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    Reevaluating My Music Storage

     

     

    Audio: Listen to this article.

     

     

    As I wrote in the forum yesterday, my ten year old Synology DS1812+ died on Sunday. I accidentally flipped off the circuit breaker in my storage room, where much of my IT related equipment is housed. This usually isn't an issue for 99.9% of my gear. Power outages happen. However, the DS1812+ didn't come back to life and I wasn't able to resuscitate it. 

     

    A power outage taking out a NAS isn't new to me. Like the DS1812+, my QNAP TVS-872XT also died a couple years ago in a similar way. I have friends in the industry who've experienced the same issue, multiple times. On the plus side, QNAP support was great to me and repaired my TVS-872XT, which has been my main NAS for years. 

     

    The DS1812+ was my backup NAS. It's death isn't the end of the world, doesn't really change my daily listening habits, and I haven't lost any data because it all exists on the QNAP TVS-872XT. I could easily just replace the Synology with a cheap backup NAS and call it a day. I could also reevaluate my music storage needs, research the current music storage landscape, and plot my path forward. As someone who always looks for improvements and educational opportunities, it's a no brainer for me. It's time to reevaluate how I store my music. 

     


    Current Overview

     

    I have 16 terabytes of music on a QNAP TVS-872XT running the QuTS hero h5.01.2248 operating system and ZFS pools for storage. I'm using about 75% of the storage capacity, which could be expanded with more disks. I don't depend on many of the QNAP apps, but I like the ease of remote access and the fact that I can install MinimServer directly on the NAS and it runs very well. QNAP's Helpdesk app was handy last year when troubleshooting and fixing a memory leak, but I usually leave it disabled.

     

    My Windows and Mac computers connect to the QNAP TVS-872XT, as does my Roon ROCK. My Aurender N20 and ACS10 have local storage, and don't connect to the NAS at all (although they could). Roon isn't really a concern because I've listened to Roon for exactly 0 minutes over the last four weeks according to Roon's stats, and running Roon directly on the QNAP lead to much frustration, resulting in me removing it.  

     

    Lately I've been playing really large 12 channel DXD files and have been forced to move them to local storage on my Mac (1TB internal NVMe) and Windows (2TB internal NVMe) computers. When I click play on a 6GB file, I want it to start immediately. Pulling these files over the network each time I wanted to play them, resulted in a less than desirable experience. In addition, my collection of 12 channel files is growing much faster than my two channel collection, resulting in my library growing nearly two terabytes las year. 

     

    That's the current lay of the land.

     


    Moving Forward

     

    I have many thoughts about my music storage and how best to improve upon my current situation. Thanks to members of this community, I have some additional ideas that are great. I spent several hours yesterday researching paths forward and ended the day with more questions than answers. Not questions about the technology, but questions for myself about which path I want to pursue and which path is the best. Those two may be the same, but also can be very different. For example, a QNAP NAS is easy and used by tons of people in this community. An esoteric solution may work better, but also may be a bit over the top and uninteresting to everyone but me. Finding the balance is key.

     

    A drop-in replacement for the DS1812+ backup NAS is simple, but not the path I want to go down. I think rotating my QNAP TVS-872XT into the position of backup, and replacing it, is a better route, but to be honest I really don't know. It's also hard to say if QNAP, or even Synology, hardware is as reliable as other potential solutions. The internet is riddled with horror stories about hardware failures, but I don't think they are based on a longitudinal study. It's more likely angry people with loud voices. That said, I've experienced failures that I consider premature. 

    If I rotate the TVS-872XT to backup and replace it with a new NAS as my main music storage location, I'd like to improve upon speed and reliability. Playing two channel high resolution files is a piece of cake. The 12 channel DXD albums are another story. Reliability will be nearly impossible to judge objectively. 

     

    ts-h1290fx.jpgOne option is a NAS such as the QNAP TS-h1290FX. It has all U.2 NVMe storage and up through 25Gbe connectivity. A fast AMD EPYC processor and tons of RAM, could also enable me to run Roon on it, if I want to in the future. One item I'd love to see on this unit is dual power supplies because I know people who've had QNAP PSUs fail. It would be nice to have a backup and units with dual PSUs usually enable hot swapping of those PSUs. I don't need it to be hot swappable, but the capability means replacement is as simple as it gets, without opening the unit and fighting with the case and tiny internal space. 

