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Official Media Server thread Official

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banned6y, 9m agoPosted 6 years, 9 months ago
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I've had an HTPC sitting under my Plasma for a couple of years and recently bought one of those Revo Atom mini PCs.

Using the HTPC was always a bit of a pain as I used several external USB drives with it and this trend seems to be continuing with the REVO (albeit with 2.5" externals)

Now it seems to me I need to get my act together and organise this far better than I currently do. Each bedroom has a networked hard wired PC and the 2 living rooms also (plus of course it would be nice to add the laptops too on wifi!) Basically lots of machines and too much distributed on single machines..... Such a waste!

So...... I'm going to make a server for it all and have XBMC on each machine too.

Now, as I said, I already have several external USB 3.5 and 2.5 inch drives. I do also have a linksys NSLU2, but nevr really managed to get it running properly and is still virgin (ie not unslugged!) and very very slow.

I'd rather use these drives, rather than go buy another 8 1 TB drives or so!

So can I use this server and share using external USB drives?

I assume having this many devices, I'll be eating lots of juice? Is there a good solution to minimise power consumption? (ie would an atom based Revo be usable for this with external drives?)

All a bit confusing and far too many options available..... just throwing into the pot whats considered a good way and whats pants! I should add - I have loads of older PCs I can use as a server, though should I do it that way, or just another networked PC?



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banned6y, 9m agoPosted 6 years, 9 months ago
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#1
You have too many PC's !!!
banned#2
ChrisUK
You have too many PC's !!!


I have 3 cars and 2 houses too! :-D

But that's for another thread!:-D
#3
banned#4
Outrunner


Its more a case of not knowing what hardware route would be best.
banned#5
guv
Its more a case of not knowing what hardware route would be best.


I'll second WHS too for your OS. Hardware wise I'd get an old PC or build one from old PC components then just make sure you've got plenty of USB ports and attach all your drives to the server. In WHS you just add the external drives to the storage pool. Simple and perfect for the job.
#6
The home server would be able to use the external drives, either as separate drives, or added to the shared storage pool. All the PC connected, could then be backed up automatically each day, at a time set by you. It can stream music, video, photos, plus so much more.
#7
Do you really need all that to get on HUKD?
#8
guv;7897430
I have 3 cars and 2 houses too! :-D

But that's for another thread!:-D


Has JFK stolen your account ;)

Good Luck mate !!
banned#9
master_chief
I'll second WHS too for your OS. Hardware wise I'd get an old PC or build one from old PC components then just make sure you've got plenty of USB ports and attach all your drives to the server. In WHS you just add the external drives to the storage pool. Simple and perfect for the job.


Outrunner
The home server would be able to use the external drives, either as separate drives, or added to the shared storage pool. All the PC connected, could then be backed up automatically each day, at a time set by you. It can stream music, video, photos, plus so much more.


So would one of these single core atoms at £130 not be a good idea? I'm just thinking of the fact it'll be on 24/7 and 65 watts (or 1 watt in standby) will be preferable to 400 watts. (Haven't a clue on the power consumption of the external 2.5 and 3.5 drives - but if I used an old PC, i'd be knackered at only being able to use IDE drives. - And this is part of the reason better planning is necessary.)

g1bbuk
Do you really need all that to get on HUKD?


No. But with it, it gives me the ability to shut everyone in their rooms and not be bothered with petty family life.

ChrisUK
Has KFC stolen your account ;)

Good Luck mate !!


LOL.... No my possessions are real! :thumbsup:
#10
You haven't said whether you need to share other types of data besides media around the network.

If it's only media, you could run XBMC live CD on your central server.

Or, install XP and run TVERSITY on it to share your media.

Windows Home Server is ok but has had problems in the past with data and backups - be 100% sure you want WHS.
banned#11
dcx_badass
We had 3 houses and 3 cars :p. But sold one of the Houses in december. :thumbsup:


Yes, but mine are in London. One of mine is worth 6 of yours! :w00t::w00t:

[COLOR="Silver"](Just kidding.....)[/COLOR]

jakethecat
You haven't said whether you need to share other types of data besides media around the network.

If it's only media, you could run XBMC live CD on your central server.

Or, install XP and run TVERSITY on it to share your media.

Windows Home Server is ok but has had problems in the past with data and backups - be 100% sure you want WHS.


Sorry, thought I'd said!

OK... it is mainly for media and its major use will be to serve the media contents around the network. It'll also be used for general storage. Not really bothered about backups. Not bothered about acting as a web server, however, I will probably plug in some IP cameras or the external CCTV device I have.
banned#12
I believe the person who got me involved in WHS runs his off an Atom based system, I'll double check. If a computer can run XP then it can run WHS easily enough. It's just Windows Server 2003 really. You're only file serving which isn't resource intensive at all. If you're planning on ripping/transcoding on the fly then you might want something beefier maybe.

