General purpose media server - NAS vs. unRAID vs. Other Options ??? - AVS Forum
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Old 01-20-2013, 11:07 AM - Thread Starter
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So I have two home PCs. Our main desktop PC that my wife uses mainly to edit her photography on and our HTPC in our living room that has all of our music, movies and TV shows loaded on it running XBMC. The main desktop my wife uses has a 2TB internal drive that nearing its capacity limit (because she shoots her pictures in RAW format so each picture is quite large) and my HTPC has a 3TB internal drive and 3TB external eSATA drive and I have Nova Backup set to mirror drive A to the external drive B once a week to protect against data loss.

So as I get more and more movies and TV shows I will start to reach the limit of the 3TBs on the HTPC as well. I am probably going to take the time to encode my rips down from between 3 - 6 GB down to 1.5 - 2GB (using Handbrake) to free up more space but then I started thinking about just taking the jump to a large capacity NAS or media server for both computers so that I can keep the movie rips at the large size. Also the main desktop with all my wife's pictures on it is only backed up via Carbonite which is now incredibly slow because after you pass a certain threshold it throttles down your upstream speed so basically at this point her data is not really backed up.

So after that long preamble we come to my question. I don't have much experience with NAS or media servers (I consider myself fairly computer literate though and can learn pretty quickly) but I am just wondering what everyone recommends for my scenario. I just want something that will hold the media files and be able to accessed by both computers quickly. I want to have a RAID setup for data redundancy of course. I just need a solution that gives me ample storage space, access to the files whenever needed, ability to play the movies from the device through my HTPC onto the TV, and protect against data loss.

What is the best option for this scenario? Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-12-2013, 04:44 PM
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I have been running unraid for almost 2 years now for almost the same reasons as you (no carbonite) I think it would be a perfect fit you you also
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Old 02-12-2013, 05:06 PM
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I would suggest a parity drive setup like unraid or flexraid over a hardware RAID or more traditional software RAID.

I like Unraid personally.

If you post a budget then I'm sure many will give build suggestions.

If you don't plan on using this for anything beyond file storage then processor speed is fairly unimportant.
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Old 02-12-2013, 05:12 PM
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Personally I chose to build a cheap media server based on cheap consumer level parts (power efficient, low heat, low noise, highly affordable)

I choose to use WHS (windows home server) because it's only $39.99 (cheaper than windows 7 or many others) and offers a ton of benefits you can't get elsewhere. You could dedicate an entire thread why WHS is great... and what it can do or what you can do with compared to a NAS box or Unraid.

As your media collection grows or you require drive pooling or data back up (software RAID) I would look into FLEXRAID as a superior solution.


It includes drive pooling (You can have all your hardrives show up as a single HDD locally installed) and also includes data protection and software raid parity backup. If one of your full drive of movies dies you can replace the dead drive with a new one and rebuild it. It's almost magic (really just math) that your empty replacement drive will be restored and contain everything the HDD that died did.

Biggest FLEXRAID benefit is you can remove any drive any time and slap it into any other system and read it's contents. All you data is there. That is not the case with other solutions. So if you array breaks down or your server breaks down you can lose your data. Or if you have more than one drive fail you can lose all your data.

Flexraid is not free like some others. But the good stuff in life is rarely free. You get what you pay for.

Check out my "Good motherboard for 20TB flexraid build" thread. You can see my build from beginning to end.

You can build a system as cheap as any crappy NAS box or unraid build.

Something like:

Socket 1155 Sandy / IvyCeleron or Pentium CPU -$35
Asrock 77 Motherboard $69
8GB DDR3 1600mhz $29
Case + PSU $100

Antec Neo 620 watt PSU would make a nice choice. On sale $29

Tons of micro ATX or ATX cases will hold many HDD's.

I'm selling my original 10 bay tower $50 with drive cages and accessories. If you look ebay used you can get real server cases for cheap all fitted.
Even new server cases on newegg can be under $100 (rosewill is nice)

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"Too much is almost enough. Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing. Moderation is for cowards."
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:08 PM
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I like unRaid. I built a relatively budget box and it is very expandable for future growth. Stable for 2 years but I haven't had any hard drive crashes to test out the redundancy.
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Old 02-12-2013, 08:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Smitty2k1 View Post

I like unRaid. I built a relatively budget box and it is very expandable for future growth. Stable for 2 years but I haven't had any hard drive crashes to test out the redundancy.

I had a hard drive crash, parity rebuilt without a hiccup.
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