So it eventually came to pass that I've had another USB hard disk go out on me the night I switched to Tumblr - a change that, incidentally, is going well, since I am having fun experimenting with it here and at my other tumbleblog (which is my Mr. Hyde to this blog's Dr. Jekyll, as it were...).
Nothing of importance was lost (I do a disk clone every now and then using rsync), but it's irritating, and even though I have options, I don't want to go there just yet.
A couple of colleagues of mine have had very good experiences with this Synology NAS, but before taking the plunge of buying yet another box to manage and a couple of beefy hard disks for the rather pedestrian job of streaming my music to the stereo in exchange for a few more hours of my time and a considerable bit of cash I don't readily have, I decided to wait and see if the Synology becomes AirPlay-compatible.
Anyway, in case there are other folk out there running an ancient Mac Mini as an iTunes server and a Dropbox "mirror" to speed things up dramatically using LAN sync and you want to maximize hard disk lifetime, you might want to get a hold of these two doodads:
- Time Machine Editor to change the default hourly backup schedule to something sane (like a daily backup).
- Lingon to manage periodical maintenance scripts hung off launchd.
Another thing that helps is putting the machine to sleep when not in use (or even powered off, since Wake On LAN works great on modern day Macintoshes), but I've had a couple of odd instances where the advanced Energy Saver settings (i.e., the scheduled sleep/shutdown/restart options) seem to have no effect - the machine wouldn't go down on the clock.
I've looked for a way to propely debug that or define a finer-grained schedule (for instance, on all weekend during the day and after dinner on weekdays) but so far, I've come up with zilch, so the next step is doing a combination of pmset, some console logging and Lingon.
But I have plenty of other fish to fry right now, so I've tagged that as @home @someday and moved on.