External Hard Drive/iOS apps to stream to ATV3

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by lexk, Dec 9, 2012.

  1. lexk macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2010
    Firstly, apologies in advance if this isn't the most coherent thread. I've got a few questions floating around and I'm not too sure how best to word them, so I thought I'd turn to the good folks on here for answers!

    Like most people I've got a fairly large movie collection that I can't really keep on my internal hard drive. So far I've established that it's not possible to stream from an external drive to ATV3, however, what I'm wondering is if there are any apps (preferably iPad but not essential) that can stream/use Airplay to act as a middle man between an external hard drive and ATV? I've been looking at the WD My Book Live, but are there any other recommendations that might work better?

    If this isn't possible (or as a side question), would I still be able to use a networked hard drive to hold the movie files that iTunes reads from? I have "Keep iTunes Media folder organised" and "Copy files to iTunes Media folder when adding to library" checked in preferences so I'm assuming this would have to be disabled?

    Many thanks for any help!
  2. Menneisyys2 macrumors 603

    Jun 7, 2011
    There are a lot of them. UPnP-wise, nPlayer, PowerPlayer, 8player, AcePlayer, BUZZ Player, GoodPlayer, CineXPlayer, GPlayer by Ginkgo Tech etc. I'll also create a full list of SMB + ATV AirPlay-capable apps too.

    An excerpt from my full roundup discussing everything UPnP:

    1.4 Streaming UPnP sources to the Apple TV

    As you may know, the Apple TV can't stream from any local network sources, except for the iTunes Home Sharing. By using a low-power (again, no need to turn on a high(er)-power, full (“x86”) desktop or notebook computer) iOS device as an intermediate “proxy”, you can easily stream UPnP sources to the Apple TV. All this without jailbreaking the latter and/or consuming much power by keeping a full-blown computer on!

    Several iOS multimedia players are capable of this:

    - ones that do support hardware playback also locally: nPlayer, PowerPlayer, 8player, AcePlayer, BUZZ Player, GoodPlayer, CineXPlayer

    - ones that, while they don't support local HW playback over UPnP, nonetheless stream the original file over AirPlay just fine: GPlayer by Ginkgo Tech

    (more info: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1503346 )
  3. lunaoso macrumors 65816


    Sep 22, 2012
    Boston, MA
    If all of your movies are in iTunes from that external drive, you can use home sharing to stream right to the aTV. That's probably the bet choice as long as all of your movies are in m4v/mp4 format.
  4. hardon macrumors regular

    Aug 27, 2003
    UK Kent
    The app filebrowser for iPhone/pad can stream your movies from an external
    Drive to your Apple TV
  5. Menneisyys2 macrumors 603

    Jun 7, 2011
    You can. Also, the advantage of that solution is, assuming your NAS drive supports SMB or UPnP (most probably they do), you can shut down your desktop and only use your iOS device to select the videos to play back.

    I've even linked to some of these cheap but excellent, UPnP-capable NAS drives in my above-linked tutorial: WD My Book Live Duo 6TB for $400; Western Digital My Book Live 3 TB Personal Cloud Storage Drive for $160 etc.


    Yup, but, then, he'll need to keep his desktop powered on. Using a cheap iOS device (iPad 1 etc.) as a middleman, with any of the apps I've listed above, makes it possible to entirely shut down the desktop computer.
  6. lexk thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 8, 2010
  7. brianbunge macrumors 6502


    Aug 11, 2011
    Kennesaw, GA
    So if I have a Mac mini that stays on all the time is there any real advantage to using something like the MyBook Live over a standard external drive?
  8. Menneisyys2 macrumors 603

    Jun 7, 2011
    The MyBook Live only has UPnP but, of course, not Home Sharing. This means the ATV can't access its content without jailbreaking. (See https://discussions.apple.com/thread/4119908?start=0&tstart=0 for a related discussion.)

