Getting deeper into the HTPC Thing..... Confusion now abounds - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 07-05-2014, 02:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Getting deeper into the HTPC Thing..... Confusion now abounds

First off im sorry that im posting this here if this is the wrong area. I have no clue where to begin as a lot of my research seems to just lead to more and more confusion.
Background : I have been building my own PC's for about 12 years now. 6 Months HTPC experience. I have just began to get my feet wet in the world of HTPC. No networking experience.

What I have : A newly built HTPC with PLEX HT on it and a 2010 built PC that I am currently using as my My Plex Media Server and to rip my movies.

What I want to be able to do :
-I am happy with both PC's. I just need a new case for the Server PC to accomodate new hard drives and because its been beat the heck up and only one fan works!!!! I just want to transfer everything I currently have to a new case. I am currently running an I7 920 with 6 GIGS of ram and a Radeon HD 5770 so I figured for this would be fine for the server PC still.
-I want the ability to use it as a DVR as well that can stream to all my device. I know I will need an add on card for this.
-Peace of mind for failed hard drive recovery if a hard drive needs to be replaced.

Questions :
-I am a little confused on the difference between a NAS box and a Tower though. I can't figure out what the difference is other than the size and the price. It is all very confusing to me. Also, I cant seem to find a difference between a Server Tower PC case and a Tower PC case. It seems that the Server PC cases hold LESS drives than a standard Tower.
-I have only seen one peripherial that accepts a Cable Card that specifies it will play on all devices in the network but this card is 300 dollars and it will only play over WMC. Not acceptable to me. It seems to me that I could access my shows on all devices though if I use the card in the Server PC. Am I correct on this assumption?
-As I stated earlier my server PC will be used to rip movies as well as storage so I need to keep windows. As far as the storage is concerned I will not not be starting with a ton of drives but I have begun to do my research and I am confused on the difference between raid and unraid. What is the difference, what is better, and why?

Feel free to direct me to a different area of the forum if in the wrong one and thanks for the help guys.
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post #2 of 23 Old 07-05-2014, 04:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Leon1972 View Post
-I am a little confused on the difference between a NAS box and a Tower though. I can't figure out what the difference is other than the size and the price.
Basically size and price, although a NAS box will have the software already in place to start using as a NAS right away. You're essentially using the system you have now as a NAS.

As for a capture device, check out SiliconDust Homerun Prime...it's a standalone product but will stream to your DVR for recording and live stream to other devices...very popular product for use with computer based DVR's

As for raid and unraid, depending on the level of raid it allows you to use multiple drives and if one drive has a problem, you don't loose your data.
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post #3 of 23 Old 07-05-2014, 05:19 AM - Thread Starter
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As for raid and unraid, depending on the level of raid it allows you to use multiple drives and if one drive has a problem, you don't loose your data.
What level of protection will raid give me? The failed drive recovery is what I am looking for. I would also prefer an easy to setup system. Unraid just seems to be install the software and add new drives whenever I need them. This is very appealing to me.

Thanks for the help!!!
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post #4 of 23 Old 07-05-2014, 07:59 AM
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Originally Posted by Leon1972 View Post
Questions :
-I am a little confused on the difference between a NAS box and a Tower though..
To be honest, I find NAS quite limited. I have never been too sure why people opt for NAS because the options are wider if you simply use a tower as a NAS. There are some minor cons.. a tower uses slightly more power than NAS, but it's not the end of the world. The trick is to find a mobo with lots of expansion. My present mobo (asus maximus v extreme) has 8 on board sata heads, 5 PCIe slots, and a thunderbolt connect. The PCIe slots give me expansion to add another 20 or so sata ports if needed. If I run out there (which I doubt) there is always the thunderbolt connect.

