iTunes Server: 2 MacMini + 2 ATV2 + NAS + 1 Ethernet

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by weenie, Nov 2, 2011.

  1. weenie macrumors member

    Jan 11, 2010
    Need advice from the experts, and I already have tried to research in the archive but not found the info...


    It might be specific to me, but my 2-story house only has 1 wired Internet connection from ISP. It is in the office upstairs where the MacMini is Ethernet-connected for consistent downloading from iTunes. All media stored in 3TB external HD next to MacMini, and getting quite full.

    I am using multiple Airport Extreme units to expand the same wireless network downstairs to the living room TV and ATV2. I can't run Ethernet cables downstairs, and the walls/floor are solid concrete so wireless signals downstairs are weak even with the latest, more powerful Airport Extreme units.

    The wireless signal downstairs is not 100% consistent so I have to reboot the Airport Extreme and/or reset passwords ATV2 quite often to watch iTunes-bought media.

    It is quite a PITA!


    1. Move the MacMini downstairs next to the TV, and wire-connect to the ATV2 instead of wireless to avoid inconsistent wireless connection when watching media.

    2. Get a Synology NAS to upgrade my storage and future proof for a few years as I do buy a lot of media from iTunes. Place the NAS next to MacMini, again, to avoid inconsistent wireless connection when watching media.

    3. Use another PC located in the office upstairs to download from iTunes and save to NAS storage via wireless. This will be done in background so speed and consistency not important.

    4. Also get another ATV2 for the bedroom (upstairs) to watch media as wireless signal is strong upstairs.


    Would that lay out work ?

    Can multiple PC's (on same Apple/iTune ID) share an iTunes library (on NAS) ?From here, it seems to indicated so.

    If yes, do I need to use all Mac or can I mix Windows and Mac PC ? I don't mind investing in another MacMini for upstairs to download from iTunes.

    Is there a better way ? This will cost a few bucks so just want to make sure it will work and there isn't a more simple, elegant solution.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. peterjcat macrumors 6502

    Jun 14, 2010
    Have you tried HomePlugs (powerline networking)? They don't work for all setups but have become a lot more robust in recent years and might be just the ticket in your situation. If you haven't tried them, I would suggest getting some from a shop that will let you return them easily and see what sort of throughput you can get.
  3. weenie thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 11, 2010
    Thanks for the suggestion, I have tried and it didn't work. I didn't quite understand the explanation from the shop - something about the circuitries are separated.
  4. LaunchpadBS, Nov 2, 2011
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2011

    LaunchpadBS macrumors 6502a

    Nov 11, 2008
  5. weenie thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 11, 2010
    Thanks, that's same as Powerline Network suggestion above.

    As stated, I can't drill and run Ethernet lines in this house. That would be simple :)

    The main question here is can w have an iTunes library on NAS that multiple PC's can access and be updated automatically when new media is added by one of the PC's.
  6. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    You should be using Airport Extremes, not Expresses. The Extreme has 3 antennas for receive and transmit along with a more advanced radio stack compared to the Express. I'm using a Pair of Extremes to handle work that 1 Extreme and an Express couldn't handle. They are working wonderfully.

    But, what you really need to do is find a way to sneak a ethernet wire somewhere. Can you run one inside a spare electrical conduit? Is there an outside window you can use to out outside the building and then back in somewhere on the ground floor? Just a couple of ideas, I know but I know you'd be much happier with ethernet than even the best wireless.
  7. Sarmiento macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2011
    I purchased a Synology 1511+ (NAS) and I had the same idea. Unfortunately, iTunes, Aperture, iPhoto, etc. do not work well on a NAS generally. The drives are formatted EXT4 and you have to have HFS+ or you will run into problems.

    Now you can get an iSCSI application but I have found that they are now expensive and/or not reliable. I now use the Synology as my time machine backup for all the computers and I dedicate some file space for files that are not affected by the EXT4 format.

    You are better off putting your files on an external drive (thunderbolt or firewire) and with respect to iTunes just turn on the Home Sharing. You other computers will be able to access your music, movies, etc. as long as you are on the same network.
  8. weenie thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 11, 2010
    Thanks for the reply.

    I have been reading on and it seems that others are facing the same problem (i.e. iTunes & NAS).

    It looks like you already went down the road that I was planning so I will forget about iTunes on NAS for a while. Hopefully I won't run out of space on the 3TB external drive (via FireWire) before a solution appears.

    It is just PITA having to reboot Airport Extreme units almost every night before sitting down to enjoy a show/movie.


