Straightforward NAS setup recommendations

I’ve got:

  • Several (3) El-Cheapo gigabit ethernet switches.  1 NetGear, 1 something else, and 1 Apple Airport Extreme (the time capsule without a hard drive in it)
  • Apple TV 2 in the living room (used to be a 1st Gen) connected to gigabit
  • Apple TV 2 in the bedroom connected via WiFi.  I hate WiFi but I can only run so much cat 5 :)
  • Synology NAS (DS509+) on the gigabit ethernet.  Synology supports windows sharing, NFS sharing, and AFP sharing all at the same time, so you can share to the apple tv with AFP (easiest to set up) and from your windows box with no effort.  I can't speak enough about how good the Synology software is: it's truly awesome.  Yes, Synology might cost a bit more (especially if you set up a 5-drive RAID 5 box like I did) but it's freakin' beautiful :)
  • A mac mini with itunes running 24x7 so that I can do the non-atvflash streaming to the apple tv 2 as well :)

I don’t see ANY network issues.  Streaming over gigabit with atvflash is effectively instant.  I ripped all of my DVDs (to VIDEO_TS folders) and they just plain work.  No problems, full AC3/DTS support too (though I really would love to see a “PCM over hdmi but AC3 over toslink” option, as the built-in apple tv streaming over itunes does)

Over the wifi I see some buffering and latency, but it’s fully functional, even with 720p MKV files (top gear ftw!)



Having moved from the first AppleTV with an internal drive to the new third generation model without a drive, I will obviously have to stream all ripped DVDs and BDs from an external drive that is on my network.  I have a Time Capsule (the internal drive is used for Time Machine), and want to know if I’m better off buying a real NAS and attaching it to the Time Capsule via Ethernet, or if I should just get an external USB drive and attach it to the USB port of the Time capsule.


I’m leaning towards the USB drive because I suspect it is easier.  I’m wondering though if it will be fast enough.  I want to use a Mercury Elite Pro drive from OWC.  There is a 3 TB model that is 7200 RPM with a 64 cache, or I can do a 4 TB at 5400 RPM with 32 cache.  Will the 4 TB drive be fast enough to play ripped DVDs and BDs, or should I get the faster 3 TB drive?


Finally, is this a bad idea and I should just get a real NAS ethernet drive?  The problem is that I really don’t want to mess with software for the NAS drive, and the cost.


Any advise will be appreciated!



I use my Airport Extreme Base Station with a 2TB USB drive attached as my NAS. The AEBS is connected to my Apple TV via ethernet. The attached USB drive is added as a share to the ATV flash Media Player which allows me to play all the media files (movies, tv shows, etc) without having to have any computer open and running. The set up works flawlessly and plays 720p files with no stuttering or buffering. For a while I connected the AEBS to the ATV via wifi and things worked almost just as well.

Finally, for a time, I also had a Time Capsule set up exactly this same way (using the TC internal hard drive) and that also worked with no problem.

Like you, I was thinking about buying a dedicated NAS, something from Synology maybe, but for my purposes, the AEBS is all the NAS I need.





I’m pretty sure that a 5400rpm drive will be fast enough to deliver the video… for DVD at least, I have no idea about BlueRay rips… perhaps someone else can do the math, but the network speed may be more of a limiting factor than drive speed in most setups.  I was streaming DVD rips over wifi without stuttering (ATV2, Media Player, Airport Extreme, 2x2TB WD Elements via USB hub)… and only recently ran physical cable (mostly just because I had the cable and needed a weekend project around the house :wink: )  No buffering/stuttering for me (although these ARE 7200rpm drives… i just don’t think it would have mattered).

The only issue I’ve had (and continue to have) is connection problems between the ATV2/MediaPlayer software and the shared folder timing out.  These WD drives have a very aggressive ‘Green Power’ mode that spins them down whenever activity pauses for a bit… this causes timeouts when the drives have to spin up and take too long.  Patience and a 2nd or 3rd click on the menu is sometimes necessary to get the directory listing to appear or a video to play.

