Storage Advice for Media

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by dpriest, Mar 9, 2015.

  1. dpriest macrumors member

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    Nov 18, 2014
    #1
    I am looking to get a 4tb drive that I want to hold my media on so I can stream to ATV. Right now I have a 2TB drive connected to my PC, but am thinking about getting a drive that I can connect to my airport extreme, to the network via ethernet or to my PC. I realize that whatever I do, I will point iTunes to the drive. I would appreciate recommendations.

    Thanks
     
  2. Michael CM1 macrumors 603

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    #2
    http://www.amazon.com/WD-Cloud-EX2-...&sr=8-4&keywords=western+digital+my+cloud+ex2

    I got one of these a couple of weeks ago when they dropped to $400. Very awesome. I probably don't know everything I can do with it, but it's got RAID 1 -- therefore it's actually 4TB of usable space -- and has worked well so far. I accidentally killed a hard drive full of videos a few weeks before I got it. Most of my movies were rips of my DVDs, so replacing it all is going to be a LONG process. Thankfully for the past year I have bought movies from iTunes, so it's just a matter of re-downloading them at a pace that doesn't use up my monthly 300GB of data.

    You can access the files on that remotely, but I don't think there's a way to do it that would actually serve them remotely. The only issues I have are I'm using my MacBook Air library to serve my Apple TVs while my iMac is sick, and that creates a bunch of computer sleep vs. load my damn videos problems. Quite often the MacBook Air will not do its job unless I unlock it with my password. Wish that wasn't as much of a thing, but it just is.
     
  3. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #3
    Look at Synology DS 214 or DS215. You can put whatever HDDs you like inside, expand capacity as you need. Another external can be hung off the USB on the rear and used to backup the Synology (don't forget the backup!).

    Software is fantastic, very powerful. Can't recommend Synology strongly enough!
     
  4. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #4
    I would think twice about doing this. For starters, it will be really slow if you connect an external drive to an airport extreme - like less than 30MB/sec. See this: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1747622

    But putting the iTunes library on a network drive really doesn't work very well. I did it on a Time Capsule for awhile and finally gave up. Took awhile for video to start playing, was awkward to skip through it, and it would stutter/pause at times.

    If you decide to try it anyway, be sure that you locate the iTunes database (.itl file) on the shared disk. The default location for this file is on the computer itself. If you leave it in the default location and the connection to the shared drive is broken for any reason, you will have a corrupt library. That can be a real pain to fix - happened to me twice.

    After trying various methods with libraries on shared drives I gave up, got a Mac Mini for an iTunes server and have been very happy with it.
     
  5. rhett7660 macrumors G4

    rhett7660

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    #5
    Do not forget about the back-ups! You will kick your self if you spend all of that time ripping or downloading, only to have a harddrive(s) fail on you and you loose it all!

    I think a lot of this will also depend on how much money you have to spend.
     
  6. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #6
    I've had my iTunes media on various network drives for years, as have many other people. It works very well. You keep the iTunes library file on your Mac in the default location (Music folder) and have the media on the NAS. No problems at all if the connection is lost (which does happen, though very rarely), just quit and restart iTunes making sure the NAS is mounted first. I use this set up for my MBP and so am constantly forgetting to quit iTunes when I leave the house, no problem what so ever. iTunes is set up in such a way that it can automatically move the media for you for just such a set up. No problems with iTunes and NAS drives, thoroughly recommend it. With Time Capsule as the NAS storage I cannot comment except to say Time Capsules were never intended for this kind of use.

    30MB/sec is more than enough to stream media. You will want to do the initial media transfer wired though!
     
  7. dpriest thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 18, 2014
    #7
    Thanks for all the responses. Attonine, how do you attach the synology? Also, I am looking to backup my media. Right now, I have 2 external drives attached to my PC via e-SaTA, and I just copy from one to the other. I would like my backup solution to be easy. I have thought about using a cloud based service such as carbonite, but would like people's thoughts.
     
