A Storage Server (That doubles as an HTPC)

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A Storage Server (That doubles as an HTPC)

Postby DJ_Izumi » Mon May 14, 2012 6:23 pm

RAID is what people usually boast about. Even my desktop uses RAID1 for all it's drives because I need redundancy. I dunno how accepting of the 'My hard drive exploded' excuse my professors would be, but I'd rather be all 'My hard drive exploded, but everything is still good. :D'

Anyway, in the 'Rig' thread we've seen a LOT of photos of external USB drives, well, I went a different route. When I was building my i5 2500k system, my then current desktop, an Athlon 64 3200+ would be retired but I felt like turning it into something useful. So I built it into a storage server and home theater PC.

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So, this thing I must admit is kinda shitbox. The choice of this specific system wasn't super wise but it did cost me almost zero (If you don't count the hard drives). Most RAID options have the issue of not being easily expanded and, well, maybe you don't want EVERYTHING to be redundant? I'm using DriveBender ( http://www.drivebender.com/ ) to pool multiple physical drives into what Windows 7 thinks is one single, non-redundant drive. As an added bonus, Drive Bender can set specific FOLDERS to be redundant, so CRC checksummed reundant copies will be kept on different physical drives. This way my 'Projects' folder is redundant and roughly as safe as if it were on a RAID but everything else isn't redundant. I'm not hugely concerned about archiving anime, movies and television series against data corruption, so that works great. In the case of my current box, it thinks it has a giant 7TB drive. Since the case it's in can hold 10 drives if you max it out, it would cap out fairly high. Since I only add drives as needed and buy the drive that gets me the most TB's for my $, the total size varies. I'm just gonna keep cramming bigger and bigger drives into it.

That's not bad for recycled crap, and really, it IS recycled crap. The mobo will only wake from USB if hibernated (And if you change the USB devices while it's hibernated, it corrupts the file), the network adaptor thinks it's MAC address is all 0's (Really, it's like that in the FIRMWARE somehow), the onboard SATA1 ports can't auto-negotiate so they're useless with modern drives and it forces me to use a PCI SATA1 card, the graphics is an AGP card, to allow DirectX Video Acceleration and well, yeah crap. I mainly blame the crappy mobo I bought years ago. The storage and the ethernet adaptor on one PCI bus, oh my the I/O limitations! At the end of the summer I'll be replacing this thing's guts with an AMD Llano based system, it'll offer more power, greater expandiblity, and modern features without a high price tag.

...But hey, let's watch movies on this thing too. The machine sits next to the television in my bedroom and it's running XBMC ( http://xbmc.org/ ) which is a great home theater front end. It doesn't just 'play files' but it builds libraries, gathers synopsis, thumbnails, marks what you've watched and such. Just add a MCE compatible remote and enjoy the machine without a keyboard. XBMC also has streaming video options and I think I'll be getting rid of my cable TV at the end of my contract.

Since the machine can run 24/7 as a server, as of today it's going to be hosting media for another machine too. My roommate bought a Zotac Zbox with an E-350 inside it for our living room and I'm building it into a light weight XBMC machine. It won't need much storage itself, it'll just play content off the network from the big box. What I find funny here is both machines, one with 2004 hardware and the other with 2011 hardware, are about just as powerful. And one is a heck of a lot smaller and cuter looking. It's kinda amazing how far tech has come, that thing is like the size of a Wii.

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Well, I found this solution more elegant than a pile of USB drives and maybe someone else will find the topic interesting. :P
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Re: A Storage Server (That doubles as an HTPC)

Postby milkmandan » Sun May 27, 2012 3:44 am

I've been doing this as well for a while now, so I guess I'll add to the pile.
I originally had chosen to go the FreeNAS route (http://www.freenas.org/) but seeing that I had multiple LCD TVs through out the house, it was better to have some HTPCs as well that doubled as a Storage Server.

Even if you don't have OLD parts you can still build a cost efficient HTPC machine that can perform top notch (for an HTPC). Intel's new line of Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge are very desirable due to on-chip graphics processor. And the lower end i3s are VERY cheap and if you can snag a deal on Amazon or somewhere else, you can get them for less than $100 a pop.

