Media Server questions

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by Tech198, Dec 4, 2013.

  1. Tech198 macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    Hi all..

    Thinking about buying an Mac mini, or a NAS may be better, to put movies to to stream via Apple TV.

    In addition, i would also want to access this library external as well, aka from a friends place, on computer or though ATV externally.

    What is the best way to go round this ? A Mac mini or a NAS ? Since i know NAS would have iTunes media sever like QNAP or Synology, or Buffalo.
  2. taylord22 macrumors regular

    Mar 13, 2012
    I use an iMac to stream media, but a refurb mini would do the trick nicely. For accessing files remotely, I just use an HD plugged into my extreme.

    NAS systems are great, but unnecessary if their use is linear, IMO. Plus, using a Mac OS gives you the benefit of having zero set-up time.

    If you've got a (truly) +level technical knowledge, go with the NAS, if not, go with the mini.
  3. jdag macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2012
    I am thrilled with my setup and it works seamlessly.

    I have an iMac that runs 24x7. Attached to the iMac is a Drobo unit with 4 3TB drives. The iMac sees the Drobo as a single huge volume, and all of my video content lives there, imported into iTunes. I can then play videos at any time from any of my 3 AppleTVs. Even my wife can do it!

    The Drobo route may be debated as some people don't care for them, particularly the speed. But for my application it works beautifully. You can use any external hard drive.

    I looked at going the NAS route when I bought the Drobo, but ultimately, knew that the iMac would need to be on anyhow for iTunes, making the NAS overkill for my needs.
  4. Tech198 thread starter macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth
    ok thanks
  5. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    To achieve Mini-comparable performance and versatility, you'd have to get a truly high-end NAS. None of those ARM or Atom-powered consumer devices compete with i5/i7-powered Mini. Also not in expandability of RAM.
    Also their iTunes servers are a mixed bag. Most of them are good for music only and will appear just in iTunes, not on appleTV.
    Only Synology's Video Station is good for AirPlaying videos, but because they can't take advantage of Home Sharing, you need to start playback from computer or iPhone/iPad.
    I'd go for Mini and good DAS. For $20 you can upgrade your Mini to OS X Server and vastly extend the list of services your setup can provide.
    If you search this very forum, you'll find several discussions on that matter.
  6. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2013
    One thing you may consider is buying a (used) Mac Pro 3,1. They are around $500 USD on Ebay. For the task of serving media, the processor and memory is more then enough. You also have the ability to put anywhere from 5-10 hard drives INSIDE the unit. This keeps everything contained and you aren't worrying about the hassles of Firewire, USB, or network connections.

    The Mac 3,1 will still run the latest version of OSX too, the 1,1 & 2,1 are stuck with Lion (officially).

    Also if go with the Mac Pro with all that internal storage you can use the (free) MacZFS or ZEVO ZFS to run a very robust software RAID that will protect you from a hard drive failure as well as protect you from data getting written or read wrong (data rot).

    Of course this all depends on your expected needs, expecially with how big of a media collection you plan on getting.

    As far as accessing your media "from a friends", are you meaning completely external to your home network? A Mac can certainly run as a host, but you might have practicality issues your Internet Service Providers upload speed. If your ISP only lets you upload at 1 or 2 megabytes per second (or worse) then it won't do you much good to host things from your house.

    Also, at least in the USA, many ISP specifically forbid you from running a server from your house (if you get caught).
  7. Tech198 thread starter macrumors G5

    Mar 21, 2011
    Australia, Perth

    I think i'll go with Mac Mini....

    Just one question, what DAS ??

    Also, do you guy recommend MetaX or iDentify2 to tag yours movies "as you go", or get then on on the mini, and then go back and start tagging with meta-data...

    If so, either way, i know i may run into problems with manually editing Description and/or the software picking up wrong description (multiple versions of a movie and the software picks up the wrong one).

    Basically, at the end of the way, while all this work will be rewarded when viewing in ATV, it it really required, or not, just as long as the file name is descriptive. ?

    One final thing, configuring the mini, must i use external display (PC monitor etc), or can i somehow hook it to macbook pro ? Since i do not have a mac display..

