Storage, backup and network solution...Help!

Discussion in 'Buying Tips and Advice' started by Cbdboz, Jan 9, 2015.

  1. Cbdboz macrumors regular


    Oct 31, 2013
    Currently have old iMac and Mbp with full hard drives with a full prior generation apple time capsule.

    Going to buy a new iMac, and give old iMac to kids. Will also buy a refurbed Mac mini to act as always on I-tunes server.

    1) First I need to free up space on my hard drives as both iMac and mbp are slow running......

    Qn - is there an easy way to identify large size files and delete ( or move to an external USB drive), so that my current machines are usable.

    Qn - Is there anyway I can remove entire iPhoto or iTunes library to an external USB drive, and have the respective applications read and even write to these

    2) second I need to decide on an a central storage and backup solution. I recognise that best backup is a carbon copy of data to an external hard drive and then keep offsite or in safe location.

    Qn - am I best off having a large external hard drive (USB or thunderbolt....tho feel that TB may be overkill for me re speed) directly connected to my new Mac mini and have this as a central storage for all devices....and as long as Mac mini is on will applications on all devices all be able to read and write to this external drive...almost seamlessly...or any issues? ( I will use a new time capsule as the router)

    Qn - would I be better off just having a separate external hard drive connected directly to my new iMac ( which will be my main machine....other iMac and Mbp would likely use central storage via Mac mini.

    3) I quite like the idea of having access to media outside of home, and hence a NAS capability appeals to me, but I also believe that the Mac mini will give me this capability if I buy the $30 OS server application.

    Qn - assuming a NAS (synology for example) would be overkill if I already have a Mac mini.....what type of external drives should I look to buy

    Qn - is there any real benefit in buying enclosures with swappable drives or do I just have a single or multiple drives directly connected?

    Ultimately.....I am looking for advice on approach, and then help with the shopping list.

    Appreciate all and any advice please.

    Thank you.
  2. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2013
    This should be fun :D

    1) largest file sizes are usually iTunes and iPhoto libraries, other than that, there are some apps out there to tell you what is being used and where, but i forget their names.
    2) you can move iTunes and iPhoto on an external. I have a MM server that has a usb ssd drive attached i store both iTunes and iPhoto libraries there, and have this folder shared so that my wife and my MB can access them (both read and write works) you only may run into issues if two computers are trying to access the libraries at the same time.
    3) thunderbolt is pointless unless you are running SSDs in Raid 0. (USB3 will be fast enough for even the fastest consumer SSDs, not to mention HDDs)
    4) no need to use time capsule, if buy the server app ($20) for your mini you can have time machine backup to the mini's externally connected drive (i have a second external HDD for time machine backups)
    5) if you buy the server app, you can set up VPN service, this will allow you to securely connect to you mini server and have access to all your shared Drives/Folders/Files in the same way as though you were physically located on the home network. (no need for NAS. NASs for the most part - the more affordable ones that is - are going to be much slower than if you use your mini as a file server with external drives attached to it via USB3...)
    6) multiple drives enclosures are useful if you will have RAID.... but a) RAID is NOT a backup (even in Raid 1 or 1/0 or 5) b) decent ones aren't cheap... and for the most part are overkill... you are better off having multiple single USB3 externals attached to your mini (use a USB3 hub if needed)

    Here is some useful guides to setting up the server app:

    Here is a general read on RAID:

    Here is a good source for info on home networking (how to's for optimization of bandwidth etc.)

    Good luck and have fun :D
  3. Cbdboz thread starter macrumors regular


    Oct 31, 2013
    Thanks for the great feedback.

    Not sure I need enclosures etc, and it all seems expensive. Just looked at standard USB 3 portable drives and seagate seem to have a good selection for around $100 for 2-3tb. So perhaps a I will have a couple connected to the Mac mini. Not sure what the advantage of having them all in one enclosure would be really.......I'm sure there are advantages on redundancy...but that gets a bit too technical for me ;)
  4. TheralSadurns macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2010
    I have one additional piece of advice when it comes to finding large files manually.

    In Finder start at the root of your HDD. In the menu select View → Show View Options or hit CMD+J. And check the "Calculate all sizes" checkbox.

    Starting from there... use the list view and sort by size. Then go one level deeper. You'll probably find that UserFolder/Downloads, Pictures, Music will contain the biggest/highest amount of files.

