Jamesy's Blog

Archive for November, 2012

Media Server

by on Nov.02, 2012, under Uncategorized

Like many people living in the digital age I get my music online. I haven’t bought a cd for around 15 years. I’ve amassed around 40 gigs of music and approximately 800 gigs of DVDs. Add that to family photos documents and a software repository (so that I don’t have to keep wallets of discs in a cool dark place). This comes to almost a terabyte of data.

Now I’ve got a Mac Book Pro with a 1TB Hard Drive, but I need space for the OS and it’s partitioned for boot camp, so I can play Star Wars the Old Republic MMORPG.

For a few years I’ve had one of those media server that are just a box with some HDDs and an embedded Linux OS. The first one I owned was a Buffalo Livestation. God it was slow, you had no hope at all trying to play anything over wireless network, just endless buffering. To get around this I ran a cable into the conservatory where I keep my Xbox and PS3, a wired full duplex 100mb LAN connection did the trick but what a pain in the bum to install. I had to drill through 4 walls and 2 window frames to run the cable. But at least no more buffering!!

Anyhow after a while the fan failed, and I had to get a replacement, buffalo don’t stock replacements, or at that least they didn’t at the time. I got an equivalent fan from Maplin, but because the fan drew less current the fan warning light continued to flash and for some odd reason this severely damaged the performance. So, I replaced it Zyxel NSA221.

Wow! what a machine, I could stream anything to anything anywhere with that bad boy! No buffering over wireless, print server, NFS support – well sort of. I’ll come to that in a bit. The Zyxel was brilliant it was fast and powerful and good value for money for £50 with HDDs. I backed up the buffalo to multiple external disks and then whipped the HDDs out in and popped them in to the Zyxel. Set up the raid array and copied the data over. The longest part was the wait for copying and nothing to watch. Before I bought the MacBook, I had a Dell laptop and was able to use SMB data shares without issue. When I moved to mac the SMB was problematic and worked intermittently. I tried using the Zyxel’s built in NFS system, it seems that the Zyxel’s implementation of NFS is also a bit problematic or at least it was for me.

I stayed with the Zyxel for a few years until I felt the need for a change, NFS issues were also a factor in this.

So, a few months ago the urge to upgrade came over me and unable to resist I ordered a HP ProLiant Micro server.

Seriously with this thing you get a lot of bang for your buck! It’s packing a dual core AMD CPU, 2gb ram a 250gb HDD, gigabit LAN, on board raid capable of 0,1,5 and JBOD and shed loads of USB ports. All this for £250!!! The only thing missing is an optical drive. Any full size optical drive will do. I bought one at the same time for £20.

Now if you’re confident you can get a free OS by using Ubuntu, I’ve done this in the past with mixed results. So, I stuck with what I know and bought windows home server 2011 from Novatech for about £90. Now windows server does come with windows media connect and windows media sharing so you don’t need to purchase additional software. From my own experience I’ve found that sometimes, windows media sharing software does sometimes place a heavy load on CPU and RAM, so I turned that option off and bought Tversity pro for £20.

Tversity is a great piece of software. You set it up and it will automatically scan your folders for changes and updates its database as it goes. Once you’ve added your clients and files you can also choose whether you want to convert your media on the fly, I chose to only convert when necessary.

Now I had done some research into windows NFS mounts and to be honest it looked very complicated. So, I bought Hanewin NFS server software. With some minimal configuration of the software and windows firewall I was ready to go, and it hasn’t let me down since.

So, if you like me have lots media and are looking for a decently powerful server I would really recommend the HP Micro Server, also if you’ve got a small business then I reckon it will do you fine for file server / print server duties.

Post a comment with your views/server configs!!



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