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Media Storage
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NDBounce
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Jan 1, 2016, 07:57 PM
 
I am trying to assist a cousin with his home set up.

The family has 2 Mac laptops; 1 being used by 4 people in the family (2adults, 1 tween and 1 soon to be tween), and one that is being used solely by mom for work.

The have an issue in that they do not have enough HD space for everyone's files on the internal drive.

Does anyone have an idea as to how best to manage storage in this situation. Each person has their own user account, but the HD on the laptop does not have enough space for them all to download their photos/videos/music. Is there a good way to do this wirelessly?

I have thought about having them get a Mac Mini and adding an External drive to create a storage server, and then having their iTunes folders point to the server. I have also considered something like a Seagate Personal Cloud 2-bay Home Media Storage Device.

Does anyone have ideas / recommendation as to the best way to tackle this situation (without buying 3 more laptops).
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Jan 1, 2016, 08:39 PM
 
I like network storage to begin with, we wrote a pretty long series about it over the summer.

However, if this is all that they're doing, a network attached storage device like the Personal Cloud Home Media Storage Device works. Instead of putting everybody's iTunes folder on the network, though, utilize the device's iTunes streaming function.
     
ghporter
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Jan 1, 2016, 08:57 PM
 
You can attach a USB-based external drive to an AirPort or Time Machine device and it "just works" for accessible storage. I find that much simpler than setting up a NAS system. On the other hand, if their network is fast enough, any networked storage should be adequate. The key is getting the biggest honkin' networked/USB drive you can, because storage demands expand to exceed capacity. That's a rule, an axiom, and probably a natural law, too.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
reader50
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Jan 1, 2016, 09:47 PM
 
What model is the laptop, and what HD is in it now? If it can take HD upgrades, you can get a 2 TB laptop drive for under $100. Likely far cheaper than any decent network storage system.
     
NDBounce  (op)
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Jan 1, 2016, 10:27 PM
 
Mike Wuerthele

Do you have a recommended NAS storage device? Also, is there a good way to back up the Network drive?

Thank you.
     
NDBounce  (op)
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Jan 1, 2016, 10:39 PM
 
Originally Posted by reader50 View Post
What model is the laptop, and what HD is in it now? If it can take HD upgrades, you can get a 2 TB laptop drive for under $100. Likely far cheaper than any decent network storage system.
I think we ruled out the expansion thing. They are going to purchase a new macbook with SSD. The issue is that they take a lot of photos and videos on their phones, which when combined with music, and then considering there are 4 people doing this (and the rate at which pre-teens take selfies and videos, and ditto for parents), the issue is that that they will run out of space, and the SSD on the Macbook will not accommodate everyone's junk for long.

So I think the best solution is to store their photos and iTunes music/videos on a remote drive. A NAS seems to be the best option, as it could grow with them.

The downside is when they take the laptop away from home (which they rarely do with their current one) they will not have their media with them.

Additionally, I am not certain how to backup a NAS drive (would this require 2 NAS drives?)
     
NDBounce  (op)
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Jan 1, 2016, 10:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by Mike Wuerthele View Post
I like network storage to begin with, we wrote a pretty long series about it over the summer.

However, if this is all that they're doing, a network attached storage device like the Personal Cloud Home Media Storage Device works. Instead of putting everybody's iTunes folder on the network, though, utilize the device's iTunes streaming function.
Can you go into more detail about iTunes streaming? I have never used it, as I have only one laptop and am the only user on mine (hence, never needed it).

When you say utilize the device's iTunes streaming function, are you talking about "the NAS device" or by device doe mean the mac itself?
     
reader50
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Jan 2, 2016, 03:49 AM
 
Time Machine can be set up on a compatible NAS. But your plan is to also use the NAS for primary storage. You can declare multiple volumes on the NAS. One for each user's media files, perhaps a common one for shared media files, and one big volume for Time Machine. But if the NAS failed in certain ways (like catching fire) you lose primary + backup. Two NAS units could do it, with one handling primary storage, and the other reserved for Time Machine. Or you could periodically plug an external drive into the NAS and do a full backup. Then tuck that external drive away in a safe.

Have you considered giving each user a budget, how much internal drive space they can use. And an external drive if they overflow it? A user who overflows their space a small amount could manage with a USB flash drive. Users with a media library could buy a mobile-sized USB drive up to 4 TB. They plug in their drive when they're the one using the laptop. The NAS gets reserved for TM and common media files.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Jan 2, 2016, 09:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by NDBounce View Post
Can you go into more detail about iTunes streaming? I have never used it, as I have only one laptop and am the only user on mine (hence, never needed it).

When you say utilize the device's iTunes streaming function, are you talking about "the NAS device" or by device doe mean the mac itself?
Basically, most Network Attached Storage devices at this point have an iTunes server baked into them, where each user gets their own iTunes "server" to stream from. This is NOT something you want to cheap out on. Personally, I'd go for the Synology DS-214+ for this, and like Reader50 said, a single, big drive to backup the NAS itself. Time Machine over the network is convenient, but very, very slow, though.

