Setting up a home server

Discussion in 'Mac Accessories' started by houstonwkv, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. houstonwkv, Mar 5, 2013
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013

    houstonwkv macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2010
    Location:
    Great White North
    #1
    Hi everyone:

    I am looking to expand my time machine / server / htpc back up and I was wondering if anyone could share their experience with what has worked really well for them.

    My current setup:

    Right now I have a mac mini (with ssd) attached to my tv, it runs plex server and player and I use for all of my day to day movie and tv watching.

    In addition to that I have airport extreme with an external drive attached which holds all of the files in my plex library and is also the destination drive for all of my downloads.

    Positives:
    this system works really well because I can have a very inexpensive (60gb) ssd in my mac mini and energy usage is VERY minimal because it can sleep whenever plex isnt actively in use.

    Negatives:
    frequently the drive will disconnect and make the mobile plex apps think that there is no media. Also for some reason, though the computer can be woken up with a harmony remote, frequently the drive wont reconnect unless you vnc into the computer and actually move the mouse (I have no idea why this is the case)


    Modifications to the system:
    I am adding another laptop to the household and I was hoping to have it back up (with time machine) to the airport extremes hdd but that drive is now almost full (due to the aforementioned media and other backups) so I have no choice but to expand.

    My question is simply, would it be better too:

    a) purchase a synology drive, load it with two drives and continue on with my life

    or

    b) add an external drive to the mac mini and move all of my media onto it, freeing the external attached to the airport to be used solely for backups

    for option a) the energy usage will be much much greater, and much more expensive, but then at least I have the ability to have all my data in one place
    option b) would require that my mac mini was on 24/7.

    I know every loves synology on this forum, but I already own a mac mini, can anyone share their experience with using it as a media server and any negatives I might have missed to option b?


    thank you for your time!
     
  2. Outrigger macrumors 68000

    Outrigger

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    #2
    I thought about getting a Synology, but I already use a mini as a media server and it has way more functionality than a NAS so there's no point for me to buy a NAS. I have a 3TB drive via firewire to the mini and thats where my media (movies, tv shows) reside and have Plex server running. (my TVs both have the Plex app installed and connected via ethernet). So all the computers and ios devices can have access to Plex.

    I would just get external drives and attach it to the mini. Since the bottleneck will ethernet, any USB 2.0 or firewire will more than suffice if you're only using them for media and backup purposes.

    Regarding your sleep issue, I don't ever put the mini to sleep since it interferes with the Plex server. And because its a 5400 rpm drive, the temp is around 50C at idle. The mini is headless, and I access it through OSX screenshare.
     
  3. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #3
    You can move both your media and TimeMachine backups to your mini and use it as a server system as well as an entertainment system. I use two minis (and an ATV) as entertainment servers and a third runs Snow Leopard Server and has a bunch of external drives. The server stays on 24/7 and most of the power (70 watts) is consumed by all the drives -- 9TB total capacity. The drive "toaster" is used for backing up the server. The router was provided by the ISP and has WiFi disabled. I use an AirPort Extreme for WiFi.

    [​IMG]
     
  4. houstonwkv thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2010
    Location:
    Great White North
    #4
    thanks for the help!

    Based upon the what I've read around the forum, people seem to prefer synology over mac mini servers.
    Thats always seemed backwards to me.

    any recommendations in regards setting up network shares?
    I'm thinking about offloading itunes and iphoto from one laptop to the macminis external
     
  5. smellalot macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    #5

    70 Watts?? That is just crazy! Electricity must be free where you live ;)
    Also, why do you need TWO servers?
    Honest question!




    Regarding the original question:
    I too suggest you connect two external drives. One for all your media, one for backups. You can use WOL or wake on demand (bonjour sleep proxy) to wake your mac mini, since you have an airport extreme. When I want to watch a movie on my iPad I just need to open the Remote app for a second and my macbook wakes up, even on wifi. Then I open the Plex app and can start the movie.
     
  6. houstonwkv thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2010
    Location:
    Great White North
    #6
    thanks for your reply!

    so are you saying that you back up the minis to a mini using timemachine?
     
  7. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #7
    70 watts is a whole lot less than the Dell computer I used to use. The Snow Leopard Server computer is the only true "server" and basically sits in a centrally located closet. The other minis are base level systems and don't run a server OS but just Plex and Safari applications. One could ask why I've got them rather than more ATVs, but the ATVs are too limiting in sources they support.
     
  8. smellalot macrumors 6502

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    #8
    I think in many cases one of the Macs can double as a server. Especially an iMac or Mac mini.

    Also time machine backups to another Mac are supported. Backups to NAS's or Airport Extreme are not.
     
  9. houstonwkv thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2010
    Location:
    Great White North
    #9
    Awesome, thanks

    have you ever though about getting a multi drive JBOD enclosure rather then running a whole bunch of external drives?

    I can only assume that so many individual power supplies uses alot more energy.

    Any recommendations of enclosures?
     
  10. Outrigger macrumors 68000

    Outrigger

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2008
    #10
    Correct.

    I have a 4TB drive connected to my imac and everything (imac, mini and air) all back up to the drive via time machine which itself is backed up to crash plan + which is a workaround for picking the unlimited backup for just one computer, but in actuality, all 3 computers are backed up to the cloud.
     
  11. houstonwkv thread starter macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2010
    Location:
    Great White North
    #11
    wow that really great, I hadnt even considered using crashplan like that...
     
  12. glenthompson macrumors 68000

    glenthompson

    Joined:
    Apr 27, 2011
    Location:
    Virginia
    #12
    I'm in the move everything to the mini camp. Lots of pluses that others have mentioned and no downsides compared to using the extreme.

    Don't forget some type of backup for the media drives.
     
  13. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #13
    I've always read that you should never backup backup sets. I would recommend spending a couple of extra bucks a month to let each machine independently back up to the cloud.

    /Jim
     
  14. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #14
    Especially since TimeMachine uses a non-standard file system structuring hook (hard links to directories which aren't allowed otherwise). It's questionable that a restore from a cloud backup would work. I'd certainly verify it before relying on it!

    ----------

    I doubt that it makes that much difference as most of the power is consumed by the drive itself. Furthermore the multiple drive enclosures need a fan -- more power and added noise.

    My enclosures are all these from Other World Computing.
     
  15. flynz4 macrumors 68040

    Joined:
    Aug 9, 2009
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    #15
    As I think about the "backup of backups"... I suppose it would work if he used CCC to transfer files to the single machine backed up to Crashplan. This would work since CCC writes the data in POFF (plain old finder format).

    Still... I think it is prudent to back up each device directly to Crashplan.

    /Jim
     
  16. talmy macrumors 601

    talmy

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2009
    Location:
    Oregon
    #16
    That is exactly what I do here. They have a good "family" plan that covers backing up multiple systems.

    I also us TimeMachine, and alternating sets of cloned drives kept offsite. So I've got everything important backed up in quadruplicate and in three different ways.
     
  17. Ifti macrumors 68000

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2010
    Location:
    UK
    #17
    I moved away from option a and went to option b!

    Synology make some great units, but I personally found it limiting. The Plex app wasn't brilliant on it either in my experience.

    I therefore purchased a Mac mini server, which is connected to my main HDTV, and hosts all of my Plex library and other files. I can access this anywhere in my network, or remotely if need be.

    I have now ordered a Drobo 5D which will be connected to the Mac Mini Server via Thunderbolt. I may move my Plex library to that instead, or I may use it for backups and general storage. Nevertheless, a full on server has given me much more flexibility and I can do whatever I want with it, rather then being limited to Synology and its [few] apps......
     

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