     

    I hesitate going this route mainly because of cost. The cost of a TS-h1290FX base unit with 64GB of RAM is $4,899. Not the end of the world, but also not inexpensive. Drives for this unit can be either U.2 NVMe or M.2 NVMe in the QNAP QDA-UMP4 converter. If I loaded the unit up with 12 4TB NVMe drives and converters, the price would be north of $7,000 for the drives alone and give me around 40TB of usable storage.

     

    Another hesitation I have is the 25Gbe speed. I'd absolutely love to take advantage of this incredibly fast Ethernet, but I could only do it on my CAPS Twenty Windows PC. I could easily add a 25Gbe card in CAPS and it would fly, I have no doubt. However, my MacBook Pro is limited to either 1 Gbe or 10 Gbe, with the 1 Gbe being the only Ravenna certified speed. I've used 10 Gbe on CAPS Twenty for Ravenna, but I haven't done so on macOS. 

     

    I'd be well north of $10k for a great NAS, but I'm unsure if the cost is worth it, given my reliance on a MacBook Pro. I suppose I could add a Thunderbolt PCIe card to the MacBook Pro and a 25Gbe card etc..., but now I'm closer to a kludge than I want to be, and I've added more cost to the already very expensive solution.


    TrueNAS MiniXL Plus.jpgAnother NAS I've looked at for many years is TrueNAS. I built my own based on FreeNAS back in the day, and I really liked it. I switched to QNAP as more people in HiFi started using QNAP and I wanted to be able to test, talk, and educate about all the QNAP possibilities. The TrueNAS Mini series is fairly affordable and is rock solid. I like the TrueNAS Mini XL+ because it has eight drives and 10GB SFP+ slots. The SFP+ slots would enable me to place the unit in my basement because I have fiber running in my house from top to bottom. That said, I could save $600 by using copper 10Gbe and placing the unit behind the wall in my listening room. 

     

    The Mini XL+ uses spinning drives, just like my QNAP and dead Synology. 6Tb drives are a sweet spot right now price-wise, enabling me to fill up the Mini XL+, with SFP+, and 64GB of RAM for roughly $3,800. That's a pretty attractive price for around 40TB of usable space. In addition, this would get me into the TrueNAS ecosystem running the new Scale (Linux) operating system and open some different possibilities. The TrueNAS community is very active and support direct from the company appears to be good. 

     

    I could spend $3,800 and use the TrueNAS Mini XL+ as my main music storage device, but I wouldn't gain any speed over my QNAP TVS-872XT, in my estimation. It would be a nice project and serve a purpose, but I'm hesitant. If I was starting over from NAS ground zero, this is likely the route I'd take.


    After studying "canned" NAS options and building my own NAS using a custom operating system, I started looking at a solution that seems like a step or two backward, local storage. I could use local storage on my music servers, and use the QNAP as a backup, or I could use a hybrid approach with an additional backup drive attached to my QNAP. Let me explain. 

     

    I'm getting a new MacBook Pro in the next couple of months. Given that Apple released the new models today, things are looking good. I currently can't play 12 channel DXD files with 65,000 tap convolution filters on my 2017 MacBoo Pro. I just don't have the horsepower. I could purchase a new MacBook Pro and max out the internal storage at 8TB. Apple charges a ridiculous $2,200 for the 8TB internal drive upgrade, but there are no other internal options because the hardware is locked down. 8Tb of space would enable me to store my 6TB music library, and keep the 10TB "archive" on the NAS. The archive is music that I almost never listen to, but I just can't delete. The 6TB collection would be on the MacBoo Pro and backed up on the existing QNAP TVS-872XT. The remaining 10Tb is all stereo, so I could play it directly from the NAS using Audirvana, and back it up to a USB drive attached to the TVS-872XT. 

