HP Home Server vs. NAS vs Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Madmic23, Oct 10, 2009.

  1. Madmic23 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2004
    Hi everyone, I'm looking for some advice on how to create a decent file sharing setup. Currently, I have a G5 iMac, and MacBook, three 500GB external HDDs, and a PS3. I want them all to share the same music, video, and photo library stored in one place. Here are the options I'm considering:

    HP Home Server $499: Has built in Mac support for time machine backups, is an iTunes music server, and is UPnP compatible for my PS3.

    NAS: Buying a new router that I can hook my external HDDs up to via USB and just share it on the network.

    Mac Mini: Sell my iMac G5, replace it with a Mac Mini, and leave it on all the time as my home server hooked up to the three externals. This would require me to buy an LCD monitor as well, which I would also use for my MacBook.

    I know some of you may be asking why I don't just keep the iMac and use it as a media server. The problem is, the only decent software I've found for that is Intel only, so my G5 is out of luck.

    What do you think? Anyone else have a different solution to a similar problem?

    Thanks for your input.
  2. fr4c macrumors 65816


    Jul 27, 2007
    Hamster wheel
    Wait for the Mac Mini refresh, since it's probably just around the corner.
  3. Madmic23 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2004
    If I go with the Mac Mini, I will definitely wait for the refresh. I just don't know if that is the best route to go, as that will be the most expensive option as I will have to buy the Mini and a monitor.

    I like the idea of the HP Home Server, but again, it's not the cheapest option.

    If I go with network attached storage, the price is cheap, but the amount of features are lacking.

    That's why I'm curious to see what other people have for a setup here.
  4. tempusfugit macrumors 65816

    May 21, 2009
    the only thing stopping me from getting a mini is the 500 gb storage limit. not enough!

    I have a ubuntu box spinning 2 500 gig hds (used to be a vista machine, now enjoying its twilight without the headaches) that suits my purposes much better.

    have you thought about using an old pc as a linux server? works GREAT for me. Once its setup you don't need a monitor either, as screen sharing works just fine.
  5. rhett7660 macrumors G4


    Jan 9, 2008
    Sunny, Southern California
    If all you want to do is share some files do a NAS. No reason to spend the money on a Mac Mini or HP Home Server.
  6. Madmic23 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2004
    That's what I thought, but I do like the idea of having an iTunes server built in, as well as the UPnP ability to stream music and bideos to my PS3 without having a computer on.

    Is anyone using any sort of NAS that has these features?
  7. psingh01 macrumors 65816

    Apr 19, 2004
    The MediaSmart server is a NAS and more. I have one do two things with it:

    1. NAS
    2. automatically encode mpeg2 files to H.264.

    It works great at both things. I don't use the iTunes server, but it's "on", so whenever I go into my iTunes the HP library appears there (even though it's empty).

    I like the mini, but you are limited by storage. What's the most you can currently fit in there, 500GB? An HP can fit several terabytes, has hot swappable bays so upgrade is easy. The newest high end model even has a C2D cpu should you need the horsepower (mainly for the encoding I guess).

    Doesn't look as cool as the mini, much larger and of course it runs Windows so you have to deal with a non-mac interface at least while trying to manage the server. If I were to go with the mini I would also get one of those external drives that are designed to go with the mini. This is a more expensive route.
  8. happyWmac macrumors newbie

    Oct 10, 2009
    Denver, CO
    I have a number of the same needs you've described and decided to go the NAS route. The mini option is definitely workable too, and I keep one running 24/7 for web and Squeezebox serving. But I was attracted to the NAS by throughput, expandability, and reliability (RAID 5). Remember, every hard disk you own will fail if you give it long enough ... so redundancy is a very good idea.

    When you check out the NAS reviews, one thing you'll notice is that they're not all created equal, especially when it comes to throughput and network performance. I was attracted to the Thecus brand after reading a number of very positive reviews. I picked up a M3800 chassis a couple of weeks back and filled it with 3x 1.5 TB drives. The whole package ran under $750.

    I'm extremely impressed with the performance and I look forward to years of reliable service. The whole box is web configurable and plays well on a Mac network. I use an AFP automount to make sure the boxes that need to see the NAS always have it.

    Happy hunting!
  9. jaw04005 macrumors 601


    Aug 19, 2003
    Are you going to use it for backup? Obviously, the Mac mini will not have redudancy capabilities like the HP MediaSmart Server or the NAS.