Properly configured, the NAS can poke itself outside to the Internet, with media on the go a possibility. Note that I said "properly configured" -- if this gets botched, then the device is hanging out on the Internet, not well protected.

From a PM you sent, you had mentioned that you want to be able to roll into a Best Buy or something to get this done. I'm not sure what network attached storage devices they carry. The two key words here to look for on a box are "iTunes sharing" and "multiple users." Some of the Personal Cloud NAS don't support multiple users, and that would be a drag for what you want to use for it.
     
OreoCookie
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Jan 2, 2016, 10:08 AM
 
I ran into the same problem and solved it by buying a Synology NAS. One year into it, and I have to say it was among the best tech purchases I have made in ~10 years. Both, the hardware and the software of my DS 214+ is top notch. It is also likely cheaper than going the Mac mini route.

Essentially you have to give us an estimate of how much space you need. I went with a 2-bay NAS and the largest HDs I could afford (4 and 6 TB). One is dedicated to normal user files, the other to Time Machine backups (which is available) and a shared iTunes music library. The other contains all of the videos (which are shared between all users) and the user files.

I have set up the following services:
- File sharing. You can create users, groups and set quotas (limits on the amount of space a user or group is allowed to use). It's easy to set up and maintain.
- A private Dropbox. You can download a piece of software for your Mac which allows you to sync files across computers. Think of it as a private Dropbox with (essentially) unlimited space. This also works when you are away from home.
- Browser-based access. I have set up my Synology to be accessible from anywhere (i. e. away from home) via a webbrowser. It works well.
- iTunes sharing. It works, but to be honest I have switched to iTunes Music.
- Video sharing. If your cousin has a recent TV, he can browse his video library on his TV. (You can also install Plex.)
- Access via my iPhone.

Things I want to set up soon:
- VPN server. My old internet provider blocked the necessary ports, but I have recently moved and I would like to set this up so that I can access my whole home network while I am away.
- Backblaze B2. This is Backblaze's “data bucket service”. It is still in beta, but I intend to use it for backups. There is no official B2 support yet as this service is still in beta (on Backblaze's side), but you can use Amazon S3 storage, Box, Dropbox and a number of other services to back up the data on your NAS.

All of the configuration is done via the browser. The software itself looks like the strange cousin of Microsoft Windows. That means you have windows that you can move around, buttons to click on, and a Start menu on the upper-left. It is not a beautiful interface, but it gets the job done. You can add functionality by downloading official and third-party packages. They are installed via an App Store-like interface. If you are a real Linux geek, you can access the NAS via the command line, too, if that's your cup of tea.

There are two big high-quality vendors, QNAP and Synology. I'll focus on the latter since I know their produce line-up quite well. When you buy a NAS, you are primarily paying for the software. If you stick to these two, it's certain you'll get updates for the foreseeable future. Synology uses the same software across its whole product line-up, all the way from its $100 single-bay enclosure to its $$$$ small and medium business models. There are obviously certain packages and certain functionality reserved to higher-end models, but Synology updates its software like Apple updates OS X. (Actually, it updates them more frequently.) I let my NAS update automatically, and have run into zero problems. In fact, my NAS has never rebooted or shown quirky behavior.

When you choose a model, make sure to get one that has room to grow. Synology's model numbers may seem odd at first, but there is a system: DS stands for Disk Station, the last two digits refer to the model year and the first digits tell you the maximum number of drive bays. I have a DS 214+, i. e. it is a 2014 model with two hard drive bays. There is also a DS 715. While this 2015 model apparently only has two bays, it allows you to connect a 5-bay extender, hence the 7. If you are interested in running Plex or some other piece of software that transcodes video on the fly, they have special models for that with the suffix “play”.
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OreoCookie
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Jan 2, 2016, 10:09 AM
 
Originally Posted by Mike Wuerthele View Post
Personally, I'd go for the Synology DS-214+ for this, and like Reader50 said, a single, big drive to backup the NAS itself.
The DS 214+ has been replaced by the DS 215+, although I would also consider the DS 715 which actually has more powerful hardware and supports a 5-bay drive extension.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
OreoCookie
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Jan 2, 2016, 10:14 AM
 
Originally Posted by NDBounce View Post
The downside is when they take the laptop away from home (which they rarely do with their current one) they will not have their media with them.
Actually with a NAS, they can access it. They either have to set up a VPN on the NAS and on all of the Macs. Or, if you just want to do this occasionally or download larger files such as videos you can configure to just expose the NAS's web interface.
I don't suffer from insanity, I enjoy every minute of it.
     
Mike Wuerthele
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Jan 2, 2016, 10:29 AM
 
I've never used the 215 nor the 715, thus my recommendation for the 214+, nothing more than that
     
JacobVR
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Jan 5, 2016, 12:32 PM
 
I like network storage to begin with, it works really fine
     
abbaZaba
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Jan 5, 2016, 07:40 PM
 
I second network storage and Synology. I use a 213J with 2x4TB drives. Very worth it. Much cheaper than a mac mini route.
     
   
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