Media server for iTunes / Photos

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by InfiniteLoopy, Dec 26, 2010.

  1. InfiniteLoopy macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    #1
    Hello all,

    First off, hope everyone is having a nice end of year and holidays.

    Now my Mac's hard drive is nearly full and I'm thinking of options ...

    Here's what I'd like to do:

    Move all my media files (Aperture, iPhoto, iTunes) onto a network drive. This would allow me (hopefully) to stream to an Apple TV (2nd gen) without having to use iTunes on a Mac.

    From what I understand, I need to get a network-compatible hard drive. Ideally a wifi one but otherwise, a LAN one would be OK which can be accessed via computers on the same wifi network.

    Also. I don't want the contents of the drive to be available on the internet, and I'd like to be able to have several iTunes / iPhoto libraries on the drive for different users.

    For backing up, I'd also like to be able for some partitions of the networked drive to be backed up in my cloning and Time Machine processes.

    So what do I need to buy?

    Thanks,
     
  2. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #2
    This is the main stumbling block.

    1. Most NAS come bundled with Firefly, which mimics an iTunes server for music only, no video support.
    2. Apple TV 2.0 required "Home Sharing" which is only implemented in iTunes running on either a PC or Mac.

    The approach I'm working towards is having my iMac store its library on my NAS and share from there. Both are on the wired network.

    (Also, what's your budget).

    B
     
  3. InfiniteLoopy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    #3
    Hi,

    I could live with only music/photo streaming to ATV2.

    I haven't really thought of a budget. Maybe $200-$300. Would getting an Airport Extreme + hard drive be a solution, otherwise?
     
  4. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000

    Santabean2000

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2007
    #4
    Time Capsule?

    A Mac mini with file sharing turned on is pretty sweet too (if not a lot more expensive...).
     
  5. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #5
    Sorry, I wasn't 100% clear.

    Streaming anything to ATV2.0 requires iTunes Home Sharing and thus a computer. (Similarly for ATV 1.0, requires entering a code to link iTunes and ATV 1.0).

    Typical NAS iTunes servers can only be accessed from iTunes on your PC/Mac.

    If you need a new router consider an Airport Extreme or Time Capsule, otherwise look into something that will work in your current network. Synology's NAS devices generally get good reviews.

    B
     
  6. InfiniteLoopy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    #6
    Thanks for the replies.
    So except for a Mac Mini, there's nothing else which will work as the ATV requires a Mac ... that's a shame.
    Would the impending jailbreak of the ATV2 likely allow this to happen?

    So even getting a Time Capsule or Airport Extreme not allow me to stream without a Mac?

    If I forget the ATV streaming for now, what would be the best option for having all media files on a network drive that would allow itself to be backed up?
     
  7. bt22 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2009
    Location:
    Alabama
    #7
    You can still get an Airport Extreme and attach an external hard drive and or Time Capsule to help since your internal hard drive is about to be full. You can store your iTunes media and Photos on the network attached drive. Then when needed you would just have to open iTunes on your MacBook and it would just stream from your network attached drive thru your MacBook. Also, I have not tried yet, but I am pretty certain you could leave iTunes running and if your computer goes to sleep your Mac will be awaken by the LAN request. I am also looking for a good solution to this problem and have yet figured out a good solution. Best of luck.
     
  8. balamw, Dec 26, 2010
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2010

    balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #8
    Well you could use a PC ;)

    http://www.firecore.com/atvflash-black may hold the key to unlocking the ATV2, but the features that are of interest to you are still "coming soon".

    You could stream from TC or Airport Extreme to any device that supports SMB or AFP shares. (e.g. the WD TV Live, Popcorn Hour, etc...) as long as the media is not DRM encumbered.

    From a third party NAS (like the Synology unit I mentioned) you could stream to any DLNA device like the Xbox 360, PS3 or many network connected BluRay/DVD players.

    I'd still recommend a third party NAS over TC/Aiport Extreme unless you also need a new router. (Both are feature poor as NAS go and performance is also poor).

    Synology units get good reviews, as do several LG units.

    e.g.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...2108042&cm_re=synology-_-22-108-042-_-Product
    (add a SATA drive of your liking).

    or

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822319017&cm_re=LG_NAS-_-22-319-017-_-Product

    iTunes yes, iPhoto not so much. (Unless this has improved in iPhoto 11).

    (EDIT: I love the Airport Extreme of TC as a router and for Time Machine, and would recommend it in a heartbeat as such. As a NAS they are pretty poor.)

    Wake on Demand is supposed to work, but I haven't been able to get it to work fully with my iMac yet. The iMac is on the wired network while the ATV2 is on wireless. I can currently wake the iMac with my iPhone and then have it work fine. It seems to work with my MBP if I leave it connected to the wired network and open (though asleep). My goal is to move the iMac's iTunes library to the NAS which is also on my wired network. I need to wire up the ATV before I give up.

    B
     
  9. InfiniteLoopy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    #9
    Thanks for your replies.

    So if I understand correctly, an Airport Express or NAS like Synology will stream iTunes to different services but NOT to ATV2. Apple really should sort that out! :confused:
    However, none will stream photos iPhoto or Aperture to ATV2. :(

    ---

    To recap:

    There is no simple solution to what I want to do because the ATV2 doesn't allow streaming from a non-computer for music or photos.
    However, ATV flash may solve this ... or Apple may implement it.

