidg4781 macrumors 68020

    Oct 28, 2006
    Alice, TX
    I think a mix of hard copies and digital is best, but dependent on everyone's needs.

    I have a MBP with somewhat limited storage. If I had a mini or something that's always on to keep a large digital library that would be great.

    Right now I just have regular DVDs, a couple ripped to my MBP, and a few other videos. One is an older move... The D.I. It was originally recorded from VHS via some El Gato hardware and is in 4:3. I found this was in the iTunes store but it's in 16:9. The way they did that was cutting off parts of the frames and enlarging them, leaving me missing information. It's not much, but I'd rather have the original, even if it meant black bars.

    I'm sure I have some DVDs that are in the same situation and if I had bought them through iTunes I may have lost some areas in the frames. For newer movies though, I've considered buying some through iTunes.
  25. HobeSoundDarryl macrumors 604


    Feb 8, 2004
    Hobe Sound, FL (20 miles north of Palm Beach)
    OP, I'll point you right back to post #2. You can't get that guarantee because Apple doesn't own the content in it's cloud. There was a time when a whole studio walked away from Apple for a while. There can be no guarantee with a cloud solution when one voluntarily injects other entities between themselves and their media.

    Even if Apple can get your lost iBook back, what about next time… and the time after that… and the time after that. You've got tangible evidence of the lack of such a guarantee right now. Look what you're having to do to try to get back something you think should be yours but is held by this third party (or fourth party). The ultimate answer for the iCloud crowd is to download a local copy so that you don't have to maintain such a dependency, which means you need to buy the storage to hold that copy, which gets right back to your original question. If you have to buy more storage anyway…

    Else, be prepared to go through what you're going through again. And even if this iBook issue resolves well, there's no guarantee the next one will. Again, a whole studio quit iTunes for a while once. Imagine if a whole studio's movies & TV shows were pulled from iTunes in some future dispute and you had no local backup.

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