    I only have MBP laptop and PC.
  8. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
  9. Delmar macrumors 6502

    May 10, 2012
    MetaX is no longer supported, I now use MetaZ & it works great for all my movies.
  10. blanka macrumors 68000

    Jul 30, 2012
    If you use a Mini for media streaming, connect it to the TV directly and ditch the ATV. Way better solution. It allows you to play MKV's, do 24Hz output for movies, attach a DVB tuner with time-shift/recording, attach a BR player etc.
    I run all my media content from the Mini (no cable tuner or any other seperate box) with just the Onkyo receiver remote acting as Apple Remote.
  11. mac8867 macrumors 6502

    Apr 5, 2010
    Saint Augustine, FL
    MetaZ will be great some day... I still use MetaX though, mostly because it hasthe imdb pluggin which is perfect for getting your meta data.

    As for your Mac Mini questions. I run the setup you are looking at implementing. My mini is a mid 2011 base model. It's perfect. I use an external raid 5 array for storage and Apple TV for distribution to the television.

    As for the mini's monitor, I do have it plugged into a spare HDMI port on the television, but I rarely use that. The remote desktop app for native OSX is just fine for day to day tasks.
  12. priitv8 macrumors 68040

    Jan 13, 2011
    That's exactly why I like Subler - it has iTunes Store "plugin", so all your metadata (incl artwork and the itemID) will look as if downloaded from iTunes Store.
    If the item is not available in the store, you can switch back to TheMovieDB/TheTVDB.
  13. DesTheRed macrumors newbie


    Nov 25, 2013
    Buenos Aires

    I am pretty new around here but your setup sounds like something I could get used to. Toying with the idea of a Mini myself. I have had the Onkyo for many years. Any chance you could share with me your setup? I use Harmony 900 also.

    How do you direct message guys, what am I missing?

  14. Cbdboz macrumors regular


    Oct 31, 2013
    If the mini has a direct hdmi connection to the TV...will this get around DRM issues that prevent me watching sky content via ATV airplay, or UV films on an app such as flixster....currently I can watch on a laptop or a iPad...but as soon as I want to get it on a biggers screen (TV or projector) no longer works.

    Also, you say ditch the absence of Front Row, what would you then use as the single interface for pics/ vids / songs etc??

  15. TEEREY16 macrumors newbie

    Dec 3, 2013
    I've got a similar media server question...

    Looking for suggestions on setting up a home media server that I can access locally and remotely. I bought a house about 6 months ago and have been slowly setting up the components of my network, including a full re-wire with Cat 6. Now that the wiring is complete and I have most of the components in place, I want to get a media server set up (thinking older model Mac Pro or Mac mini based system with additional Thunderbolt storage, but open to any suggestions). Here is a breakdown of my current network and hardware I have, plus the capabilities I’m looking for (see attached diagram). Also, what is the best software for ripping Blu Rays/DVDs/CDs and do I need any additional software to access the media my devices (Plex) locally and remotely?

    Hardware (4 locations):
    - Office Closet:
    - 9U rack mount case
    - 1U 24-port Cat6 patch panel
    - 1U 24-port 10/100 Mbps switch
    - 1U 12-outlet surge protector
    - Comcast modem/router
    - 4 120mm fans (currently unplugged due to lack of heat and noise)
    - Planned:
    - Thermostat for fans
    - 1U rack mount shelf for Comcast modem/router
    - Office (desk):
    - Time Capsule 3TB (newest model)
    - Family Room:
    - Airport Express (set up to extend Time Capsule network)
    - Apple TV (connected to Samsung receiver and TV)
    - Bedroom:
    - Airport Express (set up to extend Time Capsule network)
    - Apple TV (connected to Samsung sound bar/receiver and TV)

    - MacBook Pro, MacBook, Dell Work PCs

    Mobile Devices:
    - iPhone 5s, iPads

    - Time Capsule 500GB (original model)

    Cat 6 Wiring:
    - Office Closet:
    - Homeruns connect from the patch panel to a wall plate in each location
    - Office (desk): 3 homeruns to patch panel
    - Family Room: 6 homeruns to patch panel
    - Bedroom: 3 homeruns to patch panel

    Desired Capabilities:
    - Media server to store all media files (2 separate iTunes libraries, pictures, movies)
    - This is where the Mac Pro or Mac mini connected to additional Thunderbolt storage comes in
    - If Mac Pro, any suggestions for rack mounting, I've seen people cut the handles off and use a sliding shelf
    - Easy drag and drop file server to access documents locally and remotely from computers, iPads, iPhones
    - Rip Blu Rays/DVDs with metadata
    - Locally and remotely play stored movies and music on Apple TVs (local only), computers, iPads, iPhones
    - I think this covers the basics, but I’m interested in any additional capabilities that would be useful

    Attached Files:

  16. SBA macrumors member

    Aug 10, 2008
    I would guess they are using either Plex or XBMC for the 'single interface' in place of something like Front Row. These apps access your media and give you a nice TV-centric view of that media and are great for a home theater pc set-up.

