'spare' Mini - should I use as a NAS

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by TWHH, Sep 11, 2011.

  1. TWHH macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    Hi there,

    I'm about to switch out the Mini under my TV for an Apple TV - I really don't use the Mini for anything more than watching a few films and watching some web based catch up TV services. I also have an iMac which is my 'main' Mac where my iTunes library is housed.

    I have switched my living room TV recording away from EyeTV to a dedicated PVR. The few films I do have have now been handbraked to iTunes format to allow for easy streaming, and although I can currently use Airfoil on my iMac and Airfoil speakers on my Mini to stream iTunes (or other audio) to the Hi-fi connected Mini, it's a bit clunky. Also, navigating a Mini within anything other than the limited and now defunct Front Row isn't a great 10ft experience. So, having switching from wi-fi to Powerline networking, I'm confident that for my music & video iMac to Apple TV makes the most sense. I've also discovered a hack based app that includes a browser for the AppleTV that will give me access to web based catch up sites (eg 4OD).

    So... to my question:

    Should I sell my Mini (early 2009 2Ghz Intel Core Duo, 4GB RAM, 320Gb HDD) or issue as a NAS?

    My video library isn't huge, and if it expands I'm thinking a simple external drive would be suffice.

    So my question is:

    Do I need a NAS? What are the benefits of having one? Is having a Mini switched on all the time any more or less convenient than having the iMac switched on all the time?

    While I don't want to sell a quality machine if I can make good use of it, I can't see what real benefit it will give me... Am I missing something?

  2. alFR macrumors 68020

    Aug 10, 2006
    Depends on what you can use it for. Our mini (running headless with attached Drobo) does duty as:

    • iTunes server
    • Time Machine backup server
    • File server
    • Print server
    • Handbrake encoding station

    It's low power (especially as it's set up with an app called Power Manager that let's you schedule auto on/off easily), quiet and seems pretty stable. Well worth it for us, but if all you want to do is serve up the iTunes it might be easier just to use the iMac.
  3. TWHH thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    Thanks for your response.

    My printer is attached to my network with a Ethernet cable, and the number of files that I generate on my iMac (other than music/iTunes content) is minimal.

    Having access to a server might be useful for my work (will soon be running a MacBook Air) but I think I'll have some kind of SharePoint access with my company.

    I like the idea of having a separate machine for hand braking, but if I think about how often I actually use Handbrake I reckon I could get away with just scheduling encoding overnight on my iMac.

    With just the one Mac that's used for iTunes (which is played across my network to an AirPort Express, and a planned a new Apple TV) I'm not sure I'd need iTunes on a server/

    Please don't think I'm arguing/doubting how your set up works for you ;) I'm just working through how your functionality applies to my existing set up and needs :)

    Man, I want to to set up something funky with my Mini... but struggling with what/how to use it. Only thing I can think of is if some nice person was to lend me a hard drive full of avi files (perish the thought) and I didn't fancy months of encoding into iTunes friendly formats... Appreciate the Apple TV doesn't handle avi's but I could use my Xbox to pull networked avi files off a NAS if I wanted/needed to...
  4. Bye Bye Baby macrumors 65816

    Bye Bye Baby

    Sep 15, 2004
    i(am in the)cloud
    It sounds like you would be better off with using the Mini with Plex. No hand braking, metadata etc all done for you.

    Have a look at Plex
  5. alFR macrumors 68020

    Aug 10, 2006
    No worries, just wanted to illustrate that it can do more than just share up files. sounds like you might be better sticking with the iMac, although the Plex suggestion is a good one - maybe check that out before making a decision on whether to sell or not?
  6. Sirolway macrumors 6502

    Jun 13, 2009
    I'm not a huge fan of NAS. I've tried a few & I think having external disks FireWired up to a static Mac (either your mini or iMac) would be simpler & better ...
  7. TWHH thread starter macrumors regular

    Jul 12, 2008
    Just to throw another variable/option into the mix, I discovered aTV Flash which with an attached USB drive could house any avi files I may have.

    Would then only need to handbrake the films I want to have on my iPad (mainly of the Disney kind which tend to go on there prior to holidays or long car journeys)
  8. jljue macrumors regular

    Feb 4, 2011
    Brandon, MS
    All of these are great uses, especially the backup. I'm currently using mine for all of the above so that my MBPdoes have to on and the central storage device all the time. In addition to Time Machine, it's also my CrashPlan local backup location.

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