A NAS has other features you may or may not want or need such as RAID, expandable storage capacity (or larger capacity), automated backups, access to shared folders from outside your network, and so on.  You probably don’t need it if all you want is a shared drive for videos to the ATV, but always worth considering where you’re going down the road.


Note that you can’t attach a USB drive directly to the apple tv 2.  It doesn’t support an external USB storage (it is, itself, a USB storage client, not a USB host!) and, more practically, the plug won’t fit (the HDMI cable gets in the way :slight_smile:

I am aware of that.  I was referring to using a USB drive and attach it to my Time Capsule rather than directly to the AppleTV 3, which I realize isn’t supported.

Thanks to both of you for such good replies.  I think I’ll just do a USB drive since I don’t care about the NAS features mentioned.  Still not sure about the 5400 RPM 4 TB drive or the faster 7200 RPM 3 TB drive, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get there.  


If you don’t mind, I have another question or two:  

  1. On the ATV1, I would use Nito to playback DVD rips that were stored on its internal drive.  What app do I use to playback the DVD rips stored on my USB drive plugged into my Time Capsule if I’m now using an ATV3 (once it is flashed naturally)?


  1. Can I place a copy of my iTunes library on this drive in addition to the ripped DVDs/BDs so that I can stream from the drive rather than my Mac?  If so, then How does the iTunes library have to set up with the DVD rips on the same drive?


  1.  What is the difference between AFP and SMB, and which should I use?


Many many thanks!! 

I am currently using my 1 TB WD usb drive attached to my MacBook to stream to ATV2. It causes a lot of buffering and I have to leave my MacBook running all the while.

Can you guys kindly help me decide between the following:

1- A 3 TB Time Capsule I believe this would be most expensive, so is it really worth it? (I will also have to get rid of my Airport express & 3 WD usb drives 1 TB, 750 GB & 600 GB)

2- A 3 TB WD My Book Live (again I will have to get rid of my airport express and USB drives) And also buy a router with a USB support. But somehow I believe this might give the best performance, am I right???

3- An Airport Extreme Base station ( This way I can use my 3 USB drives) This would be cheaper, but is the quality good and will there be buffering problems??? 

4- Any other cheaper router with USBs besides Airport Extreme??? I am not sure if any is as good if so can you guys suggest??? This probably would be cheapest.

Kindly suggest the best option and also is the performance is comparable then the cheapest one.

Thanks guys I will really appreciate your suggestion.

If you’ve already got some USB drives lying around, I would just attach them to your Airport Extreme Base Station (directly if you just need one drive or via a powered usb hub if you need more than one.) Then, if possible, attach the AEBS to your Apple TV via ethernet and, if not, via wifi. I have no performance issues with an AEBS to ATV by ethernet connection.

You are right that using a TC will be a lot more expensive. I have no experience with the WD My Book Live’s performance but the AEBS setup works great and seems simpler so I don’t see any obvious advantage to the My Book, especially if you already have the drives to attach to the AEBS.

If you don't mind, I have another question or two:

1. On the ATV1, I would use Nito to playback DVD rips that were stored on its internal drive. What app do I use to playback the DVD rips stored on my USB drive plugged into my Time Capsule if I'm now using an ATV3 (once it is flashed naturally)?


2. Can I place a copy of my iTunes library on this drive in addition to the ripped DVDs/BDs so that I can stream from the drive rather than my Mac? If so, then How does the iTunes library have to set up with the DVD rips on the same drive?


3. What is the difference between AFP and SMB, and which should I use?

4. If I add a USB hub so that I can add multiple drives to the USB port on the Time Capsule, then should it be a powered or non-powered hub?
5.  Any specific hub suggestions?  Brand?  Model? etc.


First get a USB Hub device.  So you can add more USB drives. 

