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Mac Mini as NAS?

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Seeing the new Mac Minis just out -- now with Firewire 800 -- I had to wonder what people's thoughts were about using the Mini as a NAS/home media server, using an attached external F/W 800 (let's say, 1TB or so) drive as the main storage.

It does sound like a very cool way to not only get a NAS, but also a killler little Mac-based home theater PC in the bargain.

So, somebody check me here. Is this an idea worth pursuing? Or just silly overkill?

I'm thinking the same as you, a Mac Mini with Firewire 800 external drive. I would use this rig to be a file server, and to play iTunes to my stereo. My amplifier has DLNA/UPnp, but the UI is so clunky as to be unusable. I may use it to do internet, slide shows, and play DVD's over my flat screen TV.

- Low power
- Quiet
- Can install Windows, Linux, VMWare, etc if needed.

Possible Cons:
- I think regular Mac OS X has a 10 connection limit for AFP file sharing, but you can always buy Mac OS X Server to overcome that if needed (I don't).
- Earlier version of Mac OS X had some issues with sharing via SMB, I haven't had any trouble lately. Not sure about SMB sharing speed.
- Old Mac Mini CPU's were socketed, allowing an upgrade, but the new one's are soldered on. Besides, the upgrade CPU's are too expensive.
- Not sure if VMWare will be happy with the new graphics chips, might have to wait for update.

My Maxtor OneTouch 4 Plus spins down the hard drive when not in use, which is great, but it's Firewire 400. I wish they had an 800 version. Lacie's Big Disk Quadra will power down when there's no power on the Firewire, not sure if it will spin down when not in use.

The system cost will be more than a NAS, but it will be totally flexible and NAS devices seem to always have something not quite right with them.
If, Snow Leopard do support ZFS, then Mac Mini would be like perfect NAS.
You then need a 4 bay HDD Box and Firewire 800 port. ( Hopefully some manufacture will come with some specially design box )

The Qnap 4Bay TS439 cost $799 with no Drive. Mac Mini cost $499
I am sure they could make an external storage device for less then $300.

That gives you a much faster NAS as well.
Well, you could use the Wiebetech RTX400 - it's only about $1000... :)

And also the second version Drobo has FW800. It's roughly $600

I put Leopard server on my Mac Mini a while ago and have tried it as a NAS. The only thing I found was that if I mucked about in the CLI too much with permissions, etc, and didn't do things "the Apple Way" in the GUI admin tools, I would lose access to my stuff.
Serving from an attached FW drive will work, I am doing it from an iMac right now.

The plus side is that there is no setup and it supports AFP right off the box! The down sides are:
-I am not sure about performance. It's decent, but maybe not tops
-you are somewhat limited in the sharing options (but you can overcome this if you are willing to do some tweaking of the configuration files)
- multi-drive FW800 enclosures are VERY EXPENSIVE (as expensive as a separate NAS box. I would love to be proved wrong on this.....).

For these reasons, I have now gone with a separate, DIY NAS box running Linux, while my mini is attached to my TV. That cost me ~$840 for 4 TB. Still, for simplicity and form factor, you can't beat the mini, even at $599 it's a good deal. Buy the basic model and do the RAM and HDD upgrades yourself.
If I were to do this, I don't think I'd care much about an external multi-drive FW800 box. I'd rather have data drive backups I can easily rotate off-site.

It seems like NewerTech has everything I might need. I'm thinking something like this (with 1TB inside) as an external FW800 data drive, to match the Mini's form factor.

Then I'd attach something like this to the external drive's 2nd FW800 port, then use bare 1TB drives to backup the FW800 drive.

I'm starting to like this. Well, everything except the price....
Well after some searching, i gave up in find a
Quad Drive , Single Firewire 800 output, Non Raid Box.
There are cheap; or relatively cheap box with Raid, some with dual Firewire output.

Just to point out if snow leoaprd were to support ZFS, then we will not need a external Raid Box. But just a simple JBOD box. And Mac Mini will do the rest.

i just hope USB 3.0 comes sonner rather then later. There are lots of USB Quad Drive out there.


This one only cost 159 and would be perfect for the Mac Mini NAS. The only problem is USB2 is too slow.
Internal superdrive to external esata port.

I think someone very soon will sell a kit, where you take out the internal mac mini sata superdrive and convert to a esata port. Then hook up a external raid box like:


The sata speed (3 Gbit/s) would be way faster than firewire 800. But then in a couple of months Snow Leopard comes along and maybe automatically upgrades your firewire 800 ports to 3200 (3.2 Gbit/s)?

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