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Old Mar 3, 2013, 08:27 PM   #1
MAMiller44
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Oblivious to Home Media Servers

So here's my story..I've recently max'd out my 2TB hard drive with movies so I want to upgrade and just go all out with 8TB to make sure I'll be good for a few years. They're for the most part 1080p (some 720p mixed in there) MP4 files. I have Plex setup to read the external drive from my macbook pro went I want to watch a movie on my LG TV. Plus if I'm ever going anywhere to wait in line like the DMV or similar, I'll leave my MacBook and drive on so I can access my whole library on my iPhone. The other bonus is I let my sister who lives across the country access my library and share movies with her.

Rather than get another hard drive and have to have my laptop on whenever I want to watch a movie...what are some good home server options? Ideally I would like to have an 8TB drive/server that can sit in the corner and be powered on 24/7 so I can always access my movies whenever I want. What kind of drive/server do you need for this? Can I just get a 4-bay enclosure that has ethernet accessibility and set it up that way? Or do I have to actually get a "server" and install server software on it. Of course the goal would be to do this as inexpensively as possible. =)

Any help with suggestions on products and even alternative methods would be great! The one stipulation is that I want to stick with Plex or similar and not use iTunes. I love apple, but why get apple TV when I can already use a built in feature and get to use my magic remote?? For anyone with a newer LG TV you know you use any excuse possible to use the remote...don't lie.
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Old Mar 3, 2013, 08:58 PM   #2
mogwat
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Media Server

I've got an old PC with Windows Home Server and 6 SATA ports that I stuffed full of drives to do exactly what you describe. I tried Linux software but It just didn't play nice sometimes, whereas the Windows box is faultless and streams to my WD Live box, Apple TV or Mac. A mac mini with USB drives would work but be more expensive. I don't want a Mac Pro but wish Apple would make a Computer that you can put 6-8TB in! Your other solution would be a Hackintosh with Mac Server
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Old Mar 3, 2013, 11:50 PM   #3
phrehdd
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I'll not insist my way is the best way but tell you what avenues I have used and still using -

1) NAS for storage
2) Panasonic TV can access the NAS and play all my files with one exception - any files with DTS-HD audio. Image will show but no audio.
3) Oppo Bdp 103 Blu Ray player - plays all of my movies beautifully.
4) Dune 3 Base - this older Dune unit lets you install a low speed drive (5400) and also can use files from NAS as well as external drives connected to the Dune.

In your shoes there are lots of options - My guess is something like a Dune Media player or PopcornHour unit would do very well for you. The Dune units come in various version ranging from some with internal drive space, no drive space, with a blu ray player included, blu ray plus internal drive space etc. The only caveat is that the menuing is rather weak but it works well and there are 3rd party solutions to make the menus more robust and pretty.

The other option to consider is getting something like a used Mac Mini and using it with external drives and the free software XBMC or PLEX. For Mac folks this is a nice mix of media server and OSX friendliness. While I prefer XBMC, most Mac folks like PLEX a bit better. If these interest you, you should visit their respective sites and yes, the software is free. The nice part is you can always add more drives externally via USB or Firewire.

The Dune option is more dedicated and works very well and comes with a reasonable remote.

Of all of the above, I will suggest investing in a NAS in the future that has some redundancy whether it is mirroring or parity via RAID 5 etc. Whatever you choose don't consider wireless for high bitrate movies (blu ray level) as it will be very choppy and stutter at times. If/when you opt for wireless AC, then consider wireless.

Just my two cents and feel free to pm me if you need any specifics answered.

---
Mac Mini quad 2.0/16gigRAM, WDN900 router, (2 retired Airport Extremes), Dune 3 Base w/2tb storage internal, Oppo Bdp 103 Blu Ray, TiVo3, Marantz NR1602, Panasonic VT50 Plasma TV, 2x QNAP NAS and multiple external drives w/usb or FW.
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Old Mar 4, 2013, 12:17 AM   #4
spencers
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I store all my media on an unRAID server. I recommend it if you're the DIY type.

Otherwise, I'd probably suggest a Synology, QNAP, or ReadyNAS NAS.

Even better, if your LG TV has uPNP capability, you can run Plex Media Server on any of the above and stream it directly to your tv.
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Last edited by spencers; Mar 4, 2013 at 12:23 AM.
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Old Mar 5, 2013, 08:04 PM   #5
MAMiller44
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Okay so I've been looking into NAS options...honestly didn't even know what it stood for at first but hey that's why I'm trying to learn. First off, I should have mentioned that my LG TV plays the movies through wifi and it actually runs flawlessly at blu-ray quality. With NAS...won't I still need to have a computer on for the TV or my iphone to communicate with the storage via Plex?
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Old Mar 8, 2013, 08:52 AM   #6
spencers
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAMiller44 View Post
Okay so I've been looking into NAS options...honestly didn't even know what it stood for at first but hey that's why I'm trying to learn. First off, I should have mentioned that my LG TV plays the movies through wifi and it actually runs flawlessly at blu-ray quality. With NAS...won't I still need to have a computer on for the TV or my iphone to communicate with the storage via Plex?
Nope! That's the joy of the NAS. It's essentially a low power computer running some sort of flavor of Linux, that just so happens to have RAID'ed hard drives.

