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post #1 of 11 Old 09-01-2014, 09:34 AM - Thread Starter
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Arrow Media Server or NAS?

I would like to have a media file server, but I need some advise as far as what's better and simple for the server. Since my Mac Pro has about 5-bays in it already, should I just use it for the server or is it more simple and cost effective to just go the Synology route? Anyone tried both? Any input will be appreciated.
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post #2 of 11 Old 09-01-2014, 12:06 PM
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I’m not sure what kind of media serving you will be doing so I’ll try my best to focus on the two concerns you raised: simple and cost effective. Since you already have a Mac Pro with 5 empty drive bays adding more drives to it would probably be the most cost effective, since a 5 bay Synology is quite pricey and comes with no disks. However, looking at the simple route, using the Mac Pro may not be the simplest option. On the Mac, the only way to provide the protection from a drive failure that a Synology has is to use software such as Snapraid or SoftRAID (at least as far as I am aware of). I haven’t used SoftRAID, but Snapraid requires some work in order to get it going. I had to compile it and setup a configuration file. I think in this case you will need to consider what is more important, the ease of setup, the cost, or a combination of both.

Personally, I use a Mac with Snapraid and Apple TV. I have the Mac configured to go to sleep but wake for network access. The Apple TV has a wake on demand server built in with it and when the Mac goes to sleep it registers things like the iTunes server, file and screen sharing services with the Apple TV so that the Mac appears online. When the Apple TV, iDevices, or one of the Macbooks requests something from the Mac server, the Apple TV then wakes the Mac server up and hands off the request. Once done, the Mac can go back to sleep. Hope this example helps as you research your own setup.
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post #3 of 11 Old 09-01-2014, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
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I have the Apple TV and I noticed that it works well with my Mac Pro. It does every thing that you say. Time machine backs-up everything. Therefore, I just don't understand why people need a dedicated network attached storage. The Mac pro is already attached to the network router and the AppleTV sees it there. When people talk about a dedicated NAS server, I wonder what I'm missing here.

Last edited by DJ_Daz; 09-01-2014 at 01:25 PM.
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post #4 of 11 Old 09-01-2014, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ_Daz View Post
I would like to have a media file server, but I need some advise as far as what's better and simple for the server. Since my Mac Pro has about 5-bays in it already, should I just use it for the server or is it more simple and cost effective to just go the Synology route? Anyone tried both? Any input will be appreciated.
Depends on your own specific setup at home and your personal data storage needs.

If you have several clients that need 24/7 access to network stored data and don't want to keep your Mac Pro on all of the time then a NAS might be a great choice for you. Most of the OEM NAS from Synology, Qnap, etc. run at less than 20W and are relatively simple to setup and maintain. A good basic NAS is less than $200 before you add the drives.

The wrench that you may or may not have thrown in here is the Media Server portion. Are you using your Mac Pro with something like Plex where a fairly powerful CPU is necessary to transcode to different devices or are all of your client devices able to playback all of the media stored on the Mac Pro? Are you using the Media Server as a way to organize your library or are you just using a shared folder system for organization?
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post #5 of 11 Old 09-01-2014, 10:24 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by smitbret View Post

If you have several clients that need 24/7 access to network stored data and don't want to keep your Mac Pro on all of the time then a NAS might be a great choice for you.
Dunthat made a good statement:
"The Mac is configured to go to sleep but wake for network access. The Apple TV has a wake on demand server built in with it and when the Mac goes to sleep it registers things like the iTunes server, file and screen sharing services with the Apple TV so that the Mac appears online. When the Apple TV, iDevices, or one of the Macbooks requests something from the Mac server, the Apple TV then wakes the Mac server up and hands off the request. Once done, the Mac can go back to sleep."
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Originally Posted by smitbret View Post
Are you using your Mac Pro with something like Plex where a fairly powerful CPU is necessary to transcode to different devices or are all of your client devices able to playback all of the media stored on the Mac Pro? Are you using the Media Server as a way to organize your library or are you just using a shared folder system for organization?
Yes and Yes. Apple TV detects all libraries on the home network. Here is an app for people that do not care for iTunes.

