Looking for a NAS with iTunes server capability & RAID - any ideas?

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by ascender, Jun 5, 2008.

  1. ascender macrumors 68020

    Dec 8, 2005
    At the moment my iMac has become a glorified iTunes server, so I'm considering selling it and buying an ACD for my Macbook Pro. However, I'd like to have an iTunes server running on the network regardless of whether my Macbook Pro is switched on, so it can serve the other computers here and the ATV.

    So, does anyone know of a NAS which is (reliable obviously) capable of working as an iTunes server on its own? Ideally with mirroring capability so that I don't have to worry too much about a drive failing.

    Any ideas? I'm not having much luck with the search function so far.


  2. jonbravo77 macrumors 6502a


    Feb 20, 2008
    Phoenix, AZ
    I have the Linksys NAS 200 box, which has 2 slots for drives (sold separately) set up in a Raid 1. I love it. It has a Media Server built in which I don't know how to use. :)

  3. prostuff1 macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2005
    Don't step into the kawoosh...
    Are you capable at building your own computer?

    You could always build a Home media NAS and just store the Music on that server. It would not technically serve the music (if i am understanding what you want it to do) but it would allow you to point iTunes to the library that is stored on the server from the mac pro and any other computer on the network.

    It gets a little tricky if one of the computers is a laptop that regularly goes out of the house but even this situation can be handled with some software.

    I will stop there for now but if you want more detail feel free to ask.
  4. ascender thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dec 8, 2005
    Yes, more than capable of self-building something as I did that many years ago as my first job and a way in to IT.

    With the main machine then becoming a laptop, that's why I was interested if such a device existed, that could just sit somewhere and run iTunes/serve iTunes without being a full blown computer.

    I know you can drag things in to your library on a machine from an external HDD, but I guess that falls over when I remove the laptop which is in effect holding the library on it.

    Or should I maybe be looking at an old Mac with space for a few hard drives in it and just chuck it away in a corner of the room?

    I'll check out that Linksys box.
  5. prostuff1 macrumors 65816


    Jul 29, 2005
    Don't step into the kawoosh...
    I am a big fan of the "build a computer and throw it in the corner" approach. Mostly for the expansion factor.

    See this thread for an outline of my thoughts. If you want the server to serve itunes music you will probably have to build a Mac based NAS. I am going to build an unRaid server and try to get the music served to my MacBook Pro that will be showing up in about 2-3 weeks.

    You can go with something like beaTunes or iTunes Library Manager on the laptop to manage a "local" library when away from the server and the "media sever" library when you are home.

    With my unRaid setup (once i get it up and running; it's all put together) i am going to try to get Firefly working via the instruction on the unRaid site.

    Building the server is fairly cheap (not including the drives) and it really is not hard to put together and set up.

    Just my 2 cents
  6. ascender thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dec 8, 2005
    Thanks very much for the info, there's some good advice in there. I'll check those links out tonight.
  7. Consultant macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    PowerMac G4. $100 or so, but will cost more for higher power versions.
  8. matperk macrumors 6502

    May 6, 2004
    Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    It wouldn't have to be a mac really. I run a media server that manages all my iTunes movies and tv shows that I can tie with my ATV. It is also used as a file server and a DVR. You can run it as an iTunes server, because iTunes for windows can do everything the Mac one can.
  9. ascender thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dec 8, 2005
    So if I'm looking for a Mac desktop which can take at least 2 * 1TB drives, what models would I be limited to as I'm assuming the olders ones will be limited in terms of what sort & size of HDDs they can take?
  10. CanadaRAM macrumors G5


    Oct 11, 2004
    On the Left Coast - Victoria BC Canada
    You need a machine with SATA hard drive support, which means a G5 tower at minimum.

    Otherwise, you can install a SATA interface card (such as from Firmtek or Sonnet) into any G4 tower, and that will also get around the 128 GB drive size limitation of the 2001 and earlier Macs' IDE controllers.
  11. ascender thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dec 8, 2005
    Thanks for that.

    I'd prefer to stick with a Mac if possible as I've worked for too many years with Windows and don't want to go back to that.

    I never realised about the SATA cards, that opens up the possibilities of a cheaper G4 I guess. At first glance, the G5s seem to be going for good money on eBay still.
  12. costabunny macrumors 68020


    May 15, 2008
    Weymouth, UK

    I have a Synology 407e on the network (configured wit 4x1Tb drives in Raid 5).

    It is gigabit net enabled, has iTunes server, media server, streaming server, apache, php, loads of stuff (manages my DDNS and time server too :) )

    I have ssh access and have it mounted on my Macs and PCs at startup (ext3 file system).

    Synology.com have this and 2disk units all supporting the features above via a very nice ajax based webmin. (the 407e can even hook direct to the Net via PPPoE and be a router....)

    worth a look as they are very easy to setup and have possiblythe best manufacturer endorsed cupport community forum I have ever seen

    :) (btw it also connects to a UPS via usb if you need it an can also be a usb->ethernet print server)
  13. Pigumon macrumors 6502


    Aug 4, 2004
    Synology maybe?

    I just found this tonight doing my own research into NAS for my home network. These have a built in processor and seem to be mac-compatible.

    They specifically list iTunes Server as a feature.

    I just emailed them with some mac-specific questions, I'll post the answers once I get them. :)


    EDIT: wow, i totally skipped the previous post! I guess they are mac-compatible!

    Costabunny, how does the drive show up? is it a place that appears on the Network? any idea if it would be compatible with Apple TV?
  14. ascender thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dec 8, 2005
    I'm assuming these NAS boxes with server functionality are compatible with Apple TV?

