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Sort of basic stuff here, but I'd be interested in what everyone would recommend for the following.

 

First, hard disk size - I'm thinking 750GB for around 1000 albums (AIFF) now, adding more over time. Sound reasonable, or should I just go up to a TB?

 

Now, if I would like to keep a backup, with the backup done periodically and kept offsite and/or in a fire safe, what products and brands would you recommend for both the main hard drive and the backup? An example - what do you think of a Seagate Freeagent attached via firewire permanently to the brain (Macbook or mini) and then a whatever-brand HD to use as an archive backup. Given my periodic backup scenario, you can see why I don't really need or want real-time RAID or mirroring and therefore don't really need anything like a Drobo box, agreed?

 

What's the easiest way to do the periodic backup, both from a connection and hardware perspective and from a software perspective (i.e. only back up what's new on the disk).

 

Thanks.

 

TheOtherTim

 

 

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Hey hey Tim - Good question and you know there are tons of readers with this exact question.

 

I would go for the 1 TB drive. The 750 will only get you about 700 GB after formatting and won't leave much room for expansion. With a single external disk solution expansion can only be done by purchasing a complete new external system. So, the 1 TB is my recommendation.

 

The Seagate Freeagent products you're looking at are pretty good and very reasonably priced. Plus, if you can attach it via FireWire you'll eliminate the possibility of USB DAC interference.

 

Your scenario is perfect for a couple external drives and nothing with RAID as you suggest. Moving a copy off site and backing up to that disk once in a while is a pretty safe and easy way to go.

 

The way I've done periodic backups in the past with a setup like yours is by creating a Automator script / application that only copies the new music to the backup disk. This way I didn't have to install any bloated backup software that I was only going to use every so often. Here is a link to instructions on how to do this http://www.computeraudiophile.com/node/47

Once it is setup you connect the backup drive whenever you want and click the Automator icon. The rest is done for you. When it completes the application quits and you disconnect the drive. There is no complicated backup app to mess with.

 

I think you could also use OS X Time Machine for this. It is all up to your preferences though.

 

I'm happy to help let me know if this raises more questions or confusion or if you have some other ideas.

 

 

 

 

 

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I just thought I would chip in my experience with your Automator instructions to save someone some possible grief. Your instructions are impeccable, as long as you are using Leopard. By the time we figured out that the issue was my older OS I'm pretty sure Chris thought I needed a map to find my way to work every day.

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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Ha! That was a good one Rick. It was kind of a relief to find out your version was from OS X Tiger. Otherwise I was really at a loss as to what was causing the differences between what I wrote up and what your were seeing on your screen.

 

Ahh good times.

 

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A much larger leap in the OS's functionality was made than most people realize when Apple went from OS X 10.4.x to 10.5.x. BIG leap. It is to Apple's credit that they kept it pretty much invisible to everyone but Chris and Rick ?

 

markr

 

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Depending on how savvy you are with the Mac OS X operating system, there is no need for anything bloated, complicated or expensive. All the tools are built in already. A command like 'rsync -av myMusic /Volumes/Backup' will transfer everything in 'myMusic' to an (external) disk called 'Backup'. The beauty of rsync is that when you issue the same command again the next day, only files that have changed will be transferred, making the process very efficient. Other Unix utilities, such as 'cron' would allow you to run the above command with a defined schedule, say, every night at 1am. All this is easier than dragging directories from one location to another or having to click a button every time you want to update your backup.

 

A lot of software is built on top of these commands, so you can readily find GUI versions of 'rsync' and 'cron' that make it very easy to setup a simple, yet powerful, backup scheme at no cost.

 

Best - MM

 

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RsyncX, rsyncbackup and arRsync come to mind (check Macupdate.com). Some time ago, I did play around with RsyncX. It's definitely suitable to do some basic jobs. Personally, I use the command line. That way I have access to the full capabilities of rsync, and I'm not at the mercy of some software that may never get fixed or updated. However, it does take some time to get into all this...

 

Best - MM

 

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Speaking of hard drives, but on a slightly different topic, is it true that the Mac Mini has the older/slower wifi standard of b or g? If so, does that have any bearing on my deciding whether to put my hard drive in a remote location and access it wirelessly with the Mini, as opposed to wiring it directly to the Mini?

 

TheOtherTim

 

 

 

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Good catch Tim!