  8. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #8
    Backup is another issue if you attach a drive to the Airport Extreme. You would need to back it up to an external drive on your computer, and that is very slow . I did this using Carbon Copy Cloner, and it took forever with a 1TB library.

    I agree that 30MB/sec is fast enough to stream, but the latency makes it seem sluggish. For me, it is much more pleasant to use a drive that can saturate the gigabit ethernet (~100MB/sec). You should be able to do that with a NAS but nowhere near that with an Airport Extreme. See the benchmarks in the thread I linked to above.

    If you read back through this forum, you will find plenty of threads where people had problems using network drives with iTunes. Glad you have found a way to make it work well.
     
  9. dpriest thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 18, 2014
    #9
    OK. I hear the problems that you have experienced with NAS drives. What do you suggest as an alternative for what I am looking to do?
     
  10. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #10
    As I said above, I ended up getting a base model Mac Mini and attaching a fast USB 3.0 external drive. I have two additional identical drives and rotate them for backup using a Carbon Copy script that runs every night.

    My main computer is a MacBook Air, and I didn't want to have that running all the time. If you have a desktop machine that is always connected, you could just get a direct connect external drive. I believe the Apple TV can wake up the computer if needed. However, you said "PC" and I am using Macs, so I don't know if that is the same on Windows. My Mac Mini just runs iTunes 24/7 and does not ever sleep. It is connected via gigabit ethernet and is very responsive.

    You could also use some other kind of computer (Mac or PC) as an iTunes server. It doesn't have to be the latest and greatest, it just needs to run iTunes. I found this article helpful:

    http://www.maclife.com/article/howtos/how_set_itunes_home_server
     
  11. dpriest thread starter macrumors member

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    Nov 18, 2014
    #11
    OK. I am not sure how the mac mini works. How does it attach to the network and also, if I want to transfer files between my pc, macbook pro and hard drive attached to the mac mini, would that be done through the network?
     
  12. Bokes macrumors 6502

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    Mar 4, 2008
    #12
    I have always been curious to using a mac mini as iTunes server as well.
    I understand attaching a external media drive and running the HDMI to the TV - basically using the TV as the external monitor.

    But do most people who do this by-pass the apple tv all together?

    I like and use several apps on the Atv such as Netflix.
    iTunes doesn't support those apps. You would have to go through Safari.
    So running iTunes from the mini directly out to the TV doesn't seem like a complete solution.

    I would prefer to use the mini to act as an iTunes server.
    (vs turning on my laptop and connecting the external hard drive)
    With the mini- it's always on- running iTunes and always connected to the media drive. My beef has always been spending $500 for this one task.

    someone please correct me if there is an easier work flow.
     
  13. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #13
    In my case, I have the Mini inside a cabinet, connected to an ancient 22" 720p digital TV with a DVI adapter. I also have it connected to my home stereo system with regular analog cables. I have a cheap Logitech wireless keyboard that can control the mini directly.

    The mini just runs iTunes (configured as described in the article above). It is connected to my Airport TIme Capsule with an ethernet cable. I have two external USB 3.0 drives that clock around 160MB/sec connected to the Mini (one is a backup). In System Preferences on the Mini, I have enabled file sharing and screen sharing. This lets me copy files over the network at about 100MB/sec. Screen sharing lets me control the Mini from the MacBook Air if desired. I believe file and screen sharing can also be setup on a Windows machine, but have not bothered to do that since my Windows machine is only used for some specialized software.

    ----------

    You should be able to do it for much less if you use an older computer. I had two machines that would have been capable of this that I considered. But I just didn't want to spend time/money setting this up on old hardware with limited lifespan. For me, it made sense to spend $500 on the Mini, knowing I would get a machine that would last for many years with power to spare and full warranty.

    I have two Apple TV's, but use the old 22" LCD on the Mini as an additional screen in the dining room. It is also connected to my home stereo that has speakers in multiple rooms.
     
  14. Attonine, Mar 10, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2015

    Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #14
    Synology (in fact 2 Synology 4 bay NAS boxes) attached to Time capsule via ethernet. Media streamed wirelessly throughout the house to 2xATV and a Cyrus Stream XP2 QX audio streamer in my hi-fi.

