How to build the ultimate media server for your music, movies, and more

“If you’re like me, you’ve got hundreds of gigabytes of digital media files, everything from movies, to music, to TV shows, stored across portable hard drives, old laptops, and various PCs,” Christina Warren writes for Gizmodo.

“Wouldn’t it be great if all of that media could live in one place and be able to be easily accessed by your other computers and smart devices?” Warren writes. “With the right apps and a network attached storage device, you can do just that.”

How to build the ultimate movie and music server:
1: Buy or Build a NAS
2: Choose Your Hard Drive
3: Setup and Configure Your NAS
4: Transfer your data
5: Install apps

“It takes some time to set up, but once you’ve configured your NAS, it should run like an appliance,” Warren writes. “Feel free to add new apps – maybe you want to run your own web server or even Minecraft server – and play around.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Do you use network-attached storage? If so, did you build your own using an old Mac or some lesser hardware or did you buy an off-the shelf NAS?

21 Comments

    1. I use a Drobo too, but not technically as a NAS. My Drobo is connected to an old iMac via FireWire 800. The iMac is the Plex server to other Macs and Apple TV. I had a NAS, and I also tried using the Drobo direct network attachment. Neither was fast enough to maintain a good stream. I’m sure more modern NAS equipment have faster server components than my old gear.

      1. I did have the same setup as you have. Two years ago I purchased a Drobo B800fs with 24 TB for my iTunes music, movies and TV shows with a 2011 Mac mini 2.3 GHz that just runs iTunes. I have no problems streaming to two Apple TV’s 4th gen at the same time or Plex. We also connect with our iPads without issue. This year I purchased their new model the 5N which uses apps. I use it as a home cloud where our photos are auto-uploaded to the cloud and saved and I run some converted home videos via Plex. Over course you need a good wi-fi system to make it all connect. I purchased the Eero system for full house coverage at 98 Mbps.

  1. Mac mini, Apple TV 4, Plex.

    8 X 8TB Hard drives (64TB total). Instead of a NAS, I have two USB 3.0 hubs connecting the external hard drives as well as a Blu-Ray ripper and cables for backing up iPhones and iPads.

    It’s all in a server cabinet in our theater. In case there’s a blackout, there’s a large UPS battery that keeps everything powered long enough until the power generator kicks in.

    We’re ready for the zombie apocalypse!

    1. How do you rip Blu Rays? with what software…I had no idea that could be done. Next you’ll tell me you can rip SACD’s and DVD-Audio?

      I also use a 2012 Quad i7 2.6Ghz Mac Mini with 1TB SSD & 1TB HDD for BackUp strictly for my Music.

        1. Yep, MakeMKV works on most BR discs. I take the output and run that though Cocktail for the final movie file.

          Magoo: Your 2012 Mac mini will work fine as a movie server. I’ve also switched over to a top end Linksys wifi system that is fast and covers a much larger signal area than my Apple wifi.

      1. I use a 2009 17″ MPB running windows 10 with an external LG Blu-ray drive. The best software is from RedFox.bz. They keep their keys updated so rarely do I have an ripping issue. I use AnyDvD HD with Clone BD and rip to a M4V (H.264 1920 x 1080 w/ AC3 and 5.1 audio) file where I add the mata tags. For standard DVDs I use AnyDVD with Their CloneDVD mobile, with the same resolution only AAC 48k stereo on the audio.

  2. I see absolutely no need for a media server. Other than my own photos and home video, I have no ripped (or otherwise acquired) commercial entertainment in any format, other than a bunch of old kids’ DVDs and Blurays that my wife bought for my daughters growing up. Those aren’t really watched anymore (getting readied for transfer to the baby niece in the family). Eventually, I may sit down one day and bring all my AVCHD video into FCP (or iMovie) and cut it up into short event-focused home movies, exported in some easily playable QuickTime format. Ultimately, I’ll most likely put those on a 1TB USB thumb drive, which I can stick into my (somewhat smart) TV. That likely won’t happen until I retire (or until family is away for a few weeks).

  3. If it is just for music (I don’t watch much TV and Netflix handles that) then the choice for replacement in a multi-system house is Roon
    https://roonlabs.com

    If it’s just for s single listening area and maybe a laptop for travel, Audirvana
    https://audirvana.com

    Both play nice with Tidal HiFi, with Roon an easier mix and Audirvana slightly better sound quality (neither unfold MQA yet but both are in Beta, still need Tidal desktop to do that)

    1. Content purchased on iTunes (as opposed to rented from Apple Music) is DRM-free. That means as owner of the files, you have the right to save them where you want, manage them how you want, and play them how you want. Some NAS devices offer you worldwide access to your files and there are many different ways to play your media. A lot of NAS drives support direct connection to ethernet-connected stereo systems, but you can always use your Mac as the hub. iOS is okay as a remote control sometimes, but definitely inadequate for other things.

      One would think that Apple would be a major proponent of users saving their data to a new generation of home-connected Time Capsule NAS devices that offer the OPTION of real time iCloud backup. Then users would have the benefit of zero latency access to their files from any device, and still Cook would be able to brag about how many people subscribe to the Apple/Amazon/Google/Azure iCloud.

  4. Mac Mini
    Drobo 5N
    Media server plus time machine backup.
    Full redundancy.

    This works well as a media server and all macs in the house are backed up via time machine. Can watch ripped / purchased movies / shows on any TV via Apple TV or an iOS / MacOS device.
    Plenty of space and K don’t loose data if a drive fails. Can slowly increase my capacity as drive costs decrease. Now have 20TB with 10 TB capacity.

  5. How bout a simple photo server solution that works with iPhoto / Photos with multiple devices

    That’s what most of us would love to see

    Apple is prob working on it since photos are getting crazy out here 😂

    1. Yes Synology rocks. They just released an impressive router that is getting great reviews too. Makes me wonder why Apple can’t compete with a full ecosystem for home networking.

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