 

I've been holding off on getting a new Mini until they upgrade the wireless to 802.11n. In most cases this won't make a huge difference, but I would be no fun to find out b/g doesn't cut the mustard in your scenario.

 

My MacBook Pro has a/b/g and wireless data access works good for me, but I had to make some config changes on my router to solve a drop-out issue.

 

There are a few variables involved, but we could probably figure out what will work best for you with a little further discussion.

 

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Of course my next question would be whether you have heard anything on the street as to if/when they might upgrade the Mini to n wireless, 'cause I'm contemplating buying one. But back to the topic at hand.....

 

I finally put my toe in the water with my music server and recently picked up a Macbook Pro which has n wireless. (Total Apple newbie, so this should be scary and fun.) I am seriously considering the Mini with your ultimate-laid-back-Macbook-as-remote solution. And, I think I need to replace my older Bellsouth DSL modem/wireless router since we got a pretty weak signal on the Macbook in the kitchen last night. Haven't made a commitment to hard drive setup. However, going back to the Mini g wireless issue, I believe I read somewhere that if any wireless device on a network is of a lower standard than others, it basically pulls down the entire network, true? So....

 

Is not having n on the Mini a major deal?

Should I wait for a new Mini to come out and just use the Macbook for the time being? I'm in no huge hurry.

Any ideas to optimize my setup using the above scenario using a current Mini? (Your mention of dropouts is a little scary.)

Any way to mod the current Mini to n without voiding warranties and such?

 

Thanks,

TheOtherTim

 

 

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The word on the street is that the Minis should see an upgrade in the next few months, but the word on the street has been very wrong before.

 

I would add the Airport Extreme as your wireless router if you are thinking of an upgrade. This gives you great options when you decide what hard drive setup you want to use.

 

There is conflicting info on the whole thing about using a G device on an N router. Almost all of it says your network will only operate at the rate of the slowest device. Here are two things straight from Apple

 

From "Designing Airport Extreme 802.11n Networks" Apple Manual:

 

Choosing the Radio Mode

Choose “802.11n (802.11b/g compatible)” from the Radio Mode pop-up menu if computers with 802.11n, 802.11g, or 802.11b wireless cards will join the network. Each client computer will connect to the network and transmit network traffic at its highest speed.

 

From Airport Extreme product page

 

Based on a comparison with Apple's 802.11g products. Comparison assumes AirPort Extreme network with 802.11n-enabled computer. Speed and range will be less if an 802.11a/b/g product joins the network. Accessing the wireless network requires an AirPort- or AirPort Extreme-enabled computer or other Wi-Fi Certified 802.11a/b/g-enabled computer. Actual performance will vary based on range, connection rate, site conditions, size of network, and other factors. Range will vary with site conditions.

 

Not having N on the mini may be a major deal, but it also may work perfect at 802.11g. You could test this by using your MacBook Pro at G speed and stream music to it if you have the right stuff at home to do the test. Personally I'm waiting for the N Mini. use your MacBook Pro for a while on N if you need to and use another remote control option for the time being.

 

 

Drop outs are unacceptable to me and most people, so I wouldn't recommend this to anyone if I was concerned that the drop outs weren't fixable. For most people they are nonexistent. If you have drop outs I'll help you fix them no problem.

 

There is a mod you can use on Macs to upgrade the wireless to N, but it may not work on a Mini. You have to purchase the card that goes into a Mac Pro (same N card as the MacBooks) and put it in the Mini. There is an issue with the right antennas inside the Mini. I haven't done this but I'm willing to help if you want to try it. A Mini with N and then an upgraded solid state hard drive is where I am headed for one of my music servers.

 

 

 

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Thanks for all the info Chris, I will digest.

 

I like your suggestion of the Airport Extreme. What does it do for me hard drive options-wise that another router might not?

 

As you, I'm leaning towards waiting for a possible upgraded N-enabled Mini. With my luck they'll discontinue the line while I'm waiting, but I think I'd be happier having everything be the latest and greatest. I guess we'll just see what ol' Steve has up his sleeve.

 

TheOtherTim

 

 

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"I like your suggestion of the Airport Extreme. What does it do for me hard drive options-wise that another router might not?"

 

The Airport Extreme has the USB port allowing you to connect any USB hard drive. Thus, you can have a NAS disk without the expense of NAS disk. This of course gets your hard drives out of your listening room. A standard router without a USB port will require either a NAS device or a USB to Ethernet converter turning the USB drive into a NAS disk. We can discuss more when you get closer to getting a router or anytime I suppose.