    You can only in two ways stream from the MyBook Live to your ATV:

    - import its stuff into iTunes and make sure it's on (my keeping your computer on while watching videos)

    - use a cheap, iOS-based UPnP proxy as has been explained by me above.
  9. Munchiemonster1 macrumors newbie

    Nov 30, 2012
    Just connect your external movie hard drive to your wireless router's USB port and then add the contents to iTunes while holding the option key. Without jail breaking, a computer running iTunes is required as a media server.
  10. stoster38 macrumors member

    Jul 10, 2008
    North Hollywood
    Hi Everyone,

    I wanted to also get in on this conversation. I have a late 2012 2.9 Ghz iMac with 24 GBs of RAM> I recently bought an Apple TV 3rd Gen. I've been ripping my blu ray/dvds and adding them to my iTunes Library. Since my internal drive is only 1TB I know that eventually I'll fill it up.

    What I want to do is get an external USB 3 HDD. Probably 3 or 4 TB just to play it safe and move my iTunes library there. What I wanted to ask if there would be any impact to performance, i.e. streaming, if I stream from an external drive vs using the internal drive.

    Has anyone had any experience with this. I appreciate any thoughts/opinions.

  11. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    Minimal impact, but it does exist. Also, save some money and buy a USB 2 HDD. The USB transfer rate is not the bottleneck.
  12. stoster38 macrumors member

    Jul 10, 2008
    North Hollywood
    Is there anything I can do to minimize the impact? I've been ripping my blu rays & dvds using MakeMKV and Handbrake and using the web optimize option as I've read that it will help minimize the time it takes to stream the movie? Any other suggestions? So is the bottleneck the WiFi network?

  13. mic j macrumors 68030

    Mar 15, 2012
    Usually, the wifi network gives people more speed issues than the HDD transfer speed. Using ethernet connections will probably give you the biggest impact, but sometimes it's just not practical. I use all wifi, external drive connected to my AEBS and have my MBP located on a different floor form the router and aTV. The movie startup lag is really minimal. Where I get a little frustrated sometimes is the lag of the movie cover art when scrolling through the coverflow on the aTV. Some also say the drive speed makes a difference 5400 vs 7200rpm. I only have 5400 so, I really can't say how big the drive speed is. Like I said, wifi vs ethernet is probably the main bottleneck.
  14. Idgit macrumors 6502


    Mar 14, 2004
    Wouldn't it be easier to create a second iTunes library just for video on the external drive and then use that iTunes Library (via holding down the option key when launching iTunes) for ATV streaming?

    This, to me, seems much, much easier than the other solutions here.

    Actually, I don't understand why you can't stream from an external hard drive attached to your Mac. I have three external HDs attached to my Mac Mini. All three drives contain TV shows and movies which stream without issue to the Apple TV.

    Am I missing something here?
  15. stoster38 macrumors member

    Jul 10, 2008
    North Hollywood
    No you're not missing anything. I'm planning to move my iTunes library to an external drive like you have done. I was just wondering if there would be any performance impact.

    Sounds like you didn't have any problems. The earlier posts are a couple of months old & the thread starter was under the mistaken impression that you couldn't stream from an external drive. I don't get some of the responses either lol!!
  16. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    You won't see any impact if your storing your iTunes library on external drives; at least for FW800 or faster. My entire iTunes library is on an external FW drive connected to a Mac mini. It has served media to multiple ATVs at once without a hiccup.

    I agree on the responses. Many are misinformed simply because they haven't actually experienced such a set up first hand. Many assume you need bleeding edge tech to serve media and files. Its just not the case. My home servers over the years have always been pretty humble gadgets compared to the contemporary computer architecture at the time.

    I currently run a 2009 mac mini that serves 5 atvs, 3 macs, 2 ax and many ios devices. It also provides misc network services. I've yet to see this thing miss a beat under moderate to heavy loads.

    Just be sure to have enough backup space to include the expanded external storage.
  17. kage207 macrumors 6502a

    Jul 23, 2008
    I built a Unix server and put Plex on there. I just Airplay everything from that server to my AppleTV. It has a beautiful app that allows you to even stream your content outside the home.

    Unfortunately, most 3rd party apps will not work with DRM content so you have to find content that isn't DRM if you are looking for this external solution.

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