     

    Screenshot 2023-01-17 at 12.34.21 PM.pngI also thought about getting a 4Tb drive in a new MacBook Pro, and storing only the 12 channel albums locally. Apple's price for a 4Tb upgrade is $1,000, which is easier to swallow. Still, everyone talking about how cheap storage is today, hasn't looked at NVMe drives. The prices are crazy. The cost of a new 14" MacBook Pro is $1,999, but the cost of 8Tb of storage is $2,200. Have high end audio manufacturers started producing NVMe storage in small batches!

     

    The most attractive parts about local storage are speed and simplicity. While I complain about the cost, it would also be less expensive than getting a new NAS.

     

    If I go this route, my MacBook Pro would be OK, but my CAPS Twenty Windows PC would be in the same position as it is today. I could technically place the huge 12 channel DXD content on the local CAPS NVMe drive, and use the 10Gbe Ethernet card to pull music from the NAS, or stick with the JCAT 1Gbe card because the huge files would be local. 

     


    Wrap Up

     

    That's where I'm at, as of Noon Central US time today. The more I research, the more paralysis takes hold. I really don't know which option I want to go with, or if another will pop up this afternoon. As I think through the options I. Come up with reasons why a specific solution will/won't work, or why one is better or worse than another. There is no clearcut solution that checks all the boxes. This sounds very similar to DACs and high end audio :~)

     

    All of this research makes solutions like Aurender seem so dang easy. 


    N20_1_2048x.jpg

     

     




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    3 minutes ago, Kal Rubinson said:

    This is a little tangential to your real subject but one simple fix for this specific weak spot is to have your NAS box on a UPS.  If I flip a breaker, the UPS beeps and I can (1) unflip the breaker, (2) tell the NAS to turn itself off gracefully or (3) fix the electrical problem with the time afforded by the UPS.   

    Agree.

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    I have no complaints about the MiniXL's I am using now, other than at the moment I need to run Minimserver on a separate machine because I lack the knowledge to get it running on the TrueNAS device, and am already tired of dealing with Linux. Unfortunately, Linux seems to have taken hold in my system as the OS of choice for everything other than the Macs I use to do everything else. At the moment the 2011 mini is doing a fine job of running Ubuntu server and Minimserver, and the TrueNAS device is doing a fine job of being a backup. I should take the advice above and get them all on a UPS.

     

    I do have a crazy idea about building a machine just to house my music files and serve them on my network, running Ubuntu Server and using ZFS for the music files. This of course cost money in upfront costs, energy to run, increases maintenance, etc... over running Minimserver just on the NAS. On top of that, network overhead starts to become an issue?  Maybe? not sure how saturated a Gig network can become with work from home/video conferencing, sending high res/DSD files around, kids on YouTube, etc... so perhaps an upgrade to a 10Gig home network adds even more cost.

    it becomes a rabbit hole fast because Minimserver won't run on TrueNAS.

     

    Of course, like you I come around to, well what's bad with local storage? Maybe I should just get an appliance music server and call it a day. But... a Pink Faun 2.16 Ultra costs more than all the above. A Taiko, even more than that. One of the new top of the line Aurender devices? Yep, more than a network build out. So is the increased cost worth the, ideally, fewer headaches? I would be locked to those devices and their designers wishes where as with open source and flexible software I have options.

     

    I have no answers, only a rabbit hole of options.

     

    I'll see you at Microcenter in the UPS aisle tho.  ;-)

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    7 minutes ago, AudioDoctor said:

    I have no answers, only a rabbit hole of options.


    That fells about right. 

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    Chris, your tail scares the bejeebers out of me.  I have the same Synology 1812+ NAS, and it's now got but 516Gb of storage left, out of 43.2Tb!  The series of MKV, MKA and MLP files generated just to get to a single lossless 5.1.2 Atmos format album truly eats up a chunk of storage.  And I don't have any of it properly backed up, except for having the Synology set to have two of the eight 8Tb drives go bad simultaneously and still be able to hot swap replacement spinners.  Our power went out three times alone the week before last.  My UPS only holds out for about an hour and in each case, the outage was for several hours.  We do plan to install a whole house backup generator system in the spring, as have our neighbors on either side, but that still doesn't mean that my NAS couldn't nosedive at any point.

