I've searched the forums and found a number of topics that "sort of" touch on one issue or another, but nothing that is clear-cut pointing me in the proper direction. Given that I am in this current mess because there was no long-term vision in place to begin with, I think I am better off simply starting fresh(ish) and getting input from the beginning.
Although I don't have a firm number, I have what is likely 30 TB worth of movies and television on DVD and Bluray (mostly DVD). Once upon a time, my brother and I thought it would be cool to have a wall (then later two walls) that were completely covered end-to-end with discs organized in alphabetical order. Well, we ran out of space, and numerous titles have since been added to the collection. On top of that, the family has grown and we need more space. So, we began moving titles onto hard drives, figuring anything on the hard drive could then be put into a bin/tote and stored. Knowing very little about the process we went with what seemed easiest. Well, now we have 9 external hard drives that contain less than 20% of the collection. Furthermore, although the drives are hooked up to a PC on the home network, streaming from them is cumbersome, and only works in certain instances. Furthermore, we currently have no backup of the data that has been saved to the hard drives. If a drive fails, all the titles must be dug out and re-burned to a new drive, a process that will take days to accomplish.
We actually have modern equipment that is supposedly capable of accessing the library, but the problem is the way it is stored and how it is hooked up to the network. So, before things get any further out of hand, here's what I am looking to do, and I could really use some advice on how to make it happen.
First of all, I would like to stop using copious amounts of external hard drives. At this point, with the energy and space consumption, I am better off with a dedicated server. I'm okay with that. But I'm still running into problems because of how the files are currently saved, and also because I'm not entirely certain how best to proceed since I am trying to make a mostly clean start instead of continuing to Frankenstein a home streaming network together.
Here's what I currently have:
In the living room:
- Samsung PN60E550D1f 60" 3D plasma Smart TV
- Samsung BD-E5900 3D Bluray player
- Sony STR-DH 810 AVR that supports passive HDMI 1.4
- Acer AspireRevo AR3700-U3002 Slim and Compact Desktop PC running Power DVD 10
- HP laptop with HDMI out running Power DVD 13
all are hardwired to the home router
In my brother's bedroom:
- X-Box 360
- both are hooked up to a Panasonic internet ready plasma
all are wirelessly hooked up to the home network
In my bedroom:
High(ish) power desktop PC that runs the copy software (AnyDVD)and that all the external hard drives are hooked up to. It is running Power DVD 10
What I want to be able to do is to stream content to the living room television and my brother's bedroom from one single unit/server. In order to improve quality, we intend to hard wire the television in his room to the network, but that is a final step as it will require going up into the crawlspace and it's a bit hot up there right now.
I don't have $26K to drop on a Kaleidescape server or I wouldn't be here, but I can afford to drop about $5-6K into the project.Problems I am encountering:
An increasing number of external hard drives that makes finding media more difficult
If the hard drive is not connected to a computer that is in turn connected into the television, the external drives are not recognized by the slim PC or the software on the television (it does have Samsung's All Share and also DLNA/UPnP identification).
The PS3 can sometimes find the drives, but the files are not organized by movie, rather every file on the drive is numerically ordered on the interface - making connecting through the PS3 useless.
***Currently, all DVDs are saved to the hard drive as Video_TS files
***Currently all Blurays are saved to the hard drives as ISOs
Like I said, we were going for simple and direct. Those are the two easiest ways to put the discs onto hard drives. Unfortunately, finding any sort of media playback that handles these (especially from a remote source) has been problematic. PLEX is an app available on the Smart TV, but it is does not recognize those files, and it has had some trouble identifying the external drives on the PC in the other room.
So obviously, the first thing I need is a new server or NAS. Asking four different people about the issue, I have received four different answers. Doing a bit of research, I'm leaning towards an UnRAID machine with all 10 drive bays filled with 4 TB discs, giving me 30 TB of internal storage after parity and cache are factored in. But will that actually do what I need it to? Or am I better off simply building a stupidly-large HTPC?
I guess I simply need some sound direction from some folks that have already figured things out. Do I need (or am I simply best-served) to invest in a media server, with all the processing horsepower to transcode on the fly? Or is there a NAS solution that will satisfy?
Do I need to go through and re-save every disc in a new format in order to facilitate a better, easier experience?
While I would prefer to stream from the television's built-in apps, I am not entirely against switching over to HDMI 3 and playing a movie or show from a low-power computer that is dedicated solely to streaming from the home media library. The problem I have with that solution is the lack of a strong interface solution. Sorting through a few thousand folder icons is tedious. I've seen the UI on programs like XBMC and PLEX, and would much prefer that sort of experience over the standard Windows Explorer format.
If I do need to change the saved file formats, is it possible to simply convert what is already saved without resorting to the physical disc again?
I need the Panasonic internet ready plasma to be able to stream the movies as well, either on its own, or through either the PS3 or XBox 360. Does this create further issues?
I'm sure there must be some kind of "relatively easy" solution. However, I don't know what it is, and the more I cobble solutions together, the worse I am making things.
Any and all help would be greatly appreciated.
-Hopeless in the Desert