I am certainly not the only one dealing with the issue (looking into questions here which deal with some aspects related to an iTunes Server or looking at the Apple Support Forum). So I ask:

What is a way of having a real (explanation of real follows) iTunes Server on a NAS?

Driving force of course is the desire to centralize my iTunes Library, photos, big data, that I do not want to carry around with my me. Solution: A Network Attached Storage (NAS). For all the other stuff except the iTunes library this solution is great. Of course I can put the library on it BUT:

  1. I will not be able to stream content to my iDevice directly (I could if my Mac is, but not directly)
  2. I cannot tell my library to stream some music to an AirPlay device from my iDevice (again, only if my Mac is on)
  3. In principle: Without any other device(s) running, my library can do nothing. It is not stand alone! To stream content requires additional devices running.

Any NAS that can store any of my data (ok that's every NAS :)) and serves as a stand alone iTunes library I consider a real iTunes Server. I would consider it a real real iTunes Server if I can remote it via Apples Remote App and stream music/videos via Apple appropriate apps (yes I kinda favor Apples solution whenever available).

I will give myself an answer for one possibility (an additional Mac) with pros and mainly cons. But I am very interested in other solutions (please as well do not hide disadvantages from your proposed solutions)!

  • Wouldn't iTunes match end up being the easiest solution? Jan 15, 2014 at 16:45
  • 1
    Well, not in Germany. We are not (yet?) allowed to redownload videos/movies.
    – DaPhil
    Jan 15, 2014 at 16:49
  • 1
    There are NAS which include an iTunes server, e.g. Synology DS214+ (it's just the first I found, I don't have any experience with it). Is it this what you are looking for?
    – nohillside
    Jan 15, 2014 at 17:04
  • @patrix There are some restrictions to the NAS's from Synology. I've read that some things do not work properly (playlists) and I certainly cannot use Apples Apps.
    – DaPhil
    Jan 15, 2014 at 20:13

7 Answers 7


One possibility: An additional Mac.


  1. Could do everything asked for.


  1. Expensive.
  2. Power consuming.
  3. To save some power, one would let it sleep. So everytime one wants to connect to the library, the Mac has to be waked up.
  4. Setup not as easy as NAS.
  • 3
    I think a refurbished or used Mac Mini could easily be price-comparable to a decent NAS + drives, though it's obviously going to be more capacity-constrained...
    – Dan J
    Jan 15, 2014 at 17:27
  • 2
    The Mac can be setup to wake for network access - so automatic. Setup is easy just share the disk so comparable to a NAS
    – mmmmmm
    Jan 15, 2014 at 18:57
  • @DanJ Some external HDD's should not be a price consuming thing I guess... Or did you mean something else with the capacity constraints?
    – DaPhil
    Jan 15, 2014 at 20:14
  • Guess I was thinking internal, where you're limited to 2x2.5" drives. But, yes, externals give you more flexibility.
    – Dan J
    Jan 15, 2014 at 21:04

I have invested many many years into research and experiments on Entertainment Setups in Home Environments. Gathering all my Knowledge, I will now try to answer your question, while explaining you, how you could do it and why.

Let's Start with Apple. Apple is limiting iTunes heavily because of their own interests. iTunes Match is one of them. To Stream Content to your iDevice, you need a Mac, iTunes, an AppleID and Home Sharing activated. Otherwise it won't work. If you have all these things you can only do 1 thing : Stream Music. Nothing Less and nothing more. Simple, Stupid Streaming.

Streaming Content from your Library via Airplay to iDevices. Well.. in theory iTunes could do it, but practically, it is not possible. Simple as that.

And you are therefore totally right, when saying : Without any other Device, your iTunes Library won't even work at all. And even if it did with another Device/Machine, it wouldn't work either.

Now we talk NAS. I have to admit, that the Synology DS have some good UIs for those things. But if you want to do more than just sharing Music, you are pretty much stuck in the mud.

