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Apple TV Discussion of Apple TV, the new revolution in watching television.

I'm Not Sure How to Configure My iTunes/Apple TV for This Odd Setup


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Newmans_Own

 
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Hello all,

This is my first post to the forums (although I've read them for a while when I needed help fixing an issue or understanding various features) and it's a picture-question.



So what I want is something like the top half of the image, a system wherein my new MacBook Pro (early-2013) and my old MacBook (mid-2007) can both access iTunes on a wireless storage drive (I think NAS would be a good idea), possibly connected to the router.

The capabilities need to include access from both computers to iTunes (1.5+ TB of music, audiobooks, movies, and TV shows) and in such a way that one computer can still be present in the house while my new laptop is out with me at work. Ideally, when one computer changes something in iTunes (renames a song, adds artwork or new media, or even contributes to the play count), it should change iTunes for both systems even if there's a slight delay.

However, home-sharing is not acceptable because I sync my iPhone to the new laptop as well, so I need both machines to access the same iTunes library (which is why I think I should move the entire directory to a wireless external storage device). Furthermore, I would prefer a device with RAID or some kind of protective system (for fear of a drive crashing and wasting all this time and energy invested in a nice home media system).

As long as the old computer is able to access iTunes, the Apple TV should work fine, as long as the external storage device is operational. The big question I have is do I need something like an AirPort (which the geniuses at the Apple store recommended), a LaCie 2Big (which is what I was initially considering), or a better router than my pathetic Linksys WRT120N (a relic from college along with my MacBook)? Speed is a mild concern (since 1.5+ TB is a lot to move back and forth and I just finished moving my iTunes library to my new computer (so I can update my iPhone with music from this machine instead).

In the lower half of the image was my previous configuration before I got Apple TV. My WD hard drive was connected via USB to the old MacBook and then home-shared to my new MacBook Pro. However, I had to sync my iPhone to the old MacBook which was not so good since one USB hub was always occupied. So after switching to what I have now (basically the new MacBook manages everything), I wanted to see if I could get something like this to work.

Sorry for the wordy question, but I hope that the picture clears up what my aims are as well as what I'm looking for (AirPort, LaCie 2Big/other NAS, or new router).

Thanks in advance for your assistance.

--
I AM IN NO WAY AFFILIATED WITH PAUL NEWMAN, NEWMAN'S OWN, INC., OR NEWMAN'S OWN FOUNDATION (I just like salad dressing).
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mrplow

 
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Have a look at SuperSync it can keep multiple iTunes instances in sync using one network based library.

RAID on a NAS is OK so long as it can handle mirroring (RAID1) which the Lacie does. I've no direct experience of that product (Perhaps others can chip in on this).

You don't 'need' an Airport Extreme as a router but your setup does rely heavily on wi-fi so it's worth considering the Extreme. But any good quality, dual band, N router will serve you well.

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bobtomay

 
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That looks like a pretty nice app - couldn't find anything in the documentation about keeping your iTunes library on the NAS and using it as a server. Seems to be geared totally to keeping all your computers synced with the entire library being kept on each local machine.

Last I had a really good working server, was using a 4 disk raided server running Windows Home Server and it did a decent job running TwonkyMedia on it. That machine died on me about 4 yrs ago.

The only way I know of you'll be able to make a change to iTunes and have it auto reflected on another machine is going to by running an iTunes server and any changes are made on the server... not on the local machine. It's a lot of work. Some of these servers only allow a single connection at a time - not good.

What I'm doing now is using an external mirrored RAID (from OWC) attached via eSATA to a Windows 7 box and use homesharing. Can't answer the question about syncing - don't think I have synced either one of our iPhones with a computer in at least 2 years. I think through your reading, you're going to find that using either a Win 7 or an OS X box as a media server is the best route - also the most expensive since you need not only the RAID device, but another computer that acts as your server and syncing of iDevices would be done on the server box.

Would suggest reading through as many articles and forum threads as you can find on the internet.
Good starting point from Ars-Technica - link.

To go with a NAS iTunes server, would guess that Synology may be at the top of the pack currently.
And I don't believe even theirs will allow connectivity from an AppleTV - AppleTV issue - unless something has changed, ATV will only connect to a computer running iTunes and using HomeSharing unless you jailbreak the ATV. May want to read through some of the Synology forum here.

I am probably behind the times - would read as much as you can in order to make a decision that you think you can live with.

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Quote:
That looks like a pretty nice app - couldn't find anything in the documentation about keeping your iTunes library on the NAS and using it as a server. Seems to be geared totally to keeping all your computers synced with the entire library being kept on each local machine.
There is a wealth of headline info on the site that masks the basic feature list but this scenario can be found under Features - Access

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bobtomay

 
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Read through that - sounds like a really nice app, but everything is done through a computer being used as the server - and while it mentions nothing about a NAS, would think that may work if that computer is keeping it's master library on the NAS. You would still have to use home sharing at least for the ATV.

Are you using this?

Biggest negative I see, it only allows a single device to connect to the server at a time - unless you have a Tivo. This would be a problem for me. Already have 6 devices that require ethernet in my entertainment center (actually 7 - forgot the computer).

Biggest plus, being able to access your master library via the web while you're on the road.

