My server of streaming tears
July 9, 2011 5:00 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to use a 2007 Macbook Pro + 2TB FW ext HD as a NAS setup, but the drive keeps falling asleep and slowing and causing video to hiccup. How can I prevent this and get smooth movie playback?

I'm not running any streaming server on the old MBP. The HD is connected to the old MBP using FW. I just mount the HD on my new MBP thru the old MBP that's on the network, then directly play a movie file off the HD using VLC. I thought that the constant read off the HD would keep it from sleeping/slowing, but the drive will start to slow down audibly and rev up again immediately. It keeps doing this intermittently, and the video starts to pause and start often enough to be annoying - once every few minutes.

The HD is a Western Digital inside a generic external enclosure with FW and USB ports. The old MBP is on the network through Ethernet connected to Airport Extreme, and set up to wake up for any Ethernet activity; it's also set up to not sleep for two hours.

Server software suggestions are welcome too. It seemed like they require you to go thru their own friendly front-end interface like Boxee, but I just preferred to use the Finder and VLC so I can just play whichever files in whatever format. I'd prefer not to have to buy a whole new NAS, but maybe a good solution is to buy a NAS enclosure then put the internal drive in it? Again, general advice is super welcome.

Here was a 5-year old question that seems related. I was wondering if there was something else that had come along in the meantime. Thanks!
posted by miomiomio to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Response by poster: BTW the WD internal drive is a Caviar Black (WD2001FASS).
posted by miomiomio at 5:07 AM on July 9, 2011

No Spin prevents drives from spinning down.
posted by filmgeek at 6:39 AM on July 9, 2011

What format is the source video in? My experience is with Linux, not Mac, but I've found that an 802.11g wireless connection has plenty of bandwidth for DivX but is marginal for byte-for-byte DVD rips; I imagine HD video in almost any format would be pushing it as well. Your HD might be behaving as it is simply because a wireless bottleneck means it's not getting hit hard enough to keep it awake.

What happens if you transfer one of your movie files to the MBP's internal drive? Does it play any smoother that way?

What happens if you tell VLC to use a bigger cache?

How close to a movie's actual playing time is the time it takes to copy the movie files over the wireless link to the computer you're actually watching it on?
posted by flabdablet at 6:41 AM on July 9, 2011

Response by poster: filmgeek - I'll give that a shot, looks like it might do the trick.

flabdablet - The movies are mostly xvid avi's. The movie files do play smoother off the old MBP's internal drive. I'll try the VLC tip and see what happens. I'm not sure about the last question - are you asking if a 2hr movie takes close to 2hrs copy over from the HD (thru the old MBP) onto the new MBP that I'm watching on? If so, it takes much less time.

Thanks for the replies.
posted by miomiomio at 6:58 AM on July 9, 2011

takes much less time.

Then raw network bandwidth is not your problem. Bigger VLC cache might still help if No Spin doesn't do the trick.
posted by flabdablet at 10:24 AM on July 9, 2011

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