    NAS boxes are extremely common nowadays in houses with hi-fi systems that include streamers, Sonos systems etc. They work very well for this.

    Synology NAS boxes have USB ports on the back where an external drive can be attached for backup. The software has an automated backup feature, so just set it and leave it.

    There is an iTunes server app that can be downloaded to the Synology. This means you don't need to have iTunes on a computer for iOS devices etc to see you iTunes media. I don't really like the iTunes server, so prefer to have iTunes open on a Mac and connect to things the traditional way!


    Here are the instruction how to set up a NAS for iTunes. It's simple.

    https://www.synology.com/en-us/knowledgebase/tutorials/521

    and another but Mac based

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/2012/12/how-to-offload-your-itunes-library-to-a-nas/
     
  15. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #15
    There are threads with people having problems with just about everything. This is the main reason people come here, to find solutions to problems.

    Go to some hi-fi forums, you will see NAS boxes and iTunes are crazy popular, and these are some real demanding people, the kind that will spend £1000s on a power cable and set up a separate mains circuit just for the hi-fi. If iTunes and NAS was such a big problem I can guarantee you these people would be making a real big stink about it.
     
  16. Boyd01 macrumors 68040

    Boyd01

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    #16
    I'm sure you have found a solution that works well. The OP specifically asked about using an AppleTV and an external drive connected to an Airport Extreme. I have shared my own experience with that. I probably shouldn't have used the generic term "network drive".

    I prefer to use the built-in sharing feature of iTunes running on a dedicated computer. Apple has specifically built iTunes to work this way and I've been really pleased with it. I'm sure there are other solutions as well, and the OP can chose the one that best fits his needs.
     
  17. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #17
    iTunes share feature has nothing to do with this. There is no connection between iTunes sharing and where the iTunes media is stored. My parents have the same set-up as me, but with an iMac and they use iTunes sharing as many married couples do.

    The OP wants a "drive that I can connect to my airport extreme, to the network via ethernet or to my PC." A NAS fits 2 of these criteria and iTunes has been built so that media can be stored on NAS or DAS boxes, or even internally! In fact, you could even add a NAS you your set-up and have your media stored there instead of the Mac Mini, and you wouldn't even notice the change.
     
  18. dpriest thread starter macrumors member

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    #18
    I am leaning towards the NAS solution. Correct me if I'm wrong here, but for the best performance I would attach the NAS to my airport extreme via ethernet, which I would first transfer about 1.5 TB of media first to it via usb 3.0 from my computer. Right now, in my iTunes library the various media is on my X: drive, so I assume I can name my NAS drive X: so it is a seamless transition with iTunes. I can then access the NAS drive from any device connected to the network such as PC, MBP, iPhone, iPad, etc, and stream content to my ATV with good buffering speed, right? I can also attach an external HD to the NAS to backup content to that.
     
  19. Attonine, Mar 10, 2015
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2015

    Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #19
    I can only talk about the Synology devices, other manufacturers may have different specs etc.

    You MUST connect the NAS to the AE via ethernet, permanently! For the initial transfer make sure everything is wired or it will take forever. So make sure the Mac is connected to the AE via ethernet too. Once the initial transfer is done your mac can go back to wi-fi if that's what you use. The NAS states wired though!

    I would call the NAS something like Media. Follow the instruction in the link I posted above and everything will transfer automatically and nothing will get lost.

    There are 2 ways to set up the NAS and iTunes. One is to install iTunes server. This will broadcast iTunes throughout your house without having to have a computer on with iTunes open. I don't like iTunes sever as it simply lists all the media alphabetically, it does not separate music, movies etc (I think now it can only do music), but it will show up under computers on ATV's without a Mac switched on. The other way is the traditional way which means having iTunes open on a computer. In order for iPhones and iPads to access iTunes you can install DS Audio app (from Synology) onto the iOS device or use the traditional method which is iTunes sharing (and I think really the best solution). You will need to play around with these things and decide which is the best for your use scenario.