    As for the DRM question, I haven't run into that personally. I'm assuming the mini just sees your tv the same as any other monitor when connected over hdmi (but I haven't yet given this a thorough testing, as my previous set-up was connected via mini-displayport to hdmi).
  17. Cbdboz macrumors regular


    Oct 31, 2013

    Currently I just use I tunes as the interface...tho will explore Plex.

    Using Flixster as my App to view my UV collection, I am no longer able to use airplay or mirroring as it recognises the hdmi connection from the Apple TV. However, I can watch movies on my iMac desktop flixster am hoping that if the Mac mini uses the tv as it's screen (via hdmi) there won't be an issue...if so, this would be great as can finally watch UV digital copies on a big screen :D
  18. McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    I recently bought a WD MyCloud and an Apple TV, I have my iTunes Library in my MacBook Pro HDD and I am putting some videos in the MyCloud.
    What would be the way to stream the videos from the MyCloud to the Apple TV without having to move the iTunes Library?
    Or maybe I need to move it?

  19. westrock2000 macrumors 6502a

    Oct 18, 2013
    If your MacBook can access the MyCloud as a normal drive then you simply add media from it to iTunes (disable "Copy Files to iTunes Library") and iTunes will access it directly from the MyCloud.
  20. McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    Great to know thanks.

    As I am subscribed to iTunes Match and I like to keep my Music library organized, please help me to understand the following:
    After I disable "Copy Files to iTunes Library" how the new Music will be added to the Library?
    I normally buy new CDs and then import them to iTunes, will those be copied to the Library in the HDD right?
    Also I sometimes buy from Amazon mp3s and then add them to the Library, how will they be stored?
  21. jdag macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2012
    You can have music and videos in 2 different locations...which is what I do. Here's my workflow/setup...

    1) "Copy to iTunes Library" is ON, so if I buy anything through the iTunes store or rip a CD, the files go onto my internal hard drive in the default location. This is the default setting for iTunes and how most people use the program.

    2) All of my music is in that default location.

    3) All of my videos are on an external Drobo enclosure (which has 4 3tb drives and is connected to my iMac via FireWire). The Drobo is set up as a single volume with ~8.15tb of usable space.

    4) On the Drobo, I have 2 folders: Movies and TV Shows, with the video files within those folders.

    5) To add videos to my iTunes library, I drag/drop from the Drobo into iTunes while holding down the OPTION key. This tells iTunes to add the file(s) to iTunes, but keep them in their current location (in other words, adds pointers to the files as opposed to copying them to my internal hard drive).

    When using iTunes, any iOS device, or AppleTV and browsing/playing from my iTunes library, there is absolutely no difference or indication that files reside in separate locations. It works flawlessly and is very very well organized.

    My iMac (and the attached Drobo) remain on 24x7 (other than when they automatically sleep). I never turn them off manually. So I can access my content from any TV as I have 3 AppleTVs around the house. We rarely watch regular/live TV anymore.
  22. McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    Thanks! I had no clue about the option key while adding to the Library to keep them where they are, great advice.

    I found that iTunes can see the music I add to the MyCloud but not the videos.

    We also rarely see any live TV, only when a live sport event of our interest is broadcasted.

    Is there a way to stream the videos to the Apple TV from a NAS drive without needing to have the Mac on or use an iOS device with mirroring?

    I wish iTunes Match includes videos in the near future, I mean videos that we can upload and they were not purchased videos.
  23. jdag macrumors 6502a

    Jun 15, 2012
    Yes, there is an option from Synology that I believe will allow for this.

    But generally speaking...using AppleTV to access your iTunes library of videos requires the computer to be on and running iTunes.

    That's honestly the reason I decided on a Drobo (directly attached storage) over a NAS.
  24. McGiord macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2003
    Dark Castle
    Well another workarounds I have are to access the videos directly with my TV or PS3, as both of them connect to the MyCloud without issues, however the navigation and browsing interface are not so nice, and is where I miss Apple and trying to connect directly.
    I only will need to keep the Mac on if I want the nice interface.
  25. MattG macrumors 68040


    May 27, 2003
    Asheville, NC
    I believe that's correct (I'll have to test on my Synology), but if there's an DRM'd content (iTunes TV shows for example), the Synology can't stream those. Has to be through iTunes.

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