Mac Mini 2009 and NAS solutions

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by jdryyz, Jul 17, 2009.

  1. jdryyz macrumors regular

    jdryyz

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    #1
    I'm currently using an external 320GB drive enclosed in an aluminum Firewire 800 case to store my media files. It is a well made enclosure but there's something about the drive inside or the case itself that, when it goes to sleep, it does not wake back up consistently. I checked my Energy Saver settings and I have the "put the drives to sleep" unchecked. I have no problem with the drive itself deciding to spin down when not in use, but I expect it to perk right back up if I click on it. This does not always work in my case and I am sometimes forced to cut the power to the drive or the Mini will get hung-up on restart.

    So this little inconvenience has pushed me to look into NAS possibilities sooner than I had already planned. LaCie introduced a new drive that seems like an excellent choice:

    http://www.lacie.com/us/products/product.htm?pid=11247

    I like the Mac friendliness, UPnP, and iTunes support. The 500GB model can be found for a good price online and I can always upgrade the drive itself later on.

    Since a NAS storage device implies that a network connection will be utilized, I trust the "Wake on LAN" feature will be enough to avoid the inaccessibility problem that I am currently facing. As odd as it sounds, when I try to access a share on another Mac I have on the network using a "recent server" link, the Mac does NOT wake up. I have to use other means to wake the machine up first, then it will respond to my shared volume request. This is counter-intuitive to how a friendly Mac environment should work but my work-around isn't a pain for now. On the other hand, if the LaCie doesn't respond to a request after it has went to sleep, that will be a big problem!

    Does anyone have any experience in this area?

    Thanks.
     
  2. glap1922 macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2009
    #2
    I can't speak to the 'wake on lan' thing, but if you are planning on needing a lot more space, you may want to look into putting your own NAS together. Requirements for a nas box are pretty low, and if you are fairly good with linux you should be able to get something running quite easily. That would also allow you to expand your storage needs and even run a raid. Another option would be a drobo w/ droboshare. That option is more expensive but will set up a raid and allow you to upgrade on the fly and requires much less work.
     
  3. jdryyz thread starter macrumors regular

    jdryyz

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    #3
    Thanks for the info, but I'm afraid I only have time for a plug-and-go solution which the LaCie appears to provide. It can also be found for less than $150. I have no need for RAID.

    I'm sure the Wake-on-LAN is not really a concern for such an obvious network device, but I don't know what a stand-alone drive with just a network cable attached does when it is not in use. Perhaps they have their own power management settings I can configure. I used something like the LaCie years ago and it had a crude web-interface that was difficult to manage and it didn't work half the time. I expect the LaCie to be leaps and bounds better, especially in the Mac-friendly department.

    Hopefully someone experienced with their products can answer.


     
  4. geoffreak macrumors 68020

    geoffreak

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    #4
    I have a Drobo (over Firewire 800) that sometimes doesn't turn on properly when my Mac Mini 2009 wakes from sleep, but if I give it a minute it connects normally. It didn't do this on my previous Mini (1.83GHz over Firewire 400), so it might be a problem with the latest model.
    If your drive isn't waking at all sometimes, there is a problem with it.
    All NAS systems are crap and should be avoided. Your transfers will be very slow regardless of connection speed and they aren't as durable as full computers.
     
  5. jdryyz thread starter macrumors regular

    jdryyz

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    #5
    Thanks for the info on FW800 on the new Mini. I have a straight FW400 device I can try also but I need an adapter cable first.

    All NAS are crap, eh? Hmmmm....I hope that isn't really the case. If the Gigabit connection on the LaCie is even half as good as my second Mac Mini on the network, I think I'd be happy still.


     
  6. Shake 'n' Bake macrumors 68020

    Shake 'n' Bake

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Albany
    #6
    I've never looked at NAS pricing, but it may be cheaper to get an older G4 (667 MHz at least) and a SATA controller.
     
  7. geoffreak macrumors 68020

    geoffreak

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    #7
    The limitation is the very slow processor that isn't as fast as the hard drive (which is slow to begin with)

    Have you ever tried just leaving your Mini on all the time?
     
  8. jdryyz thread starter macrumors regular

    jdryyz

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    #8
    Even with the Mini on, the ext. Firewire 800 will still spin itself down if idle for a while.

    Specifically regarding the new LaCie-- so you don't think it would live up to the Gigabit speed potential that it claims? If that's true, then nothing has improved since I last used one of these devices years ago. I would think this being a new model 2009 and all, it would be better.


