NAS vs. Always-On MacMini for serving media

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by m021478, Dec 1, 2009.

  1. m021478 macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    #1
    Is there any reason to purchase an NAS drive to serve all of my iTunes Music & Movies on my LAN, when I also have a Mac-Mini that is switched on 24/7 which can serve the same content on my LAN by sharing its drive via AFP?

    Please advise. Thanks!
     
  2. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Canada, eh?
    #2
    One consideration is the 2.5" hard drive that's in the Mac Mini. It may not last as long as a typical 3.5" drive in a NAS. Plus it would be more difficult to replace if and when it does fail.

    If you already have a Mini and you're willing to use it as such, then sure, why not. I chose to buy a NAS because it was cheaper than buying a Mini. I could have bought a cheap used PC to do the same job, but the power consumption there would have been much greater. Power consumption will be a factor in the Mac Mini, as well, but probably not as much as a bigger PC.
     
  3. rgarjr macrumors 603

    rgarjr

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    #3
    if you already have your mini on 24/7 then u can use it to serve your files. No need to get a NAS if you have that.
     
  4. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #4
    I use my Mac Mini as a HTPC media center and as a 24/7 NAS. I have a FW800 dual drive enclosure hooked up to it for mass storage of media/files... the internal stock drive in the Mini is left just to run the OS/Apps. It's a great home server platform!
     
  5. rgarjr macrumors 603

    rgarjr

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    #5
    nice.. how long have u had that work horse mini running 24/7? Are the external dual drives running all the time as well?
     
  6. downinitjr macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2007
    Location:
    Minnesota
    #6
    One thing to remember is that with snow leopard and an airport router you no longer need to leave the "server" running 24/7. The router will advertise the services available on the mini even if its sleeping, and wake it on demand, (when files/services are requested from it). I use this with my TV, and it works well.
     
  7. Alrescha macrumors 68020

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    #7
    I've had two minis running 24/7 for the past few years and it appears there may be some longevity issues with the hard drives. In both cases, I had to replace the drives after about 3 years of constant use. The external drives (with fans) power down on idle and have never had any problems.

    That said, I'm not going to change what I do. It may be "more difficult" to replace a hard drive in a mini than in some NAS device, but it isn't "a lot more difficult".

    A.
     
  8. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #8
    Not long... only a couple of months in my case... this is a new setup for me.
     
  9. tbayrgs macrumors 603

    tbayrgs

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2009
    Location:
    Florida, USA
    #9
    +1

    This is my exact setup as well, feeding my macbook and 2 :apple:TVs and it works great. As downinitjr stated, you can have the mini setup to wake on demand so it's not running continuously. My externals sleep after a few minutes of inactivity and spin right up as needed. Takes a few seconds but no big deal.
     
  10. m021478 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    #10
    How do I go about setting this up on my Mac-Mini running snow leopard? Does it do it by default, or are there any special system preferences checkboxes that need to be checked?
     
  11. rgarjr macrumors 603

    rgarjr

    Joined:
    Apr 2, 2009
    Location:
    Southern Cal
    #11
    won't the waking up every time put more wear and tear on the hard drive since it has to spin up and then down when it goes back to sleep.
     
  12. notjustjay macrumors 603

    notjustjay

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2003
    Location:
    Canada, eh?
    #12
    A different kind of wear and tear, maybe?

    I don't have a Mini but I do have a NAS with a 1 TB hard drive that holds my MP3's and other documents. It's set to sleep after 30 minutes of inactivity.

    A typical day for me: I come home from work around 8 or 9pm. I start some music playing until 11 or 12, then I go to bed.

    I think (hope?!) having the hard drive spin up for 3 hours, then spin down again, is better than having it spin constantly for 24 hours.
     
  13. downinitjr macrumors member

    Joined:
    May 17, 2007
    Location:
    Minnesota
    #13
    OS X v10.6: About Wake on Demand.
     
  14. Bye Bye Baby macrumors 65816

    Bye Bye Baby

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2004
    Location:
    i(am in the)cloud
    #14
    It is also a question of what type of files you want to serve and where. If it is just a place to access your iTunes library then a NAS is exactly what you want. If however you want to add things to your library via Internet, ripping or whatever than a mini would be better.

    I use the mini+drobo combo and it is very good for what I want.
     
  15. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #15
    That depends on the type of hard drive that you are using.