    I'd go with the MediaSmart Server or the NAS. Do you have a Windows machine? I believe a Windows machine is still required to run the intial setup and configuration of the HP MediaSmart Server.

    You can also run full blown iTunes on the MediaSmart Server too. You can install it via Remote Desktop.
  10. scottkifnw macrumors regular


    Jan 17, 2008
    Trophy Club, TX

    I recommend that you really get into one to see if you can live with the user interface. I don't really like that aspect of it.

  11. Madmic23 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    Apr 21, 2004
    Crazy idea: What about a netbook?

    Ok, I know this one is a little out there, but what about using a netbook as a home server? I can pick one up for around $300, attach my three 500GB HDD for a total of 1.5TB of storage.
    That would give me a tiny server with a built in screen and keyboard. The Acer Home Server is practically a netbook since it is using the same Atom processor, the only difference is it has all of that built in storage which I would be attaching via USB. I know, it sounds a little crazy, but it would probably work.
  12. belvdr macrumors 603

    Aug 15, 2005
    No longer logging into MR
    It may also be slower due to using USB storage. It shouldn't have any functionality issues if you use the correct OS.
  13. MacFanUK macrumors 6502a


    Jul 29, 2009
    I would go with something like an IcyBox NAS4220 which has an iTunes server built in. It also has other features such as FTP server for accessing your files over the internet and a Bit Torrent client.
  14. milk242 macrumors 6502a

    Jun 28, 2007
    HP just uses firefly media server as their itunes server and it's pretty much defunct from what I'm seen on their website. You could probably build a nice little linux box running netatalk (AFP file sharing protocol) and firefly media server (itunes server) and probably install a upnp server to serve media to your ps3.

    Personally I like the Acer Revo-1600 which includes the intel Atom 230 processor and Nvidia Ion Platform (9400m) for about $200 or $160 refurbished. It also includes an esata port if you have an external HD that has esata. Only downside is no firewire, but I'd try to go esata all the way anyways.
  15. cube macrumors Pentium

    May 10, 2004
    Mac mini with OS X Server, for Spotlight support.
  16. jlwilsonjr macrumors member

    May 24, 2008
    Murfreesboro Ar
    I'm doing the same research

    I'm a similar situation, trying to decide which route to take. I have came to the conclusion that a NAS would work best for me. I wanted to be able to do the following:

    1. Central storage for all media
    2. RAID for data protection
    3. iTunes server
    4. Security Surveillance Suport
    5. Streaming media through out the home
    6. Access files from a remote location

    I have an old Dell dimension 8400 that I thought about installing Windows home server on it and upgrading the HD's and using that since we hardly ever use the PC after getting the MBP.

    Take a look at QNAP and Synology NAS both have several models and all are rich in software.
  17. Bye Bye Baby macrumors 65816

    Bye Bye Baby

    Sep 15, 2004
    i(am in the)cloud
    Go the mini. It's a great machine.

    I use it with a drobo. Cannot complain.
  18. js81 macrumors 65816


    Dec 31, 2008
    Way to revive a dead thread, guys... ;)

    Since we're here, I recommend the Acer EasyStore home server - nice and small, very quiet, low power, and four hot-swap drive bays. I bought one to use at our church for backup the other day from newegg.com for $379 and free shipping (1TB storage, 3 empty bays).
  19. 2ms macrumors 6502

    Nov 22, 2002
    Can anyone tell me whether or not it is possible to make an NAS be completely transparent to the user in that, for example, you could locate the "users/"someuser"/downloads" directory on the NAS rather than on local machine while having every other directory still be local?

    As another example, could you have a Macbook with a small SSD containing essentially just the Applications, Library, and System directories on the SSD and everything else (particularly "Users") located on an NAS? I mean, would this be a sensible at all way of doing things, or would it be way way slower than having the directories stored in traditional hard drive inside of Macbook?

    Would you have to have a bunch of "shortcuts" rather than having everything just look the same as if they were on your local drive and also would you have to be entering bunch more passwords everytime you reboot computer or any other things like that that might be annoying?
  20. chrispholt macrumors regular

    Feb 6, 2010
    Cheddar, UK. Yes where the cheese comes from..

    Yes, if you get a NAS which allows you to set up ISCSI drives, it will allow you to make "partitions". Which you would then mount onto your mac. You would then format it and used it as a normal drive as it will be "virtual" like a cloud but a lot faster if you have gigbit Ethernet.


    Is that what you meant?

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