As for computer cases... I don't bother with them anymore. They're too restrictive. My mobo is screwed directly to the wall with a shelf below and a shelf beside. The shelf on the side is used to sit the power supply and the shelf below is used to pile up my HDD's A small fan in front of the shelf is aimed at the HDD's just to keep them cool. Need more HDD space? Add another shelf to the wall.

All my ripping and transferring is done on one machine through sata so it's nice and fast. As you probably already know RAID can be easily set up with a tower.
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post #5 of 23 Old 07-05-2014, 08:38 AM
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A NAS is an extremely useful device to have on a home network. I'm serving:

7 Rokus
1 ATV3
1 PS3
2 Plex Media Servers
1 XBMC box on a Mac Mini
2 Raspberry Pi XBMC boxes.

From the home NAS as well as using it for a backup for everything from taxes to purchased software downloads. A NAS servers primary function is to store your data. Some have enough power to run other services like a media server such as Plex but that is just an add on service. NAS is storage.

An HTPC is your entertainment system. There are many media servers you can run on an HTPC. Plex is just one. All have their pros and cons.

There are also many solutions for DVR functionality that will integrate into media servers. You need to research what each solution will and will not do vs your end goals. Pick one and use it.
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post #6 of 23 Old 07-05-2014, 08:46 AM
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Originally Posted by FX4 View Post
A NAS is an extremely useful device to have on a home network. I'm serving:

7 Rokus
1 ATV3
1 PS3
2 Plex Media Servers
1 XBMC box on a Mac Mini
2 Raspberry Pi XBMC boxes.

From the home NAS as well as using it for a backup for everything from taxes to purchased software downloads. A NAS servers primary function is to store your data. Some have enough power to run other services like a media server such as Plex but that is just an add on service. NAS is storage.

An HTPC is your entertainment system. There are many media servers you can run on an HTPC. Plex is just one. All have their pros and cons.
Yeah... but you can do all the AND more on a full tower. Maybe it's just me but I really don't see the sense in NAS. I'd be truly interested in hearing something that NAS can do which a full tower can't though.
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post #7 of 23 Old 07-05-2014, 08:54 AM
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Yeah... but you can do all the AND more on a full tower. Maybe it's just me but I really don't see the sense in NAS. I'd be truly interested in hearing something that NAS can do which a full tower can't though.
Do you want a full tower making all that racket in your viewing room? Do you want to pay the electric bill of a full tower running 24x7? My HTPC Mac Mini is 40 watts max and mostly 20 Watts. The NAS is even less. The NAS lives with the rest of the networking gear in the basement. I had a full tower in my living room for about a week and said that is not going to work. Too noisy, too much power, and too many flickering lights.
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post #8 of 23 Old 07-05-2014, 09:13 AM
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Originally Posted by FX4 View Post
Do you want a full tower making all that racket in your viewing room?
I have networking. My tower is in a completely different room. It also serves a number of different tv's all over the house.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FX4 View Post
Do you want to pay the electric bill of a full tower running 24x7? My HTPC Mac Mini is 40 watts max and mostly 20 Watts. The NAS is even less.
Yes... as noted above, there is a slight difference in power, but from my POV it's pretty negligible. You can make a tower sleep and wake on lan if you really wish to save power, but mine is on for other things pretty much all the time anyway.

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The NAS lives with the rest of the networking gear in the basement. I had a full tower in my living room for about a week and said that is not going to work. Too noisy, too much power, and too many flickering lights.
You can't put a tower in the basement?
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post #9 of 23 Old 07-05-2014, 09:28 AM
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Originally Posted by Leon1972 View Post
...
-I want the ability to use it as a DVR as well that can stream to all my device. I know I will need an add on card for this.
...
-I have only seen one peripherial that accepts a Cable Card that specifies it will play on all devices in the network but this card is 300 dollars and it will only play over WMC. Not acceptable to me. It seems to me that I could access my shows on all devices though if I use the card in the Server PC. Am I correct on this assumption?
...
- Or a network based device like the ones from SiliconDust. You mention 'Cable Card' so I presume you aren't using an antenna. Almost all Cable systems require a Cable Card (or soon will). Beyond the encryption that requires the Cable Card there is also another layer of protection on TV signals. It is a 'flag' that controls copying ability. It can be set to copy 'freely', 'once' or 'never'. The freely tagged ones can be shared and even viewed using programs other than WMC. For the other two categories WMC is the only certified program to handle them. Even worse, the 'copy once' shows can only be played on the machine that recorded them.


