iTunes library storage advice.

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by rlogan814, Jun 14, 2012.

  1. rlogan814 macrumors member

    Jan 23, 2012
    Thanks in advance for any help given. I switched everything over to apple last year. We have 3 apple tvs, 1 2011 Mac mini, the new iPad, and 2 iPhones. I have an airport extreme hooked up to my cable modem. We got sick of the time Warner cable service, so discontinued it and just bought all our tv shows through iTunes. With the "1080p" movies being offered we started purchasing those too. And, I've begun to rip my DVD's to my library too.

    My problem is I'm running out of storage space. Maybe not quickly, but it is insidiously persistent. I've already filled the 500gb internal drive and transferred that to a 2tb seagate FireWire external drive, and now that's almost full.

    I stream everything to the apple tvs and use the Mac mini for home sharing. I download all purchased content to the 2tb external drive to act as a back up incase the Internet / iTunes store is down.

    I'm not concerned about backing the library up to a 2nd drive incase of a drive failure because all the purchased content can be redownloaded. Ive done a fair amount of research on this forum and my initial idea was to just get the WD 6TB external drive and use whatever raid option maximizes space not redundancy. I was intrigued by NAS and being able to upgrade the drives as I go along, but disappointed when I found out that the ones that act as an iTunes server do not stream movies/tv shows, unless I read that wrong???

    So is purchasing the largest external drive my best option? Are there any options beside that and investing in NAS which are more future proof? If I'm using the drive just to back up purchases and stream home sharing content is the FireWire connection necessary? Would USB 2.0 suffice? Any hard drive recommendations? Any help would be great because whatever I choose to do it will impact the next couple years of my iTunes library. Thanks.
  2. WesCole macrumors 6502a

    Jul 1, 2010
    I would think buying the largest drive you can find would be your best option. I currently have a 3TB drive for my media.
  3. Brian33 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 30, 2008
    USA (Virginia)
    I think WesCole is right. Although NAS is a viable option, some Firewire or USB direct-attached-storage would do just fine and be simpler. I don't own a NAS device, though I've read about them, and there is a certain amount of configuration involved in setting it up. And I got the idea, too, that the iTunes servers didn't stream movies to Apple TVs. (But I'm not an expert in that area and could well be wrong.)

    Although external USB drives are cheaper, I would go with Firewire drives, largely because of the daisy-chaining feature. I've got three chained together and it's great. When you need more capacity, you just buy another Firewire drive and daisy-chain it off of the last one. Of course, USB drives can be connected with hubs, but I think that just makes a mess. I do think USB drives would be fast enough if there's only one Apple TV needing access at a time. If all three Apple TVs might want different movies at the same time, my gut feel is USB would be inadequate, and Firewire or a (fast) NAS would be the way to go.

    I can't think what a NAS would do (for your specific need) that a chain of Firewire drives wouldn't (assuming we're right that the NAS iTunes servers are inadequate) except for one thing: a NAS typically (I think) would make several drives appear as one single huge volume to OS X. That would be useful if your iTunes library is gigantic and if you need it to fit on one single volume. (I know one can have multiple iTunes libraries, but you may not want to? Just trying to think way down the road...)

    Now, I believe the Firewire drive solution would handle that potential need, too -- you could use OS X's software RAID capability to combine the multiple Firewire drives into one volume. I haven't tried it but I think it would do nicely. Can anyone confirm this?

    Some things to think about.
  4. radiogoober macrumors 6502a

    Jun 7, 2011
    ^^ Agree with the above. It's always much simpler to simply buy a single large drive and keep stuff on that. But I would of course recommend a second large disk to backup the first one to. I know you said you can re-download the content - if it's just music, then no worries. If you start collecting TV shows, movies, etc, then definitely get a 2nd disk for backup.

    You'll probably find that as you get more HD space, you'll start downloading more and more crap. It just works out that way! :)

    I also agree to either get a FW800 or Thunderbolt drive because they are lightning fast and you can daisy chain them. Since you have the 2011 Mac mini USB3.0 is not an option. Do not get a USB2.0. It is so incredibly dreadfully slow that you'll hate life.
  5. marzer macrumors 65816


    Nov 14, 2009
    iTunes servers built into NAS devices aren't actually iTunes servers, its a DAAP server which iTunes is compatible with. From iTunes you can see the music but can't create playlists or sync iPods or copy to the local machine (as with Home Sharing). You may be able to play video if they aren't DRM, which iTunes video is, but i can't remember its been a few years since I've used one. But [non-hacked] apple tvs definitely don't see them.
  6. radiogoober macrumors 6502a

    Jun 7, 2011

    If you want to do any kind of streaming, don't rely on any of the "iTunes server" features of 3rd party hardware. The only way to stream content in an iTunes library to an AppleTV is to have a computer open running iTunes.
  7. Obioban macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2011
    I would suggest looking into a Drobo. It's not very fast, but there's no need for speed in media serving. You could have the slowest drive made in the last 10 years and have no issue streaming a 1080p movie off of it... and the drobo isn't that slow :roll:

    What's nice about the drobo is that expands over time-- which, imo, is the perfect solution for the space creep issue that everyone building a media library has. When you need more space, you add another drive to the drobo... and it automatically updates the drobo to have more space available to you. Once you fill up the drive bays, you can just swap out the smallest drive with a bigger drive (by the time you fill up the bays, bigger drives will be out, as drives are always getting bigger). The drobo automatically updates your data on the fly, so nothing is lost in the swap. Literally just remove the small drive and insert the replacement. Same thing in the event of drive failure-- just pull out the bad drive and replace it (with a bigger one if you so desire)-- no data lost.

    So it's both self backing up and expands to have more space over time. Perfect for your needs imo.
  8. radiogoober macrumors 6502a

    Jun 7, 2011
    I can't stand behind something like a Drobo or Synology because of the possibility that the entire device fails. I understand how the drobo RAID works, and how the synology hybrid RAID works, and their redundant disk, etc, but the fact remains if the unit itself dies then everything is lost. That means to be actually safe you need two units, and to backup the 1st to the 2nd, or some elaborate array of drives to back it up. Only under those circumstances would I ever feel comfortable using something like that for irreplaceable data.

    For instance, if you have a drive failure while trying to rebuild the array after a failed drive. I know it's "unlikely", but correct me if I'm wrong, it's rather HD intensive to rebuilt an array, which makes a failure more likely than normal, casual use.

    *** If I am drastically wrong, please teach me.
  9. Obioban macrumors regular

    Oct 19, 2011
    Drobos failing is very, very uncommon, but if it happened I'd buy a new drobo and put my existing disks into it.
  10. radiogoober macrumors 6502a

    Jun 7, 2011
    You mean if the hardware failed,you could put the disks into anew drove unit. Interesting. Does the drove raid allow for double disk redundancy?


    I just Looked on their site and see it does support dual disk redundancy.

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