iTunes Server

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by sulliweb, Aug 27, 2011.

  1. sulliweb macrumors regular


    Mar 13, 2011
    I'm considering, like another recent post, getting a Mac Mini to host iTunes. I just want a dedicated machine that I can always have on and not have to think about... that sort of thing.

    My current setup is a Win 7 machine hosting my iTunes Library off of a Drobo FS. It's a great setup, but it means leaving my PC running. Apple's stuff is typically lower power, less heat, less stress on the machine to be on and not in use, and won't require a reboot quite as often... To add to this, I've got a lot of videos, home movies, some DVD's etc. I've put them in iTunes and added all the tags. Though, to the best of my knowledge, iTunes seems to keep that in the library and not write it back to the actual file. Or am I wrong about that? I'm still learning some of this stuff...

    I know I can transfer it, but with a NAS and Mini, will it do an in place transfer? Let's just say at this point, I don't have enough space to allow it to copy every file, and even if I added space to do that (which will happen eventually), I don't really want to take the days that that might take. I have over 2 TBs worth of iTunes data between music, movies, and TV Shows.

    Is there a good solution? Or am I just left with bad choices?

    Any advice or thoughts would be appreciated. :confused:

  2. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    I think in essence, you've got the right idea and I think you'll be fine. Yes, a Mac will access a PC's itunes folder. It should just work. Your metadata will come over as well and you shouldn't have to do anything special to make that happen.

    If you have been manually editing your media to have the correct metadata you'll probably love a program for your Mac called iFlicks. it automatically handles that and all your transcoding needs quite well. Its a terrific program and I prefer it to Handbrak even though it costs money for iFlicks.
  3. Mawal, Aug 28, 2011
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2011

    Mawal macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2010
    It is absolutely no problem to migrate an Itunes / Win environment to an Itunes Mac environment, including all tags, ratings, cover art an so forth.

    I did pretty much the same thing as you plan to do, coming from Windows, I bought a Mac Mini as a dedicated Itunes machine and migrated all my stuff to it. Zero data or meta data loss, just amazing.

    A Mac mini, can be an older model, and an external usb disk is all you need.
  4. rowley macrumors 6502


    Dec 16, 2008
    London, UK
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_3 like Mac OS X; en-us) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8J2 Safari/6533.18.5)

    A lot of people are going down that path. A mac mini would certainly suit your needs.
    As an iTunes server sharing is great between laptops and desktops.
    I would also recommend air video for playback on iOS devices off the same kit.
  5. sandyjmacdonald macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2009
    Haha. Just been out and bought myself a Mac mini and I'm in the process of setting it up as a media server connected to our TV. Saves me having the iMac switched on all the time in the bedroom to stream to the Apple TV.
  6. ftaok macrumors 603


    Jan 23, 2002
    East Coast
    If you're only looking for the mini to be an iTunes server, you might want to thing about getting a cheapo netbook instead. I have my iTunes server running on an old 15" P4 laptop. The advantage to using a laptop (or netbook) instead of a desktop is that it has a battery. In the event of a power outage, my iTunes server keeps going and doesn't require a trip down to the basement to reboot.

    To me, the mini is much too expensive to use just as an iTunes server.
  7. AdrianK macrumors 68020

    Feb 19, 2011
    My advice would be to pick up a cheap 40GB Apple TV, install OS X Tiger and iTunes 9.12 then plug your drobo in via usb and set up sharing (you'd need a USB hub for KB+mouse+drobo).

    Total cost shouldn't be much more than $100.

    A mac mini is just overkill.
  8. Bill.the.Cat macrumors member

    Feb 13, 2011
    Another vote for what AdrianK said, though you can also go with Leopard 10.5.8 which allows you to install iTunes 10.4.1 (the current version).

    Mine draws 14~15 watts and that includes powering a bus-powered external USB drive that holds my iTunes library. Set it up once using a hub/kb-mouse-monitor then disconnect and administer it using VNC ("Screen Sharing" in OS X) via your LAN thereafter.

    Note that the ATV1 lacks power management--if you want it to shut down at night and start up in the morning you can just use a Xmas-light timer (the mechanical ones pull 2~5 watts on their own so if you're power/heat-conscious pick a digital one).
  9. sulliweb thread starter macrumors regular


    Mar 13, 2011
    Well, I hope that's not the only use that I'll have for it, so I don't consider it overkill, and I'm not looking for a pieced together solution. I want something that will consistently work and easy to set up.