Apple TV is very cost effective with the Apple computers and the picture quality is outstanding with the HDMI. I guest a dedicated NAS is a better choice for RAID configurations.
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post #6 of 11 Old 09-02-2014, 06:12 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DJ_Daz View Post
I would like to have a media file server, but I need some advise as far as what's better and simple for the server. Since my Mac Pro has about 5-bays in it already, should I just use it for the server or is it more simple and cost effective to just go the Synology route? Anyone tried both? Any input will be appreciated.
The way I looked at the whole thing is this;

My main computer is on pretty much 24/7 anyway and it has the power to be a server plus a lot of other things at the same time, therefore for me running a separate nas was just a waste of time and money. Why run a computer AND a nas 24/7 if one will do it all?

If you're one of those people however that turns on their machine once every blue moon or then probably nas would be a better route for you.

Either way though, the end result is the same. If your shares/permissions are set properly then your data drives no matter what machine they lay in will be shared and available throughout your network. That being the case.... I would pick the cheapest route.

Last edited by bigbarney; 09-02-2014 at 06:15 AM.
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post #7 of 11 Old 09-02-2014, 06:31 AM
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Originally Posted by bigbarney View Post
The way I looked at the whole thing is this;

My main computer is on pretty much 24/7 anyway and it has the power to be a server plus a lot of other things at the same time, therefore for me running a separate nas was just a waste of time and money. Why run a computer AND a nas 24/7 if one will do it all?

If you're one of those people however that turns on their machine once every blue moon or then probably nas would be a better route for you.

Either way though, the end result is the same. If your shares/permissions are set properly then your data drives no matter what machine they lay in will be shared and available throughout your network. That being the case.... I would pick the cheapest route.

Exactly.

OP's biggest considerations would be the necessity for transcoding and whether or not he/she wants to leave the Mac Pro on 24/7.
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post #8 of 11 Old 09-02-2014, 06:43 AM
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I've been running a four bay Synology box in a RAID config for the last seven years. I replaced the cooling fan in it once, but that's been the only trouble I've had with it. In addition to it running as a file server, it also runs as a UPnP media server, including serving to our phones anywhere we've got a network connection (see the DS Audio app).

We've had many computers in the house come and go, but the little Disk Station keeps chugging along.
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post #9 of 11 Old 09-02-2014, 11:16 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dunthat View Post
protection from a drive failure...
Dunthat has the key point. Any machine can be your "NAS", assuming that you have a PC (or Mac) that:
  • Is turned on when you need it, and
  • Has enough room for disks to store your media.

The question is, what are you going to do when a disk fails? If you are buying a consumer NAS or building a dedicated NAS for yourself using a PC that question is going to be one of the main things on your mind. If you are just stuffing a few disks in your desktop you might not think about it until it is too late. I'd try out SnapRaid and see if you can get comfortable with it - it's free. If you like it, stick with your Mac as your NAS for now. If not, get Synology.
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post #10 of 11 Old 09-02-2014, 11:47 AM
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Originally Posted by GreySkies View Post
We've had many computers in the house come and go, but the little Disk Station keeps chugging along.
Personally speaking, I find that a bit strange. I've been in the computer world since the Apple llc (my first computer) and local bulletin boards (before the internet), and I have never ditched a computer because it was worn out. I still have old ibm computers with floppy disks, dos5.5 and windows 3.1 kicking around and they still fire up without issues. The only total failure I have ever had was blown HDD's and that can happen with any data storage system.
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post #11 of 11 Old 09-02-2014, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bigbarney View Post
Personally speaking, I find that a bit strange. I've been in the computer world since the Apple llc (my first computer) and local bulletin boards (before the internet), and I have never ditched a computer because it was worn out. I still have old ibm computers with floppy disks, dos5.5 and windows 3.1 kicking around and they still fire up without issues. The only total failure I have ever had was blown HDD's and that can happen with any data storage system.
The only computer I ever ditched because the hardware was worn out was my Timex/Sinclair due to its awful membrane keyboard.

OS issues—now that's another story. Sure, that DOS 5 box might boot up as well as it did back in 1991, but can it open an HD clip for editing? Or how about a modern Excel spreadsheet? Or even read this web page? Firing up without issues doesn't mean it's useful today as a personal computer.

Now, if you're talking about re-purposing old hardware into a Linux server, router, firewall, etc., that's a different conversation.
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