     

    Backing up to the cloud is not cheap and would probably take weeks to complete, during which any power outage or other internet disruption could screw up.  I can imagine that I need to just buy 20Tb (or other size) drives and get underway to back up my entire NAS content for storage of the backup disks offsite at my wife's office, only five minutes from home.  Sounds like a good New Year's resolution.  If your research suggests a good drive to use for this, I'd appreciate the input.

     

    This said, I'll take any good ideas that you've got on this one.  I feel your pain!  JCR

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    The QNAP Rackmount NAS units come with dual PS.  They do get pricey getting a decent processor and for the ZFS option.  QNAP also has the units with SSD slots as well as the 2.5/3.5 inch slots.  Falls somewhere in the middle of your first couple of options.

     

    Personally I think your local storage idea of maxing the MBPro disk will not work unless you up to swapping files all the time.  You did 2TB last year...was that the whole year?  Are you on pace for 3-4 TB this year?  You MBPro is 5-6 years old...you are looking at 20TB of new files...that is a lot of swapping.  Just my 2 cents.

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    12 minutes ago, doozer said:

    I'm new to this so excuse me if this is not feasible..

     

    You could just build your own. Supermicro has many cases that support dual power supplies. Put in a comparable motherboard and such. It might be a little more expensive, but when one item breaks it doesn't need to be completely replaced. 

    Absolutely an option. 

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    Please keep us posted. I need to do something as well. I only have about 3TB and use three separate backup drives but pretty archaic.

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    6 hours ago, jrobbins50 said:

    Chris, your tail scares the bejeebers out of me.  I have the same Synology 1812+ NAS, and it's now got but 516Gb of storage left, out of 43.2Tb!  The series of MKV, MKA and MLP files generated just to get to a single lossless 5.1.2 Atmos format album truly eats up a chunk of storage.  And I don't have any of it properly backed up, except for having the Synology set to have two of the eight 8Tb drives go bad simultaneously and still be able to hot swap replacement spinners.  Our power went out three times alone the week before last.  My UPS only holds out for about an hour and in each case, the outage was for several hours.  We do plan to install a whole house backup generator system in the spring, as have our neighbors on either side, but that still doesn't mean that my NAS couldn't nosedive at any point.

     

    Backing up to the cloud is not cheap and would probably take weeks to complete, during which any power outage or other internet disruption could screw up.  I can imagine that I need to just buy 20Tb (or other size) drives and get underway to back up my entire NAS content for storage of the backup disks offsite at my wife's office, only five minutes from home.  Sounds like a good New Year's resolution.  If your research suggests a good drive to use for this, I'd appreciate the input.

     

    This said, I'll take any good ideas that you've got on this one.  I feel your pain!  JCR

     

    As you know, RAID is not a backup plan. (Neither is ZFS, but it is more robust than RAID at avoiding errors.) I would not wait to implement an actual backup.  Have a look at Backblaze's drive reliability data, which is thorough and nicely presented, and get some reliable drives on which to back up your NAS. 

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    7 hours ago, bobfa said:

    As you might guess I have thoughts!  I cannot count the number of drives and NAS devices that have failed on my watch.  Power Supplies, Remember Drobo???, the Wrong models of 3tb drives with infant mortality.  The UPS is but another thing in the chain to fail.  I have had three of them go belly up in the last two years.  They love to toast the stupid lead acid batteries and their terrible failure modes.  How many times has the UPS said the battery is good only to find out that it is actually dead and you get an extra 5 seconds of pain when the power goes out.  I know Annual Maintenance.    Look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel–iron_battery for something a lot better. OR https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_iron_phosphate_battery. We can do better folks!  Or different.

     

     

     

     

    I am a firm believer in DAS (Direct Attached Storage).  Sprinkle in some U2 drives (NVME but removable) and you are talking real performance

     

    Here is where I am going to lose 60% of the audience.  I use Macs!  I have to support windows and I hate it.  When I have to support linux I outsource it.  

     

    I use a NAS for backup purposes only.  MY primary is a 5 bay Synology DS1019+ with five 8tb drives and 512GB of SSD cache.  The software is weird it, but it just keeps running.  In the next year or so I will replace it.  I do not trust the hardware any longer than about three years.  The NAS also runs minimserver for me.

