Straightforward NAS setup recommendations

Hey everyone,


I know there are a few threads on here that talk about NAS setups that people are using, but I haven’t found one that really answers my questions outright. Also, I am in my final semester of law school, so free time is a myth. However, I want to know EXACTLY what a good setup would be to run a NAS drive to my ATV flash (black) setup, what software is suggested for ripping dvds to the NAS drive, and even the best gigabit router to connect everything together. Obviously, the fastest and easiest setup to use will be balanced against price; however, I am willing to spend a little more if I need to in order to have a really great setup that will allow me to rip dvd’s and such to the NAS, have music and other media on it, and have that be accessible to more than one ATV and perhaps a few computers. So, if this all makes sense, I would be extremely grateful for any feedback you have to offer.


Thanks again,



Here’s my setup which is very simple and had been rock solid:

  1. My Apple TV connected via ethernet to a 1TB Time Capsule which is connected to my network via a ethernet powerline adapter.

  2. Enable file sharing on the TC and it shows up as a volume on my Macbook like any other hard drive.

  3. Transfer video files from Macbook to TC via either wifi or ethernet.

  4. Once transferred, Apple TV plays files directly from connected TC via atv flash media player. No need for iTunes or computer.

I don’t rip DVDs so no recs there.

Hope this helps.




That is helpful, and thank you for the reply! I should have noted, however, that I currently run a PC and not a Mac. That will be changing in the next 6 months however. But just as a heads up.

Here’s my setup which is very simple to:

  1. My Apple TV connected via wifi to an Airport Extreme with a 2 Tb USB Disk, the AE is connected to my DSL modem and my PC is connected to AE by ethernet.

  2. Enable file sharing on the AE and it shows up as a volume on my Macbook and in my PC like any other hard drive.

  3. Transfer video files from Macbook or PC to AE via either wifi or ethernet.

  4. Apple TV plays files directly from connected AE via atv flash media player. No need for iTunes or computer.

works pretty well :slight_smile:

Here’s my setup which is very simple to:

  1. My Apple TV connected via wifi to an Airport Extreme with a 2 Tb USB Disk formatted in HFS (important), the AE is connected to my DSL modem and my PC is connected to AE by ethernet.

  2. Enable file sharing on the AE and it shows up as a volume on my Macbook and in my PC like any other hard drive.

  3. Transfer video files from Macbook or PC to AE via either wifi or ethernet.

  4. Apple TV plays files directly from connected AE via atv flash media player. No need for iTunes or computer.

works pretty well :slight_smile:


How much buffering, if any, do you notice with your setup? I like the idea of the airport extreme route as opposed to a NAS drive. However, one nice feature with some of the newer NAS drives are the cloud storage options they have. Let me know a bit more about your setup. 





I have this same setup except cable modem not DSL.  The Airport Extreme works great for me as an all purpose router and for shared storage.  I attached a 4port (powered) USB hub to the USB port and have 2 WD 2TB drives plugged in.  I can access these files from our iMac, laptop, iphones/ipad and on the ATV2 over wifi.  Streaming works fine with no buffering.  I have started to save the ripped DVDs as-is, instead of what I used to do converting them to mp4 video files.  Streaming of the native format DVDs so far has been pretty flawless and its nice to preserve the menu’s, special features and other advantages.  Of course they take up 4x the space… so I’ll still convert some of them (kids videos with no menus/features worthwhile).

So Airport Extreme + USB HD makes a great NAS of sorts.  It’s missing drive mirroring or RAID and automatic cloud backup.  And it doesn’t have the built-in web/ftp/upnp/tunes server of some nas or extended authentication features… but for a share for the ATV2 its great.  And for music, you could setup iTunes (or other player) to store its file library there.

As a general purpose router, the AE is pretty plug-n-play.  Performance has been great and I’ve barely had to change any settings.  It doesn’t have the advanced settings available or firmware replacement options of some of my previous routers (Linksys/wrts)… but I haven’t missed that as much as I thought I would.  It just works.


