HP MediaSmart Server vs NAS (QNAP or Synology) vs FreeNas?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by haze, Dec 31, 2008.

  1. haze macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2007
    #1
    Anybody familiar with both? I was leaning towards a QNAP TS-409 to use as a media server to stream to computers and tv, but I also saw the HP on-sale. However, I don't know much about it. It uses Windows Home server, which I know nothing about. I am leery of Windows in general. Anybody familiar with both? I almost out of HDD space on my externals, I need to get something going soon.
     
  2. NightGeometry macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Apr 11, 2004
    #2
    I've got a QNAP (a little one, the 109), and it is absolutely great. But one of the things that makes it great is its fanless case, which means it can live under my TV and not be distracting.

    Obviously the 409 has fans, so my comment is pretty useless in that aspect, sorry.

    The software is pretty good though, I assume it is the same on the 409. Good for setting big downloads going without leaving the computer on, I also like being able to access all my files from anywhere (through FTP or the web file manager). Haven't been able to get AFP running successfully, but I think that is just my lack of understanding of AFP.

    All in all - I'd get another QNAP device, I am actually considering getting the 209 later this year.
     
  3. VideoFreek macrumors 6502

    VideoFreek

    Joined:
    May 12, 2007
    Location:
    Philly
    #3
    First of all...wait! Apple itself is rumored to be ready to introduce a home server of their own at MWSF. While I have strong doubts that this will really happen, I think it's worth waiting a week to know for sure.

    Secondly, HP have just announced an update to their MediaSmart servers, which should be available in early January. This is the reason that the current models are on sale. You can read a fairly comprehensive overview of the new models here. Of special note is the enhanced support for Macs (Time Machine backups). HP have reportedly confirmed that the Mac backup functionality will be made available to existing MediaSmart owners via a software update, so you might want to look into this if you're considering picking up one of the older models on sale.

    Regarding your server-vs-NAS question: I run both--a Dell PowerEdge/ Win2000 server and a ReadyNAS NV+ NAS--but obviously not the particular systems you're looking at. Based on this background, however, I can offer a few perspectives. The main thing to consider when evaluating this choice is how much flexibility you require. NAS boxes such as the QNAP or ReadyNAS are, in fact, specialized servers, built on a proprietary embedded OS. Bug fixes and increased functionality are provided, occasionally, via firmware updates; additionally a limited number of "add-ons" (essentially, applications written for the particular box) are available to provide other capabilities.

    By contrast, an open server platform such as WHS should be much more extensible over time. WHS is based on Microsoft's enterprise-class server products (presently Server 2003, but future versions are rumored to be based on Server 2008), so it in fact is built on an extremely reliable and stable core. Yes, there was a bug in the initial release that caused data loss in certain circumstances; this marred an otherwise solid debut for the product, and has since been fixed. Don't think for a minute that any platform is immune from this sort of thing--ReadyNAS owners have suffered severe data loss problems as well due to bugs. Your "leeriness" of Windows is perhaps understandable, but unnecessary here--MS's enterprise products are far more impressive and stable than their desktop OS's.

    What I think you will see moving forward is that many more applications and extensions will be written for the WHS platform, so my guess would be that you'd get a better return on your investment over time with WHS than with a proprietary NAS box. If the choice was, say, between a NAS and a box running Windows 2003 or Small Business Server, I'd say that going with the NAS for simplicity and ease of use would be a no-brainer. But WHS has changed the game considerably, by combining the power of a full-blown server OS with the ease of setup and use that one finds in an "appliance" such as the ReadyNAS or QNAP. I think, particularly if more hardware vendors jump on board with the "home server" concept (e.g., Dell, or even Apple with an OS X-based offering), that these home servers will drive proprietary NAS boxes out of the home segment. Certainly Microsoft and its partners, as well as Apple, have the marketing power to bury the smaller hardware outfits producing NAS boxes. Time will tell.
     
  4. jaw04005 macrumors 601

    jaw04005

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Location:
    AR
    #4
    I've had he HP MediaSmart EX470 for about a year. I just got another unit on sale at www.hpshopping.com for $320 about three weeks ago (so look for coupons).

    It's a great device. I bumped the ram from 512MB to 2GB, and I do everything on it.

    It downloads torrents, rips DVDs and Blu-ray, records TV via SageTV and serves out iTunes to my Apple TV.

    The AMD Sempron is a sub-standard processor. However, for general computing tasks (like the above) it works great.
     
  5. VideoFreek macrumors 6502

    VideoFreek

    Joined:
    May 12, 2007
    Location:
    Philly
    #5
    Hang on, you're saying that you can stream to your :apple:TV directly from the server? Please provide more details on how you do this, since this is potentially a big deal. Are you using the built-in iTunes server that HP provides? If so, how do you handle the numeric code that must be entered to associate the :apple:TV with a shared library? Or...did you manage to install the full-blown iTunes Windows version on the server?
     
  6. jaw04005 macrumors 601

    jaw04005

    Joined:
    Aug 19, 2003
    Location:
    AR
    #6
    I installed iTunes. Simple as that. Windows Home Server is just a variant of Windows Server 2003.

