Maybe selling iMac, get MBA + Media Server, Questions

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by danny_w, Jun 21, 2012.

  1. danny_w macrumors 601

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    #1
    I currently have an original aluminum iMac, :apple:TV, and iPad. The iMac runs iTunes and is on 24/7 to serve media to the :apple:TV and the iPad via Home Sharing. My iTunes library currently resides on an external disk connected to the iMac. The :apple:TV is hard-wired to my Time Capsule but the iMac is upstairs and connects over wireless. I frequently add movies to the iTunes library and sync the iPad both wirelessly and via USB. I frequently connect the iPad to the iMac via USB to et video off and put into iTunes. My wife and I share a single iTunes account to keep things simple.

    I have thought about selling the iMac and getting an MBA plus something to act as an iTunes server for the network (possibly a Mac Mini directly connected to my Time capsule and with the iTunes library on the TC). This would allow more freedom for me and would also get rid of the wireless connection when streaming to the :apple:TV, but I have a few questions:

    1) Can I add to the "master" iTunes library on the TC from the MBA? Or must I add using the Mac Mini?

    2) Can I sync the iPad from the MBA or only the MIni?

    3) If I add to the MBA's local iTunes library, how do I move the new items to the "master" iTunes library on the TC?

    At first glance it seems that the MBA is a simpler solution, but iTunes management seems to quickly get out of hand. Am I biting off more than is feasible here?

    I may have additional questions as I think this through some more.
     
  2. swordfish5736 macrumors 68000

    swordfish5736

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    #2
    you can store the iTunes library on the time capsule and point the mini or MBA to it. You'd need to leave the mini on in the same way your iMac is now to be the "server"

    you can point the MBA to the time capsule as well so it will see the same iTunes library. However, the iOS backups are not stored with the iTunes folder. You'd need to move the backup folder out of the library and store it on the time capsule then create a symbolic link to its original location in library in order to sync. Which could get weird if you leave your local network and try to sync.

    What would probably be easier to do is point both the MBA and mac mini to a iTunes library on your time capsule and setup wifi sync with your ios devices to the mac mini. Since you said iTunes stays open 24/7 anyway this means the devices would sync to the mac mini whenever they are plugged in on your home wifi network.

    I've never used multiple iTunes libraries on one machine so i cant comment on that. If you were to have two independent libraries you can turn automatic downloads in iTunes on so whenever something is purchased on any device it would be downloaded by iTunes assuming it is open. My current setup since ive got the space on my mbp is a small local library of the music i know i want if i dont have an internet connection and iTunes match. My large library is available on all my ios devices, any playlist i make automatically gets synced across all devices and with automatic downloads anything i purchase gets downloaded automatically as well.
     
  3. danny_w thread starter macrumors 601

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    #3
    Thanks for the explanation, but I am still a little vague on all of this. I really don't know a desktop for much of anything now that laptops have gotten so powerful, but it seems like the whole Apple iTunes system is designed with the desktop as the central hub, and getting rid of that hub unnecessarily complicates matters. I suppose I could use my MBA as the hub and do all of the iTunes maintenance from there but then I could never take it out of the house or the whole system would be dead for the rest of the family until I got back. I really wish we didn't have to have iTunes running all of the time (and an internet connection too for Home Sharing to work).
     
  4. swordfish5736 macrumors 68000

    swordfish5736

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    #4
    were you planning on selling your iMac? you could always keep it running just for itunes purposes...This is one of the disadvantages with keeping itunes content locally. It'd be awesome if apple were to make the time capsule act as an itunes server in itself so you wouldnt need a physical machine to be running as well.
     
  5. danny_w thread starter macrumors 601

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    #5
    I certainly can agree on your last statement. I suppose I will either keep the iMac or upgrade when the new ones come out and forget about the MBA. I can't really justify having both. Perhaps an iPad, but I have had 2 in the past (original and 2nd gen) and sold both of them because I did not use them enough. MY wife has an iPad2 that she loves and it is very useful for her, but since I have an iPhone the iPad would probably not get much use.
     
  6. marzer macrumors 65816

    marzer

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    #6
    So it sounds like you are not set on converting the iMac to a laptop. If a home media computer is your first concern, I'd not replace the desktop with the a laptop. As you have realized, it is easier to manage a locally connected iTunes library. And since you have iPhones and iPads in the house, you alreaddy have remote access for managing/controlling (I'm assuming you use Remote app and perhaps VNC?) the library without having to touch the desktop.

    So if spending money on a new computer is your interesst, I'd recommend replacing the iMac with a new iMac. If your interest is to have a laptop, do it and just keep the 2008 iMac running as is for the home media. Otherwise, keep the 2008 iMac running as is, which is a very capable media server, and save yourself the dough.
     
  7. danny_w thread starter macrumors 601

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    #7
    No I am not exactly set on replacing the iMac with a laptop, but the thought was appealing to me until I got to thinking about all of the problems that would cause. I just don't really need a desktop with the current crop of powerful laptops, and also the iMac is upstairs and connected via wireless. If I could put a small media server downstairs I could hard-wire it into the network and not have the lag inherent in the wireless iMac as a media server, but I suppose that is really not so important since I don't do anything with HD videos. I guess I mainly just get tired of climbing the stairs just to rip a movie or get a video off of the iPad and into iTunes. It would just be more convenient if I could do that downstairs on a laptop.

