Help with MacMini as storage, media center, back up??

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by MacMediaCenter, Feb 16, 2014.

  1. MacMediaCenter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    #1
    Hi,

    Would appreciate someone’s input on my current mac set up situation and what storage/media center option I should consider given what I have and what I’m looking for:

    1) I currently have a MacBook Air mid-2011. I have no back up storage for my files, which primarily consist of MS Office files I use for work, which I save to DropBox. I also have some photo files, music files and a fair amount of movie files in .avi format. My start up disk is almost always full and prompting me to delete files.

    2) I currently have DirecTV and a mid-2010 Panasonic plasma TV. Also have an iPad Air.

    3) I have a Sonos bridge, Play 3 and Play 5, and I play music that’s either streaming or I can access music from my MacBook Air when it’s on.

    4) I have relatively slow Verizon DSL (up to 8mbs) as that’s the fastest I can get in my building. I have a super old joint modem/router that was provided by Verizon.

    5) When I want to watch a movie that I’ve downloaded onto my MB Air, I need to connect my computer to my computer with a USB to HDMI cord.

    Here’s what I’d like:
    1) An easy solution to store my files so it doesn’t take up space on the MacBook Air
    2) Some place to store all my music files so Sonos can play without my Air being on.
    3) Somewhere to store my movie files, ideally where movies can be downloaded when I’m not around given how slow my connection speed is.
    4) Somewhere my Dropbox files can be stored, as I guess these also take local up space on my MacBook Air? I need to be able to access these files when I’m traveling, though I’ll generally have internet access.
    5) Ideally some way to access my movies that are stored on a hard drive so I can play them on my iPad Air when I’m traveling.

    I’ve considered getting a Mac Mini for my home and installing Plex but can’t figure out whether this could also work as a back up storage device? I’m considering a MacMini to store movies on, so I can use my computer when I’m watching movies at home vs having to use mirroring if i were to buy AppleTV.

    I’m totally confused as to whether I need AppleTV, Mac Mini, External Hard drive, NAS storage device, some type of new router/modem?

    I’m not 100% concerned about budget, but I am concerned about buying something like an AppleTV that can’t play .avi files. I don’t have any type of surround sound system so not so concerned about DTS files.

    Ugh.. I’m totally confused, and all of these component costs seem to be adding up, maybe a bit overkill for what I need, either duplicating each other, or may be outdated if there’s a new MacMini that’s supposed to be released, or a new AppleTV. Plus, as this post may suggest, I'm not the savviest computer expert out there so I’d need to be able to figure out how to install all of these things myself so they work together. Any suggestions??

    Thanks for your input.
     
  2. noremacyug macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2014
    #2
    Help with MacMini as storage, media center, back up??

    I'd say the mini is a good option. You could also purchase the osx server app for $20 to allow the mini to become a time machine for your MBA, that's what I've done. The server software also comes with a ftp server or you could continue using Dropbox. I've installed XBMC to watch all my video files and then if I want music XBMC has airplay support so I just stream music from spotify on my phone. I control XBMC with my harmony remote programmed as a ATV remote and it works perfectly.

    You could get a time capsule, which I think allows access to files on it via wan. And then a jailbroken ATV2 for media but honestly the ATV2 sucks in comparison to the mini and I wouldn't dare go back. My possible plans for the mini are to be moved to a desktop/server role. And then for media nodes throughout the house will be some small android mini pcs running XBMC or plex clients. But for now and potentially permanently the mini works beautifully as a HTPC, backup device, torrent client and then still has plenty of leftover power for whatever else I can think of having it do.
     
  3. AuroraProject macrumors 65816

    AuroraProject

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    Right there
    #3
    Also consider a NAS like a Synology or Drobo, these fit your needs too.
     
  4. MacMediaCenter thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    #4
    Hmmm... still a bit confused!

    Ok, thanks for the replies. And apologies in advance as I’m sure this is very basic information but the more I read, the more confused I get. Exactly how would the set up work? My MS Office, photo, movie and music files would be backed up on the NAS, not on the Mac Mini? Would TimeMachine work between my MacBook Air and the MacMini or the NAS device?

    To watch movies, for example, I would download .avi files onto my MacBook Air, then transfer them via USB 3 to a NAS device like a Synology, then transfer movie files via an Ethernet cable to the MacMini, then connect the MacMini via HDMI port to my TV? The Mac Mini would look for the movie files on the Synology and can transcode them via Plex so they can play on my TV, and ideally I could access them remotely on my iPad Air if I’m not at home?

    Regarding my music, I would direct my Sonos system to find the music stored on the Synology, not on the MacMini?

    I guess I’m confused why I need both a Synology and a MacMini? Is it that the MacMini isn’t really a back up? If I get a NAS device, then perhaps I don’t need the MacMini unless I’m using it to transcode video files I may want to play remotely? I think I’m making this overly complicated so appreciate all the insight!
     
