Network attached storage for media streaming on Mac
February 5, 2007 4:30 AM   Subscribe

I'm interested in setting up network-attached storage for my media, which mostly consists of digital photos (iPhoto) and 70+ GB music accessed via iTunes. I'd appreciate any links to blogs, etc. discussing this sort of thing for the Mac.

My music collection continues to expand. Currently I have AirTunes over a wireless connection, and iPhoto and iTunes libraries on a 250 GB external Lacie drive. Eventually I'll want to set up a Sonos system. I have some time to set all this up, since it won't happen until I move this summer. That also means I'll have some control over wireless modem placement, etc.

I already looked at this link:, and am interested in other discussions along these lines.
posted by cahlers to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
i sold my sonos recently sonos so cant check this on my own, but it might be worth checking out if sonos still has the file limit. as it sounds like you may have a large collection, and this may come into play for you.

with my sonos i simply left my computer running which had all my storage.

however just about any NAS should work fine with wat you are trying to achieve.
posted by moochoo at 5:14 AM on February 5, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, moochoo, I'll check the Sonos site. Why did you sell yours?

I had two other questions:

1. If any other MeFites have experience with Sonos and/or NAS, could you share those experiences and any tips or comments?

2. What would I need to use my current 250 GB Lacie as a NAS? Is this possible? I'd like to untether my laptop from the external drive. Currently I have a D-Link combo wireless router and modem.
posted by cahlers at 6:13 AM on February 5, 2007

Response by poster: As to #2, a brief search reveals it's apparently possible w/ the new Aiport Extreme. Problem is, my Lacie has a firewire, not USB connection, and I don't have an airport extreme, rather a D-Link.
posted by cahlers at 6:20 AM on February 5, 2007

i really need to spell check but thats what you get for typing while on the phone!

for anyone else out there i loved my sonos, its a fantastic piece of equipment. the only reason i sold it was due to needing the money for other toys!

it really changed the way i listen to music, once you get it you never want to put it down
posted by moochoo at 10:02 AM on February 5, 2007

That article you link to looks like a pretty good intro.

A good resource for NAS tech in general is Small Net Builder (previously Tom's Networking). I bought a Synology NAS box based on a review there (contact me if you want my reactions to that).

There's not much different about using an NAS box than a local hard drive except that it's slower. You mount it as an AFP device (and can have it auto-mount on login), and assuming everything is going according to plan, it works very much like a directly-attached hard drive.

I'm not aware of any NAS boxes with a firewire interface, which is too bad. Which also means you're SOL on attaching your LaCie to one. You could pull the drive mechanism out of your LaCie and install it directly in a NAS box (or in a USB-capable drive shell) and save a few bucks that way. If you want to get really hard-core, get an old Mini and use that in lieu of a NAS box (meaning you could re-use your LaCie). This would be more complex to administer, but would also offer more flexibility.

Many NAS boxes can act as DAAP servers (for playlist sharing). This may be academic, since iTunes can do the same, but might be nice if you want to have your Mac turned off.
posted by adamrice at 10:17 AM on February 5, 2007

Response by poster: Adam, I didn't mean I want to attch my Lacie to a NAS. I'd like to attach my Lacie to my modem, and access the drive that way, instead of using a NAS. Is this possible?

I see that wireless modems exist that have USB ports, so attaching a Lacie to these modems should be possible. Problem is, I don't own one of these USB-equipped modems.
posted by cahlers at 12:45 PM on February 5, 2007

When you say "wireless modem," I think you really mean wireless hub. "Wireless modem" implies a cellular modem, and that's clearly not what you want.

Whether you realize it or not, you do want a NAS box--or NAS capability--in some form. What you need is a wifi hub, a NAS box, and disk storage. There are several different ways to slice and dice these functions, including some boxes that do all in one, some boxes that only do one of these, and some that do two.

Apple's new Airport Extreme is a wifi hub that allows you to attach a USB drive; there are a few others (here's an all in one wifi NAS box), but not many. All of these are, effectively, NAS boxes with wifi, or wifi hubs with NAS capability (depending on how you want to look at it). AFAIK, none allow you to attach a firewire device. Sorry. Apple's would be a good bet, but you still need to get a USB drive to attach to it. The other option would be to get a plain wired/wireless hub (which are cheap and common as dirt) and get a NAS box that doesn't have its own wireless support, and plug that directly into your hub via Ethernet.

The only way I can think of to get a wifi hub and a firewire port in one box is (as I suggested before) to take an old Mac and use it as a server. Hook it up to a wired Ethernet connection, plug in your LaCie drive, and have it share its Internet connection over wireless.
posted by adamrice at 2:10 PM on February 5, 2007


I'm probably in way over my head by commenting here, but I recently bought a DNS-323 from D-Link. I think my objectives were more or less the same as yours. Centralize my media files, make the same media library accessible to different users, create a (semi) reliable backup system, and have it outlive outlive my laptop.

I'm quite pleased with it. Basically insert one or two drives, format them, and then access them from your network. What's even better is that it has a built in itunes server so you can listen to the NAS library when you open itunes.

I had also looked at the Synology (but the DLink was cheaper) as well as the HP Mediavault (but didn't like the fact that it's built in drive would be difficult to remove).

In the end, I've found the speed fine (for my relatively simple application). Also, the fan is quiet, and if I recall it only consumes around 30Watts of electricity. Unfortunately the only review on CNET right now rates it as 2/10.

Good Luck
posted by commissioner12 at 5:52 PM on February 5, 2007

Response by poster: Adam, you're correct - I mean wireless hub, and I do want NAS capability. I'm trying to save some $ by not buying a NAS box, rather connecting my Lacie to a wireless hub and creating NAS that way. But it looks like I'll run into problems because of the firewire/USB incompatibility issue.

Commissioner12's solution would work if I had a Windows OS. It looks like the DNS-323 requires windows. But I'm looking for something along those lines.

Perhaps the best solution would be using an Mac as a server. How would I then need to share the attached drive?
posted by cahlers at 6:47 AM on February 6, 2007

Using a Mac as a server is probably not going to be your cheapest route. Even if you completely wrote off your existing hard drive, you could probably set up a new NAS box for about $300.

That said, if you want to use a Mac as a server (and this is something I have not actually done myself yet), you'd want to configure it with a screen attached, set up your user account, and (this is important) install VNC software on it. Once everything was working the way you wanted, you'd detach the monitor, stick the Mac in a closet (or wherever), and log into it remotely from your laptop. You'd be able to control it over VNC from that point on, but for the most part, it would probably just hum along without you needing to mess with it. Here's some reading for you: 1, 2.
posted by adamrice at 7:43 AM on February 6, 2007

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