PS: There's a whole sub-forum dedicated to HTPC stuff \/ Down There \/

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post #10 of 23 Old 07-05-2014, 10:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Leon1972 View Post
-I have only seen one peripherial that accepts a Cable Card that specifies it will play on all devices in the network but this card is 300 dollars and it will only play over WMC. Not acceptable to me. It seems to me that I could access my shows on all devices though if I use the card in the Server PC..
Did you check out Hauppauge?
I haven't looked but they're pretty much the kings in computer capture and computer PVR:

http://www.hauppauge.com/site/products/prods.html
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post #11 of 23 Old 07-05-2014, 11:01 AM
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I have networking. My tower is in a completely different room. It also serves a number of different tv's all over the house.


Yes... as noted above, there is a slight difference in power, but from my POV it's pretty negligible. You can make a tower sleep and wake on lan if you really wish to save power, but mine is on for other things pretty much all the time anyway.

You can't put a tower in the basement?
It's not a slight difference it's actually pretty huge these days. You are talking the difference between a few dollars a month on the electric bill and fifteen or twenty depending on power supply and configuration. You also have eliminated the ability to use XBMC as well as a lot of websites that stream media and are locked down from STBs.
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post #12 of 23 Old 07-05-2014, 12:13 PM
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It's not a slight difference it's actually pretty huge these days. You are talking the difference between a few dollars a month on the electric bill and fifteen or twenty depending on power supply and configuration.
I have a 650 watt supply. If I run at MAX power FULL TIME for a solid month it's $37. On the other hand I can't remeber the last time I actually stressed this machine so you can figure maybe 300 watts average operating power and it actually operates let's say.... 12 hours per day. The rest of the time it's sleeping. If you take all that into consideration the ACTUAL operating cost is closer to 8 or 10 bucks a month. I can live with that. I should also point out that since my tower IS my NAS (among other things) I'm only running one machine. You have to operate two... your nas and your main machine... Although your main machine is not on all the time, I suspect the nickels and dimes we're talking about here will pretty much even out when the big picture is looked at.

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You also have eliminated the ability to use XBMC as well as a lot of websites that stream media and are locked down from STBs.
I don't use XBMC. I have a streamer box at each TV (two wd tv's, one boxee box, and one mede8er800)

But more to the point, you can run xbmc on a tower just fine. Not sure why you're saying you can't?

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post #13 of 23 Old 07-05-2014, 01:20 PM
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I have a 650 watt supply. If I run at MAX power FULL TIME for a solid month it's $37. On the other hand I can't remeber the last time I actually stressed this machine so you can figure maybe 300 watts average operating power and it actually operates let's say.... 12 hours per day. The rest of the time it's sleeping. If you take all that into consideration the ACTUAL operating cost is closer to 8 or 10 bucks a month. I can live with that. I should also point out that since my tower IS my NAS (among other things) I'm only running one machine. You have to operate two... your nas and your main machine... Although your main machine is not on all the time, I suspect the nickels and dimes we're talking about here will pretty much even out when the big picture is looked at.

