Help me use Sonos with a mac compatible NAS
December 21, 2010 11:06 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to transfer (iTunes) music off of an old PC and an even older iMac onto a NAS that plays nicely with our new Mac laptops and even newer Sonos system. I'd also like to use the NAS to automate backups for these two Mac laptops. And I'd like the NAS to back itself up onto a secondary drive. I'm new to networking and back-upping and would like a set it and forget it solution.

Specific hardware and software advice is definitely needed. Which NAS is reliable and easy to set up? How do I get the songs over to the NAS? What backup program is right for us? How do two computers use the same back up?

I'm a bit overwhelmed with options, and, obviously, a complete noob at this. FWIW, we use a cable modem connected to a newish Netgear wireless router.
posted by ranunculus to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
As far as backups go, I'm using a Synology DS410 as (among many other things) a Time Machine target for a handful of Macs, and it seems to work great. It does have iTunes server support, and the ability to back itself up to another storage device, but I've never used either feature, and I don't have a Sonos, so I can't comment on those aspects, but as far as a general purpose NAS and Time Machine support, I've been very happy with the unit.
posted by nonliteral at 11:17 AM on December 21, 2010

If you want less fuss, I'd just get a Drobo.
posted by wongcorgi at 12:24 PM on December 21, 2010

FWIW, I wanted to do what you're trying to do. I had a Synology (older than nonliteral's) and two Macs.

My experience was that I couldn't use Time Machine to back up to the NAS box reliably (backups took way too long). It was possible to use the NAS box to store the music collection, but I came to feel it was way more trouble than having duplicated, local music collections.

The big problem with syncing music is not moving the files around so much as syncing the "iTunes Library" file, which is how iTunes knows where the files are, and where iTunes stores some metadata. There are apps that will do this (including cross-platform ones), and iTunes itself can do this using "Home Sharing." Apple's implementation is a little ungainly, but it's free and it works. It's how I'm syncing the collections on my Mac and my wife's now.

It's possible that newer Synology boxes play nice with Time Machine. FWIW.
posted by adamrice at 12:47 PM on December 21, 2010

I am using a ReadyNAS to do exactly what you want, and it works fine, with a minor caveat (detailed below).

The ReadyNAS series comes with Time Machine support built in, so you can set up a partition for this purpose. In my case, I have 4.5 TB available (4 x 1.5 TB disks, 1 is for redundancy), and I set up a 500 GB partition for Time Machine - this is enough for myself and my S.O.'s MacBooks.

The remaining space is carved up into various partitions - home folders for my roommates, a general share for dumping stuff that is not secured in any way, a Torrents share, and an iTunes share. To create the iTunes share, I partitioned the space into a new share (I think I did not put a cap on it, unlike the personal shares), pointed my iTunes library at the share, and "consolidated" my library to it, moving all my media to the NAS. From there, I made sure iTunes was set to copy all new imports to the Library (not just point to the existing location), and anything new I added went to the NAS.

To get stuff off your alternate computer, make sure iTunes is up to date on both systems, and enable Home Sharing. This will let you import media from one library into another, all within iTunes, almost painlessly - including protected media.

The caveat: Network access will never be as fast as local disk, or even USB. Moving large chunks of data around (i.e. - syncing videos) will take longer than normal, and if there's a huge amount of network traffic going on (i.e. - your roommates are torrenting a ton of data), it may slow things down further. I highly recommend you invest in a small Gigabit desktop switch to connect the NAS to your local PC, so that you have the best throughput possible.

If you need the absolutely gory details, drop me a mefi mail, and I'll give you the exact hardware I'm using at home.
posted by GJSchaller at 2:35 PM on December 21, 2010

It has been my experience that backing up to network drives with Time Machine is not "set it and forget it". Has something changed, or is there something I'm missing? Basically, getting it working required some manual arcane workarounds.
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 7:59 AM on December 22, 2010

There have been improvements to both Time Machine, and the devices that act as repositories for it - depending on the device you get to store your data, it can be Fire & Forget now. Early on, it was not that easy, but both Apple and Vendors have made things easier on consumers to use the app / products.
posted by GJSchaller at 7:38 AM on December 23, 2010

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