    And no I don't use Remote or VNC to control things. I tried Remote to control the :apple:TV and found that I didn't really like it, and I really don't see any advantage to using it to control iTunes; perhaps you can give me some pointers to give me some idea of why either one is better than directly maintaining iTunes via the iMac. And I have tried VNC on the iPad a long time ago but did not carte for the constant scrolling required to see the whole screen; the experience was somewhat like looking through a peephole at a baseball game.
     
  8. danny_w thread starter macrumors 601

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    #8
    CRIIM44 you mentioned pointing multiple computers (in this case a mini and an MBA) at the same iTunes library on the TC. Does this really work? I didn't think the multiple iTunes would cooperate and would corrupt the database. If it worked this would allow me to add things to the library from the MBA while the mini acted as the main iTunes server. Is there a way to make ure that the two copies of iTunes don't fight for control and corrupt the single library?
     
  9. BlakeBrattina macrumors 6502a

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    #9
    Agree. Man would that be the day!
     
  10. danny_w thread starter macrumors 601

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    #10
    I was thinking about this situation and a thought struck me that I wanted to run by you guys. If I buy a laptop it will be to supplement my iMac and as an upgrade, so I would want to do any heavy encoding and such on the laptop (quad core MBP perhaps). Here si my thought:

    1) Leave the iMac on all of the time and running iTunes on its own library (could be local to the iMac). This will act as the iTunes server for the whole house and others :)apple:TV, iPad, MBP) access it via Home Sharing. It will also wirelessly sync to the iDevices.

    2) The MBP will be used for ripping/encoding. when an encode is finished it can be added to the main iTunes library by dragging it to the iMac;s iTunes library folder "Automatically Add to iTunes" over the wifi network.

    3) An alternative to #2 would be to have a script running on the iMac that monitors a shared folder. when it sees something added to this folder it moves it to the "Automatically Add to iTunes" folder in the local iTunes library.

    I think the above would work with no chance of corrupting the central iTunes library because only 1 computer (the iMac) would ever be accessing it. If I ever needed to do any type of syncing that required direct access I would still need to go upstairs and physically plug into the iMac but this would be rare.

    Have I missed anything here?
     
  11. danny_w thread starter macrumors 601

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    #11
    Cannot log into Home Sharing! iTunes Store is Down!

    What an incredibly stupid implementation on Apple's part! I can't even share my own content in my own home unless the iTunes store is up and I have a good internet connection. I am not talking about DRM contents but my own home movies and ripped content. Why oh why oh why, Apple? I love many of your products but this is so incredibly annoying and stupid. At any time that they decide they can stop all media sharing in my home, including my own media. Also if my internet goes out I cannot stream my own content. How dumb is that?

    /end rant
     
  12. iMarvin macrumors 6502

    iMarvin

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    #12
    Get a mac mini plus a macbook air, sell your iMac. Connect your mini to the tc via ethernet, create a temp folder on your tc or access a shared folder on the mini. Drag your new media to the folder, open your mini via remote desktop from your air and drag it from the folder into iTunes. Delete the content from the folder after adding to iTunes, and it will stay in your library accessible for everyone in the house to enjoy even when you're out and about. :)
     
  13. danny_w thread starter macrumors 601

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    #13
    So you are basically validating what I said 2 posts above yours, am I right? This would allow me to do all ripping and encoding on the laptop and still add it to the central iTunes library that is "owned" by the iMac or mini. One improvement might be to run a script on the iTunes server that simply monitors the shared folder and moves whatever it finds there into iTunes. This seems like a workable solution without the possibility of corrupting the library by trying to run multiple instances of iTunes all directed at the same library. When I get the money I may just do this (one part at a time, laptop first since my iMac is working fairly well as the iTunes server at the moment). Since I want to do the encoding on the laptop an MBA may not be the best solution, but a quad-core MBP would be perfect, and a huge improvement over the iMac time-wise.
     
  14. iMarvin macrumors 6502

    iMarvin

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    #14
    Yes basically but, i don't see why you would strain your poor laptop with encoding when you have a perfectly good server capable of doing the work while you are out and about or at night while you sleep. :)
     
  15. danny_w thread starter macrumors 601

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    #15
    It would basically be easier to directly encode on the laptop instead of having to transfer the file and use share screen to control the mini, and also a MBP would be considerably more powerful than my current iMac if I chose not to replace it. Besides the 15" (or even 17") MBP would give me a somewhat bigger screen which my 59yo eyes would certainly appreciate over any 13".

    If I leave the iMac upstairs with the TC downstairs would powerline ethernet be an improvement over wifi? I have heard a lot of good and bad about powerline ethernet but have never tried it myself. If this works then it might just be the best of both worlds, a laptop that I could use when downstairs and a full server upstairs with its own screen, and at no additional cost for another server.
     
  16. iMarvin macrumors 6502

    iMarvin

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    #16
    Don't really know, never tried it myself since I'm an ethernet kinda guy. But i guess it depends on the quality of electrical wiring doesn't it? :confused:
     
  17. danny_w thread starter macrumors 601

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    #17
    Think I will pick up a pair tomorrow and give it a try.
     

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