WHS has a very good reputation amongst people who are doing what we're doing, of all the people I know running it they haven't had any issues though I imagine, as with all systems, that there are disgruntled users.

Also you can integrate IP CCTV with WHS, I have no experience of this mind. I know you can do cool things like if the door bell rings and you have a camera on that door it will interrupt what you're watching on the media centre and cut to the camera of who is at the door.
banned#13
master_chief
I believe the person who got me involved in WHS runs his off an Atom based system, I'll double check. If a computer can run XP then it can run WHS easily enough. It's just Windows Server 2003 really. You're only file serving which isn't resource intensive at all. If you're planning on ripping/transcoding on the fly then you might want something beefier maybe.

WHS has a very good reputation amongst people who are doing what we're doing, of all the people I know running it they haven't had any issues though I imagine, as with all systems, that there are disgruntled users.

Also you can integrate IP CCTV with WHS, I have no experience of this mind. I know you can do cool things like if the door bell rings and you have a camera on that door it will interrupt what you're watching on the media centre and cut to the camera of who is at the door.


OK cool. That would be good if you could find this out. The machine will literally be just storage and serving. Got plenty of other machines to do the other stuff! (Actually, ATM, Im pretty much only using my laptop until the computer room is finished - and hopefully that's not far off now)

What would you do in this circumstance? Use an old spare machine, or use a 65 watt PC? The issues I guess wont be much different. Neither can run internal large sata drives - so will be external USB only. I'm guessing the atom, wont be able to power too many 2.5" drives.... but running external 3.5 bumps up the juice!

Also... any knowledge of the Linksys slug NSLU network storage thingies?
banned#14
guv
I have 3 cars and 2 houses too! :-D

But that's for another thread!:-D


2 wives? :p
#15
dcx_badass
We had 3 houses and 3 cars :p. But sold one of the Houses in december. :thumbsup:


You mean your mum and dad has
banned#16
bykergrove
2 wives? :p


No. Just lazy. When I bought the new car, I kept the old one too, though mainly because I've been using it to dump stuff that I wouldn't put in the new one and wanting it for the airport run next month. The missus car is being traded in next week too.

So after the holiday, it'll be just 2 houses and cars. (I bet you never asked now!):p

boothy
You mean your mum and dad has


Yes.. I'm 16 and have a maaaaad BMW :w00t:
#17
I'd definitely recommend the Atom/WHS route, Atom is very low power and WHS is extremely good - I think MS made a total mess of marketting it, everything is easy to setup even remote file sharing and control over dynamic DNS. The main problem is hardware support though as it needs W2003 drivers which isn't always easy with Atom hardware because it's not aimed at the part of the market. Its installer is a bit bizarre as it kicks off with a Vista loader with Sata support then changes to an XP style install without Sata support which means you get a BSOD halfway through if you don't load Sata drivers for the second part.

Casewise you can have something like the Revo hooked up to an external enclosure (containing multiple drives) over esata or you could purchase a case that will take an Atom board and has an internal bay for a 2.5in OS drive then multiple 3.5in drives for the storage drives.

John
banned#18
Johnmcl7
I'd definitely recommend the Atom/WHS route, Atom is very low power and WHS is extremely good - I think MS made a total mess of marketting it, everything is easy to setup even remote file sharing and control over dynamic DNS. The main problem is hardware support though as it needs W2003 drivers which isn't always easy with Atom hardware because it's not aimed at the part of the market. Its installer is a bit bizarre as it kicks off with a Vista loader with Sata support then changes to an XP style install without Sata support which means you get a BSOD halfway through if you don't load Sata drivers for the second part.

Casewise you can have something like the Revo hooked up to an external enclosure (containing multiple drives) over esata or you could purchase a case that will take an Atom board and has an internal bay for a 2.5in OS drive then multiple 3.5in drives for the storage drives.


Cheers John. On the SATA drivers, would I not just be able to integrate it into the install disc?

Just had a quick look on ebuyer for case and motherboards. Cant say I found too much of interest.... and it wasnt cheap either! Did you have something in mind in respect of the case that could house internal drives? BTW, which is likely to use more power - internal 3.5" or external? Can't help thinking the drives are going to drain either way (when comparing to the atom PC)
#19
Possibly yes, I just set the drive controller to IDE mode but it's just to be aware that WHS can be more fiddly for drivers as it was originally intended to ship with a prebuilt system. I've been trying to run WHS virtually instead on the back of a low power media system I have but was having performance problems, after shutting down the VM though the same problems are still occuring so may get the VM back up and running.

