Recommendations needed: Mini for iTunes Server

Discussion in 'Mac mini' started by staggerlee41, Nov 3, 2018.

  1. staggerlee41 macrumors 6502a


    Sep 25, 2017
    Pittsburgh, PA
    As the title states, I am looking for I'm looking for recommendations on which Mini to use as a dedicated iTunes server for my music. I have an extensive iTunes Library of music I've collected through the years and have pretty much decided a Mini is the best way to go for my needs. I'm looking to free up space on my aging MBP in hopes of determining what my realistic needs will be for the next MBP purchase--but that's another topic :cool:

    Also, I'm new to Mini's so please forgive my noobness. 2014 is one consideration for me, Apple has the following refurbished options I'm entertaining:

    $419 - 4GB memory I could 500GB HD, and 1.4 i5. Is this going to cut it?
    $509 - 8GB memory 500GB HD and 1.4 i5
    $589 - 8GB memory 1TB HD and 2.6 i5

    Which do you folks think is my best option? Is a 2.6 i5 going go benefit me over a 1.4 for my intended usage?

    I'm assuming I can upgrade memory and could either use an external HD to put the iTunes Library on or upgrade the internal HD to SSD if needed.

    In terms of interfacing with it, how do you guys do it? I'm thinking of a VNC like program that can be controlled either by an existing MBP or iPad? I have a bluetooth keyboard and mouse that I could use but would prefer avoid hooking it up to a monitor.

    Any other considerations I should keep in mind?

  2. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    First, the memory in the 2014 mini is not upgradable, so buy what you need initially. I wouldn’t recommend getting the 4GB model. You can upgrade the disks, although the process is a bit involved.
    You may also be able to find close out deals from 3rd party vendors which are less expensive than Apple’s refurbs.
  3. Boyd01 macrumors 601


    Feb 21, 2012
    New Jersey Pine Barrens
    Only you can decide what "cuts it". But I have been using the lowly, base 2014 1.4ghz/4gb/500gb HD mini as an iTunes server for over two years and it's more than adequate. My library is probably very different from yours, I have about 3500 songs (60 GB) and about 1,200 videos (1.5 TB). My media is on a fast USB 3.0 hard drive connected to the Mini and is automatically cloned to another external drive every night. I regularly rotate the backup drive with a third disk. So the slow internal drive on the Mini is almost empty, with just the standard MacOS sorftware that was pre-installed (the internal drive clocks around 100MB/sec and my externals are about 180MB/sec). The only time the speed of the internal drive is an issue would be when the Mini starts up. That probably happens 4 or 5 times per year. My Mini is set to never sleep and disks never spin down.

    I use my library with home sharing on two Apple TV's, a MacBook Air, iPad and another Mini. Works just great and frankly anything more that this would be over-kill for my needs. So if you are only serving music, that base Mini will be more than adequate. In fact, you could get away with something cheaper, like a core2duo machine perhaps, an old Windows computer or an inexpensive NAS (typically NAS devices allow sharing of iTunes music but not video).

    Now this same Mini is horrible if you want to use it for other things, but if it's truly a "server" then it will be just fine. Mine just runs iTunes 24/7 with home sharing. It is also connected to a 24 monitor and to my stereo system that has speakers in several rooms.

    It won't hurt to get something better than the base model, but from what you have described, IMO you don't need anything better. BTW, as has already been noted, you cannot upgrade the RAM in the 2014 Mini. If you really want that capability, get a used 2012 Mini.
  4. gigatoaster macrumors regular


    Jul 22, 2018
    Hello there

    Have you considered Roon instead of iTunes? Extremely expensive but great for organizing the music, especially if you have lossless files. You should try their free trial just to compare.

    If you are not into hifi, you can disregard my message.
  5. staggerlee41 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 25, 2017
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Thanks for this, your use case sounds very similar to what I'm looking to do. I literally want to use it as a server for my music library, I'm currently at about 19k songs with 248GB and 14GB of video content. I've got a Bose Soundtouch and want to stream music to it as I am today with my MBP. I don't plan on filling up the HD with content, I'd do the same as you described, use a USB drive to store content. I like what you're doing to clone to another HD. Other than music, I want to be able to use it as a storage hub of sorts, for photos and docs, etc.

    I considered other options for a NAS but what I'll call low end or basic (WD My Cloud, Seagate or Promise Apollo) all seem to have some form of negative feedback or at least drawbacks. The others like Synology or Buffalo are more complex and that's what I'm looking to avoid. I like the idea of simplicity.

    Regarding upgradability of components, that's good to know. Since my initial post, I've been doing some reading and have found the pros and cons of 2012 v 2014 models and both seem like viable options. Part of the appeal to me in dealing with Apple refurb is obvious, although as always it comes with a premium but also with piece of mind. Even comparing some of the others like Best Buy and B&H, Apple's refurb offers are better at this point.

    One thing I want to do with this purchase is provide myself some degree of "future proof". Obviously going with a new model does that but it's overkill for my needs, thus the appeal of a refurb or pre loved Mini.

    Thanks again for your post, I'm still mulling things around for the time being.
  6. T'hain Esh Kelch macrumors 601

    T'hain Esh Kelch

    Aug 5, 2001
    As an iTunes server, any Intel Mac Mini would suit your needs. No need at all to get a 2014 model, just pick the cheapest used 2011+ model you can find.
  7. ElectronGuru macrumors 65816

    Sep 5, 2013
    Oregon, USA
    Couple of points

    Anything dual core will be fast enough. I even have a first gen Intel I upgraded from 1 to 2 cores

    Consider using your tv as a monitor. It can sit quietly, plugged into a free hdmi and you can always switch to that port to see what’s going on

    Watch system requirements. iTunes 14 and 15 should work for a while but ensure there’s headroom

    The only issue I’ve found with homeshare is lack of history. I may not be doing it right, but ratings and play counts don’t seem to be transferring

    Use the iTunes for iOS management. Backups, upgrades, etc. your phone will have 3 points of failure control with little extra work
  8. dukebound85 macrumors P6


    Jul 17, 2005
    5045 feet above sea level
    why not use a raspberry pi for 35 bucks? or do you want to spend 800 for some reason?
  9. chrfr macrumors 604

    Jul 11, 2009
    If you've got a lot of iTunes Store content, a Raspberry Pi won't work for that.
  10. thisismyusername macrumors 6502

    Nov 1, 2015
    iTunes Match and not bother with an iTunes server.
  11. staggerlee41 thread starter macrumors 6502a


    Sep 25, 2017
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Match really isn't an option for me and in addition to getting music off of my MBP I want to get photos off of it as well. I'm looking for suggestions on a Mini, not alternatives.

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10 November 3, 2018