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Disadvantage of storing files on internal HDD on Mac Mini?

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Discovered this site a few months ago; I'm in love. And, I'm in awe of such a constructive community - so hard to find on the web these days.


Here's my newbie question:


My old HP MediaVault 2010 NAS is dying and I'm looking to create a relatively powerful yet reasonably priced music server. After extensive research, I've decided upon the Mac Mini.


I don't have an extremely large music collection and the 320 GB (or even 500 GB) internal HDD on the Mac Mini would be plenty of storage for me for the foreseeable future.


The thing is, almost every music server setup I read about with a Mac Mini includes an external HDD (or NAS device) connected either via Firewire 800 or USB. Generally these are 1 to 2 TB in size, so my assumption is that the necessity for an external HDD for file storage is due to the sheer size needed for storage of a large quantity of high quality audio files.


Is there any particular reason why I wouldn't want to store my files on my internal HDD in the Mac Mini and play music through iTunes on that music server? I would of course have an external HDD for backup purposes, but not for storage of my music library. Are there disadvantages to this setup other than I will eventually outgrow the storage capacity of the Mini and need to move to storage on an external HDD or NAS?


Thank you all in advance!



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The two main reasons for using external storage - either direct attached (USB / FW) or via network - is so that (a) you can use a small SSD for the main system drive which can improve sound quality and (b) for capacity.






...in my opinion / experience...

While I agree "Everything may matter" working out what actually affects the sound is a trickier thing.

And I agree "Trust your ears" but equally don't allow them to fool you - trust them with a bit of skepticism.

keep your mind open... But mind your brain doesn't fall out.

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There's no significant disadvantage aside from what you've already mentioned. Actually having all the music inside the same box is a pretty big advantage in terms of portability and convenience. There is a definite argument for upgrading the mini with a 750GB or 1TB drive to handle the larger libraries from that perspective.


Of course if you wanted to get really picky about it some might say that a music server with any hard drive inside has it's drawbacks in terms of sound quality, or they might say that you really need something that supports a serious internal sound card. However if you're settling on the mini you've probably already come to terms with those debates. The mini is probably the most inexpensive 'canned' option of good quality, and it makes for a decent HD Video platform too.



mpdPup maintainer

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If you use multiple computers for iTunes listening as I do and aren't networked, external HDs are a must. I have 3 external HDs that I use. One has CD music, the other two are high resolution LP and open reel recordings. All 3 are portable, USB powered drives, so they're easy to move around.


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I use an external drive, but mainly because I also use iTunes for movies and TV shows, so the space could one day become an issue. However, my music/movies directory currently is "only" 135 GB, so it would fit on the mini main drive. All other things being equal, I would think it would be better to have this stuff on a main drive. The external drive dismounts when you log out, so you have to wait for disk arbitration when logging in, and external drives seem to spin down separately from internal drives, and r/w to the external drive can therefore hang. This has never affected my music but I think it might occasionally mess with my movies. Also, most external drives seem to be cheaply made and tend to fail. I would probably be better served (so to speak) if I put everything important on my internal drive, and then did daily backups with Time Machine to the external one.


The idea that the system software needs to be on a separate small drive or partition is a bit archaic, but if it makes you feel better, you can always keep say 50 GB of the internal drive as the system partition and then put your music on a second partition of the internal drive. Disk Utility makes it very easy to do so. To me, that seems to be the best compromise (if you worry about performance), but I am too lazy to try it. The system bus is so fast it really should never become an issue.


If you use a Sonos, I think it needs an external drive.


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IMO it makes sense to do both. In other words archive/backup your music (WAV) on an external drive with a compressed copy on your C drive. Thus if (when?) your internal drive goes south you have preserved your music full sized on the external unit. This also enables you to more easily sync with your iPod.


There's no one "correct" bullet proof way of doing it. It's what you feel most comfortable with.


I use an old Compaq laptop (Media Monkey) with a Western Digital Passport Essential external (250GB)HD, Creative Sound Blaster Audigy 2 slot card DAC and a pair of Audioengine 2's. For portable: Sansa Clip+, NuForce Icon Mobile, Koss Porta Pro 'phones.

Not SOA by a long shot but does it for me for now.


Arthur E. Petersen, Jr.

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Obviously I have too many computers (including a second mini, at work). The drive is much smaller than the newer one I have at work. When I bought my mini a year ago, it came with an internal drive that isn't big enough for my (modest) collection:



mini-% df -h | grep -v "0Bi"

Filesystem Size Used Avail Capacity Mounted on

/dev/disk0s2 111Gi 47Gi 64Gi 43% /

/dev/disk1s2 1.4Ti 220Gi 1.1Ti 16% /Volumes/DigitalMedia



The nominal 120GB internal drive simply isn't enough. I'm managing to use almost half the internal drive, without music or movies on it, and no one uses this thing as the primary home computer.


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