Mac Mini HTPC Storage solutions

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by dmm219, Mar 15, 2010.

  1. dmm219 macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2008
    What do all you Mac Mini users do for extended storage for your Mac Mini HTPC?

    It seriously doesn't seem there are any good solutions. For the time being, i will keep using my 1.5TB Ext HDD backed up manually, weekly (what a pain). But i will be running out of space soon and don't want to waste these drives I already have.

    The Drobo seems ideal, but man the reviews are just TOO sketchy for me. Especially the noise issue. The whole reason for the Mac Mini was to keep noise to an absolute minimum near the TV (otherwise I would just use my Dell XPS Media Center...which sounds like a Jet engine taking off most of the time) and to save power. Drobo seems to fail at both of these but I love how you can mix and match HDs and how its expandable.

    The other solution that seems ok is the WD My Book mirrors...(i guess the new ones are the My World series...which has a ton of crap I don't want or need in it). These seem like they would be nice and quiet, good on power, but they aren't upgradeable. When I hit the 2 TB (of the 4 TB mirrored version) limit, I'll have to buy a whole new solution.

    How great would it be to be able to Raid a bunch of External HDDs off of the mini using Apple Raid Utility? That would be perfect, but currently, its not supported.

    Anybody else find any great solutions I am missing?
  2. Hellhammer Moderator


    Staff Member

    Dec 10, 2008
    Remove the SuperDrive and replace it with at least 500GB HD. Think about online storage as well, there are some deals like 5$ per month for unlimited storage, but you need fast internet connection for that, otherwise it will suck. You can also partition your external HD so the backups won't fill it 100%, give it like 500GB and leave the rest for other.
  3. Terry Smith macrumors member

    Terry Smith

    Jan 28, 2009
    Working on that right now...

    Check out the NAS thread in the Accessories Forum...

    There are a lot of cool fairly affordable RAID NAS boxes out there... personally searching for one right now to do exactly the same thing.

    Leaning to either the WD Sharespace or the Thecus 4100Pro (leaning Thecus right at the moment).

  4. TheStork macrumors regular


    Dec 28, 2008
  5. dmm219 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2008
    Thats the thing. I don't really want a NAS. Local storage hooked up to a Mac Mini IS a NAS. I just want good, reliable, redundant, quiet, expandable local option. One doesn't seem to exist. I'll check that thread though...thanks...
  6. Maks macrumors member

    Feb 26, 2009

    If storage is just hooked up locally, it, by definition, is not a NAS. What are your reasons for not wanting a NAS? Today they are really your only solution for expandable redundant storage. You can continue to plug in USB drives, but you'll still need to back them up somehow. I'd also worry if you are using USB enclosures that don't have fans in them. A NAS would solve your problems and you'd still be able to stream without issue.
  7. keeper macrumors 6502

    Apr 23, 2008
    Hi All

    I've just replaced my Timecapsule and small Buffalo NAS with a QNAP 219P.
    Two 1.5 TB hard drives in raid one. This is backed up to an external eSATA drive.

    Works great, 500Gb allocated to Time Machine, the rest for media.
    Its sat in the cupboard and I can't hear it.

    Cheers Phil
  8. wysinawyg macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2009
    I've just gone Drobo. Currently sat on top of the unit the TV in our breakfast room is on (so about as noisy as can be) with me and the wife sat not much more than a metre away and I can't say I've noticed any noise apart from on the initial format (and I had the MacMini downloading 40GB of TED Talks podcasts to it so it was constantly running). It isn't silent (as in if I walk up next to it I can hear the fan) but even more or less at ear level from a metre away when its on an open hard reflective surface I haven't noticed it (and neither has the wife who is probably just looking for an excuse to hate it :) )

    Weren't the noise issues the early gen Drobo's, as in pre-FW and maybe the first FW ones (mine is just the current 4 bay FW)?

    Also not sure what the big issue power wise is as it does spin down the drives and powers down when the MacMini sleeps so I don't think it is any worse than any of the alternatives.

    Well if the MacMini is always on (or at least available with a Airport Extreme/Time Capsule) then that MacMini becomes a NAS for everything else in the house and without the network overhead if you're feeding an AppleTV for example.