I didn't have much luck finding suitable cases either which I was surprised at because this seems like a fairly sensible system which is why I also ended up looking at external enclosures. Chenbro were the only ones I came across in the UK with a suitable chassis that allowed you to mount a motherboard, 2,5in OS drive then multiple 3.5in drives:

http://www.mini-itx.com/store/?c=57

This is the two drive version although it is available in a four drive chassis, I was planning to use two Samsung 2TB drives as that seemed the most power efficient approach. Funnily enough their current news story is making an XBMC system using Ion:

http://www.mini-itx.com/projects/xbmc%2Dion/

I'd guess that power efficiency would be slightly better with everything running off a single power supply but as you say when running a few 3.5in drives they're probably going to to be using a fair bit of power anyway.

John
banned#20
Johnmcl7
Possibly yes, I just set the drive controller to IDE mode but it's just to be aware that WHS can be more fiddly for drivers as it was originally intended to ship with a prebuilt system. I've been trying to run WHS virtually instead on the back of a low power media system I have but was having performance problems, after shutting down the VM though the same problems are still occuring so may get the VM back up and running.

I didn't have much luck finding suitable cases either which I was surprised at because this seems like a fairly sensible system which is why I also ended up looking at external enclosures. Chenbro were the only ones I came across in the UK with a suitable chassis that allowed you to mount a motherboard, 2,5in OS drive then multiple 3.5in drives:

http://www.mini-itx.com/store/?c=57

This is the two drive version although it is available in a four drive chassis, I was planning to use two Samsung 2TB drives as that seemed the most power efficient approach. Funnily enough their current news story is making an XBMC system using Ion:

http://www.mini-itx.com/projects/xbmc%2Dion/

I'd guess that power efficiency would be slightly better with everything running off a single power supply but as you say when running a few 3.5in drives they're probably going to to be using a fair bit of power anyway.

John


Can't you just use any type of case for an Atom based Mobo?

There's a calculator somewhere that shows you what size PSU you need based on how many drives (or graphics cards etc) you have. I was surprised that having multiple hard drives doesn't affect the amount of power drawn really. I think a standard 350ish W PSU can power a good half dozen or so HDD according to these calculators.
#21
master_chief;7901680
Can't you just use any type of case for an Atom based Mobo?


Yes, it's just there doesn't seem to be much out there for building a NAS-style system - they mostly seemed to be a single 2.5in or 3.5in bay with an optical drive slot. Ideally that means one internal slot for a 2.5in drive to put the OS on then multiple bays for 3.5in drives and no need for an optical drive bay. If you've any recommendations for this type of chassis I'd be keen to hear them as I'm sure there must be more out there than those I've found so far.

In terms of power draw, 350W is very high for a lower power system - the Atom platform is very lower which means a set of 3.5in drives are going to be the main power draw.

John
banned#22
Cheers guys.

I cant say Ive seen anything that says " buy me", so will just build out of an old HP P4 machine with WHS.

Only problem with that..... It only has space internally for 1 3.5" drive, though as I was going to use external drives, I guess it wont matter too much.
banned#23
OK, the server has been built and WHS has been installed!

And I haven't a clue what I'm meant to be doing!

I just added a 1TB USB drive. Within explorer, I'm able to add folders to share, but nothing shows up in the home server console though it gives me the option to "add" the drive - but only if I format it (which would rather defeat the object of the exercise!)

I can see the machine in workgroup on my laptop and also the shares setup. However the 1GB mkv file I opened was as jerky as hell and eventually froze!

Any goods sites to explore to get some tips?
#24
The drives have to be formatted before WHS can use them as it uses its own structure.

John
banned#25
Johnmcl7
The drives have to be formatted before WHS can use them as it uses its own structure.



Damn... well that's a pain! So once converted, I cant use them on another PC? I was hoping they'd be interchangeable!

So once done, will that make a difference to the speed? I say that (as mentioned) I could access the content I'd designated as a share, but speed was pants! (Reminded me when I tried using my Linksys NSU (slug) to share or burn DVDs from. Just couldnt cut it)
banned#26
OK, I've added a 320GB 2.5" external.

WHS can see the drive, has formatted it and shows in the console. It's not however seen in explorer. In console, I have expanded the folder option to duplicate (or whatever the term is - I've not got access to the machine from work.... yet!)

I've also set up external access and the port forwarding in the router. Yet I'm hopelessly lost! An account has been setup using my "live" account, and from inside my network, using the external url, I open my router! (I expected it to open the home server - so I'm assuming its incorrect!)

Externally. I've opened a "homeserver.com" page with my account subdomain, but thats just to a login screen and nothing beyond. ITs strange, because I could do this last night from my iPhone (with wifi switched off) but nothing now. Hmmm!

