NAS and Mac Mini

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Darius17, Jun 14, 2013.

  1. Darius17 macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2011
    I am looking to get a mac mini, an eyetv (or other tv recording system) and NAS to function as a media server in my living room and had several questions as to the best way to set this up correctly. what i want to achieve is use the mac mini to record tv programmes and connect it up to the tv in the living room with the media all residing on the NAS hard drive. So my questions are as follows:
    1. is it possible for both my macbook pro and the mac mini to share the same media library on the NAS drive? Can i access the library from both at the same time (agree not likely, but i may want to watch one thing and my girlfriend another)

    2. Ideally i have my entire media collection on the NAS and then make a local copy as well of the music and podcasts onto the macbook so i have them when i travel without having my hard disk full with all the movies and shows. Is it possible to do this or to automate copying these files at given points in time. I heard there is an application that allows itunes to redirect to files located in other location. what is the name of that program and would this help me.

    3. Any recommendations as far as which NAS i use? i would like to use it also in a RAID1 mode so that i have a backup of my media files in case something happens. I would also like to use it to backup my macbook pro. I would ideally go quite big on this front, given that i have quite a few DVD i am looking to rip and will likely have a couple of terabytes of data. Given i travel quite actively for work being able to access it remotely would be an added advantage and if i can do it from apps for ipad and iphone (both locally and or remotely) that would be an added advantage.

    4. any recommendations as to the TV recording system. i presume elgato eyetv hybrid given it is the most prevalent but are there any other alternatives.

    5. given that the mac mini's sole purpose is going to be to record tv and serve as a media server, both on the tv screen in the living room and to stream to my bedroom where i will put the Apple TV, i was hoping to save a little bit of money by buying a second hand mac mini. Would you say there are any minimum requirements to be able to handle what i want, or recommended requirements or am i good to go with the cheapest mac mini i can find on ebay. i intend to upgrade to mavericks when it becomes available in the fall on my macbook and might be easier if the mini is running it too.

    as it might be of use when answering these questions i would like to go for mac mini because all my other gadgets are apple and find it easier to stay within the ecosystem. i also live in the UK so availability of certain things might be an issue.

    many thanks for any help.
  2. Dalton63841, Jun 14, 2013
    Last edited: Jun 14, 2013

    Dalton63841 macrumors 65816


    Nov 27, 2010
    Since you are going to use the Mac Mini as a media server, why not just have it also be your NAS? Get a ministack v3 or something like that, hook it up to the Mac Mini, turn on file sharing. If you want you can set up your media in iTunes and turn on Home Sharing.

    I had a 2009 Mac Mini that I used as a media server, file server, web server, torrent server, and even had a script set up with Handbrake to do video encoding. It didn't even blink an eye. They make very good NAS's. I would suggest getting 2x miniStack v3. Get the 0GB model and then add your own hard drives. It will be significantly cheaper than any decent NAS utility.
  3. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Jan 5, 2006
    Redondo Beach, California
    Rule #1: "RAID is NOT a backup solution". Do not depend on RAID to provide a backup. It will fail. You need a real backup.

    But then, if this is just media that you can easily replace why bother to back it up. Just re-rip it from a CD or whatever. But data that can't be replaced needs a real backup, not RAID.

    OK, with that said. The minim or an old notebook makes the best NAS. Simply have the Mac share the folder that contains the media files.

    If you must have a stand alone NAS then buy one that canbe a "media server" and not just a file server. You want it to stream video or audio, not just hand over files.

    The details of what to get depend on
    1) your budget
    2) how much space you need
    3) the RATE this space is growing. Are you adding 10GB or 1TB per year?

    Next question: Why not use an Apple TV. Why connect a Mini just to drive a TV set.
  4. phrehdd macrumors 68040


    Oct 25, 2008
    There are so many variations on this them of media serving.

    I have a Mac Mini, a smart TV, a smart blu-ray player and they all are on the same network and get files served up from NAS.

    For the Mac Mini, I use XBMC as a front end for movie playback and all my movies are on my NAS (as is my music and photos).

    As pointed out, NAS is not a backup system but there is a madness to your method of wanting to mirror the drive or use something like RAID 1, RAID 01 or RAID5 that offers some protection against single drive failure. The real issue is when the NAS itself becomes problematic and thus renders the potential for data corruption on the drives. If you use a small NAS you may want to also back up the NAS to other media or single drives. As example, if you have a mirrored NAS with 2x4 tb drives, you may want a 3rd drive connected to your MAC and back up the mirrored drives from time to time or at least some type of schedule.

    The Mac Mini does very well as a media player with software such as Plex or XBMC. The only catch is that OSX does not support HD audio and if you have as example a file that is 1080p video with DTS-Master audio, Plex and XBMC will give you the 1080p video and just DTS pass through of the audio.
    If you are planning to use only files playable with iTunes, then again you will not get HD audio but just Dolby and DTS audio. For most people, this is not a problem

    Connecting it all together - skip on the wireless. Go for Ethernet cable - either CAT 5e or CAT 6 designation. Wireless can work for 720p well enough but is sketchy with 1080p files (hi rez like blu ray).

    If the entire goal is to playback various non DRM media files, there are other types of units that work well for playback ranging from some smart blu-ray players to items such as Med8tor and Dune players. I have used the Dune Base 3 for several years before giving it as a gift to a friend of mine. He has since archived over 100 of his DVD and Blu-ray library to his Synology NAS.

    NAS - there are two ways to fetch files from NAS, either simple connection to see the files and pull them for play and then getting a DLNA software on the NAS such as "Twonky" that not only can serve up the media files but at times will do some of the work required if "conversion" to a friendlier format is required before your device of choice can play back the file. In most cases, if you stick to fairly general file formats, no conversion is needed.

    I use QNAP NAS presently and in the past have used ReadyNAS. My friends rave about Synology as their brand of choice. As for what size and speed drives to get, even the slowest typical drives are more than fast enough to play back 1080p. The bottleneck is more often related to the connectivity and thus Ethernet is the best choice. A popular new drive is Western Digital's 2 and 3 tb "RED" drives for NAS.

    Even with all the goodness of XBMC and Plex, neither are really great for music playback unless you are willing to put the time in to make some playlists and such. I find that iTunes for CD quality (converted to Apple Lossless format) or 256 AAC files is a better experience. In my case, I play those files through my Mac Mini and my FLAC music via my blu ray player (96/24 quality).

    Hopefully the above gives you some things to think about and what might be a good fit (or not) for your situation. Feel free to PM me if you have questions that are more specific.

    My set up - Mac Mini Server quad 2.0 w/16 gig RAM and 1 240 SSD drive, 2 NAS units (5 drive and 4 drive, both RAID 5), Oppo 103 Blu Ray player, Panasonic 65" VT50 Plasma, Marantz NR1602 AVR ....I have other items connect but not relevant to this discussion.
  5. Darius17 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Oct 9, 2011
    responding to your questions:
    i have an Apple TV which i will be putting in the bedroom. the reason i want to use a macmini is because i want it to use it to record tv on it via elgato eyetv or similar system. cant do that with appletv. currently have about 2.5tb of media once i rip all the dvds. i expect this to increase probably at a rate of 1-2tb a year. as for my budget, happy to spend the extra pound if it will work significantly better. was aiming for in total (tv capture, mini and NAS) for under 800 pounds (about 1200 USD) but not set in stone.

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