Mac Mini for the family?

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by wowser21, Aug 20, 2013.

  1. wowser21 macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2013
    Hi all,

    I'm looking to purchase a new computer for the family and i'm hoping to get some advice on whether the mac mini would be a good choice for my needs. Currently at home we have a Windows7 PC that is more than 5 years old. We primarily use this computer to view/store family pictures and movies. Our son is also now using it to run some elementary school programs (web based).

    We really don't use the PC for much more than this (some web browsing as well) since we do most of our browsing on either an Ipad or our Android phones.

    However being able to backup data is very important for me as we lost all of our photos 6/7 years back and i do complete backups now onto two different external hard drives.

    Mac mini should be able to meet our needs correct? I would like to be able to take the two external HD's that i have now and connect them to the Mac Mini (hopefully this is a simple process? Not sure about the disk formats between Windows/Mac, i think i have both formatted as NTSF currently.)

    I'm just looking for something simple that could be used with little maintenance and be able to do backups easily.

    Thanks for your help.
  2. jdblas69 macrumors regular

    Aug 15, 2012
    The Mac Mini will easily meet the needs you described.
    OSX can read NTFS format and copy from the external HD to the mac, but you cannot write files to NTFS format from the mac. So you would have to reformat one of the drives to use for regular backups if you planned on using one of the external drives you presently have.
  3. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    Mac Mini would be a nice choice for the needs you described.

    Here are some things to research and a bit of starting with Mac advice -

    1) Check with the school to make sure which software works well with the sites your child is logging into. Mac comes with Safari for web browsing but there are others including Chrome (Google) and also Firefox. Both of these third party browsers are free.

    2) Consider getting the minimum RAM and buy 3rd party RAM to get to 8gigs (2- 4 gig RAM pieces). They are easily installed from the bottom. Apple charges way too much for RAM so there are 3rd party makers that work very well with the Mini.

    3) There are software out there that can read and write NTFS files from a Mac. I believe Paragon makes one but you can check for yourself. This is only if you absolutely need to attach to drives etc. that are Windows formatted. I would try to avoid this if you are starting fresh on Mac unless you are pretty savvy with computers.

    4) If you must have Windows 7 available for some type of applications, you can consider using Parallels or VMware Fusion for virtual windows. These products work very well and while they must be purchased, you can use your own Windows 7 disc to install. Just check out their websites to learn more. Both are easy enough to use but for first timers, perhaps Parallels may seem a bit friendlier. The advantage of this set up is that it can not only run Windows 7 and apps, but you can ready and write to external drives and it is all within Mac.

    5) Monitors - you never did say what you had and how old it is. If your monitor is very old, you might also consider the iMac instead of the Mini. If cost is a factor, look at Apple's refurbs which are often great deals and have some warranties.

    6) The bottom end drives in the Mini are relatively slow drives. Many people opt for the "Fusion" hybrid drive system to gain some speed. You may want to investigate if it has value for you and your family and of course, Apple charges more for this option. For web stuff, the original drive (5400 rpm) is fine but if you are using some sort of movie playback software, it might be wiser to invest up front in a bit more speed (less drive bottleneck).

    7) Mac Mini can be hooked up to your TV easily if you TV has HDMI input. These cables/connectors are fairly common to most flatscreen TVs. It is a nice way to show your movies. Just read up on it and realize that the one challenge is making sure to get your Mac's resolution to match the TV. There is plenty of forum advice and articles on how to do this easily.

    I use a Mac Mini at home that is maxed out for my work. It is a great little computer and doesn't really give me any issues. Hopefully the above helps you in some way and is not too confusing.
  4. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    NTFS-3G is a plugin to enable NTFS write.

    Check Synkron for backing up stuff. I like it a lot as it allows backup to 2 volumes at the same time, it syncs either one-way or bidirectional, and it results in full functional backup copies, that you can hook up to another machine, and it comes in Windows, Mac and Linux flavours for cross-system functionality. And its free!

    Another thing to consider: hook a NTFS drive to a network router. That removes the problem of out-of-the-box-no-ntfs-write on OSX as it becomes a network volume instead of a regular external disc.

    You could also add a third drive, format it EXFAT, copy everything to it, then reformat one of your current 2 drives, then copy it again on that drive etc. This way you keep 2 copies all the time, and in the end you have a third to drop at you work or parents. For the backup: make sure you include a 2nd location for at least one drive.

    The Mini is perfectly suited for your work, and the internal drive is absolutely no bottleneck on the things you do, nor on movie playback (that is maximum 40-50 mbit/s, way below the +1 gigabit your 5400rpm drive can handle)
  5. wowser21 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2013
    Thanks all for the replies. This is very helpful. So do i understand correctly that i can read from the NTFS drive but not write to it?

    If so, then once i get the mac mini, i could hook up the NTFS drive, copy over the data to the mini internal drive, reformat from NTFS to the Mac format, and then use that external drive for backups?

    Thanks again.
  6. jdblas69 macrumors regular

    Aug 15, 2012
    This is exactly the way I would do it
  7. wowser21 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2013
    Awesome. Thank you.
  8. manyunju macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2013
    good idea,For the backup: make sure you include a 2nd location for at least one drive.thanks[​IMG]
  9. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
  10. narutoninjakid macrumors 6502

    Dec 6, 2012
    New Jersey
    Yes that should be completely fine for your needs. Good luck
  11. Klae17 macrumors 65816


    Jul 15, 2011
    I prefer the iMac for my family. The screen is nice and includes the magic mouse and wireless keyboard. Other wise you are looking to spend another $140 for those and also the monitor.

    If you still want the macmini, I would wait. There should be an update really soon with haswell chips. This will make a huge difference for the Mac Mini.
  12. wowser21 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Aug 20, 2013
    Hi Klae,

    I already have a wireless mouse/keyboard and a 24inch display that i plan on using with the mac mini. Regarding waiting for the new models, that's exactly what i'm doing :).

    I'm hoping they announce the new models soon.
    Thanks for your feedback.

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