Best Digital Home Theater File Storage/Backup?


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 17, 2009
Hey, all!
I've got an extensive collection of HD personal backup movies, which is now the only way we watch our collection. After having this set-up for about 5 years now, I'm growing increasingly paranoid about one of my several HD's failing and losing many of our files (we have about 20TBs).

So those hardcore home theater users among you--how do you store and/or backup your collection? I'm looking at cloud options but many have file size limits, or don't have reasonable unlimited (or at least 10TB) plans, etc.

Also, have you found any other devices that handle a large home theater collection better than AppleTV? We have 4 AppleTV's and are likely grabbing the new one, but I've just heard about Plex, and because we also have a projector that we use outside for movies, I'm considering getting a box (like the Western Digital) with a USB input (for a thumb drive with a few movies on it) so we don't have to be on wifi for movie playback.

Any and all advice re: digital home theater collections welcome. Thanks!


macrumors 6502
Original poster
Jun 17, 2009
It'll take some convincing of the wife (and probably a long wait until we have enough expendable cash), but that may be the way we have to do it. While I've built several computers and consider myself tech-savvy, I've never ventured into storage redundancy, NAS, RAID backups etc. We're using what amounts to a 4 bay external HD case right now ( I think especially if we use Plex, we'll need to go to a full NAS layout.

I'm looking for endgame here--I don't mind eventually spending some serious change, but not on a monthly basis ($100+ a month for cloud storage!?).

Thanks for the link. I was researching NAS stuff in another window just as you replied even.


macrumors 6502a
Dec 29, 2014
Maybe start with a two drive option. Get a four drive later. Four has been solid for us and I swap out a drive once a year for good measure.
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macrumors 6502
Nov 1, 2015
So those hardcore home theater users among you--how do you store and/or backup your collection?
My media is about half the size of yours and I built a 24TB server running FreeBSD and ZFS. I have 6 4TB drives in a ZFS RAIDZ2 which means 2 of those drives are for redundancy, kind of like RAID6. Thus, I have roughly 16TB usable space. I chose RAIDZ2 over RAIDZ (which is more like RAID5) because I wanted to lessen the chance of loosing my entire array if a 2nd drive fails while rebuilding the array after replacing the 1st failed drive, which is a possibility with large drives. I chose FreeBSD/ZFS because I really like that combination and use it on a daily basis at work. The motherboard/cpu/memory (Supermicro motherboard, Xeon processor, 16GB RAM) are server-grade and thus a little more expensive. The server is also my plex server and handles other things as well. It's also, of course, on a UPS.

I backup smaller stuff to other computers and dropbox. I don't have a digital backup for most of my movies because it takes up too much space. Thus, the physical blurays/dvds are my backup. I do, however, keep as much as I can backed up to other computers. I also plan on getting a couple extra drives for backup, 1 onsite and 1 offsite that will be rotated out periodically.

This is certainly more of a higher-end option but I was getting sick of my ghetto way I used to handle my data and I wanted a robust, enterprise-like solution that just works. I think I spent around $2,000 for all the server parts, drives and UPS about 6 months ago.

If you want to go the route I took, I suggest looking into FreeNAS. It's basically FreeBSD/ZFS but with a nice web UI and packaged up to be more user friendly.

Some things to consider:
1) You have 20TB now but how fast is your data growing? How much data will you have next year? 5 years from now?
2) RAID is not a backup solution. Assume you will eventually loose your entire array and will have to recover from a backup. Assume the worst (e.g. your house burns down).
3) How big a deal is it for you to recover from your backup? If it's no big deal for you, you might not need to go as robust as I did. For example, a smaller NAS device with a RAID5 array, or maybe even a simple stripe, might work just fine. For me, recovering from my backups means re-ripping all my movies so I want to do as much as I can to reduce the chance that I have to do that.

Doc C

macrumors regular
Nov 5, 2013
If you are considering a NAS system, I would take a look at the Synology.

I actually have a QNAP system, and it is excellent, so I would recommend this as well, as they are almost the same. The one difference is that (from what I can tell) the Synology systems can now handle different sized drives. This would allow you to start small and add as you could afford.

Just for reference, I have one QNAP system in RAID-5 format at home, with it automatically backing up to an identical system at my parents' place (over the internet). I figure that if one goes down, the other is still good. Perhaps not the ideal backup system, but the risk-benefit ratio seems to be good in my case. The only thing I would change at this point if I were to rebuild it would be to use RAID-6 for the drive arrays, given the size of the individual drives.

Anyhow, that's just my 2 cents...