My setup works pretty well, with atv flash 1.2 i was having some issues with buffering of 720p mkvs with bitrates higher than 5000, but with this late update, atv flash 1.3, i have tryed to play the same mkvs and now it plays just fine with no buffering issues whatsoever.

So i can only recomend my setup :slight_smile: you can use an usb hub and have various usb drives connected wich the apple tv recognizes right away.

Hopes this helps.

What drives are people using? I have a Western Digital Elements 2TB drive attached to an Airport extreme. The problem I have is that the spin-up time of that drive is longer than aTV will tolerate so whenever starting up a movie or restarting a paused movie, I get a network connection failed error (happens about 2 seconds before the drive is ready). I’m looking to replace the drive with a new one and want to make sure I get one that spins up quick. Thoughts?

Drobo FS, make MKV for rips. Plex on ATV2. Handbrake for everything that I want to put into itunes. 




How do you like the Drobo? Any issues with buffering? I really want a setup that will run smoothly with high quality video. Also, for your MKV rips, what are you using? I’ve tinkered with DVDFab, Handbrake, and a few others. However, I am curious about what else might be a valid option.



I have not had any issues with it at all. I have 5 2TB WD Green drives in it. I use RipIt (from the little app factory) to copy DVD’s to a “DVD Media” media folder and MakeMKV for BluRay’s to a “MKV Movies” folder. From there, Handbrake to covert almost everything to the built-in ATV2 format for streaming to everyones iDevices. The ATV Flash media player will play all three fomats directly from the Drobo. When everyone is home at the same time, there might be 9 devices pulling content from the drobo. The ATV2s and Rokus are all on Cat5 with gigabit switches (some are wired directly and two are connected via power line adapters). The rest of the iDevices are wireless.

The drobo FS is very quiet and sits on my desk plugged into its own UPS.

We also use the same Drobo for our Music, which is streamed out 4 airport express(es) 

The Drobo works as a NAS and you can set it up to protect against failure of 2 drives. If you need the NAS to do other chores (web serving, iTunes serving etc, I would look at some to the other popular units. I found the best deal for the NAS and HDs at Amazon.

I hope that helps. 




First off, teach me your ways, oh wise one, haha. Second, that is really great info. If I had a mac right now I would run RipIt in a heartbeat. I already have handbrake and am familiar with the program. However, a few questions: 1) How are you connecting the other Idevices (specifically, an Ipad2 in my case) to the Drobo to be able to pull content from it? Are you using handbrake to format it to ATV2 format and then putting the things you want to be able to stream to Ipad2’s into Itunes, or am I totally off here?; 2) I assuming you mean Cat5E for the gigabit throughput right? I think I might run Cat6 for the extra crosstalk protection but I am not sure; 3) If I understand what you are saying, because the ATV flash media player will play the DVD files, the MKV files, and the built-in ATV2 format files, that is why the ATV 2 can play them all?


In a perfect world, I would love my setup to do exactly what yours does, if I understand what yours does correctly. If I could have, for example, two ATV 2s and two Ipad2s to pull content, such as movies, from the Drobo at the same time, I would cry I would be so happy. 

I guess one more question as well; how does the streaming via the airport expresses work? 

I am certain I am asking extremely novice questions on some of this stuff, but if I can get this to work, I would be extremely grateful!


Thanks again,




We stream 3 ways: 1. direct wire (best), 2. direct wired via powerline adapters (very good), and lastly 3. Wireless “g” (works). The powerline adapters are for the second floor where running cat5 was too much effort. The iPhone, iTouches and iPad connect via wireless. The drobo fs connects to the network via cat5 to one of the gigabit switches which is wired (cat5 again) to the wireless router (running custom firmware) - the router is only broadcasting ‘g’.

Handbrake does format everything to the stock ATV2 format which the ATV2 can play natively. Nothing else is needed - except another computer running itunes to send the content to the ATV2. The content does not need to be on this computer (it stays on the NAS).C

Yes, Cat6 would have been better but I’ve got Cat5.