    I am already using all Extreme units (latest 2011 version).

    I know Ethernet is the right solution, thus already tried PowerLine / etc but just can't run a cable.

    Thanks for the suggestions.
  9. paulrbeers macrumors 68040

    Dec 17, 2009
    What about coax cabling in your house?

    You can probably find them cheaper, this was just found doing a quick search.

    You would have to put all of your network gear wherever all your drops come to, but many have had good luck with this. And you don't have the problems with powerline adapters (i.e. split circuits and noise from appliances). The key is to search for MOCA adapters.
  10. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    yup, thats a great idea.

    And sorry, I posted the Extreme vs. Express comments before I had my first cup of coffee. :)
  11. weenie thread starter macrumors member

    Jan 11, 2010
  12. ssgrif macrumors member

    Jul 26, 2011
    not sure why you're forced to format the drives as EXT4. I have the smaller synology Ds211J and this stores all my media including itunes and I've not had any issues with it at all. I have an aptv2 that streams content from my NAS to the tv and i couldnt ask for a more suitable system.

    dont discount the synology range, take another look. i wont go with anything else, once i fill my current 4tb I'll simply increase the hdd or get one with more bays.
  13. sulliweb macrumors regular


    Mar 13, 2011
    Ok, my situation is a little different than yours. I have iTunes running on a PC, but I have the library stored on a NAS. It works great. YMMV on a Mac Mini, but as long as the network connection is a good wired setup between the NAS and the host PC, the ATV2 won't even realize that it's there.

    The only thing I notice is that I have the hard drives set to spin down after 15 minutes, since most shows are longer, there's a bit of a lag whenever a show starts, since it takes 5 seconds or so for the drives to spin up. I could increase the time, but it would cause more wear on the NAS...

    Anywho, hopefully that will help someone out there.
  14. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    I have my iTunes media stored on a Synology NAS and shared between multiple Macs. It works, but is non trivial to set up and requires manual fiddling to keep content available on all machines.

    It is much easier to deal with direct attached storage than with a NAS, but if you are really dedicated you can get iTunes to work reasonably well with NAS. Unfortunately, in the Apple ecosystem there is very little to be gained by going through the effort of setting up the NAS, as you still have to have a computer running with iTunes open to access your media through an AppleTV.

    Now that AppleTV is able to stream TV Shows direct from the iTunes Store (without downloading to a local copy of iTunes First), the requirement to have the computer & iTunes running is at least somewhat reduced anyway. If they are able to add this ability for Movies as well, a lot of these hoops won't be worth jumping through at all; all you will need is a reaonable connection from AppleTV to the internet.
  15. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Agreed. I have used iSCSI for some testing since this makes the NAS appear as local storage to the computer. In the testing its worked well but I haven't gone all the way and moved my iTunes library over yet. I've got to move in the next couple of months and I'm not in a hurry to start a project like that at the moment.
  16. Sarmiento macrumors member

    Mar 31, 2011
    Are you just having the media files on the NAS and keeping the other itunes files on the main computer? Any issues of it disconnecting and not finding your files? I thought iTunes was like aperture where it is recommended not to store your referenced files on a NAS.
  17. reebzor macrumors 6502a


    Jul 18, 2008
    Philadelphia, PA
    running ethernet doesn't require drilling through walls and floors. It is very possible to run cables inconspicuously by running them under baseboards, around molding on door frames, under carpets, etc. Get cables in a color that will blend in, or paint them.

    A standard ethernet cable can be 300ft in length, in most scenarios, this is more than sufficient for you to take the long way if for nothing else but to run one cable to a downstairs access point. You might need to get creative but I just find it hard to believe that there is absolutely no way to run ethernet.
  18. Panch0 macrumors 6502a

    Feb 23, 2010
    Media files on NAS, library files local to each computer.

    On startup, I have set my Alias to the NAS Share as a login Item so that it connects automatically. I then created an Automator Action that also runs as a login item to Wait for 30 seconds and then launch iTunes. Normally this is enough time for the shared volume to be available for iTunes. A few days ago, My power went out for a couple of hours - when everything booted back up, apparently my 30 second pause was too short and I had to manually reconnect the volume & restart iTunes.

    Direct attached is monumentally easier to deal with, but NAS will work. You need to have a real reason to go through the bother of getting a NAS set up - for me, it was a desire to make my library available to a laptop with a small SSD, but with iCloud that is less an issue than it was a year ago when I started messing around with the NAS.

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