     

    I have two DAS solutions I want to talk about.  The OWC Thunderbay 8 and the OWC MiniStack STX. The Thunderbay 8 looks like a shrunk down Mac Pro of old.  It has eight drive bays and a spare expansion slot.  The top four drive bays can use U.2 drives AKA removable NVME at PCIE speed.  The bottom four bays are SATA. The MiniStack is a much simpler device with one m.2 NVME slot and one SATA slot.  it is a Thunderbolt 4 hub and the drives are basically running at SATA speeds.

     

    We can jigger these up with TB to 10gig ethernet if you want..  Now I only have about 8TB of music files in my library!  The music system is a single M1 Mac mini with the STX attached and 18TB + 4Tb inside the STX.  The Mac mini backs up to the NAS and the system drive to the cloud.  I manually backup the NAS to 2.5 in portable drives for storage in my Safe Deposit Box.  Manual and a bad idea becuuse it does not get done often enough.

     

    The systems (more about this later) are backed up offsite to iDrive.  This is my partially executed 3-2-1 backup system with a +1 helper. I am looking at cold storage in the cloud such as C2 or Glacier.

     

    -----------------

     

    Note that this design is not final and I am open to other ideas.

     

    PS 18TB spinning drives are $399. 

    PS JBOD is your friend

    https://www.arqbackup.com is a very very interesting core tool to try.

    20TB of idrive space is about $300 for two years.

     

     

     

     

    Hi Bob, I’ve avoided a UPS ever since one took down the data center at the company I used to work for. Then, it nearly caught fire. The thing designed to save you, is the thing that takes you down. 
     

    I hate them, but do admit they can and do work for many people. 

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    Be careful with QNAP - the OS they are using still seems to be full of holes and the many security experts have been poo-pooing their products because of that.

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    58 minutes ago, botrytis said:

    Be careful with QNAP - the OS they are using still seems to be full of holes and the many security experts have been poo-pooing their products because of that.

    I don't disagree. 

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    I have lost documents (like my Ph.D. thesis) to HD errors, and dead HD's. So, I am very anal about backups, etc.

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    8 minutes ago, Priaptor said:

    Chris, 

     

    As I indicated before, the more  "industrial" QNAP NAS at TS-h1090FU | Hardware Specs | QNAP (US) have dual power supplies and are also all FLASH with the same benefits of the TS-1290.  The h1090FU is their 1U rackmount but many other options. 

    That one has the perfect options. Even if a PSU fails, it's so easy to replace. 

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    10 hours ago, bobfa said:

    As you might guess I have thoughts!  I cannot count the number of drives and NAS devices that have failed on my watch.  Power Supplies, Remember Drobo???, the Wrong models of 3tb drives with infant mortality.  The UPS is but another thing in the chain to fail.  I have had three of them go belly up in the last two years.  They love to toast the stupid lead acid batteries and their terrible failure modes.  How many times has the UPS said the battery is good only to find out that it is actually dead and you get an extra 5 seconds of pain when the power goes out.  I know Annual Maintenance.    Look at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nickel–iron_battery for something a lot better. OR https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lithium_iron_phosphate_battery. We can do better folks!  Or different.

     

     

     

     

    I am a firm believer in DAS (Direct Attached Storage).  Sprinkle in some U2 drives (NVME but removable) and you are talking real performance

     

    Here is where I am going to lose 60% of the audience.  I use Macs!  I have to support windows and I hate it.  When I have to support linux I outsource it.  

     

    I use a NAS for backup purposes only.  MY primary is a 5 bay Synology DS1019+ with five 8tb drives and 512GB of SSD cache.  The software is weird it, but it just keeps running.  In the next year or so I will replace it.  I do not trust the hardware any longer than about three years.  The NAS also runs minimserver for me.

     

    I have two DAS solutions I want to talk about.  The OWC Thunderbay 8 and the OWC MiniStack STX. The Thunderbay 8 looks like a shrunk down Mac Pro of old.  It has eight drive bays and a spare expansion slot.  The top four drive bays can use U.2 drives AKA removable NVME at PCIE speed.  The bottom four bays are SATA. The MiniStack is a much simpler device with one m.2 NVME slot and one SATA slot.  it is a Thunderbolt 4 hub and the drives are basically running at SATA speeds.