In the example I provided above, the Plex Media Server application can run on certain models of Synology, ReadyNAS, and QNAP; and would stream your media directly to your LG TV.

Here's a Q/A if you need some more in-depth info:
http://wiki.plexapp.com/index.php/FA...Server_and_NAS
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Last edited by spencers; Mar 8, 2013 at 09:01 AM.
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Old Mar 8, 2013, 09:53 AM   #7
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I would highly recomend looking into the synology products. In my opinion they have the best software and are very easy to use. YOu can install Plex on them very easily (their is a menu for applications and you just click on PLex and it downloads and installs). I have 4bay Synology box with 10TB of storage in it (2x3tb and 2x2tb). I have several hundred movies and about 40 different TV shows with every season. All are in HD. I have two PS3 that I use to stream media from the NAS to the TVs in the house. Synology also has an ipad/iphone that i use to watch my media with on my ipad/iphone over wireless when i am not in front of the TV. The other nice thing about a NAS is many (like the synology) have built in bitTorrent clients so they can download upload without your computer being on.

Cheers and good luck.
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Old Mar 9, 2013, 05:31 PM   #8
MAMiller44
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Do you guys give your synology NAS drives a break or leave them on 24/7? How do they hold up?

Right now it looks like the Synology DS413j is the best option for me. I can get (2) 2 TB drives for now and get more as needed.

Last edited by MAMiller44; Mar 9, 2013 at 07:52 PM.
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 06:31 AM   #9
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My Synology NAS stays on 24/7
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 06:41 AM   #10
Pyromonkey83
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Originally Posted by macdaddy001 View Post
I would highly recomend looking into the synology products. In my opinion they have the best software and are very easy to use. YOu can install Plex on them very easily (their is a menu for applications and you just click on PLex and it downloads and installs). I have 4bay Synology box with 10TB of storage in it (2x3tb and 2x2tb). I have several hundred movies and about 40 different TV shows with every season. All are in HD. I have two PS3 that I use to stream media from the NAS to the TVs in the house. Synology also has an ipad/iphone that i use to watch my media with on my ipad/iphone over wireless when i am not in front of the TV. The other nice thing about a NAS is many (like the synology) have built in bitTorrent clients so they can download upload without your computer being on.

Cheers and good luck.
I came to say literally everything macdaddy did here. I have a DS413j and absolutely love it. I have never had an issue with it, and have had it for about 4 months now (maybe a little more). It's apps are fantastic, PLEX being one of them, and the download station is another. I constantly have to download files from my work's FTP server, and the download station makes it hilariously easy to put it in whatever folder I want on the server with quite literally no effort involved.

PLEX works well, but unfortunately for the "j" models, ARM processors do not support transcoding. Therefore you can't play HD videos outside of the network unless you have an outrageous upload speed. This is a very minor inconvenience though as I just run PLEX off my iMac instead, and leave everything else to the Synology.

Also, I too keep my Synology on 24/7. I recently updated to the new software which required a reset, but prior to that I was at 84 days and counting for uptime with 0 issues. (I also have 2x3TB and 2x2TB drives in the Synology Hybrid RAID)
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 07:12 AM   #11
Sue De Nimes
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The HP Microserver is hard to beat.

I have a 36L which I got a couple of years ago. It cost me 200 and I got 100 cash back from HP. It was replaced by the 40L which had an incremental bump to the CPU and again with the same cashback deal.

http://www.serversplus.com/pdfs/ms100_feb13.pdf

That deal has finally expired (it ran solidly for the life of the 40L) The 40L has been replaced with the 54L (with another incremental CPU speed bump) and I would be surprised if HP didn't run a similar deal. Even if they don't you can pick up used 40Ls for under 100

You can then stick your own choice of OS on it. I used Windows Home Server 2011 but you can stick FreeNAS, Linux or lots of others.

Mine is on 24/7 and acts as a torrent download station. I also have Plex mediaserver running on it. I manage it remotely so it is headless and sits on a shelf minding its own business.

There is a very long running thread on them over here

Never had a single problem with mine. Performance is better than a more expensive NAS, I have 5 HDDs in it and it is whisper quiet.

This deal has been in the UK - I don't know if the same was run in the US and A
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 09:38 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by MAMiller44 View Post
Do you guys give your synology NAS drives a break or leave them on 24/7? How do they hold up?

Right now it looks like the Synology DS413j is the best option for me. I can get (2) 2 TB drives for now and get more as needed.
You can set the drives to hibernate when not in use, so it will actually power them down the turn them back on when data is requested off the NAS. Take a look at a software review that I wrote HERE.
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 10:11 AM   #13
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No intention to hijack thread but, I store all my movies in mp4 format on ex HDDs. When needed I drag movie I want into iTunes then play from my ATV. Is there an easier way?
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 11:56 AM   #14
macdaddy001
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAMiller44 View Post
Do you guys give your synology NAS drives a break or leave them on 24/7? How do they hold up?