    This is all very interesting actually and things have definitely moved on a bit since I last looked at this sort of solution.

    I guess it now comes down to how much I want to spend on the solution and whether I want the added possible functionality of having a "proper" fileserver whirring away in the corner of a room rather than just a NAS.
  15. pilotError macrumors 68020


    Apr 12, 2006
    Long Island
    What software allows you to enter the ATV key?

    I have a readyNAS NV+ and it's a great little server, but I haven't been able to serve the ATV off of it. Sounds like some of the Linux offerings are able to do it.
  16. ascender thread starter macrumors 68020

    Dec 8, 2005
    I've decided to go down the server route. I think its going to give me the most flexibility and the best chance of working with everything I need it to - Apple TV seems to complicate the issue slightly with some of the NAS devices.

    A Mac Mini was also suggested by someone by PM, but then I'd have to add external HDDs and I'm wanting to try and get a single box solution.

    I'm assuming something like a G4 Quicksilver with SATA card would do the trick. Get a couple of drives and then do software mirroring, that would give me some redundancy as well.

    Thanks for all the advice and ideas.
  17. paduck macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2007
    The big advantage of using a NAS over just about any server you can build is that a NAS will use considerably less power. Look at the ReadyNAS 2150 - 500GB of mirrored RAID storage for 30 watts, available with two drives from AMAZON.COM for about $475. That is kinda hard to beat with any sort of server both in performance and energy costs. With the server, you spend a lot of money generating heat.

    The advantage of the server (be it a Mac Mini, G5 tower, or low-end PC) is that you will be able to run iTunes on it and it will sync readily with your ATV. Most NAS iTunes servers seem to have issues pushing DRM-protected music directly, although if you are just using the NAS as a direct server connection, you should be fine accessing the files.

    It would be nice if someone's NAS cracked the code on iTunes and could serve up the data natively. Then you would get the NAS benefits without the downside.
  18. Sesshi macrumors G3


    Jun 3, 2006
    One Nation Under Gordon
    Perhaps it's worth noting the implications of an ageing or cheap computer on 24/7 somewhere around the home. The Quicksilvers are known for being noisy for example. A Mini would work and in terms of cost it's the best option to do this job, but when you start hanging things off and doing some all-day file serving, etc in summer temps it starts getting awfully toasty around the back, as well as a tad noisy.

    I operate a Windows 2003 server at home, which was built from the ground-up to be silent (i.e. 0db) capable. Most of the stuff in the closet rack has also been retrofitted to be silent or quiet (including giant slow-turning fans on modified Procurve 2848's), with the noisier stuff going in the loft in an acoustically insulated area.

    If you're throwing together a server running Windows or FreeNAS, etc it's worth picking a motherboard with working fan control features, and choosing your case + fans carefully. Careful choice will enable you to build a machine easily as quiet as the quietest Macs. A lot of people moving up from unreliable (due mainly to the builder's incompetence in almost all situations) noisy DIY PC's to Macs may not be aware that you can actually build an almost silent basic PC, or even buy one off the shelf without too many problems.

    The QNAP TS-109 (and the older TS-101) are fanless NAS's which while not being exactly rapid, should work for music. They have iTunes servers built-in as well as other features. RAID can be achieved by hanging an external drive off it (which can also be fanless of course).

  19. spamdumpster macrumors 6502a

    Jan 22, 2008
    Another benefit of the computer-as-server/NAS approach is that you can run loads of programs on the server computer without using up resources on your local machine and without sacrificing any performance.

    I use a headless (i.e., no monitor, keyboard, or mouse) old windows xp machine (chiefly because I got it for free), with 1.1 TB of storage attached, which I access solely using remote desktop connection from my iMac and Hackboob.

    I run a torrent program, Mozy, and syncback (backup utility)in the background.
  20. paduck macrumors 6502

    Jul 5, 2007
    The big thing to think about with a 24x7 server (or any other 24x7 equipment) is the energy cost. For each watt you are looking at an annual cost of at least $1 in electricity - probably more (our electric costs are going up 18% on Tuesday in Virginia). A NAS like Synology or ReadyNAS consumes about 30 watts for two drives and overhead (each drive will consume about 12 watts, although WD and Hitachi have energy efficient versions now). A Mac Mini is going to start at 30 watts, but has a limited hard drive, so you are going to end up doubling that with more external storage. If you add a monitor, then costs really start escalating. A DIY PC is going to be 100 - 200 watts, especially if it is an older machine you got for free somewhere.

    That NAS you have running 24x7, with spin down is going to cost $20 - $30/year to run. That's the same amount your laser printer consumes waiting for you to print in its "standby" mode. Or, on an older model, the clock on your microwave or the old TV waiting for the remote to turn it on.

    You do have to pay for capability though. I do think the cheap, used Mac mini, with some reasonable backup, is probably a pretty good media server solution for most homes.
  21. fhall1 macrumors 68040


    Dec 18, 2007
    (Central) NY State of mind
  22. wizardpb macrumors newbie

    Jul 10, 2008
    Just let me second that - I've been running an iTunes server on a G4 Sawtooth with a couple of 320G WD drives set up with software RAID. I'm DEFINITELY going to move to a NAS ASAP. It's noisy and power-hungry, won't wake up on LAN activity (so I haev to keep it runing all the time, or manually wake it up) and needs a terminal connection to admin it (I haven't tried something like X or VNC - and I don't want to waste time doing that).

    My 2c - a NAS is a much better solution.

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