    Yes you can attach a USB drive to the NAS (Synology definitely, but check the specs of whichever you want to buy) and back-up onto the USB.
     
  20. oneMadRssn macrumors 68040

    oneMadRssn

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    #20
    What tool do you use to test drive speed over network?
     
  21. dpriest thread starter macrumors member

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    #21
    Much gratitude for all of your help. I didn't want you both to get the wrong idea that I was insisting on having to drive it I could connect to my airport extreme. I am just looking for a storage device that can hold all of my media that can be accessed by various devices in the house. If connecting a NAS to my airport extreme is the best way to approach this, then great.

    I just want to clarify one thing about before. When I first connect my NAS drive, I should attach it to the AirPort Extreme via Ethernet and then transfer all of my media onto the drive from a computer that is also connected to my airport extreme with ethernet. Once I connect the drive to my airport extreme, I should not detach it. I just wanted to make sure that I heard you correctly.

    On a little bit of a separate topic, I have a networking question that I would appreciate some help on if you could. There are three devices that I need to have hardwired through my AirPort Extreme. My airport extreme is in my basement and it is connected to my modem. The devices that I am now connecting via ethernet are my PC and an airport express that is extending the current network. Now I am going to be adding my NAS drive to my airport extreme as well. My question is do I need a switching hub to connect one port of my airport extreme to and then connect an ethernet cable from the switching hub to the area that corresponds to my airport express? The reason I am asking is because that is the way I have it set up now. The problem is that my Internet speed is drastically reduced with my airport express because it is connecting through the switching hub.
     
  22. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #22
    You are correct in your understanding of the initial set-up to transfer the files. The NAS will remain connected to the extreme.

    The only concern for your set up I have is getting iPhones and iPads to stream media from the NAS. It is possible, but I recommend you do some googling to make sure you know how to make it happen. It's not as simple as getting iTunes on the NAS and you're set. You may need some apps on your iOS devices, and maybe even some other media server on the NAS (there are loads of media servers!). Just do some reading so that you know what to expect. The easiest way would be to have the PC on all the time with iTunes open and home sharing set up, but having the PC on all the time may be something you are trying to avoid.

    You do not need to connect the airport express to the Extreme with an ethernet cable. The express can extend the wifi network wirelessly. The only reason to connect via ethernet is if the express is so far away that the 2 airports cannot see each other. Your internet speed should not be effected, your LAN speed should be much, much faster than your internet speed.

    You do not need a switch if you have enough ports in your Extreme for all the devices that need to be attached to this device.

    If i understand correctly:

    Modem-->Airport Extreme
    Airport Extreme-->PC,NAS, switch
    switch-->Airport Express

    Is this correct?

    Is the airport express so far away that it cannot be seen by the Extreme? Have you tried without using the switch?

    I'm not a networking expert, but I understood switches are simply a distribution management device. You could try without the switch if possible, also try:

    Modem--> Airport Extreme
    Airport Extreme-->Switch
    Switch-->PC,NAS,Airport Express

    See if that makes any difference.
     
  23. dpriest thread starter macrumors member

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    #23
    My house is shaped like a horse shoe in a U shape. That is why I wired the express. I will try without the hub. When you say there are various media servers I can put on the NAS, what do you mean?
     
  24. Attonine macrumors 6502a

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    #24
    If you go with Synology, the software, the web interface is fantastic. There are lots of "apps" you can install. Anti virus, iTunes server, Download managers etc. Loads of stuff. You will need the basic media server for your set up, just to get iTunes media to work properly. However, there are loads of more advanced media servers that add more functionality, I just stick to the basic one, it does what i need. I played with one this evening to try out the DS Audio app. It worked fine, but I would need to re-arrange my media folders to get my music to stream to my iOS devices, something I don't want to do. For some reason I couldn't see my music unless I looked in the recently added playlist.
     
  25. dpriest thread starter macrumors member

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    #25
    I take it all of these basic and more advanced servers are part of the Synology. If I did not want to keep my PC on all the time with iTunes open, then I am wondering what I can do instead.
     

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