Second, have been using an Apple Airport Extreme for a couple years now.  I get NO BUFFERING ISSUES.  None at all in any context.  And am using wifi to host my video files to a wifi connected workstation.  So wifi to wifi via airport extreme.  Also have files on a USB connected to the Extreme.  They work fine too.  The USB is formatted as HFS to use with ease, but that software costs $20 on a PC platform, unless free via an owned macintosh computer. 

Third - the only trick is that most of my video files have been converted to MPEG video via the HANDBRAKE application, and standard settings for Apple TV or for IPOD, so much less resolution.  Have tested with *.ISO DVD files (created with DVDDecrypter) also and not seeing any buffering issues. It just works.  

1)  Use MEDIA PLAYER as available from FIRECORE and installed if your registered.  It will play DVD *.ISO and many other DVD files, direct on the ATV2 via streaming from your stored location.

  1. Have heard of this done, but you will have to experiment to see if it will work.  Only works with APPLE MAC computer and ITUNES and an AIRPORT EXTREME or TIME CAPSULE.   Why would you do this?  Why not just keep all the media files on the USB drive, and link them into ITUNES via proper settings in ITUNES?

3)  AFP is some apple protocol, and SMB is more a generic communication protocol.   If you use PC equipment you need SMB (I think). 

4&5)  Powered USB.  there are dozens to choose from.   Does anyone make a battery powered portable one?    


Thanks Alan.

I do feel convinced. I too have been thinking about this option especially since I dont want my 3 USB drives going waste.

Would you happen to know if by using this setup can I also use Time Machine backups for my and my wife’s MacBooks ?

Yeah, that should work no problem. Ideally, I would dedicate separate drives for each purpose: one to store your media and one each for your Time Machine backups. However, if you just want to use two drives, it is easy to partition one of them using Disk Utility so one drive can house two Time Machine backups. Actually, you can have two TM backups on the same partition but I’ve found that gets flaky sometimes; better, easier in my opinion to use separate partitions.

I use a very similar setup except I have two AEBS’s: one with a “media” drive attached and the other with a “Time Machine” drive attached. The only thing I’ve heard about attaching two drives to the same AEBS is that you need to use a powered hub to avoid problems.




2. Yes, I'm using all Macs, and a Time Capsule.  I wan to keep all of my music on my primary Mac, but I'd also like to keep a copy of the tracks on the external USB drive that is plugged into the Time capsule.  This way, I can play tracks directly from the USB drive when the primary Mac is off.  I want to keep the tracks on the Mac because it is backed up.


3.  So, I should use AFP since I'm all Mac?


Thanks again


3)  Am not an all MAC person, but that is the way I would try to go. 

Thanks again Alan.

Sounds pretty good to me. Maybe this weekend I will try to set this up.


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I believe the NAS setup with AppleTV2+Firecore is the ideal setup. Avoids having a PC/Mac sitting there transcoding, costing more electricity and in general running as a server. A NAS has several clear advantages:


  1. It can run via wired ethernet to your network router. Wifi from there and all devices are happy.

  2. Good NASs like Synology have “download station” software, which allow you to run utorrent right from the software

  3. Excellent NASs have a ton of feautres like running a web server, MySQL, PHP and Wordpress/webmail with a 1 button install - use your hard drive for more than storage of media

  4. Above all NASs are very friendly for power draw and are EXTREMELY reliable. They usually run a stripped down Linux and are optimized for uptime, months and months of uptime.

I have the Synolog DS111, just a 1TB setup and I can honestly say having experimented with TV recording through PC tuners and various other means this combination is absolutely stellar.

Combine AppleTV+XBMC and something like supertv plugin (which I have been reading about) and you’ve got yourself an amazing solution.


ps. Try showrss for building amazing RSS feeds of TV shows. You will be amazed at how well RSS works with a NAS.

I just bought a 2TB TC, placed all my movies on that. I was hoping to stream straight from there on my ATV 1 thru Nito, but keep getting:

mount_smbfs: tree connect phase failed: syserr = No such file or directory  

i been going over this many many times trying to work it out. I fail.