    Also a redundant NAS is not the same as back up, whatever the OP does there needs to be a back up as well.
  9. Tilpots macrumors 601


    Apr 19, 2006
    Carolina Beach, NC
    If I had the money and needed the space, I'd get one of these: Mercury Elite-AL Pro Qx2.

    Search for this over at I believe one of the HDD gurus over there is using this for his htpc. Yep, found it.

    Personally, I use a 1TB Seagate FW800 drive on the htpc mini and backup the vitals to a 500GB G-Tech G-Drive. I won't be getting anything more for a while...:eek:
  10. dmm219 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2008
    Perhaps there is a lot of confusion out there over noise levels of the DROBO. There are many reviews that say the thing is extremely loud, but neglect to identify a version. I have seen 2.0 reviews that say both, it is quiet and that it is loud. Since I don't know anyone who owns a 2.0 personally, I can't really find out exactly how loud it is without buying one (not going to go down that road).

    As for power consumption, one of the main points for getting a Mac Mini as an HTPC (running 24/7) is to cut back on power consumption. My current dell xps media center (which is going out the window when the mini arrives) costs be an arm and a leg in energy usage. Since the DROBO is also on 24/7, I don't want to waste all of my Mini energy savings on the DROBO. I have been told that populating the DROBO with green drives helps its energy consumption quite a bit. But it appears the 2 bay WD mybook studio with RAID1 using green drives is by far the most silent and power friendly option out just isn't really upgradable (you can always daisy chain another WD to it though). Also...the DROBO seems pricey for what you get.

    I'm leaning more towards the WD 2 bay solutions at the moment. In 4 years, when I'll need to upgrade, there might be better options out there.
  11. dmm219 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2008
    All the reviews I have read of the Qx2 have been terrible. Check out the NewEgg reviews...
  12. Tilpots macrumors 601


    Apr 19, 2006
    Carolina Beach, NC
    I don't think Newegg sells this. Could you provide a link?
  13. Terry Smith macrumors member

    Terry Smith

    Jan 28, 2009
    Western Digital has a solid solution.

    if you want a NAS (as I am leaning toward) the Sharespace NAS looks quite solid and is well reviewed. RAID 5, and solid throughput. About $600 for 4 TB.

    If you want just a solid fast and bootable drive, you can also look at their MyBook Studio Edition. RAID 1 (or RAID 0 if speed is what you need) firewire 800 and 400 support, all the cables and about $270 for 2TB (or 1 TB if using RAID 1).

    Sorry if this sounds like an ad, it isn't. I have been searching desperately for a solution with the imminent collapse of my Time Capsule.

    If interested, you can go to their site. The thing I like is that they are already MAC ready... so no finger pointing.

    Think I am going to buy the ShareSpace when the TC dies.

    My 2 cents worth.

  14. kjr39 macrumors 6502

    Nov 26, 2004
    I have four WD My Book 1TB drives that are setup in two mirrored RAIDs. It pretty much does what I need it to (stream files) at a price I wanted to pay $400 for the drives, $20 for the USB hub.
  15. tbayrgs macrumors 603


    Jul 5, 2009
    Yes, a link please. I have been considering this unit to replace my 2 bay enclosure as I will soon need more space and would love to set it up RAID5. My google search for the Qx2 found a bunch of positive reviews so I certainly want to check out any unfavorable experiences.
  16. smoked macrumors regular

    Feb 25, 2009
    I've got two of the WD MyBook Studio Edition II's and have been very happy with them. One is for iTunes streaming to my :apple:TV. Quiet, affordable, fast enough to stream HD movies over g wireless, fast interfaces, RAID 1, and ready to go for mac. Everything I wanted.
  17. Maks macrumors member

    Feb 26, 2009
    Yes, but what is the point of going with RAID 1 if you are just going to back up the data anyhow? Might as well do RAID 0 for the speed increase if someone is just going to use another backup solution.
  18. smoked macrumors regular

    Feb 25, 2009
    Because with RAID 1 when one of the hard drives fails, you can still get to your data without having to go to the backup. If you have the right equipment, you can hot-swap in a 'good' hard drive and it will rebuild automatically. Plus you have some protection for new data since the last backup.
  19. wysinawyg macrumors member

    Aug 3, 2009
    Exactly, the "R" in RAID is "Redundant" as in if one fails you can carry on working without having to load up your back up.