I don't use XBMC. I have a streamer box at each TV (two wd tv's, one boxee box, and one mede8er800)

But more to the point, you can run xbmc on a tower just fine. Not sure why you're saying you can't?
37.00 or say half that vs how much? 2.00 - 3.00 a month. Or pretty much 200.00 a year to run a tower server 24.00 and a lot more flexibility in home entertainment. If you are not using XBMC you and a web browser you are missing out on a lot of content. XBMC is not my primary media server but it definitely does things no others will.
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post #14 of 23 Old 07-05-2014, 01:47 PM
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37.00 or say half that vs how much? 2.00 - 3.00 a month. Or pretty much 200.00 a year to run a tower server 24.00 and a lot more flexibility in home entertainment. If you are not using XBMC you and a web browser you are missing out on a lot of content. XBMC is not my primary media server but it definitely does things no others will.
$37 a month is a worst case scenario. That's the machine running wide open 24/7.
8 to 10 bucks a month is what I figure (and you seemed to have floated right over that ) which amounts to 100 bucks a year. How much do you spend while running a nas AND a main computer? You're certainly not typing up these posts through your nas are you? I pretty much am since my main machine also serves as my nas. In other words my nas AND my main machine are one and the same costing me a grand total of $100 per year on the utility bill.

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If you are not using XBMC you and a web browser you are missing out on a lot of content. XBMC is not my primary media server but it definitely does things no others will.
You seem to be missing the point. I can run xbmc (if I choose... which I don't) on a tower. I don't need nas for that. So far you have told me nothing that would make me run a nas over a tower as a nas which is what I am looking for.
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post #15 of 23 Old 07-06-2014, 03:21 AM
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What level of protection will raid give me? The failed drive recovery is what I am looking for. I would also prefer an easy to setup system. Unraid just seems to be install the software and add new drives whenever I need them. This is very appealing to me.

Thanks for the help!!!
Raid Level 5 is what you are looking for.
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post #16 of 23 Old 07-06-2014, 06:56 PM
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$37 a month is a worst case scenario. That's the machine running wide open 24/7.
8 to 10 bucks a month is what I figure (and you seemed to have floated right over that ) which amounts to 100 bucks a year. How much do you spend while running a nas AND a main computer? You're certainly not typing up these posts through your nas are you? I pretty much am since my main machine also serves as my nas. In other words my nas AND my main machine are one and the same costing me a grand total of $100 per year on the utility bill.


You seem to be missing the point. I can run xbmc (if I choose... which I don't) on a tower. I don't need nas for that. So far you have told me nothing that would make me run a nas over a tower as a nas which is what I am looking for.
What are you even arguing about. You like a tower in your viewing I don't. A NAS is a seamless whole house integrated solution. I like a low power PC for the HTPC. Not much else to discuss.
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post #17 of 23 Old 07-06-2014, 07:40 PM
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What are you even arguing about. You like a tower in your viewing I don't. A NAS is a seamless whole house integrated solution. I like a low power PC for the HTPC. Not much else to discuss.
He is using his own PC as a NAS and has various other embedded devices doing HTPC role.

So yeah, his PC is also a "seamless whole house integrated solution" just because he needed a PC under his desk anyway.
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post #18 of 23 Old 07-06-2014, 07:57 PM
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He is using his own PC as a NAS and has various other embedded devices doing HTPC role.

So yeah, his PC is also a "seamless whole house integrated solution" just because he needed a PC under his desk anyway.
Yes I know. He is a bit confused about all the functions, various servers running. I just separated them out and made a suggestion on how to configure his system.
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post #19 of 23 Old 07-06-2014, 08:33 PM
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What are you even arguing about. You like a tower in your viewing I don't. A NAS is a seamless whole house integrated solution. I like a low power PC for the HTPC. Not much else to discuss.
I'm not arguing at all. You are.
This is what I asked:
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Yeah... but you can do all the AND more on a full tower. Maybe it's just me but I really don't see the sense in NAS. I'd be truly interested in hearing something that NAS can do which a full tower can't though.
And then you go off on some tangent on how I'm missing a lot by not using xbmc!??!
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post #20 of 23 Old 07-06-2014, 08:36 PM
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So yeah, his PC is also a "seamless whole house integrated solution" just because he needed a PC under his desk anyway.
Correct.
So if you're going to be running a pc anyway, why would you want to run a PC AND a nas? What's the advantage? Just wondering if there is something more than just the element of.... 'coolness' (for lack of a better term).
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post #21 of 23 Old 07-07-2014, 12:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok.........
So I'm done posting in this thread. I feel this thread has stopped being helpful and turned into a who has the best system argument 15 posts ago. Thanks fort help that was directed to me though.
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post #22 of 23 Old 07-08-2014, 11:00 AM
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First off im sorry that im posting this here if this is the wrong area. I have no clue where to begin as a lot of my research seems to just lead to more and more confusion.
Background : I have been building my own PC's for about 12 years now. 6 Months HTPC experience. I have just began to get my feet wet in the world of HTPC. No networking experience.

