Mac Mini Media Server

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by mrjosh, Jan 19, 2016.

  1. mrjosh macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2009
    I have this in Apple TV forum, but couldn't move - I think it probably belongs in here...

    Hi all,

    I have been doing a lot of thinking/reading on the best way to expand/enhance my digital media purchasing, storing and viewing. I have read a bunch of threads and googled everything I could think of. I am now completely overwhelmed so thought I would put some questions to you.

    1) Is a mac mini iTunes server a smart, hassle-free and easy to maintain choice?
    2) If so, what is the most cost-effective mini to purchase? Would a late 2009 work? Can I go older or would I need improved specs?
    3) Does Plex offer any concrete advantages over iTunes – my guess here is organization and I can group all my movies together including my DVD collection (if I can possibly get my Purchased movies from iTunes on Plex)?

    At the end of the day, simplicity and ease of use is most important. I want (my spouse) to be able to :
    1) Fire up our Apple TV and have access to all our music, purchased movies, store bought dvd's and home movies and photos, Netflix, Hulu, HBO Now; and
    2) Use iTunes to be able to make random purchases; if I use another media playback system (i.e. Plex), have that system automatically work with/detect changes to our iTunes library and iTunes match.

    We watch our media almost exclusively on the TV (I do not like watching on my phone/computer).

    The mac mini would be connected via ethernet to the time capsule. If necessary, I will purchase an external drive to attach to the mac mini. I would use my current macbook pro to rip DVD's, add to iTunes library and transfer/save them to the mac mini server. Is this a bad idea?

    I have ruled out an NAS for a few reasons, one of which is off-site backup service will not back up an NAS. Also, it seems more complicated and may have more user issues for someone such as myself (i.e., I know just enough to screw things up, and tend to just want things to work - no judgements, please).

    Our current setup:
    3rd Generation Apple TV attached to timecapsule via ethernet cable (would upgrade if I go Plex route)
    Macbook pro
    non-smart HDTV
    iphone 4s
    ipod shuffle
    ancient iPad mini
    iTunes Match
    Time Capsule
    Under 100 movies; decent size music library

    ok, this is a long post for some basic info, but man, I am overthinking this.
  2. Osamede macrumors 6502a

    Oct 28, 2009
    1) I yes its simpler than a NAS and easier to deal with. In particular is easier to back up and also to recover your files if you have to remove drives from a broken unit.
    2) I'd say 2010 is the oldest I would go. From there up to 2012 are the most cost effective. Dont be tempted to get the cheapest 2014 newbie bait models - bad idea.
    3) Plex plays all file formats, much more than Itunes will play or recognise. But if you have a small collection, the VLC and just navigating folders to click and play files is simpler and better. This because Plex is nice and pretty...but will not actally display all your media unless you have it named and labelled in very specific ways:
  3. mrjosh thread starter macrumors regular

    Mar 5, 2009
    @Osamede - thanks for the reply. Seriously, this is one of the most useful, concise answers I have ever received on a forum. I appreciate it.
  4. Carlos840 macrumors member

    Nov 5, 2013
    What i did was get a mac mini (2014), i connected it to my hard drives and projector.
    Both my mini and my imac are both connected to my router via Ethernet, meaning with file sharing enabled i can acces my hard drives from the Imac. And i can use screen sharing to do things on the mini without turning on my projector.

    I use Kodi on both computers, very happy with it.

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