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Best option for additional storage for a Mac Mini HTPC

 
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gana
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:10 am    Post subject: Best option for additional storage for a Mac Mini HTPC Reply with quote

Hi there,

Iím planning on buying a Mac Mini as a media center (with Plex for the movies and itunes for the music), but I have some questions about the best option for additional storage.

I need at least 2TB of storage for all of my media files, and would like the possibility of easy expansion. I would also like to have a backup of all of the files.

I would like to be able to download files from the Internet onto my MacBook and wirelessly drag-and-drop them to wherever the media is stored. I'd also like to wirelessly stream the video files to an iPad and an iPhone via AirVideo for example.

From what I gather, my two options are external hard drives hooked up directly to the Mini, or a NAS setup--except I've researched a whole bunch, and I still have no idea if one is a better option than the other for what my goals are. (What would be the point of a NAS if my mac mini would be dedicated to the media center ?)

Some information that may or may not be relevant:
- All the computers in my household are Macs running OS X Lion and Mountain Lion
- The Mac Mini would be in the ground floor and plugged to my DSL modem, a videoprojector and an AV Amplifier (would it be possible to watch movies on my lcd TV screen in the first floor ?)
- I'm okay with doing manual backups once a week or so of my media drive--constant synchronization is not a necessity but would be the icing on the cake
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Smithcraft
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 2:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a quad drive FW case, and it's nice, but it has to be near the mini.

With a NAS you can put it anywhere. If you get a NAS that can run Plex then it can be your Plex server. I would think that iTunes would be able to handle having it's library on a network drive. I would check the Plex forums to see which NAS would be the easiest to set up, and would work the best.

So if I had to do it again, I'd go with a quad drive NAS, rather than immediately local storage.

SC
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[Desktop] Intel mini - 2.16Ghz 2GB 60GB HDD - Newer miniStack v2 500GB - 10.5.8

[Media System] Intel i5 mini - 2.33Ghz 8GB 500GB HDD - 4 x Hitachi 2TB HDD in a qBOX-SF - 10.7.5 (Thanks Phil!)

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gana
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 16, 2012 6:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm willing to buy the synology DS 412+ in order to install Plex and itunes server.

Is it really worth it to pay an extra 600Ä + DD ? Do I really need a NAS whereas the mac mini will be dedicated as a media center where I can install Plex and itunes ?

Whatever the option chosen (NAS or external DD) it will be close to the mac mini. So I'm still wondering how the NAS will bring significant improvement to the system.
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geeji
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A NAS, by definition, has little benefit unless you want to use it in a (possibly heterogeneous) multi-computers environment without a central, always running, server.
If your Mac Mini is always running, you can do as much (actually more) accessing its shared Firewire/USB storage than with a NAS.
And you would not have to learn how to administrate a NAS...

Note also that a WiFi/Network connection may be subject to disturbances which could generate images freezes when playing back.

Based on your requirements, I would go for a RAID1 (= mirror) 2 disks enclosure, which at present would give you a maximum of 4TB capacity.
Mac OS X natively supports RAID1 (format through Disk Utility).
If you want a footprint compatible with the latest Mac Minis, you can buy 2 single 3"5 disk enclosures such as NewerTech USB3 miniStack, or one such as Stardom SC2-WB3 Safe Capsule.
Note that the Stardom could also be directly connected to an Apple Airport Extreme WiFi router if you have one, making it the equivalent of a multi-functions Time Capsule... or a NAS Smile

If RAID1 is not enough for your "backup" needs, you may in addition use a backup utility on top of it (with 4TB you have some margin to backup 2TB).

I would not go for a true hardware RAID solution (Synology, Drobo, Qnap, ...), directly attached or WiFi attached, unless you are sure you need (much) more capacity than a single 3"5 disk can offer.
RAIDs are more expensive, with complex failure symptoms, and need to be administrated, not always in a "Mac way".
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Smithcraft
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 17, 2012 4:57 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How many power outlets do you have? How many outlets do you want to keep plugging wallworts into? Are you never going to add more to your media collection? Are you ever going to get a Roku, or ATV, or a 'Smart' TV?

SC
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Grumpy old man of computing.

[Desktop] Intel mini - 2.16Ghz 2GB 60GB HDD - Newer miniStack v2 500GB - 10.5.8

[Media System] Intel i5 mini - 2.33Ghz 8GB 500GB HDD - 4 x Hitachi 2TB HDD in a qBOX-SF - 10.7.5 (Thanks Phil!)

Make sure it has pins!
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curt
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PostPosted: Sun Aug 26, 2012 7:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use external LaCie drives with Firewire 800/400 that are directly attached to my Mac mini. It's just the easiest way to go. I also think that it offers the best performance, while eliminating some of the traffic over your home network. Plus, they can still feed other computers on your network using the Mac mini as a media server.
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