Home Photos/Media Storage Issue; new iMac, old mini, NAS?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Miles Davis, Mar 13, 2019.

  1. Miles Davis macrumors member

    Miles Davis

    Mar 22, 2004
    My 2014 15-in MBP has a 500GB SSD that is bursting at the seams: Photos no longer downloads originals from iCloud! I just can’t imagine not having local copies of my photos, music, and videos—but, while Lightroom and Final Cut make it easy to offload originals to external storage, Apple Photos and iTunes seem to make this difficult. I thought getting a Synology NAS would solve all this, and was disappointed to learn that it doesn’t, at least not in any supported way.

    Ideally, I’d like something running at home that will be the repository for all my media, including iTunes and Apple Photos. So storage is paramount, and that’s not something Apple seems to really care about any more. That seems to rule out the new Mac mini, because I’m not willing to pay Apple’s SSD upgrade prices.


    1. Upgrade the SSD in my MBP (it’s the last model that lets you)
    2. Buy a 2014 Mac mini which lets you easily upgrade the storage
    3. Buy a new iMac, which can be configured with a 1 or 2TB Fusion drive (bonus: upgrade the RAM yourself), or maybe wait for the next gen

    I’d appreciate any advice you guys might have.
  2. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    You do have a few choices there and all could possibly work well enough. However, it is a matter of not just need but your way of doing things. I know what I might do -

    I would opt for a NAS, UPS and good sized drives to populate the NAS. Here is my reasoning - A NAS has far larger volume than an internal drive to your MBP, Mac Mini and a new iMac. Doubling the size of your present drive really isn't sufficient as files get larger and always the chance of other items taking up space (software etc.). It is possible to have a Mini used in a network for storage purposes with external drives but at times keep the external drive on line can be problematic.

    A 2 or 4 drive NAS should be sufficient. Makers such as Synology seem to be popular with first time NAS buyers and geeks (like me) tend to end up in the QNAP family. Netgear and others round out a nice set of options for NAS.

    If you get a 2 drive NAS, consider at least 4gig drives mirrored (RAID 1), If you get a 4 drive NAS again consider 4 gig drives and depending on how much drive failure protection you want, try RAID 5 or RAID 6 or 10.

    Consider investigating at smallnetbuilder (.com) site. They test and review a large bevvy of NAS units. Just make sure you get drives that make sense. You don't need the fastest drives but drives that perform well in a NAS.

    For iTunes - there are a few ways to use NAS with iTunes. I found in the past that I allow the set up for iTunes to exist entirely on my local drive. I use the "add to library feature" for NAS and I make sure to un-tick the boxes in iTunes preferences to moving the files etc. An alternative is that NAS offers their "iTunes" share 'stuff.' Either way, wouldn't hurt to hit a forum that covers that NAS and ask others who have done similar for their experiences and advice.

    One other option you might find easy enough is simply an external drive that you can hook up to your laptop. I always have a couple of drives travel with me for backup, media files (movies) and misc. This approach is easy and perhaps the cheapest.
  3. shaunp macrumors 68000

    Nov 5, 2010
    I've used a NAS for external storage for both Mac and PC for years. They work very well. What I didn't use however was Photos. Maybe time to switch to LR or CaptureOne, or anything that allows you to keep recent stuff on internal disk and archive older stuff to external storage.

    Also look at something like daisydisk to look at what is actually eating up all the space.
  4. Miles Davis thread starter macrumors member

    Miles Davis

    Mar 22, 2004
    I use LR for my DSLR raw photos, but nearly 2 decades of my life in photos is in iPhoto/Photos and now iCloud Photo Library, because that’s what syncs with iPhone and iPad, and that’s not something I’m going to change. So every day I take photos with my iPhone, that library grows bigger, which is why I want a computer that can pull all that down locally so that I have some control over it. It’s my understanding that the Synology/NAS can’t do this without some juryrigging, and that even then you’re on your own. The Mac really wants Photos to exist locally. (An Apple NAS that was specially made to work with these Mac libraries would be great, but they don’t even want to do routers anymore!)

    Right now I’ve moved my Photos library to a 2.5” external HD connected by USB 3 and it is pretty slow and of course, always needs to be connected to the laptop.
  5. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    If you don't mind the cost, you can always go for a faster external drive set up. Whether it is one drive or RAID as a "DAS." A friend of mind is very happy with attaching directly to his router an external drive. While this is not my way of doing things, I can understand some might find great advantage. In the meanwhile, I have all sorts of USB 3.0 drives and drives in enclosures. I think my favourite drive of late is the Samsung T3 and T5 external SSD USB3 drives. They are anything but slow. Samsung also makes a similar one that is a TB connect SSD. The T3 and T5 are smaller footprint than a typical 2.5 drive.
  6. Ruggy macrumors regular

    Jan 11, 2017
    I'm not sure what you think you can't do with Synology but you can, for example, use the DSphoto app on your phone which will automatically upload all the photos on your phone/ipad. (this is independent from iCloud rather than instead of.)
    You can also set it up with a geo fence so that it will upload them automatically when you get home.
    I hope that helps.
    --- Post Merged, Mar 17, 2019 at 11:16 AM ---
    Additionally, I've found Photosynch to work very well and it might also solve a problem for you
  7. Flynnstone, Mar 19, 2019 at 8:17 AM
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019 at 3:38 PM

    Flynnstone macrumors 65816


    Feb 25, 2003
    Cold beer land
    I’ll throw a bit of a curve in. I have similar machine. I put a 400G microsd card in the sd slot. It sits flush.
    I previously used a tiny usb drive.
    If you’re a photographer that uses the sd slot, that’s a pain.

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