Media Server

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Old 09-08-10, 12:18 AM
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Media Server

Ok, so I have a computer that I would like to set up as a media server. It has P4 3.06Ghz processor, 1GB memory, running Windows XP Media Center. I want it to run as a standalone, headless unit (no keyboard, mouse, or monitor). I already use Remote Desktop to manage it. Right now it only has an 80GB SATA 2.5" laptop hard drive in it. I have more drives I can chuck into it if required. I just need to know where to run from here. It's going to be the only computer running Windows XP. Unless there's something else out there that I should be using. All the other computers are running Windows 7 Ultimate.
 
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Old 09-08-10, 02:24 PM
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Since this is going to be a media server, first of all, I would highly recommend installing a RAID card and at least 3 new hard drives (laptop hard drives are not known for their performance or durability) of equal size in a RAID-5 configuration. That sounds complicated, but it's really not. RAID is a redundant data backup system that preserves the data if one of the hard drives fails. It consists of a special card that all the hard drives plug into. To you the user, it would show up as one giant hard drive, not 3 smaller ones.

I would also recommend you use a Linux based system called FreeNAS (Network Attached Storage). It is far more stable than Windows and requires a much smaller installation (approx 64MB, versus the 2GB required by MCE), and it is designed to be run headless with a web interface (much less resource-intensive than remote desktop). It will also recover from a power failure completely on its own with no user intervention (can not be said for MCE) It's very straightforward to set up. You just create folders, set up shares, and assign permissions if needed.
 
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Old 09-09-10, 09:31 AM
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The computer in question already is RAID capable. I just don't have it enabled, because I don't like the thought of rebuilding the array if one drive fails. I was only thinking of using XP because that's what I bought a long time ago for it, and have installed on it.
 
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Old 09-09-10, 10:28 AM
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So will this be a home / entertainment media server?
To watch videos, downloaded movies and TV shows etc?

If so - do you have cable TV or Satellite or possibly FIOS?

I built a homemade Tivo box on an XP machine using an open source application called gbpvr which is compatible with Media Center. The source of the video is a TV tuner card and I can schedule recordings, skip commercials things like that. You would want more than an 80gb drive though.
 
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Old 09-09-10, 11:26 AM
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You'll need a hell of a lot more than 80GB for a decent media server. I have 300GB on mine which holds all my music and a handful of DVDs and it is often close to being full. While RAID is handy for when you need data stored just before a failure, a regular backup (once per week/month or so) is all that is needed if nearly all of your data is going to be static. If you don't mind the prospect of losing a tv show you recorded then don't worry about it.
 
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Old 09-09-10, 03:31 PM
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Originally Posted by crazycory22 View Post
The computer in question already is RAID capable. I just don't have it enabled, because I don't like the thought of rebuilding the array if one drive fails. I was only thinking of using XP because that's what I bought a long time ago for it, and have installed on it.
I'm at a loss.. You'd rather just lose all your rips and have to start all over when your single drive fails? You make it sound like there's work involved or something.. All you do is put in the new drive and it rebuilds itself..

Originally Posted by txrxio View Post
You'll need a hell of a lot more than 80GB for a decent media server. I have 300GB on mine which holds all my music and a handful of DVDs and it is often close to being full. While RAID is handy for when you need data stored just before a failure, a regular backup (once per week/month or so) is all that is needed if nearly all of your data is going to be static. If you don't mind the prospect of losing a tv show you recorded then don't worry about it.
With the price of hard drives today, there's no reason for a decent server to have anything less than 1TB. You can get a 1TB drive for under $100 now. My server is running 8x 1.5TB drives in RAID 5 with a hot spare (total storage 9TB). One fails, it rebuilds automatically. It's also running FreeNAS.

Making a backup of a hard drive full of DVD rips and music versus using RAID is silly. The data is already compressed, so there is zero space advantage (it would take 100GB to back up 100GB), and to that effect it would be just like mirroring. RAID 5 is much more space efficient.

Believe me, once you have lost a hard drive full of rips that it took you months of spare time do, you'll appreciate RAID. I originally had two 750GB drives. Once the one failed, I decided to do RAID, but I wanted to make sure I had more room than I would need for the next several years. I rip everything I buy to the server. I also use a MythTV box that dumps its recordings onto the server. Every TV has a streaming player of some sort that can access it, and I can access it over VPN when I'm on the road.
 
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