    You can install anything you want via Remote Desktop.
     
  7. haze thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2007
    #7
    Yeah I saw the rumor about the Apple server. I plan on waiting a week anyways because I want to see if a Mac Mini comes out.

    With Super Bowl sales coming up I am going to purchase my first HDTV. In addition, here is what I have:

    Living Room/TV (FiOS PVR):
    Soon to be HDTV
    AEBS
    Pioneer 1018 Receiver
    Energy C-Series 5-speaker system
    Xbox
    JVC DVD-A

    Office/Computer (FiOS 20/5):
    MacBook Pro
    PowerMac G4 (1) 60GB, (2) 200 GB as file server (want to phase this out due to noise and size)
    Old Windows Box for an occasional game (rarely turned on and want to ditch also)
    Lacie 500GB External, Buffalo 160GB External, Guardian Maximus 2x1TB in RAID1 (want to centralize and get rid of the mess of miss matched drives)

    In addition to the HDTV, I want to get AppleTV or MacMini and/or PS3 to stream music, movies, tv shows, etc. I need central file storage to put in the living room connected to AEBS Gigabit port to stream to devices and act as backup to my MacBook Pro.

    That is why I was thinking QNAP, MediSmart server or even using parts from my Windows box to create a FreeNas. I could do the FreeNas easy enough, but I worry about looks and noise with it being in my AV Rack.
     
  8. srl7741 macrumors 68020

    srl7741

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2008
    Location:
    In my world
    #8
    VideoFreek great post thanks, I'm in a similar de-lima needing some type of Home Server. I'm in a holding pattern for a few more weeks to see IF something new surfaces.
    I would like about 4TB of space and of course like everyone (no noise). Something that can play nice with all my Apple products in the house and also do the same with any Windows device that may end up as a guest in m home.

    :)
     
  9. jonahj macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2007
    Location:
    NJ
    #9
    I concur. Nice little Home Server. I'm using mine for scheduled PC and Mac backups as well as for streaming to my ATV.

    BTW, I also did the memory upgrade.
     
  10. Fuellemann macrumors newbie

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2008
    #10
    Bit how do you sync your iPhone/iPod with that?

    Hi,

    if you use such a server, how do you use iTunes on your Mac to sync your iPhone or iPod (as it does not work with a shared library)?


    Thanks for any hints on this!


    Kind regards,

    Jan
     
  11. VideoFreek macrumors 6502

    VideoFreek

    Joined:
    May 12, 2007
    Location:
    Philly
    #11
    Thanks. Forget about no noise--whenever you pack four or more hard drives into a small enclosure, they're going to generate a lot of heat and therefore require a fan. Of course, the enclosure can be engineered to minimize the noise, but it won't be totally silent. Even if a fanless case were available, I wouldn't trust it. When you're committing THAT much data to a single device, the 3 most important things are reliability, reliability, and reliability! You want to keep those drives as cool as possible.

    The thing about WHS or NAS devices, however, is that they're designed to be administered remotely, so the best thing to do is stick them in a closet or somewhere in the house where the noise won't be a concern. I wouldn't even think of putting a NAS in my A/V rack as it would sit directly under my television, and I will not tolerate ANY fan noise in my home theater.
     
  12. pilotError macrumors 68020

    pilotError

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    Long Island
    #12
    Noise is an issue with these things.

    I have an office in the Attic that houses my NAS. You couldn't put one in your living room and be happy with it.
     
  13. haze thread starter macrumors regular

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2007
    #13
    I live in a small apartment and the way FiOS is installed my AEBS is at the TV. FiOS is weird. They send their channel guide, video on demand, etc. through the Internet router, which then has to be hooked up to the cable box via a coax splitter. Plus, their modem is built into their switch. You have to daisy chain their router/switch off yours, thus losing one of three AEBS gigabit ports. :(

    Needless to say, that means my AEBS is at the TV. I could maybe rewire it and split at the FiOS ONT, but that is in my bedroom closet and after college dorm living I vowed to never have a computer in my room again buzzing all damn night.
     
  14. VideoFreek macrumors 6502

    VideoFreek

    Joined:
    May 12, 2007
    Location:
    Philly
    #14
    ^^^
    You don't need to move your AEBS. Again, you can place the server or NAS anywhere you want, though I'd admit in a small apartment there are probably not many places where noise wouldn't be an issue. Nevertheless, don't put it in your bedroom...it will indeed drive you mad.

    I'd recommend you find a location where the fan noise would be least obtrusive (storage closet, behind a chair, etc.). Obviously, you need to use common sense and avoid high heat/ humidity locations (e.g., bathroom or kitchen). A closet would be OK as long as you leave sufficient space around the server/NAS to allow adequate air circulation. Then, run a Cat 5e or Cat 6 ethernet cable from the AEBS to the server/NAS. Even if you have to run it along the surface (e.g, along the baseboard), it should be possible to do a fairly unobtrusive installation. In a pinch, you can even run it under a carpet as long as you avoid high-traffic areas. Here in Germany, where running cable between floors is impossible due to the house construction (concrete blocks), I've even run my cables out of windows on a concealed side of my house to go between floors!
     

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