     
  9. geoffreak macrumors 68020

    geoffreak

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    #9
    All drives spin down when not in use, regardless if they are connected directly or via NAS. If the drive takes a long time to spin back up (more than 2-3 seconds), there is a problem and you should get a new drive

    When a NAS company claims a device is "gigabit" that just means it can communicate at speeds of 1Gb/s MAXIMUM. The device's internal processor cannot move data from the hard drive as fast as a full computer's, not to mention that you become at the mercy of your network.
    This is just a fact of computing. Cheaper devices = less power. You will get more power out of a netbook then a NAS.
     
  10. jdryyz thread starter macrumors regular

    jdryyz

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    #10
    That kinda defeats the purpose, though. I'm looking for a minimal power consumption device. Did you in fact suggest a G4 *desktop* computer? Oh yeah, that's not really energy efficient for what I'm trying to accomplish. Plus some of those G4 were so incredibly noisy. I had a "Quicksilver" model at one time. I didn't keep it very long. :)

     
  11. geoffreak macrumors 68020

    geoffreak

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    #11
    G4 Mini. There were Minis before Intel ;)
    A NAS won't be any more efficient than a Mini anyways (if you use it as nothing more than a file server). The hard drives are what suck the power.
     
  12. jdryyz thread starter macrumors regular

    jdryyz

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    #12
    The drive behaved just fine on the Mac G5 I had though. I don't think it is mechanism problem. It is more likely a Mac Mini 2009 FW 800 issue as previously suggested.

    The processing power of a NAS device is something I had not ever taken into consideration. That's too bad that this appears to be an area that has not seen improvement, and frankly, seems misleading to the consumer. Oh well.

     
  13. jdryyz thread starter macrumors regular

    jdryyz

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    #13
    I know there were G4 Minis. I had one of those too at one time.

    The OP mentioned adding a SATA controller. Sounds like he's referring to a desktop.


     
  14. geoffreak macrumors 68020

    geoffreak

    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2008
    #14
    Maybe he was referring to the G4 PowerMac then. I suppose that is more if you want multiple drives.
    If you only want a couple USB/Firewire drives, just go with the Mini.

    But my point still stands that a hard drive replacement is the cheapest option yet.
     
  15. jdryyz thread starter macrumors regular

    jdryyz

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    #15
    Drive behaved fine before the new Mini though. I doubt it is a drive fault. Oh, incidentally, the drive does actually spin-up when I access it, but what it does and does not do after that is the problem. Sometimes my files appear, sometimes not....and that's when a power-cycle is necessary.

    I'm leaning on FW800 being the culprit. I will do more testing.


     
  16. ADent macrumors 6502a

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2007
    #16
    I wanted a NAS, but they all suck in one way or another (including price). Was thinking a Drobo, but they need to be hooked to a computer generally and there are enough total loss of data stories for me to be scared.

    Finally decided to get a Mac mini. It has gigabit Ethernet and FW400, USB2 and SATA connections. Currently using 1TB on Firewire, plan to get a 1TB drive for the USB to back it up (kind of RAID 1). Can daisy chain or get bigger drives or something if 1TB is not enough space.

    This is MUCH faster than my SimpleShare NAS and I don't have any Filename problems, good control of permissions, and I can put it by the TV and I get an entertainment server too.
     
  17. Shake 'n' Bake macrumors 68020

    Shake 'n' Bake

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2009
    Location:
    Albany
    #17
    I was talking about a PowerMac.

    The thing uses 344 watts, maximum. I don't have anything to test mine with, but I'd imagine less power would be consumed with less activity.

    A mini with a bunch of external drives will, I think, be noisy (my external sounds like a Tommy gun), and use just about as much power as a PowerMac.

    Other benefits of using a PowerMac: It uses 3.5'' HDDs, there are more HDD spaces (3 total. Odd, I know.), it can be expanded easily, the drives would be faster, you only use one outlet (unless you want a monitor), there's a real OS on it, there's an optical drive, probably takes up the same amount of space as a mini with externals, file seeking will be a few steps simpler, etc.

    I want to get a SATA controller and a 300 GB 10,000 RPM startup disk, and two 1 TB 7200 RPM storage disks or two 2 TB storage disks in RAID 1.

    My DA is quiet enough; I can't hear it with some moderately loud music playing, and it is barely audible from 6-7 feet away without music.

    If you want silence you can put together a wood (or metal box, wood is easier) box big enough to fit the PowerMac with good ventilation, maybe a 120 mm case fan or a Mac Pro-like perforation on top. Add a door and line the box with melamine foam aka Mr. Clean Magic Eraser or Basotect. Basotect is widely used as a soundproofer. If you'd like, add wheels :cool:. Stain or paint and you're done.
     

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