  5. Jambalaya macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2013
    Location:
    UK
    #5
    You can connect mini to your tv (mine is). Via programmes like VLC you can play any popular film format you want. I'm not a Sonos expert but my understanding is you can put all your music on the mini and the Sonis can play it. I think the storage recommendations where based on backup / performance but in my view the HDD inside the mini can handle it all plus a single external drive for backup. The mini can of course download anything overnight.
     
  6. AuroraProject macrumors 65816

    AuroraProject

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2008
    Location:
    Right there
    #6
    My apologies, I should have explained more. The nas is a small server that lives on your network, and it's purpose in life is shared storage basically. In your scenario you could use the nas instead of the mini. In my setup I have a mini connected to my tv, on the mini I run Plex media server. All of my media (movies, music, pics) live on the nas, so Plex looks there for the files. I also have Plex on 2 iPads, 2 iPhones, and a Roku in the house. All of these devices get the media from the same place. The mini backs up to the nas via Time Machine. The nas has a bt download client, so it can download files all day and night. The nas can also act as a web server, mail server, iTunes server, etc. It has many functions.
    Price can be an issue, I have a Synology DS412+ with four Seagate 4tb drives in it, so 16tb of space. A mini would be cheaper than this, but not have as much storage available.
     
  7. noremacyug macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2014
    #7
    I see no reason for the synology if you purchase a mini. You will have plenty of power on the mini to perform the duties of the synology, plus the other tasks you mention in your post. Just add external hdds to the mini or even get a nice 4 bay usb enclosure to add storage to and plug it up to the mini. I see no reason, unless there is some weird OS limitation I don't know about as to why you couldn't have as much storage or more than what auroraproject mentions. My vote is to keep it simple and budget friendly. A nice nas enclosure cost money and in your case, unnecessarily so. That money could be spent on extra storage space.
     
  8. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000

    Santabean2000

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    #8
    I'll have a go at putting forward the simplest solution for you:
    buy the 2012 Mac mini Server

    With 2x1Tb internal disks and the Server app preinstalled you have plenty of (expandable) room for a heap of music/movies etc and space for MBA Time Machine backups.

    It can download and play any file type, (esp with VLC on board), and has plenty of grunt if you wish to transcode movies etc if ever required.

    Have iTunes on permanently and all your devices can talk to it/share from it, especially using Apple's Remote app on iOS; screen sharing from your MBA is also an easy setup
     
  9. noremacyug macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2014
    #9

    I think the server is a good option "if" the extra CPU power is necessary. From what I've seen the base model should handle transcoding about 3 streams of 720p. If more streams, or higher resolution is necessary, then I see the case for the quad core. Otherwise the base model still seems the best choice in my mind since a 4TB external HDD can be had from newegg for $160.

    2TB, as mentioned earlier, is relative in terms of "enough" space. I currently have 81 movies and 404 tv episodes on a 3TB HDD. 99% of the movies are 1080p and vary in file size of 6GB to 30GB depending on bitrate. The tv episodes are mostly 720p and 1080p with filesizes of around a 1GB to 1.5GB. Anyhow, the space my files currently take on my hdd is 762GB for the movies and 325GB for the tv shows. Perhaps that's a lot and enough for the OP, perhaps not. If the quality of a small 2GB movie file is acceptable to them then they'll be able to fit much more than I. Just want the OP to take this into consideration. I don't know what kind of quality they are after or what kind of file sizes/formats will be utilized. But I know I'm quickly filling up my 3TB drive and will be needing more soon.
     
  10. shaunp macrumors 65816

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2010
    #10
    I've got a Synology NAS. It has Time Machine for backing up the stuff that's on my laptop and I can use it as a local copy for my stuff in iCloud. They will be including dropbox integration soon too, but this is currently in beta. As for important stuff that is on the NAS and nowhere else I use Amazon S3 backup directly from the NAS. I only use this for small amounts of data though. If you had a large movie collection it would be wise to get an external disk or two, copy your media to these and then store this in another location to your NAS.
     
  11. Santabean2000, Feb 18, 2014
    Last edited: Feb 18, 2014

    Santabean2000 macrumors 68000

    Santabean2000

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    #11
    I hear what you're saying. Not sure why people collect a lot of TV shows though. How many do you actually watch again..?

    Each to their own, I guess...

    [For the record, I was thinking of the simplist solution, not necessarily the cheapest or best.]
     
  12. noremacyug macrumors member

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2014
    #12
    Help with MacMini as storage, media center, back up??


    Nah, a lot of them I haven't gotten around to watching yet. Cept for the Big Bang theory. It's like Andy Griffith, it never gets old and I can watch them over and over, and I do. If the OP is not worried about budget much, I'd say you suggestion on the server is good to go. External storage can always be added later if needed and the better CPU will just increase longevity.
     

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