What I have : A newly built HTPC with PLEX HT on it and a 2010 built PC that I am currently using as my My Plex Media Server and to rip my movies.

What I want to be able to do :
-I am happy with both PC's. I just need a new case for the Server PC to accomodate new hard drives and because its been beat the heck up and only one fan works!!!! I just want to transfer everything I currently have to a new case. I am currently running an I7 920 with 6 GIGS of ram and a Radeon HD 5770 so I figured for this would be fine for the server PC still.
-I want the ability to use it as a DVR as well that can stream to all my device. I know I will need an add on card for this.
-Peace of mind for failed hard drive recovery if a hard drive needs to be replaced.

Questions :
-I am a little confused on the difference between a NAS box and a Tower though. I can't figure out what the difference is other than the size and the price. It is all very confusing to me. Also, I cant seem to find a difference between a Server Tower PC case and a Tower PC case. It seems that the Server PC cases hold LESS drives than a standard Tower.
-I have only seen one peripherial that accepts a Cable Card that specifies it will play on all devices in the network but this card is 300 dollars and it will only play over WMC. Not acceptable to me. It seems to me that I could access my shows on all devices though if I use the card in the Server PC. Am I correct on this assumption?
-As I stated earlier my server PC will be used to rip movies as well as storage so I need to keep windows. As far as the storage is concerned I will not not be starting with a ton of drives but I have begun to do my research and I am confused on the difference between raid and unraid. What is the difference, what is better, and why?

Feel free to direct me to a different area of the forum if in the wrong one and thanks for the help guys.
You would mostly only want a NAS if you don't have a server of some sort. A NAS is just a low powered server that doesn't run windows or linux.

If you already have a server hardware you are happy with, don't worry about a NAS.
To figure out a case for your server, first we need to know what form factor is your MoBo (ATX, mATX, etc)?


I don't want to run this thread any further off the rails, but I will say this:

I run a windows server at home using 2012 Essentials. works quite well for most of what I need to do and then some. I do however have a NAS (a Synology) as well that I use for the server backup.

As has been pointed out in the past, RAID is not a replacement for an actual backup. I use the Storage Spaces that windows 8/server 2012 have as it makes it easy to add and remove drives (similar to windows home server v1). However, to protect against data loss, I use the NAS as an iscsi target for nightly backups from the server. God knows why, but server 2012 can't back up directly to a network path (not sure about 2012e R2 though), thus the reason I use the NAS. I didn't want to deal with a USB drive for backups..

There are also some some addons (like surveillance NVR, photos, cloud, etc) that are just easier to use than trying to set them up in windows. They also have specific mobile apps for these functions. Server 2012e has terrible mobile support outside of the windows phone environment...

For most, managing a windows or linux server (not to mention the initial cost to buy windows server) is way more than they want to deal with....

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over.....

Last edited by Beemer533; 07-08-2014 at 11:14 AM.
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post #23 of 23 Old 07-08-2014, 11:27 AM
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Also, if you post here: http://www.avsforum.com/forum/26-hom...ter-computers/, that is the specific HTPC section of the forum, which would probably get a better response.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over.....
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