    Ok, so I suppose my next question would be, what model Mac Mini should I be looking at? Is the base model good enough to stream to two ATV's. I'm single, so it won't be often that they're both playing at the same time. Still, I don't want to rule it out either.

    Just trying to get an idea for a base spec that I'll need on it.

  10. CylonGlitch macrumors 68030


    Jul 7, 2009
    I just did this over the weekend, really quite easy. Although I purchased a 160gb model for $60 on eBay, but that's because I have 40gb model that got turned into the server -- using the 160 for private movie storage in the master suite.

    The AppleTV isn't super speedy, but it gets the job done and does it perfectly. I am running the latest iTunes on it and manage it via VNC. I have an unpowered hub that I use for Keyboard, mouse, and hard drive (although K&M are typically disconnected).

    It's a great little solution for a low cost. Although I am considering upgrading to a MacMini eventually as I expand my home office; I want the mini to be the web server, email server, and database . . . but that's a different project.
  11. Dhelsdon macrumors 65816


    Feb 5, 2010
    Canadian Eh!
    I have my gaming PC acting as a file/itunes server right now (WHS 2011) and my SMB shares keep dropping off my MBP. I own a ATV1 40GB, how would I go about putting Tiger or similar onto the ATV. I didn't know you could use the ATV as a physical machine.. and would it be more stable using an apple device for this rather then a windows server?

    Please explain! :)
  12. tbayrgs macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2009
    For your situation, you can use an older machine and get great results. I'm using an early 2009 base Mac Mini to serve my media to 3 :apple:TVs and another Mac and it's used to watch 1080p content on the living room plasma TV, all without issue.
  13. Nightarchaon macrumors 65816


    Sep 1, 2010
    Correct me if I'm wrong . But the drobo FS has a built in media (iTunes) server , so just drop it on your network and set up sharing via that

    On the " showcase " tab It says :

    ?To Serve and Protect
    Download Music, Photos and Video, and more. Enjoy DroboApps at home with FireFly, an iTunes-compatible media server, CTorrent a BitTorrent client, and Fuppes, a UPnP/ DLNA server.

    So no need for a separate machine to serve the content

    Saved you some money there
  14. Mawal macrumors regular

    Aug 19, 2010
    actually there is no such thing as an Itunes server on a NAS.

    you need a pc or a mac to run itunes.

    What is referred to as an itunes server, is nothing but shared music to to computers on the same network.
  15. slothrob macrumors 6502

    Jun 12, 2007
    I wish hard drive manufacturers would stop misleading people with that "iTunes Server" nonsense.
  16. Omne666 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 16, 2010
    Melbourne, Australia
    Actually not quite true. There have been NAS drives with an iTunes service built in. The problem with most of these services are that normal iTunes gets updated and has new capabilities or does things differently which breaks the way devices may have to hook into them. The NAS iTunes service becomes useless.
  17. sulliweb thread starter macrumors regular


    Mar 13, 2011
    In the case of the Drobo... It does have a server that works wonderfully, for music... but not with Apple TV's. It doesn't use Home Sharing as such, to the best of my knowledge, so it's not what I need.

    Thanks for all the advice... I still don't think I'm comfortable using the 1st Gen ATV solution, but I may look for an older model Mac mini... My only concern with older stuff is that Apple has a growing habit of just dropping support for older models. I want this to be in place and up-to-date for a good long while. Thus, I'm willing to pay a little more to insure that. ;)
  18. DustinT macrumors 68000


    Feb 26, 2011
    Man, your thread has gotten taken OVER! Sorry!

    I just picked up a Mini because I don't want to hack. I'm looking for something that works so I picked up the mini. It works pretty well. I got it because I need the iTunes system, I like the builtin Time Machine server and, in case my MBP goes down, I've got a backup system I can use.

    Anyway, enjoy it. I got a base Mac Mini and its more then enough power to handle several ATVs. I did find the RAM a little light, so grab 8g online and add it in. You'll be fine.
  19. Bye Bye Baby macrumors 65816

    Bye Bye Baby

    Sep 15, 2004
    i(am in the)cloud
    I am running a drobo and mini setup at the moment. My iTunes collection is only about 1 TB, but my plex collection is over 4TB.

    I split them up- I have my iTunes on a HP media server running Firefly while my drobo serves Plex.

    I can access content via my ATV 2 running plex. Also on my iPhone, iPad (still waiting) and all my other computers.

    Great setup.
  20. mr.iso, Sep 28, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2011

    mr.iso macrumors member

    Dec 29, 2003
    You could build a little Intel Atom based machine and install Windows 7 on it. Would cost you about $390 total + shipping and possibly tax depending on where you live.


