I'm new to the forum and I'm hoping to find some advice for my home video streaming set-up. Here's the equipment list:
Asus rt-ac66r(it's the retail version of the ac66u)
seagate external hdd 2TB USB3
mac pro 128GB
thinkpad running ubuntu, soon to be switched back to win7 (~350GB)
300GB of videos/music/etc and counting
My end goal is to set up a Plex server that can serve up videos to my mac pro and a yet un-purchased streaming device(probably roku).
I've tried two set-ups.
1. The first was to simple make the ubuntu box my media server. This worked really well, except I had to keep the computer on at all times. If I return to this set-up I'll have to tackle the WOL wake on lan.
2. The second was the reason I purchased this router in the first place. I plugged the HDD, formatted ext3 directly into the router, and served from the mac pro right back to the mac pro. This sort of seemed like the ideal set-up, but there are a number of problems I've encountered, bear with me:
a. buffering. the video playback is fine, but then pauses every few minutes for 5-10 seconds.
b. always on HDD. I don't want to burn all that energy and I'm also afraid of HDD failure.
c. using the HDD with OSX. Because it's ext3 formatted I wasn't able to read the drive directly from the mac. so uploading all those files is either time consuming (through the router) or juggling (through thumb drives, to the ubuntu, to the HDD). I ended up with some files that were locked, but readable.
Any general advice? My gut is telling me I have more control if I use the laptop, but I'd prefer to save the space and maybe use the laptop as a real laptop.
thanks in advance.
I agree with the centralized media and you mentioned buffering that should not be happening at all unless there is some kind of a bottleneck somewhere. I have Plex in my house and it work perfectly on my iPhone, iPad, Laptop (all wireless) and even my desktop PC's. I am very impressed with it.
Are you doing this through wired or wireless connections? Sure wireless is great but when it comes to streaming it can really be an issue if you don't have a very good / reliable wireless signal that can keep up with the bandwidth demands. Of course then you also have to take in to account the device you are trying to stream to, how good is its wireless card.
This could explain the issue of the buffering every so often, assuming you are experiencing this wireless try at least for testing purposes a wired connection and see if you have the same issue. If you do then there is something else going on with your setup and you can start looking elsewhere. Also just for testing purposes if you are using an external drive connect it your system directly and make sure that the system itself isn't having some kind of an issue playing the media. Depending on how you are playing it that could be anything from an old browser to an older version of flash or something.
As for not having a system on all the time, that kind of defeats the purpose of having a "Server" and WOL isn't going to be automatic if / when someone wants to stream a video from the system that is off / waiting for a WOL Signal. WOL is a very specific thing that needs to be sent to the system not just any request otherwise the system would probably always be turning on just from normal network traffic.
Hard Drive Failure is always a possibility and some would argue that leaving a hard drive on / spinning all the time is way better than the strain it goes through on power-up. Either way a hard drive failure isn't a question of if it is a question of when which is why people build systems or buy NAS units that have some level of redundancy.
Plex is pretty light-weight unless you start to transcode which can be very, very processor intensive for even one stream let alone several simultaneous one.
So this really comes down to what is going to work for you... If you can put Plex on a system that you want to somehow send a WOL Command to before watching a movie which depending on the system could take anywhere from a few seconds to a few minutes to be up, running and ready to stream then go for it.
In both setups I've tried the hard drive/computer was wired to the router and the client was wireless. With the ubuntu computer as the server things were very smooth, the hard drive->router is where the "buffering" occurred.
I hear what you're saying about the hard drive always on versus on and off.
I'm kind of rethinking the whole thing at this point. A previous posted mentioned an unRAID build. While that might be the ultimate solution, I'm not ready to drop money on this issues.
With tablets becoming the pc's of the future as well as small SSD's becoming the PC standard you'd think there would be more easy consumer solutions to home storage/serving. I know there are some products out there, NAS, boxee, etc, but there's nothing that approaches the ease and utility we expect these days. I guess there's more money to be made in running streaming services(netflix, amazon prime) or getting consumers to buy into your platform(itunes).
I'd say that Plex is by far the simplest Streaming Server Setup I've seen so far, it is easy to set up / configure and so far it just works. That said for it to just work you have to have all of the pieces of the puzzle in place for it to work seamlessly. This is where you need to figure out what works for you... A relatively low end PC running many different OS's can run plex, then you need the storage and the network. Some people decide to go with a constantly on, fault tollerant set up while others might just have a small PC with a few USB Drives connected that they just turn on when they want to watch something.
As for Data there are many different solutions out there, UnRAID, FreeNAS, FlexRAID to name a few. Most of them you can start out with a single or maybe a few drives then grow from there. You have to start somewhere. I would start with what you have and if it works the way you want then figure out where you want to go.