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Newmans_Own

 
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Thanks for your suggestions, I'm looking into some of that software, but I wonder if iTunes-managing software can handle whatever iTunes updates come up.

As for the remote access, I'm not particularly interested in accessing my iTunes while not connected to the WiFi. I don't take trips longer than a week, and I have a 1TB MacBook Pro and some 250GB flash drives that should be enough to keep me content.

The simultaneous access of the DB is pretty crucial if I'm understanding how syncing/airplay/home-sharing works in a system like this. Perhaps the secondary (stationary) computer doesn't need to make changes if its only purpose is to host the material for the AppleTV while I'm out with the MacBook Pro. My understanding of wireless networks is minimal - I see the specs of my router, but I'm not confident that it's "dual band" (and I'm certain it's not "good quality"). It lists "2.4 GHz Only" for its wireless band (not "Simultaneous") and listed under the "Special Features" that are not included is a USB storage link. I'm not sure that the router was designed to carry the load I'm contemplating for it.

I'm not sure of the various NAS devices, but I found an old discussion pointing to a bunch of different NAS devices and no real consensus on which one would be optimal for hosting an iTunes library. If these LaCie models have performance issues, I'm trying to find them (I see things like fan noises, but more deserving of red flags are these network connection issues). I only mention the LaCie because it was in the Apple Store when I asked them about this - I have no particular attachment to that model or company, but software does look like an issue for Synology. One thing worth mentioning is that I'm not particularly attached to my MacBook running its current OS. Its hard drive crashed a while back (thankfully, nothing was lost since I already had the MacBook Pro for my necessary computing needs and an external hard drive for iTunes/general backups. I initially contemplated setting up a Linux server OS on the hard drive I got to replace it, but I couldn't figure out how to get something like that to work with the design I had in mind (so I just left Mac OS X on it).

Also, when I commit to the NAS system (I already prefer it for the RAID capabilities over my 2TB WD MyBook), I'll probably need some instructions on how to properly prepare it for hosting my iTunes library. I'm guessing that I'll need to physically connect it to the (future) router, but I'm curious if I should first get the NAS/WiFi set-up operational using only my MacBook Pro and then see if I can build this set-up from there.

The last thing I'll mention is when I went to the Apple Store, the salesclerks gave me the impression that this kind of layout was possible using only native Apple software, but looking around the Internet makes it seem like it's a lot messier and more of a DIY project than simply acquiring the physical materials, getting them to talk to each other, and then moving the DB onto the NAS.

Thanks again for your advice, and I'll be sure to continue checking those forums.

--
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A simplified way is to use Homesharing, bringing across the content onto your new MacBook for iPhone syncing purposes.

That way you negate any third party software breaking in the future and Homesharing is pretty robust and practically config free.

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Newmans_Own

 
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A simplified way is to use Homesharing, bringing across the content onto your new MacBook for iPhone syncing purposes.

That way you negate any third party software breaking in the future and Homesharing is pretty robust and practically config free.
I suppose I should get this working with whatever NAS/router/AirPort setup I hope to get. But this home-sharing strategy won't let me take the new MacBook away and still have the Apple TV access content, correct?

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Yes it would. It's the 2007 MacBook that's 'running' the library. So long as you have that MacBook and the nas w ith your media on left at home you'll be fine

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And while you're looking at NAS devices, for your setup, you might also consider hardware that would be permanently attached to the Mac instead. After looking at NAS devices and reading all the problems related to practically all of them for about 3 months, this is the route I went when my server died - except have mine connected via eSATA to a Win 7 box and use homesharing.

Mirrored RAID with FW 400/800, USB 2, eSATA - link.

Mirrored RAID with FW 400/800, USB 3, eSATA - link.

Both of the above can be bought as an add your own drives kit.

Want to use Thunderbolt now or later - eSATA to Thunderbolt adapter link.
Lacie has one also.

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Here is how I've solved the problem (YMMV):

I have two Mac Mini's that I use as servers. One Mac Mini - late 2012 - (svr01) is the primary for everything (DNS, Plex, iTunes, Filesharing, VMWare Fusion, etc) and the other Mac Mini - mid 2011 - (svr02) is the secondary for everything.

SVR01 has a 16TB NAS connected via USB3, and houses all my iTunes content, file shares, and Virtual machines. I use home sharing to share things out to my 3 Apple TV3's, and Plex to share to everything else (various laptops, Roku's, tablets, phones, etc). All of my context has been de-DRM'd. Backups of my content are made to my secondary server every nigh using SuperDuper!

Every once in a while - when I think of it, I import the backups into SVR02's iTunes library so everything matches. Svr02 is also shared out via home sharing and Plex.

The ATV's can see both servers, and my family knows to select svr01 when choosing which library to connect to, same goes for Plex. If something should happen to svr01, they simply select svr02 and everything just works.

svr02 has 4 2TB drives set up in RAID 0 using SoftRAID (I have a LOT of content), which so far has worked well but I'm afraid of when one of the disks fail, then my backup is out of commission. I'm in the process of acquiring another disk enclosure and more disks to recreate what I have on my primary server, but it's expensive...

Hope this helps

Cheers,
slakrboy
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