 

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I started thinking about the Airport Extreme and was wondering if a fall back solution to the g wireless on the Mini would be to attach a new n wireless Airport Express to it. Does that make sense, can you disable the airport card in the Mini and attach an Express somehow and it would work at N speed? Any software/firmware/hardware conflict issues that might keep it from running at N? Might you also possibly gain a little in reception if you had the Express in the wall out in the open as opposed to the Mini tucked into a rack? If this would work, then maybe I could proceed with the current Mini and its g wireless, see if it's acceptable, and go to the Express if I wanted. Seems sort of overkill, but an interesting option.

 

TheOtherTim

 

 

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You should be able to do this if you have an Airport Extreme and set it up to be extended. The Express will then be a extension of the Extreme. Connect the Mini via its Ethernet port to the Ethernet port on the Express and it should work just fine.

 

reception might be a little better outside of a rack, depends on the situation of course.

 

I think you can proceed with your plan!

 

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You are obviously way out of my league when it comes to this end of things. I don't mean to pit you against Chris on this subject, but do you prefer your approach to Chris' use of Automater? Keep in mind that I am interested in this from both my perspective and that of someone that I am suggesting a server based system to. I am interested in the best combination of ease of use and reliability. My only real criteria is avoiding the redundacy of copying existing files. I would think that, outside of the time issues, eventually that would affect the life span of your drives.

 

Thanks,

Rick

 

Audio Research DAC8, Mac mini w/8g ram, SSD, Amarra full version, Audio Research REF 5SE Preamp, Sutherland Phd, Ayre V-5, Vandersteen 5A\'s, Audioquest Wild and Redwood cabling, VPI Classic 3 w/Dynavector XX2MkII

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Chris, one more issue with the AExpress--->ethernet cable---->Mini "bridge" setup - might there be 16/44 versus 24/96 issues since there is an AExpress in there?

 

TheOtherTim

 

 

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Absolutely not because you are not sending "music" to the DAC this way. You are sending "data" from the hard disk to the Mini and the Mini is sending the "music" to the DAC via USB.

 

I like to explain it like this. Airport Express is good before iTunes and bad after iTunes. So, if the data flows through an AE before getting to iTunes it's good. If the data flows through an AE after being processed by iTunes it's bad.

 

Hard drive >> Airport Express >> Mini >> iTunes >> USB DAC = good

 

Hard drive >> Mini >> iTunes >> Airport Express >> DAC = bad

 

 

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Folks on Windows (Vista for me):

 

Microsoft's site has a surprisingly excellent utility called Synctoy 2.0. I'm using it on all of my machines now. Great and very flexible incremental backup, syncronization, echoing, based on actions you define once and run when ever you would like.

 

Give it a shot if you have the need

 

Paul

 

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"I don't mean to pit you against Chris on this subject, but do you prefer your approach to Chris' use of Automater? Keep in mind that I am interested in this from both my perspective and that of someone that I am suggesting a server based system to. I am interested in the best combination of ease of use and reliability. My only real criteria is avoiding the redundacy of copying existing files. I would think that, outside of the time issues, eventually that would affect the life span of your drives."

 

Nah, it has nothing to do with 'pitting one against the other'. There are different solutions for the same task. It may come down to personal preference. In addition, I don't know what Chris' Automator script looks like. It probably works perfectly fine.

 

Avoiding the redundacy of copying existing files is the main aspect of the 'rsync' utility. It does an extremely good job and is used in many 'professional' solutions. In my experience, it is way better than some commercial solutions, such as Retrospect. I bet that Apple's Time Machine is based on similar, if not the very same principles. If that is all you need, an 'rsync' job can be as simple as the one I described, and 'RsyncX' would be a great GUI tool to accomplish that without having to deal with the dreaded command line. It can become quite complex, though, depending on specific requirements.

 

I think it would be a good idea to look into RsyncX and/or the underlying 'rsync'. I'd be happy to assist with any questions you may have.

 

Best - MM

 

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Chris, one I have is an app called 'Phew' although it may be a bit hard to find now as the developer (substance software) does not seem to exist anymore. If you can't find it, I could probably get it to you somehow (3.2 MB). Let me know!

 

Peter

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