Drobo + Mac Mini + Mixed Mac/Windows environment + Streaming archived media files

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by jss32, May 20, 2009.

  1. jss32 macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    #1
    I just ordered a Drobo + 4 x 1TB drives and a Mac Mini with a 2.26GHz CPU and 4GB of Ram. I plan to set up the drobo and Mac Mini in the bedroom where we have an 1080p plasma TV, but no stereo. We would also like to be able to view content stored on the drobo from our living room, where we have a stereo and another 1080p TV. We have Cat 5 cable throughout the house, but I have never spent the time to set up a switch or router to turn on these outlets since everything else we have (laptops and wireless printers) is on a Linsys wireless N router.

    What would be the best way to use this setup to stream media content (audio from itunes, photos currently stored on mutliple PCs that I plan to move to the Drobo, and video that I plan to start archiving from ripped DVDs and downloadable sources) to our downstairs TV or other areas of the house? Do we need to run DLNA/UPnP software on the Mac Mini and then purchase a media adapter for the other locations, or is there a better solution. If we need DLNA/UPnP software and hardware, what, in are the best products? Would an Apple TV serve this function and allow me to play content stored in another location on a Drobo/Mini setup, and would this be better?

    Also, if I'm going to rip video content from DVDs, what is the best file format to save to so that I can easily play it from various locations (TV with UPnP media adapter, the Mac Mini, or from a Windows laptop). Any tips on a software application to manage ripping the content.

    I've been a windows guy since I sold my first generation Power PC back in 1995, and this is my first time back with a Mac in a long time, so any words of advice would be much appreciated.

    Thanks,
    -Jason
     
  2. jmpage2 macrumors 68030

    jmpage2

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #2
    I don't believe that the Apple TV is capable of streaming high quality 1080P content.

    The Mini is capable of this, as long as the video is not encrypted.

    If you have CAT5 jacks scattered throughout the home then they should all be terminated into a wiring closet or patch panel. You need to run patch cords (short CAT5 jumpers) from the patch panel jacks at the central location to a gigabit ethernet switch.

    You can get a pretty good 5 or 8 port gigabit switch for about $50-$100 depending on how many ports you need. Better switches ($150-$300) will allow for more management, health monitoring of the connections, etc.

    If your wiring at your central closet is not terminated (bare wire ends) you will need to put in a patch panel. You will need a CAT5e or better patch panel and a punch down tool. The wiring is coded and it is pretty easy to learn how to terminate the wire. Don't use the cheezy plastic punch down tool included with the patch panel. Buy a real punch down, they cost about $20 for a good one.

    The wiring can be purchased from www.monoprice.com. You can get the network switch from Amazon, Newegg, etc.

    Keep in mind that not all CAT5 is rated the same. For gigabit speeds you actually need CAT5e or CAT6. You might run into problems with longer runs and a cheap gigabit switch if your wiring is really only CAT5.
     
  3. jss32 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    #3
    Thanks for the education re: Cat5/5e/6. I'm not sure which we have, is there an easy way to tell?

    We do have a patch panel installed. Any recommendations on a particular switch to purchase? Preferrably something really easy to install and run.

    I used an old linksys 4 port router that I disabled the routing function on in order to do this in my parents house a few years ago, and although I have one of these lying around, it took forever on the phone with linksys level 2 support to get this accomplished and I don't want to go through that again.

    Thanks,
    -Jason
     
  4. jmpage2 macrumors 68030

    jmpage2

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #4
    If you can find a section of the cable running up from the wiring panel you should see the rating printed on, as to it being CAT5 or CAT5e (it might be labeled CAT5 enhanced which is what CAT5e stands for). It would be extremely unusual for any builder to use CAT6 as it is substantially more expensive. The only real difference between CAT5, CAT5e and CAT6 is how many twists per foot there are in the wire, which is what determines the maximum data rate that it can handle. There is no shielding, etc, in regular CAT5, CAT5e or CAT6 cable (but this is a common misconception). The maximum length for an Ethernet cable drop over twisted pairs is 100M. You might get away running Gigabit over older CAT5 cable if the runs are under 30-40M. You will almost certainly not get away with running Gigabit reliably if you are much over 50-60M with regular CAT5 cable.

    You can also rent a newer Fluke, or some other network meter that will actually send real data patterns over the wire. It will tell you the total length of the wiring run as well as what data rate you should be able to get over the cable.

    I personally like the higher end Netgear switches for good, cheap, gigabit speeds. They are built like tanks and have lifetime warranties. The higher end ones can be configured to force link speeds (versus auto negotiate), send SNMP monitoring traps if a port develops a problem, as well as the ability to do management and divide the switch into different virtual LANs, etc.

    I would probably look at one of these unless you have the need for something that can be managed;

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16833122111

    You want to keep your patch cords fairly short, so as not to add to the length of cable between the switch and possibly have it not be able to hit the full 1GB.

    On your Mac when you connect it to the switch with the ethernet patch cord you can go into Applications->Utilities->Network Tool and see the connected speed as well as how many errors you are taking, etc. Verify it stays up while streaming, etc, for a solid hour with no drops and you should then know that you are okay and good to go.
     
  5. davids8477 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2008
    #5
    Depending on what media you intend to stream the DROBO may not be able to sustain the transfer rate.
    I used to have a couple of Drobo's and they are great for back-up, but found them to only be able to transfer at around 5Meg/s on a consistent basic..

    Have since built a Windows home server and can easily stream at 24Meg/s.
     
  6. jmpage2 macrumors 68030

    jmpage2

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2007
    #6
    I have WHS too and it's definitely a great solution. A few more things to do to add/remove storage but it's very quick, it's a full blown server (as opposed to the gimped non-server that the DROBO is), and, it supports Time Machine backups too (if you buy the HP one).
     

Share This Page