    Case/Board/Processor - $120

    RAM - $33

    3 TB hdd - $130

    DVD Burner - $18

    Windows 7 Home Premium 64bit OEM - $100


    Build it, Install Windows, install iTunes, and you're set. Use TightVNC (free) to run it headless. It's more than powerful enough, I'm running a similar system, but based off of an Atom 230, which is an older single core processor.

    This will most likely draw a lot less power than a Mac mini setup, and i wouldn't call it "pieced together" as it's basically just a Windows desktop computer running iTunes.

    Keep in mind I might have picked RAM that is incompatible with the Mobo up there, but I'm pretty sure it's the right kind.

  21. tentales macrumors 6502a


    Dec 6, 2010
    I think sulliweb has the right idea to begin with. Stick to the Apple eco-system and find other uses for a MacMini Server solution, like offloading 24/7 handbraking sessions to it via Screen Sharing or VNC.

    In the past I've tried with cheaper Win7 hardware, but I always found it to be too tedious and too much maintenance. The cost factor is less critical over time if you want/need the right system.

    Here's what I ended up with:

    1) refurb 2010 MacMini Server $749 incl 2 x 500GB 7k2 drives. $749
    2) 2 cheap Costco bought 2TB WD USB drives. Each $99
    3) a refurb OWC FW800 RAID-0 enclosure for $79 containing the Costco drives.
    4) 2 external 2.5" 1TB USB drives ($99 each) containing all movies & lossless iTunes lib
    5) 2 Apple TV 2 (black) in the house as clients.

    The 4TB Raid-0 is the staging ripping/encoding platform, the slower USB drives totally up to the task of delivering 1080p M4V Video.

    When I'm not encoding, the OWC drive is off and the MM is on a timer that comes on at 6pm and goes off at 3am. No problems thus far.

    I don't jailbreak or futz around with compatibility/stability issues anymore. I just enjoy my own Blurays/DVDs. And before anyone reminds me not to steal content, I own each and every film either on DVD or BR. I just can't stand waiting thru 10mins of warnings, notices and forced Previews BS.
    Just the movie m'am!

    I don't see the point in a Drobo. What? $600 for an empty box ? That buys you a basic new MacMini and off-the-shelve drives are cheaper. The NAS functionality is built-in to OS X and you have control via UNIX terminal commands of the full system and don't need to wait on 3rd party firmware, orig or hacked.

    Also, my MacMini's HDMI port is hooked up to my AV Receiver->Plasma, so I can VLC 1080p stuff or browse the web using my iPhone Remote to control it.

    just my 2cents YMMV
  22. ComanWilson macrumors newbie

    Apr 2, 2010
    Nashvill, TN
    For those that have loaded Tiger on a ATV1, how is the performance? Have you ran into any issues with playback to the ATV2?

    I am constantly having to restart iTunes on my current media server (old headless vista laptop) I am looking for a reliable alternative and a weekend project.
  23. Dhelsdon macrumors 65816


    Feb 5, 2010
    Canadian Eh!
    Another question to add with what ComanWilson said, I have a 40GB ATV. I haven't begun to put tiger on it yet, but am I restricted to the stock ATV drive or can I easily upgrade the drive. I know if you are upgrading it normally, there are only specific drives that can be used and you need to clone the old drive or something...

    Has anyone put in a larger drive when running tiger?
  24. Bill.the.Cat macrumors member

    Feb 13, 2011
    To answer the two posts above:

    @ComanWilson - I run Tiger 10.5.8 on an ATV1. Zero performance issues streaming to ATV2, pretty much all of my library is Blu-ray sourced. Just make sure files are compatible; Blu-ray rips run through Handbrake on the ATV2 setting have never given me problems. Files that are already x264 can often be repackaged (via MP4Tools or similar) if the bitrate is compatible. Again, as long you run things through Handbrake you should never have any trouble. One caveat, all of my gear (ATV1, both ATV2s) is wired though Cat6, Gigabit switch, Gigabit router. ATV1 runs headless in my network closet (converted area in the ceiling above our pantry). Can't imagine any wireless issues would be the fault of the ATV1 if you connect it directly to your router.

    @Dheldson - You shouldn't limit yourself to the rapidly dwindling choices available for PATA 2.5" drives. You will be just fine with your 40GB internal for the OS and then attach external USB storage for your iTunes library--this also has the added benefit of making your entire library portable. I use a bus-powered 500GB external USB drive and works perfectly. I detach it every once in a while to do a backup to another drive, and when I outgrow the space I can just buy another external drive.

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