So how to go about it ? At first, I would not recommend any of the Apple-Solutions. iTunes is a pain if you want to centralize it. But it is indeed possible and here is my approach on how to do it :

I have a 10 TB Self-Build Macintosh NAS System. But you could use a FreeNAS System as well. Or even a Ubuntu/Fedora Machine. (If you don't need iTunes)

I have 6x2TB, 1xTB for the System and stuff, 5x2 TB in a ZFS RAID-Z Pool.

I chose Subsonic for Streaming Music to computers, AudioTap (App for iDevices) for streaming Music to iDevices. Even though AudioTap is not developed any more, you can absolutely use it. You can Edit Playlists, Give ratings, and so on.

I have a very clean and well Tagged Music Collection that is synced with Subsonic automatically and synced with iTunes Manually.

iTunes Sharing allows every Mac to simply connect to the Music, AudioTap is great for all the iDevices. But you could also use Subsonic Clients as well.

But this is all Audio.

For Movies and TV-Shows I prefer Plex. And I have some Additional Apps/Clients as well. Plex could also handle Music, but I prefer Subsonic for that. Plex can be installed on every OS. Windows, Mac, Linux. Whatever you prefer. Plex can stream to any device, and you can control it from every Device.

Plex automatically updates the Library if you change something. Plex can handle Playlists.

Both of the Solutions are free. Plex is Free and Subsonic is free (except for streaming to Devices). But you could use Madsonic instead, which allows streaming without extra fees.

If you have time and Money, I would consider a Mac Mini (older model) in combination with attached Storage. You can then install iTunes, Subsonic, Plex and many other Apps. You could also install things like "AirServer", which extends you AirPlay needs.

In fact, the "Media Centralization" is very complicated, if you want to have a good Experience in the end. I've gone through all of it and even now I am not satisfied with the solution. But there is nothing else. And iTunes is in my view the worst.

Speaking of iPhoto. You could then also put an Instance of iPhoto onto your mac and Have some script for auto-adding pictures to the library. I use Piwigo for my Photo-Collection, but I am pretty sure there is something similar to "Automatically add to iTunes" for iPhoto.

All the Other Big Data can be stored on the Server too.

So that is maybe not the answer you wanted to hear, but there is no good way that I am aware of when using iTunes as a Media Server.

  • I stream video from iTunes Home Sharing all the time,and have been doing so to ATV's, iPads and iPhones for longer than this post has existed. You are wrong. Nov 25, 2015 at 17:14

There are in fact iTunes Servers on some NAS devices. All of these require iTunes to be running on a Mac or PC on the network as they don't have direct access. These will show up in iTunes as a network server. I have done some research as i already have the drives for a Netgear ReadyNAS and am waiting on delivery. The new range 100/300/500 series running OS6 all have the iTunes Server on them. I do not know at this stage whether the IOS remote will work with this Server, i certainly hope so, or what is the point. I will test it when received and get back to you. NAS devices are all DLNA enables so you can stream direct form any DLNA device, TV's etc.


SyncPhoto is working well for me as an iPhoto solution. It will keep all your iPhoto instances synced with each other. I agree with Plex and have been using it for years. Similar to XBMC but Plex has a central database server and it communicates to clients, iOS, OS X, Windows, Roku, ATV with some hacking, ....


There is a simpler solution. You need a client that can render the video/audio. The presumption is that you need an iTunes server to send the stream to the device.

I use FileBrowser to render the video or audio directly to the device without my Mac delivering the stream. FileBrowser gives you the ability to browse through the files on your NAS without iTunes.

There are probably other apps that will do the same functions. By the way, FileBrowser also will AirPlay a file without iTunes as well. I am not getting any money for this, but FileBrowser does a lot more than just media rendering.


The Outclass AppleTV server claims to support homesharing. I'm not sure if this is just secretly a Windows box running iTunes or where you even purchase one of the things, though.


here is the answer.


You can run a VM of windows for iTunes Home Sharing on your NAS box now.

  • 1
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