mini server for digital photography

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by radek42, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. radek42 macrumors regular

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    #1
    Hi,

    I had my mind pretty much set on 22in iMac for my digital photography hobby, but after testing the display and reading more about it at number of different sites I decided against it.

    Than I moved to mac mini (server edition most likely). I like compact size, presumably packs enough horsepower to run PS and LR (or Aperture), and in couple years when I'm ready to move to next computer it can serve as fairly efficient media unit/server. I will upgrade memory to 8GB and eventually to SSD for the system disk.

    So, does i7 mac mini server have enough processing power to deal with PS editing 6-13 megapixel raw files? I realize it won't compete with mac pro; I am looking for "pleasant" experience rather than nail-biting-please-be-done-already experience. YMMV.

    The other thing that bugs me about either solution is limit storage. Currently I have ~40k images (about half in raw format) and ~20k from my wife's camera. I realize that I might be fine for year or two, but I'd like to have working plan in place for future expansion.

    I wonder how folks are dealing with this?
    Do you have large disk or disks attached via FW at all times to hold your libraries or do people use NAS devices or dedicated file servers? (I am not sure how either LR or Aperture handle their image libraries when disk are disconnected)

    I suspect I could always get one of the thunderbolt storage rigs :)

    I appreciate your comments.

    Cheers,
    R>
     
  2. Xeperu macrumors 6502

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    #2
    My late 2010 MBA with the 1.86 ghz Core2Duo works fine with 30 meg raws from my 5Dmk2.

    No lag or issues in Lightroom or Photoshop.

    For storage I build a NAS system of ~6 tb in raid 5. (3x3tb), I shoot about 10 gigs of raw a week.
     
  3. radek42 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #3
    That sounds promising. The graphic cards are about equivalent in both systems as well. As I understand gfx cards play insignificant role for 2d image processing anyways.

    When you say "build" you mean running file server on low-end processor with bunch of disks or do have commercial NAS enclosure? Right now I am kind of running linux server on intel atom system with 1TB storage (expandable).

    Thanks for comments, R>
     
  4. Xeperu macrumors 6502

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    #4
    I bought a Synology barebone NAS and added drives. Turned out cheaper than a prebuild.
     
  5. radek42 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #5
    I had my eye on Qnap systems before I opted for Linux system to avoid proprietary raid controller. It served me well, but I might switch to dedicated NAS system.

    Thanks, for comments.
    R>
     
  6. Flash SWT macrumors 6502

    Flash SWT

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    #6
    My wife and I have two ReadyNAS units we use for storage. All "active" files are kept on the internal drives and moved to the NAS for archiving.
     
  7. ChrisA macrumors G4

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    #7
    Never store large data sets on the internal disk. Buy some kind of external. Currenlty FW800 is the best option. An external 2TB drive will do fine.

    Then you need a backup system. Time machine works but in addition you need two more copies with one of those kept off site. Always you largest drive is used by Time Machine it should be at least 2X the size of all your data.

    As you library grows then you use the TM disk for data and buy an even larger TM disk.

    Aperture does have a way to move parts of the library off-line and still keep the index and thumbnail on-line. It works but it's not needed on a desktop where you can have an unlimited number of disks. That feature is best used for notebooks

    Why would you buy the server version of the Mini? Which feature would you use that is not present on the normal mini?

    NAS can work too but unless you buy one of the more expensive, high end systems and used wired Gigabyte Ethernet it is both slower and more expensive than Firewire 800. Use NAS only if you need a network connection.

    Be sure and make a good backup plan that include multiple redundant copies and off site storage. Disk crash is NOT the most common cause of loss. It's theft of the equipment and electrical problems like the power pole downy the street being hit by lightening or a house fire or flood. #2 cause os operator error.
     
  8. radek42, Sep 16, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2011

    radek42 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #8
    Thanks for comments.

    I think I am gonna go for the FW external to hold data. I still have to sort "external data disk" and "back up disk" in my mind. For some time I incorrectly interchanged these (and I still do sometimes).

    For extra cores and dual-HD set up. I was planning eventually replace one of the internal disks with SSD for OS and keep the other for data. I suspect there is physical room in non-server mini for the second HDD, but I am not sure if anybody tried and/or one can find appropriate connecting cable for the second drive.

    Again, the NAS system was more meant for back up than simply expanding local data storage of the desktop. I realized (read on Qnap web-site) that NAS/RAID controller failure will indeed render stored data unusable unless one can find identical controller. I think I will stick with my current back-up system in dual HDDs synced couple times a day. That way I know each disk should be usable in case of disk crash.

    Thanks for posting,
    R>

    Edit: Never mind ... I found links for installing the second HDD into non-server mini:
    kit: http://www.macrumors.com/2011/08/12/ifixit-offers-kit-to-install-2nd-hard-drive-in-2011-mac-mini/
    instructions: http://www.ifixit.com/Guide/Installing-Mac-Mini-Mid-2011-Dual-Hard-Drive-Kit/6275/1
    if anybody is interested. R>
     
  9. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #9
    I'm not 100% sure about practical ramifications, but in theory gigabit ethernet has a slightly higher throughput potential than FW800. 1Gbit/s vs. 800Mbit/s. It is also a lot better at distance (i.e. putting a NAS box in a different room) than FW800.

    To the OP: Yes I think a mini server works well for digital photography, because I bought one for the same purpose :). I installed an SSD but honestly even the BTO 750GB 7200rpm HD is pretty fast- sustained transfers of about 100MB/s. I don't know how much data you actually have in photos but you can put something like a 1TB drive in the mini- if you are needing multiple terabyte and redundant storage, a NAS or external file server is likely the better option.

    Ruahrc
     
  10. radek42 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #10
    Thanks for sharing your experience with mini server.

    It seems to me that it is better choice in long term compared to high end mini. Once you upgrade cpu to i7 the price is nearly the same.

    I'll still need to decide on the storage/back up. I was getting tired of my linux server, but it seems better solution than NAS. If I keep my server I'm gonna settle for FW800 external for local storage.

    Thanks for posting.
    Cheers,
    R>

     
  11. JazzCollector macrumors member

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    #11
  12. Blakeco123 macrumors regular

    Blakeco123

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    #12
    considering my 3 year old mac mini (early 2009, 8gb ram) can run photoshop fairly well when editing a 12mp image, id say the new would run it spectacularly. Also aperture and Lightroom run fine on it.
     
  13. srf4real macrumors 68030

    srf4real

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    #13
    Yeah, there isn't any "fairly well" with a new mini server in Photoshop CS5, Lightroom, or Aperture.. It simply rocks. Although Aperture is still a piece of garbage imo.. different thread/ rant sorry .:eek:
     
  14. radek42, Sep 19, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2011

    radek42 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #14
    Got mini server today. Too bad I don't have dvi cable handy :-( It gotta wait till tomorrow :)

    I will still have to decide on the Ap. vs. LR ... I might go for Ap just to use m y $100 b2s gift card. I'm gonna test both before making decision. I have to say I am testing LR on PC and I am not too impressed.

    Thanks everybody for comments and advice.

    Cheers,
    R>

     
  15. Ruahrc macrumors 65816

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    #15
    How did you get a $100 B2S gift card with your mini? According to the terms, the mini did not qualify?

    Or did I get jacked of a $100 gift card?
     
  16. radek42 thread starter macrumors regular

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    #16
    Hmm, I did get the gift card, but reading the terms mini does not qualify ... strange.
    R>

     

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