     

    We can jigger these up with TB to 10gig ethernet if you want..  Now I only have about 8TB of music files in my library!  The music system is a single M1 Mac mini with the STX attached and 18TB + 4Tb inside the STX.  The Mac mini backs up to the NAS and the system drive to the cloud.  I manually backup the NAS to 2.5 in portable drives for storage in my Safe Deposit Box.  Manual and a bad idea becuuse it does not get done often enough.

     

    The systems (more about this later) are backed up offsite to iDrive.  This is my partially executed 3-2-1 backup system with a +1 helper. I am looking at cold storage in the cloud such as C2 or Glacier.

     

    -----------------

     

    Note that this design is not final and I am open to other ideas.

     

    PS 18TB spinning drives are $399. 

    PS JBOD is your friend

    https://www.arqbackup.com is a very very interesting core tool to try.

    20TB of idrive space is about $300 for two years.

     

     

     

     

     

    Hi Bob, DAS is an attractive option. But, it forces me to think about the pros/cons of something like a Tunderbolt 3/4 attached NVMe vs. the internal NVMe. Yes, more options and questions and research. 

     

    For example, the new MacBook Pro can hold 8TB of NVMe storage. I believe it's split between two internal chips, so it's even faster than a single internal 8TB NVMe. I could get an 8TB Thunderbolt NVMe from OWC for $1,399, with speed up to 1553 MB/s. 

     

    I don't know if I'd notice the speed difference when playing 6GB files. In all likelihood, I wouldn't.

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    32 minutes ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    That one has the perfect options. Even if a PSU fails, it's so easy to replace. 

    That would be my first choice, however, I don't know what the dBA rating is. My NAS in my office in my new home where I need quiet as I still work part time.  They don't list the dBA ratings of this unit as they do the deskmount. 

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    3 minutes ago, Priaptor said:

    That would be my first choice, however, I don't know what the dBA rating is. My NAS in my office in my new home where I need quiet as I still work part time.  They don't list the dBA ratings of this unit as they do the deskmount. 

    I'm willing to bet, with the small fans on the PSU, the unit is pretty loud. Fortunately, I can place the NAS in the basement. This opens up my options :~)

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    Treating the digital stereo as an appliance that needs to be serviced with power, connectivity, data storage, backup helps the process.  Applying good IT practices make this pretty simple to think about.  In my case the compute side is a Mac Mini the external storage and the DAC.  In your case your core is the Merging gear with a laptop for compute.  Can you take the laptop out and use something headless or at least different?  A Mac Studio or a new M2 Pro Mac Mini as the core.  

     

    I am getting pretty comfortable with Luna Display on my iPad Pro.  The Keyboard folio and Apple Pencil are pretty ideal.

     

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    I have a hard time following this thread because of my lack of IT knowledge.    My expansion plan is simple.  When my 2T external drive (connected to digital player) is full I buy another and and start separating out genres and dedicating new 2T drives to that genre.    So If I feel like classical I plug the "classical" drive in etc.   This what I do with my GoPro 4k vids which fill drives up like crazy.   2T drives for $89.   Cheers!

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    18 minutes ago, Rcanoe said:

    I have a hard time following this thread because of my lack of IT knowledge.    My expansion plan is simple.  When my 2T external drive (connected to digital player) is full I buy another and and start separating out genres and dedicating new 2T drives to that genre.    So If I feel like classical I plug the "classical" drive in etc.   This what I do with my GoPro 4k vids which fill drives up like crazy.   2T drives for $89.   Cheers!

    I hear ya :~)

     

    I'm happy you have a solution that works for you. What do you do if a 2TB drive fails?

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    32 minutes ago, bobfa said:

    I am getting pretty comfortable with Luna Display on my iPad Pro.  The Keyboard folio and Apple Pencil are pretty ideal.

    I'd love to know more. 

     

    If I can put a M2 Mini behind the wall and use an iPad for display, it would be ideal. I don't want a MacBook, but so far it's what I have and thought I needed. 

     

    What would be awesome, is if I could use my iPad Pro as a connected display via Thunderbolt / USB C, and it worked just like a monitor. I'd put the Mini under my side table and call it a day. I just don't think the current solutions are that good, but I could be very wrong.

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