Distributing Data

Now that the Mac mini and the Mac Book are ordered I have a few days to have a re think about how I distribute my data around the various hard drives:

– New Mac mini has 60GB
– Old Mac mini has 120GB connected to a 300GB LaCie drive
– iMac has 250GB connected to a 230GB external drive
– Desktop PC has 190GB split C: 30GB and D: 160GB

Everything is networked together so any data movement will be relatively easy.

My iTunes library is currently 55GB. It is stored on the LaCie drive with a full back up on the D: of the Desktop PC. I have 17GB of photographs currently on the Old Mac mini. These are all backed up between the D: on the Desktop, the LaCie drive or to DVD depending on which stage of the workflow they are at.

I have a lot (well I think it it is a lot) of movies on various drives:

– D: of Desktop 85GB
– LaCie drive 70GB
– iMac 130GB.

I am not worried about backing these up (good job given the space that would require) as any ‘must keep’ movie is burnt to DVD (2 if really important).

I currently have a number of my drives partitioned, but that is about to change (subject of a upcoming review).

So, what is going to be the ‘best’ way of distributing data? I tend to think that the two external drives should be kept free (or enough space) for Leopard and Time Machine? If that is the case it means that I shouldn’t really save any of the movies on the hard drives of the iMac and the Old Mac mini as I don’t want to ‘waste’ hard drive space backing up the movies.

If I do that it means that I need to transfer 130GB of movies off the iMac.

If I leave 120GB of the LaCie drive ‘free’ for a full back up of the Old Mac mini that will leave me with 180GB (rough numbers!) for movies, of which 70GB is already taken up. If I do this I will need to move my iTunes library to the hard drive of the Old Mac mini. This means that the back up of the library will be on the LaCie as part of the total Old Mac mini back up, which means that I don’t need the back up on the D: of the Desktop. This will free up 55GB. So, of the 130GB of movies on the iMac 50GB could go on the D: of the Desktop and the remaining 80GB could go on the LaCie.

This means I will have a LOT of space available on the iMac as my wife is not a heavy user, so by default I will have a LOT of space free on her external drive. For that reason I am tempted to partition the iMac hard drive into 150GB and 100GB (again rough numbers) and use the 100GB partition to store movies. That way a full system back up of the iMac would leave roughly 80GB of free space on her external drive, so my thought is to partition the external drive into 150GB and 80GB, call them iMac and Mac Book and use them for full system back ups of the iMac and the Mac Book. Although the Mac Book wont be used that much and will have very little permanent data it will be useful to be able to have the option of a full back up, especially before upgrades, travel etc.

This makes sense to me, and means that I only have to transfer 30GB of movies off the iMac, and as I will be freeing up space on the D: of the Desktop it makes sense to transfer them to the D: of the Desktop.

That leaves a couple of remaining questions. The main one is how best to use iTunes? I really don’t want to duplicate the music from the main library on the iMac, the Desktop PC, or the New Mac mini. I am happy for each iTunes library on each computer to have its own podcasts as my revised workflow assumes certain podcasts on certain computers. I am thinking of trying to use the network to ‘point’ each computers iTunes library to the one on the Old Mac mini. The Old Mac mini is the computer that is on virtually all the time we are in the apartment, and it would be so much easier to only have to ‘manage’ one library in terms of ratings, playlists etc. Plan B is just to share the library over the internet and pick up the music that way. Suggestions and advice welcome.

I have a similar ‘issue’ with iPhoto. I want to be able to use Front Row on the New Mac mini, Old Mac mini, and iMac to show the same iPhoto library. Again I want the ability to only have to manage one photo library in terms of playlists, backups etc.

With both iTunes and iPhoto I know that it is easy enough to share the libraries but I am keen to look at an option that would allow me to manage the individual libraries from the various Mac’s.

That leaves the New Mac mini. As I am only going to use it for storing and viewing movies and TV programs this is a pretty easy one! I am going to install as little as possible OS X wise, as I will only really be using QuickTime Pro, Front Row, eyeTV, iPhoto, iTunes. The one question that I need to resolve is do I use the New Mac mini to ‘drive’ eyeTV or stay with the Old Mac mini. At the moment I have the Old Mac mini hooked up to the TV Max and as such I need to open up eyeTV on the Old Mac mini to schedule the recordings. The upside of this is that it works great. The downside is that it means that I have to go out of the lounge so if I want to watch something and set it recording I have to set it recording in my study and then go and watch it in the lounge. On the other hand if I wanted to control it from the lounge I would need to swap some cables round (a one off task), change the channel on the TV to the Mac ‘channel’, and use a keyboard and mouse – all things considered I think I will leave things as they are. I will only need to take a mouse into the lounge when I want to view stuff via the Mac mini. I may not even need to do that if I can configure front row the right way.

Well that is my current thinking! If it changes I will let you know. If you think it should change please let me know, and of course I will let you know how it all goes over the next week or so.

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