Right now it looks like the Synology DS413j is the best option for me. I can get (2) 2 TB drives for now and get more as needed.
I have the older 411j and I leave it on 24/7. I have had it 2+ years now and it has been on the whole time with the exception of restarts for software updates, and I powered it down a couple time to install a new drive and once I moved. Other than that it has run rock solid the whole time. I have the drives set to hibernate when not being used. Hope this helps cheers.
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 03:01 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MAMiller44 View Post
Do you guys give your synology NAS drives a break or leave them on 24/7? How do they hold up?

Right now it looks like the Synology DS413j is the best option for me. I can get (2) 2 TB drives for now and get more as needed.
I don't have a Synology, but my NAS computer runs 24/7 and the drives spin-down when they're not in use after about 15-30 minutes, if I recall.
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 08:01 PM   #16
SteveInCalif
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No intention to hijack thread but, I store all my movies in mp4 format on ex HDDs. When needed I drag movie I want into iTunes then play from my ATV. Is there an easier way?
John, this last week the HDD in my MBP finally got filled up, mainly to plenty of video content. I wanted to move my video to an archive Ext HDD and keep my music, photos and podcasts in iTunes on my MBP.

I stumbled upon TuneSpan, an app that lets you "span" your content across multiple drives. No need to create a second iTunes library. TuneSpan reads your iTunes library structure via the xml file. Just fire up TuneSpan, tell it where to store content on the Ext HDD, drag the content you want to have stored on the Ext HDD to a pane in the TuneSpan window, and click "Span." It copies the files to the Ext HDD from your main machine and then, on your computer, moves the files to the Trash.

In iTunes, everything looks the same as before. If you "Get Info" for a content item, it will show you where it's located. If you have a piece of content on the Ext HDD and that volume is not mounted, iTunes will show a little exclamation point next to the content. As soon as you mount the Ext HDD, the content is available in iTunes.

I bought a Seagate 1 TB drive yesterday, downloaded TuneSpan, and in a couple of hours moved 100 GB of video content to my new Ext HDD.

With this approach, there's no need to manually copy files. Just plug in your external HDD and, voila, the content is immediately available in iTunes.

This is a quick interim solution for me just so I can free up space on my MBP so I finish downloading the last 12 gig of a TV show. I think I'll still set up a video server in my closet and have read this thread with great interest. I may take a simple approach -- run a Mac Mini headless in my closet with my new Ext HDD, run iTunes on the Mac Mini, and have it feed my Apple TV.

I like the idea of the Synology NAS, but I don't want the hassle of running non-Apple equipment. I like my stuff to just work without a lot of headaches.
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Old Mar 10, 2013, 08:41 PM   #17
JohnLT13
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Originally Posted by SteveInCalif View Post
John, this last week the HDD in my MBP finally got filled up, mainly to plenty of video content. I wanted to move my video to an archive Ext HDD and keep my music, photos and podcasts in iTunes on my MBP.

I stumbled upon TuneSpan, an app that lets you "span" your content across multiple drives. No need to create a second iTunes library. TuneSpan reads your iTunes library structure via the xml file. Just fire up TuneSpan, tell it where to store content on the Ext HDD, drag the content you want to have stored on the Ext HDD to a pane in the TuneSpan window, and click "Span." It copies the files to the Ext HDD from your main machine and then, on your computer, moves the files to the Trash.

In iTunes, everything looks the same as before. If you "Get Info" for a content item, it will show you where it's located. If you have a piece of content on the Ext HDD and that volume is not mounted, iTunes will show a little exclamation point next to the content. As soon as you mount the Ext HDD, the content is available in iTunes.

I bought a Seagate 1 TB drive yesterday, downloaded TuneSpan, and in a couple of hours moved 100 GB of video content to my new Ext HDD.

With this approach, there's no need to manually copy files. Just plug in your external HDD and, voila, the content is immediately available in iTunes.

This is a quick interim solution for me just so I can free up space on my MBP so I finish downloading the last 12 gig of a TV show. I think I'll still set up a video server in my closet and have read this thread with great interest. I may take a simple approach -- run a Mac Mini headless in my closet with my new Ext HDD, run iTunes on the Mac Mini, and have it feed my Apple TV.

I like the idea of the Synology NAS, but I don't want the hassle of running non-Apple equipment. I like my stuff to just work without a lot of headaches.
Thanks for the info. Ill give TuneSpan a try. Sounds like the solution I need. I have thought of doing the same with a MacMini, as I also would prefer to stay in the Apple family.

Downloaded and using Tunespan. Great App. Thanks again.

Last edited by JohnLT13; Mar 10, 2013 at 09:44 PM.
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