    I could however get an Airport Extreme or TC and use its N network for storing all media (photos, music) which could be accessed from Macs and would free up hard drive space. I could also use this networked drive for Time Machine and it would also allow the media on it to be backed up to my clone backup.
    Alternatively, I could get a dedicated NAS, but what are the real advantages?

    Otherwise, what about a simple hackintosh?
     
  10. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #10
    Correct. Ideally Apple comes out with an App Store for ATV2 sooner rather than later.

    Greater performance and features. However in many cases you lose out a bit on Time Machine compatibility.

    Not that simple, since iPhoto requires Quartz Extreme/Core Image, but yes that would certainly do the job. It's unfortunate that Apple has yet to see the need for this back-end component in their ecosystem yet.

    B
     
  11. emotion macrumors 68040

    emotion

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2004
    Location:
    Manchester, UK
    #11
    There's a gap in Apple's approach right now. They need to release a new Timecapsule with the ability to stream video and audio to devices like ATV2.

    Until then my old MBP is my media server.
     
  12. InfiniteLoopy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    #12
    Thanks again.

    This seems to be a lot more complex than I expected. Surely there are thousands of people out there who would like to use their ATV2 in this way. I think my best bet is to either wait for ATV flash or until Steve wants to do the same thing one day, doesn't manage and gets Apple to implement it ASAP.

    I expect that one of the Macbooks will need to be replaced this upcoming year or the next. Could I use a Macbook as a media server?
    Otherwise, could I get a cheap Mini? What's the oldest one that would work?
     
  13. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #13
    Sure. Anything that can run iTunes 10 can be used fully with ATV2. (Even a PPC Mac should do the trick.)

    Minis don't tend to be cheap even used. I'm sure you could beat it price and performance wise with a brand new PC or QE/CI hackintosh.

    B
     
  14. InfiniteLoopy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    #14
    Hi,

    From what I've read, Apple don't recommend storing photos on a network drive. That means that I'll have to either store them locally or on a USB drive.
    Additionally, as ATV2 can't accept streaming from a NAS, including Apple's :mad:, there's not much point me getting one at present.
    To solve my storage problems, I've started another thread focusing on internal storage:
    http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1070358

    I guess if Apple decide to allow the Airport Extreme to stream to ATV2, I might look into that. If not, I'll wait till the Macbook is updated and use the old one for iTunes storage/streaming to ATV2.

    Out of interest, what's the lowest price PC/hackintosh which would solve this?

    Thanks again
     
  15. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Location:
    New England
    #15
    That's what I meant by "iPhoto not so much." ;)

    I built a box a while back that is a pretty decent performer for the cost so let me see what it would run today. I run W7 on mine, but the hardware is chosen to be able to hackintosh easily.

    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...388&cm_re=Gigabyte_775-_-13-128-388-_-Product $57
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16819116367 $70
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...188&cm_re=ddr2_800_4gb-_-20-211-188-_-Product $60
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...1&cm_re=CASE_compucase-_-11-121-051-_-Product $50
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16814500155 $30
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Produ...&cm_re=lite_on_blu_ray-_-27-106-292-_-Product $50
    http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16822152245&cm_re=2TB-_-22-152-245-_-Product $99

    $410 without an OS. (W7 would add $99-$200+ depending on how/what you buy) The crappiest component here is the case, but it's cheap on purpose. You'd end up with a machine that has 4GB of RAM and 2TB of storage and has performance quite similar to the current $699 Mac mini.

    You could reduce the hardware cost by ~$90 only getting 2 GB of RAM and a smaller HDD, and maybe going for a cheaper optical drive instead of the BluRay combo drive (or even omitting it altogether). i.e. right around $300 for the hardware.

    B
     
  16. InfiniteLoopy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    #16
    Thanks for your time putting together the list.

    Out of interest, what would one cost that was the same case size as the Mac Mini?
    Supposing that this was a hackintosh, could it play Blu-rays?
     
  17. Cave Man macrumors 604

    Cave Man

    #17
    There are none.

    Natively under Win 7. Under OS X you'd need Make MKV, VLC, quad-core or 3 gHz+ dual-core processor. You won't get the BD menus; you'd have to navigate to the file you want to watch on the Blu-ray Disc. Of course, if you rip, you can play those back from the hard drive with a variety of apps, including VLC, Plex, XBMC and MPlayer OS X Extended. In no case can you get HD audio from OS X.
     
  18. InfiniteLoopy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    #18
    OK thanks.

    So W7 would be required ...:(

    I know they make small square PCs. Maybe not Mini size but close.

    Would one of them work?
     
  19. balamw Moderator

    balamw

    Staff Member

    Joined:
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    Location:
    New England
    #19
    Yes, but if form factor is a consideration just get the mini. Most SFF (small form factor) PCs are quite underpowered compared to the mini. Wait for a good deal on a refurb or if you live near a Micro Center wait for them to put an older model on sale again.

    B
     
  20. InfiniteLoopy thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    #20
    Thanks.

    I think I'll just wait for the Macbook to be upgraded and use the old one as a server if Apple / ATV flash don't come up with a solution.
     

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