    Consumer drives are not supposed to run 24/7, the are made for continuous spin ups and downs.
    Enterprise class hard drives, like the WD Raid Edition, can indeed fail earlier when they are turned on and off frequently.

    There are several 24/7 2.5" hard drives on the market. That's definitely the way to go for a 24/7 running Mac Mini that does not wake up on demand.
    Another, even better, option would be a very small SSD. It can be a very slow one and 32GB should be enough for the OS and apps on a server.
    I've got 8GB in use on my Snow Leopard Server.
     
  16. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #16
    Back up important data and don't worry about drive failure. No home usage pattern is going to stress a drive no matter what kind it is.
     
  17. whooleytoo macrumors 603

    whooleytoo

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Location:
    Cork, Ireland.
    #17
    Is anyone using Plex on a Mac Mini for the user interface?

    Been trying it lately, and it works well, looks great; and has several options for media sources. It even has a Upnp client (if you already have a Upnp server somewhere in your home) - not many Upnp clients out there for the Mac, strangely enough.
     
  18. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #18
    Exactly the home usage kills 24/7 server drives. To me home usage is awaking and sleeping the computer several times a day, and that's not what the enterprise drives are made for.
     
  19. m021478 thread starter macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    #19
    I am running Plex on my Mac-Mini... It's pretty much the most unbelievable setup one could hope for!
     
  20. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #20
    Plex Rocks!!!


    Are you sure? Can you provide a link?

    Here's a great white paper by Intel on this subject and they don't mention any added stress on a drive from regular spin-down/up. In fact, everything would indicate much better life expectancy from an Enterprise drive.

    Enterprise class drives are largely differentiated based on their sector remapping solution (See the above white paper and this article...Link). They may also use higher tolerance parts, but there's no guarantee of this. In fact, the use of higher tolerance parts, would imply it would be more reliable whether it's run 24/7 or spun-down regularly... either way it will be more reliable.

    At any rate, there's no way any drive at home is even close to being stressed as much as one used in an enterprise setting.
     
  21. God of Biscuits macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Sep 17, 2007
    #21
    Internal hard drives

    If you're worried about the longevity of 2.5" drives, just boot the Mini off the external drives you already have attached to it.

    If you don't want the OS on the same drive as all your media, buy a separate Firewire external drive (whatever size is the price/size sweet spot) and use that as the boot drive.

    Keep in mind that if you use a Mini instead of a NAS, you *can* use the drives attached to it as a Time Machine Backup destination as well. and if you hook the mini up to your HDTV, even if you don't use the mini with Plex or somesuch to play movies to your TV, you can use the HDTV as a monitor: get a Magic Mouse and a bluetooth keyboard and you can use your HDTV as an occasional display for websurfing, writing, etc.

    Me, I have a ginormous (12" x 19") Intuos Wacom tablet that's hooked up to my mini via a USB extension cable and I use my HDTV and my mini and sit on my sofa, kicked back, and I sketch or "oil paint" or what have you.

    The mini is a handy little machine to have around.
     
  22. Transporteur macrumors 68030

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2008
    Location:
    UK
    #22
    Of course that depends on the setup of an average home user, but yes, generally spoken that sounds reasonable.

    The spin-up/down failure might be a myth, which unfortunately (or better luckily) can't prove. I just asked our admin a few years ago about the usage of the file servers, which don't have to run day and night because no one is accessing them at night. He said that it would be possible but not appropriate due to the hard drives that may fail earlier when spinning them up and down every day because their motors are not constructed for that type of usage.
    Again, I can't prove that and it would be nice if that's indeed a myth as it would save me a lot of money. ;)

    Maybe nanofrog will show up in this topic and can say something to that.
    I'm sure he can give us a clear statement.
     
  23. TuckBodi macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2007
    #23
    I respectfully disagree with part of this. Hard drives (not SSD) are mechanical devices and will fail. I had two WD MyBooks, which I bought together 3 years ago, both fail within weeks of each other. The part I agree with is BACK UP or be doomed!
     
  24. VirtualRain macrumors 603

    VirtualRain

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC
    #24
    LOL... While I haven't seen him in this forum, he does have a nose for these kinds of threads and as you say... can usually lend some credible input! :D

    Yeah, I should have been more clear... If you backup, you don't need to worry about failure and shouldn't worry... and I agree drives fail... but it is rare, although perhaps getting worse these days. It use to be that hearing of a drive failure was about as common as a flat tire (eg. almost non-existant) but now you hear stories like yours regularly. :eek:
     

Share This Page