    If you'e relying on RAID 1 as back up and you get a virus or even just accidentally delete something you'll very quickly find your "back up" has exactly the same problem as your master.
  20. J4YP34 macrumors newbie


    Oct 18, 2008
    London, England
    I've got 4tb of western digital externals (1x2tb and 2x1tb). So far it's been working just fine. The disk spin down when the mac mini goes to sleep and spins up really quickly when the plex media centre requests a file.

    I use half of the 1tb disks for mac backups and the rest of it for movies and tv shows. I have completely maxed out on Storage so instead of adding another external, I'm also looking at a nas solution. In particular, the drobo 4 bay.

    The issues I have with my current setup is that I have to provide a plug socket for every disk and this is difficult even with the 13 sockets I have in my av bench. The main issue is that there isn't any redundency so all it takes is for one of the disks to fail and it's start over time.
  21. Maks macrumors member

    Feb 26, 2009
    I understand the concept of RAID 1...for the purpose of HTPC, I'd consider that to be enough personally. I wouldn't have RAID 1 and then another 1-2TB drive to have yet another copy of the exact same media files. It'd be different if it was a machine that development was being performed on where it might be useful to have an older copy of data, but for HTPC, I don't see the point of a RAID 1 NAS and an additional backup of that data. I'm not going to accidentally delete a bunch of movies of 1000s of songs.
  22. iMerlin macrumors 6502a


    May 13, 2008
    Ive had a Drobo for a year or so now and couldnt be happier with it. I have the first one without the firewire. Although, I have it sitting in a little shelf under my desk so the noise isnt an issue whatsoever.

    I have the Drobo connected to my iMac and shared on my network so my Mini can see it. However, Ive been thinking about plugging it into my AEBS to see if I have better throughput. Any thoughts on sharing it through my iMac or on my AEBS??
  23. apatel87 macrumors regular

    Mar 30, 2009
    Hi, I started a thread on this a few weeks ago and hopefully that might be of some help.

    I ended up buying a temporary solution because I couldnt afford the Drobo plus the drives right now. I was really looking into using my old P4 box with unRaid but it would take up a lot of space and was quite noisy when I tested it out.
    I ended up buying the WD My Book Mirror Edition 2 TB that Dell was having a promo on last week. I hope some people were able to take advantage of the deal. I was able to snag one for $140 shipped ACB. So far I have been impressed with it. The software that comes with it is pretty simple but does not offer much user input. It is EXTREMELY quiet. That aspect of it along with its form factor are two reasons why I am a big fan of it. Eventually my plan is to take out the hard drives, put one in an external enclosure and the other one in a safe place, and refill the WD with 2 2TB drives when they go below $100 each.

    I have a quick question for you all. I have a 1 Tb external hooked up to my Mac Mini HTPC with all my media on it. Is there any way I can somehow connect all three (2 1 Tbs in the Mirror WD and 1 Tb external) hard drives in some sort of RAID configuration so I can maximize space and have a backup for that lone 1 TB external? IS there a Drobo-like software solution? Thanks!
  24. ReggaeFire macrumors 6502

    Mar 19, 2003
    Just an FYI, I tried dropping bigger drives into one of those WD Mirror enclosures and I couldn't make it see the new drives. They have some special WD Raid formatting or something. I'm sure you can make it work, but it's not as easy as just dropping new drives in.

    As for your question SoftRAID should do what you're looking to do.
  25. dmm219 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Aug 25, 2008
    Disk Utility to the rescue

    Not sure why no one thought of this...but the cheapest and easiest solution (if you already have one large external HD) to RAID1 with Dish Utility. Just means buying 1 more external HD ($130 or so).

    Absolutely NO reason to get a WD mybook RAID1. The random un-mountings of the WD's are a big nono with an HTPC in my book.

    I don't yet need a will probably be in my soon as they release a super reliable, energy efficient model with low noise (and I can afford it)...

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