    That's how I usually go about it... with pretty good results.
  5. glenthompson macrumors 68000


    Apr 27, 2011
    Yes, backup systems can be expensive but what is your data worth? Too many stories here of people willing to spend hundreds to recover data that could have been protected with a $50 drive.

    A mini running OS X server makes a great backup machine. Hanging a bunch of drives off it is messy but works fine.

    The best backup is one that runs automatically with no user action required. Aim for that.
  6. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2013
    just a correction: show info is CMD+I while CMD+J is show view options :D


    Ditto.. Time machine (apple's software is great... but its a one size fits all solution)
    Carbon Copy Cloner is very good for making your own scheduling and backup choices automated.

    Chronosync is a good app for synchronizing files across multiple macs (if that is needed in your application)

    yes the above two aren't cheap, by today's app price standards but you buy them once and get all the required updates and they make life a whole lot easier :D
  7. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    A few thoughts.

    Try Disk Inventory X to visually map your file sizes. This is really helpful.

    Why do you need a Mac Mini to act as a server if you will have two iMacs already? Either of those iMacs could function perfectly well as the server. Just connect a large external HDD for storage and share it out.

    Moving the iTunes and iPhoto libraries is no problem.

    What I would do is buy the largest external drive you can get. If you need more than the 4-6TB currently available in a single drive, buy a unit that can span multiple drives.

    Partition that drive into at least two spaces - one for Time Machine backups for all computers you want to back up, and one for the shared media. Have all computers back up there via Time Machine, as this can be automated and happen over the network.

    For second tier backup you should consider a cloud solution. Crashplan has worked fantastically for us for years. It's relatively inexpensive and just works in the background with us never thinking about it.
  8. TheralSadurns macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2010
    Hu?! I never mentioned CMD+I or Show Info!

    All you need is CMD+J or Show View Options.

  9. mvmanolov macrumors 6502a

    Aug 27, 2013
    oh, boy, did i ever misread your original post :( Sorry about that! :eek:
  10. TheralSadurns macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2010
    No worries. We cool :D
  11. Cbdboz thread starter macrumors regular


    Oct 31, 2013
    Don't want to have the iMac running 24/7 for iTunes and server, whereas I am fine to do so for Mac mini.

    Also, Mac mini will allow me to link directly to my home theatre set up of tv and projector so that I can watch movies directly on tv/ projector. iMac would only allow this via air parrot, and video is choppy and audio not always in sync. ( note ..unable to use airplay due to digital rights issues)


    Thinking of going ssd only in the iMac, and using drives connected to Mac mini as central server. ( will post this in a separate thread re ssd v fusion, as I like the idea of speed, but also like the idea of not having lots of peripherals all over the avoiding the mess you refer to ;)
  12. zhenya macrumors 603


    Jan 6, 2005
    What's the problem with running an iMac 24/7? Just set it to turn the screen off and it will consume basically the same power as a Mini. You can also set it to sleep and it will wake on network requests for any services you have running although this will incur a slight delay as you wait for it to wake. Same issue with the Mini however.

    What sort of digital rights issues? I have used Air Video HD for years to play the majority of my content streamed from my iMac to my AppleTV connected to my television. It works flawlessly with extremely high quality.
  13. Cbdboz, Jan 13, 2015
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2015

    Cbdboz thread starter macrumors regular


    Oct 31, 2013
    UK SKY Go will not stream via airplay, and likewise flixster (where I have my library of non I-tunes Ultra violet movie collection) does not work over airplay via my iPad comes up with an error on HDMI connection, which is all to do with digital rights ( services meant for online only and not as an alternative to cable or satellite direct connection to tv)

    ...I have only tried airparott with iMac, as it's an 2008 model....and it doesn't have airplay.

    Mac mini, from what I understand, will be fine as directly connected to the screen via hdmi.....and will be the first thing I test when I get it. Of course if this encounters the same issues, then I would probably default back to using the old iMac as the server.

    # from Sky website#

    Copy protection and tracking

    Sky Go does not permit the use of rooted or jail broken devices. Second screen display is also not permitted, for instance through the use of Air Play, Miracast, HDMI/TV-Out and Chromecast.

    Sky employs technologies such as digital rights management and copy protection to control the play back and copying of digital content provided via Sky Go.

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