This isnt as straight forward to set up as expected... though just seeing the drives inside homeserver, let alone as a shared drive over my network would be a major plus!
banned#27
Partial success.......
All sorts of issues and problems, many of which are still unresolved in respect of the router and port forwarding. I'm relatively comfortable I've set it correctly. But accessing my router now in a browser and the side menus no longer come up.

However, I'm at work ATM and have just logged into the server and given access to the content of the homeserver machine. It also gave me the option to access my laptop (which is currently the only machine that has been properly linked into the server at this time.)

However........

If I try to playback the mkv file I've placed in the share, it often starts and freezes within 10 seconds. I've managed to get it playing once properly...... but my joy was short lived, when once again it froze after 10 minutes or so.

Also, I dont get where or how I transfer data onto the machine. The server itself is just a simple P4 Dell machine with a 120 GB hard drive. I've added a USB drive, which has been formatted to be used as a drive. It shows up in the console - but not seen in explorer. So I have no idea where or how I'm supposed to transfer files to. I'm sure its probably obvious and simple...... but its escaped me so far.

So has anyone already set up a home server machine that can give me a few tips?
#28
why bother using a server when all you need is a NAS?
im assuming all you are doing is aggregating all your media in one place on the network to be accessed off of one location?

Network attached storage would do this for you with a lot less hassle.
XBMC can work off of network shares, so can itunes for music and whatnot (i dont know what you use)
and using a NAS System you can also use it for you BT/Newsgroup downloading aswell.

Get yourself an old PC tower, get the hard drives you want to use installed into the case.
take a look at freenas: http://freenas.org/freenas
banned#29
Jetpac
why bother using a server when all you need is a NAS?
im assuming all you are doing is aggregating all your media in one place on the network to be accessed off of one location?

Network attached storage would do this for you with a lot less hassle.
XBMC can work off of network shares, so can itunes for music and whatnot (i dont know what you use)
and using a NAS System you can also use it for you BT/Newsgroup downloading aswell.

Get yourself an old PC tower, get the hard drives you want to use installed into the case.
take a look at freenas: http://freenas.org/freenas


To be honest, when I was setting things up, I asked for suggestions (in this thread) on the best way to go and this was the way everyone suggested!

I have a Linksys NSLU2 (Slug) - which was supposed tp be a good NAS system, but gave up using it because it was erm sluggish! (I never managed to make it unslugged)

I'll have a look at the link... though I have to admit I'm suitably impressed so far at being able to access my media (and download it too) from work!

Cheers
#30
guv
To be honest, when I was setting things up, I asked for suggestions (in this thread) on the best way to go and this was the way everyone suggested!

I have a Linksys NSLU2 (Slug) - which was supposed tp be a good NAS system, but gave up using it because it was erm sluggish! (I never managed to make it unslugged)

I'll have a look at the link... though I have to admit I'm suitably impressed so far at being able to access my media (and download it too) from work!

Cheers


I think with freenas you also get that option whilst having a simpler system, However if your current windows server is working roll with it :P
#31
WHS is just a NAS system, although it's based on Windows 2003 it's heavily stripped down so that it functions as a versatile storage system which can be easily accessed within and outwith the network.

John
banned#32
OK, I think I'm now getting somewhere. It would be fair to say, its been a bit of trial and error!

XBMC now streams fine from WHS, Setting that was a bit of a pain, particularly trying to navigate in a system you haven't got a clue about!

The files I've been transferring, have been done via USB. Going over the net is ridiculously slow. A single film could show up via my laptop as taking 20 minutes, but via USB the same file, a minute. This makes me wonder if Im doing something wrong here?

Also, I'm confused on how the server attached drives work. Looking in explorer, the existing 120GB drive shows as that. The server attached drive is only seen when using the console. Adding files is done via Explorer. I'm guessing the new drive isnt even being used?
banned#33
Managed to get my AZbox satellite receiver up and running with the server now, which is pretty cool since its adding 1000s of on demand films with 1000s of channels! Not that its used that much..... setting things up is as much fun as using!

One drawback I've noticed, which I doubt can be overcome. When streaming an .mkv file, I was adding more content. It froze all over the place. Obviously I appreciate its duel access to the drive, but it does throw into doubt the volume of throughput I'll be given. (Potentially, there could be 5 PCs streaming at the same time - though highly unlikely.)

EDIT: I set up last night a transfer of 108GB from a USB drive via my laptop. I'm surprised to find 8h 30m later, only 45GB have transferred over. I appreciate its a lot of data, but boy is this slow! Also, I had 2 PCs streaming last night and they both played fine on the PCs, so that's a relief!

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