My original setup was with stock ATV2s, a mac server running iTunes pulling from the Drobo. Once I found firecore, I updated a few things, and now PLEX has been added so we can get out content remotely. With the firecore media player, you don’t necessarily need handbrake if you have enough space on your nas as the media player is very full featured. It will also pull content right off the NAS, removing the need for an iTunes machine. The firecore media player can play iso and dvdmedia rips directly, which is great. 

If you really like PLEX and need remote access to your media, you should check out the intel powered NASs. Many of them can now act as a PLEX media server. The drobo won’t do this.

The airport expresses are for streaming music sent from iTunes. Pretty easy way to get whole house background music when they are connected to powered speakers. They can do other things, but we only stream music to them.

Hope that helps. Lots of options depending on where you want to go.





What Powerline adapters are you using? I have my modem adsl in the Living room and i want to have a new apple tv in the bedroom wich is to far away from the living room for wi fi use only, so i was considering using a power line adapters wired to my airport extreme.

What advice can you give me about this.

Thanks in advance

Luis Dias

yeah… i’m in that place of wondering if its always worth the effort (or even preferable) to convert DVD rips into a video mp4 with handbrake… or keep them as their ripped video_ts folders.  It saves 1/3 to 1/5 the space… but space isn’t QUITE the issue it used to be, and having dvd menus on SOME dvds is really nice.  I’ll probably selectively convert things from now one because Media Player (thanks FireCore!!) does dvd streaming so well.

For the person wondering how to access videos from a NAS with your iPad or iPhone, there is a great app I’d recommend called “GoodPlayer”.  it lets me mount my video folder via SMB (much like ATV2flash does)… and streams ANY format video directly off the shared drive, no need to convert to sometihng or import into itunes.  It cost something like $2 or $3 but really is indispensable to us now.

I also have the Airport Express units in 3 places in the house and use them only for wireless audio streaming.  Each has a small stereo or boombox attached to it.  You can push audio to them from any iOS device or from iTunes.  I’m still amazed at how I can have iTunes playing in 3 different rooms (wirelessly streaming) and its always perfectly in sync.  (As a side benefit, you can toss one in a suitcase for a trip and create an instant wifi network in a hotel room that only has ethernet.)


Luis -

I have two sets of Brite-View powerline adapters. I’ve had them for about 24 months and they work (I expect the newest generation of devices are 'better"). I don’t have any issues streaming 720p videos. Since the ATV2s don’t do 1080p, all of my content is encoded at 720p. The powerline adapters are far superior to wireless streaming in my environment, especially since I am limited to wireless ‘g’ speeds.

Just to commend the very smart people here and add to the conversation.  All great tips and very practical for the home network shared video services throughout a house.  Will definately want to try powerline adapters. At one time I was using a terabyte drive attached to my Airport Extreme, but found a real problem.  So basically got away from that setup.  The problem was that the Airport Extreme liked the drive formated in the apple propriatary drive format (forget its name - something like apple file system); in order to share and optimally have access to everything on the drive.  The PC liked the drive formated as something different (like NTFS).  The two formats were not compatable, and I could not uplug the external USB terabyte drive, and just attach it to my PC.  Did not want to buy a $50 piece of software that allowed me to read either format on the fly, with my PC (used as a server and home workstation). So I just stay away from the extrernal drive on the Airport Extreme.  But glad to hear of others successes.     



I have a macbook pro but also a Windows Pc With Windows 7 with Paragon HFS+ for Windows which costs 19 dollars, with this program i can view the network hard drive of the AE and put files through the network to the hard drive formatted with HFS with no problems.

Hope This helps


Luis Dias

Tried the PARAGON software. It does work. But could not format a drive as HFS+ to even just start out making an external USB drive available to the AIRPORT EXTREME. It works to read and write existing formatted HFS+ USB drives, just can not outright format a drive.

This is a problem with us WIN7 folks.

Can PARAGON software now format a USB drive as HFS+ ?


*** Found my own answer.  There is a free PARTITION MANAGER application by Paragon that will allow me to format an external USB drive as Apple HFS.  That and the $20 software makes a USB drive a great addition to a Apple Airport Extreme.