Throw in the other essentials, case, psu, mobo, ram, HDDs, and you're pretty much set to go (all for less than $500 if you're good).
I use my HTPCs as torrent machines, media/storage servers, and/or theater players.
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Re: A Storage Server (That doubles as an HTPC)

Postby milkmandan » Sun May 27, 2012 3:46 am

But just so people don't end up trying this, don't build a media server and attempt to drag and drop network hosted video files into your time line and expect your scrubbing or rendering to be 'blazing' fast. lol
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Re: A Storage Server (That doubles as an HTPC)

Postby DJ_Izumi » Sun May 27, 2012 5:41 pm

milkmandan wrote:I've been doing this as well for a while now, so I guess I'll add to the pile.
I originally had chosen to go the FreeNAS route (http://www.freenas.org/) but seeing that I had multiple LCD TVs through out the house, it was better to have some HTPCs as well that doubled as a Storage Server.

Even if you don't have OLD parts you can still build a cost efficient HTPC machine that can perform top notch (for an HTPC). Intel's new line of Ivy Bridge and Sandy Bridge are very desirable due to on-chip graphics processor. And the lower end i3s are VERY cheap and if you can snag a deal on Amazon or somewhere else, you can get them for less than $100 a pop.


I actually overhauled the entire machine last week with far more modern parts. However I found that going AMD was the cheapest route. Their Llano 'APU' series with built in Radeon graphics are pretty spectacular. I paid only $69 for an AMD A6-3500, which features a 2.1ghz tri core CPU and a Radeon HD 6530D with 320 stream processors built in. It's a pretty spectacular piece of kit for what it cost. It lets me avoid needing an addon card for hardware accelerated video decoding and leaves more CPU resources for running SickBeard, CouchPotato, DriveBender and Sabnzbd. Also, in the old system the I/O between the SATA controller and the ethernet adaptor was pretty limited, with the new setup it transfers at like 80+MB/s over 1gbit ethernet. While Intel's CPUs rule the roost when it comes to high end applications, when it comes to highly affordable lower and midrange, I think AMD wins out entirely.[/quote]

milkmandan wrote:Throw in the other essentials, case, psu, mobo, ram, HDDs, and you're pretty much set to go (all for less than $500 if you're good).
I use my HTPCs as torrent machines, media/storage servers, and/or theater players.


I paid $69 for the AMD A6-3500, $79.99 for the ATX mobo that's pretty feature rich for it's class, $55 for the reasonably quiet Corsair 600W power supply, $39.99 for the RAM. Actually, $500 would be an over estimation of cost to build such a machine. (Unless you wanna factor in the cost of stuffing it full of hard drives)

It looks a heck of a lot less ugly this way too:

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Re: A Storage Server (That doubles as an HTPC)

Postby Mister Hatt » Tue May 29, 2012 6:52 am

milkmandan wrote:But just so people don't end up trying this, don't build a media server and attempt to drag and drop network hosted video files into your time line and expect your scrubbing or rendering to be 'blazing' fast. lol

I actually do the majority of my softloading and seeking over network storage, but I have a proper setup designed for this. Any content I choose to actually work with gets copied onto a RAID0 SSD which is pretty fast for editing with (not AMVs tho) and then the render is run off the network again. Runs faster than most desktop storage I've seen even in just the network bits.
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Re: A Storage Server (That doubles as an HTPC)

Postby BasharOfTheAges » Tue May 29, 2012 7:40 am

IIRC, you can specify local drives as scratch space in newer Premiere/AE builds, so it'll actually cache what it needs on them and you shouldn't notice too much difference in using assets across your network in your projects after the initial load (as what's being used won't technically be across your network any more).
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Re: A Storage Server (That doubles as an HTPC)

Postby DJ_Izumi » Tue May 29, 2012 9:03 pm

I just copy my crap to the editing PC first. The storage server is for storing backups of complete projects using DriveBender's redundancy options and then storing media without redundancy. I gotta keep that 444GB of ER episodes somewhere other than my desktop afterall!
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Re: A Storage Server (That doubles as an HTPC)

Postby milkmandan » Fri Jun 01, 2012 1:05 am

BasharOfTheAges wrote:IIRC, you can specify local drives as scratch space in newer Premiere/AE builds, so it'll actually cache what it needs on them and you shouldn't notice too much difference in using assets across your network in your projects after the initial load (as what's being used won't technically be across your network any more).

interesting I didn't know that, I'll try it next time.
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