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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Media Folder Aggregator (MEFA)


This software allows you to manage large media libraries that span several sources, such as external hard drives, by merging these sources into a common "MEFA Root". It does so by utilizing NTFS symbolic links. This software works exceptionally well with Media Browser, but it should also work with other similar media players.


Target Audience


I created this software to solve a problem that I imagine many Media Browser users must have... Running out of space on my central file system. I originally had a RAID with around 6TB. On that RAID I had a root folder named "Multimedia", and within that folder I had sub-folders "Movies", "BluRay", "Kids", "Russian", "Concerts, etc", "Documentaries", "TV", and "Miscellaneous". Each of these sub-folders was added to Media Browser. Eventually, I ran out of space.


I then investigated solutions like Drobo, or other external NAS solutions, but they can be expensive. Further, they too will eventually run out of space. And, while they may have RAID, there still is a chance that they may fail, or be stolen, etc.


A friend of mine never went the RAID route, but instead has been buying as many hard drives as will fit in his system, and each time he buys a new hard drive, or upgrades one, he rearranges his files to try and keep them in logical groupings (ex: one hard drive for BluRay, one hard drive for DVD, etc), each of which which he adds to Media Browser. Nevertheless, he inevitably ended up having multiple root folders in Media Browser such as "BluRay1", "BluRay2", etc.


The solution I came up with is to write my files to external hard drives (actually, internal hard drives connected to external docking bays). See details on the web site.


In any case, for all the above approaches, unless you get an enterprise level NAS, you eventually will have your folders spread out on multiple sources. MEFA can help by bringing all your various root directories into a common "MEFA Root", which due to symbolic links, takes just a small amount of disk space!


Please read more on the web site:
http://sites.google.com/site/mefaroot


I have been using this software on my own library for several weeks now, and find it extremely useful. I hope some of you find this software useful as well!


MEFA is freeware, and can be downloaded from the web site.


If you have any questions, please feel free to ask here, or on this Google Group:
http://groups.google.com/group/mefaroot
 

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Can you explain something? You say..


"As a result, while my media collection currently occupies ~8 TB, my MEFARoot folder is less than 3 GB"


So is your MEFARoot folder basically a DB of sorts that is pointers/links to all of the media? Do all the folders show up as a single drive letter in windows? Or how does that work?


It sounds like it's an emulation of Drive Extender in a way.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by likelinus /forum/post/20805134


Can you explain something? You say..


"As a result, while my media collection currently occupies ~8 TB, my MEFARoot folder is less than 3 GB"


So is your MEFARoot folder basically a DB of sorts that is pointers/links to all of the media? Do all the folders show up as a single drive letter in windows? Or how does that work?


It sounds like it's an emulation of Drive Extender in a way.

I did a Google Search for Drive Extender, and from what I read about it, I do not believe MEFA is like it.


Hopefully this will help:


When you first run MEFA, you are asked to specify where you want the "MEFA Root" to be. Initially, this should be a new, empty folder that you create. I have an SSD drive as my D: drive, so when I first did my setup, I created empty folder D:\\MEFARoot. Within MEFA, I then added my external sources:

\\\\Buzz5\\ExtDrives\\Multimedia01a\\Multimedia

\\\\Buzz5\\ExtDrives\\Multimedia02a\\Multimedia

\\\\Buzz5\\ExtDrives\\Multimedia03a\\Multimedia


For simplicity, lets assume that within each one of these external sources, there exists a Movies folder, and within each, there exists just one movie, as so:

\\\\Buzz5\\ExtDrives\\Multimedia01a\\Multimedia\\Movies\\Sha wshank Redemption, The (1994)\\VIDEO_TS

\\\\Buzz5\\ExtDrives\\Multimedia02a\\Multimedia\\Movies\\God father, The (1972)\\VIDEO_TS

\\\\Buzz5\\ExtDrives\\Multimedia03a\\Multimedia\\Movies\\Goo d, the Bad and the Ugly, The (1966)\\VIDEO_TS


After MEFA builds the "MEFA Root", you'll then have this folder structure:

D:\\MEFARoot\\

Multimedia\\

Movies\\

Shawshank Redemption, The (1994)\\

VIDEO_TS

Godfather, The (1972)\\

VIDEO_TS

Good, the Bad and the Ugly, The (1966)\\

VIDEO_TS
All the VIDEO_TS "folders" are actually symbolic links to the external sources. For example:

D:\\MEFARoot\\Multimedia\\Movies\\Shawshank Redemption, The (1994)\\VIDEO_TS

--> is actually a symbolic link to -->

\\\\Buzz5\\ExtDrives\\Multimedia01a\\Multimedia\\Movies\\Sha wshank Redemption, The (1994)\\VIDEO_TS


As a result, if you right click on the D:\\MEFARoot folder and show Properties, you'll see it takes very, very little disk space.


Hope this helps!?


Note that, over the last few weeks, I've tried to explain what my program does to several people, and in every case I get puzzled looks the first few times I try to explain it! But once you grasp it, you'll hopefully see how useful it can be...
 

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Strangely, I've found folder organization in Media Browser to be very different than the OP describes. You imply that each menu item in MB can only be pointed at one location. That's not the case. For instance... I have a Blu-Ray heading in the menu that's pointing at 4 different locations on my LAN. All are on different servers, different drives. The same applies for my menu items for TV shows, SD movies, Movies by Genre, TV Recordings... but there's only one heading for each, and all items within are sorted together in whatever order I've chosen (from within MB). There's absolutely no need to have BluRay1, BluRay2, etc etc...


In the MB Configurator, there's an "Add..." button at the bottom when you're setting up your menu headings, where you specify all the locations to be included in each heading. I haven't come up against a limit as to how many locations you can specify there.


I can see a definite need for your software with some other front ends, but not Media Browser's recent versions. Granted, I only started with MB about 5 months ago, so maybe I jumped in with a later version than you've been using?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pagali /forum/post/20806433


Strangely, I've found folder organization in Media Browser to be very different than the OP describes. You imply that each menu item in MB can only be pointed at one location. That's not the case. For instance... I have a Blu-Ray heading in the menu that's pointing at 4 different locations on my LAN. all are on different servers, different drives. The same applies for my menu items for TV shows, SD movies, Movies by Genre, TV Recordings... but there's only one heading for each, and all items within are sorted together in whatever order I've chosen. There's absolutely no need to have BluRay1, BluRay2, etc etc...


In the MB Configurator, there's an "Add..." button at the bottom when you're setting up your menu headings, where you specify all the locations to be included. I haven't come up against a limit as to how many locations you can specify there.


I can see a definite need for your software with some other front ends, but not Media Browser's recent versions.

This is one of the great things about mediabrowser that gets overlooked often. It makes adding multiple files from across your network into a single folder that is displayed in mediabrowser.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin /forum/post/20806445


This is one of the great things about mediabrowser that gets overlooked often. It makes adding multiple files from across your network into a single folder that is displayed in mediabrowser.

Since the target of this was to use with MediaBrowser, I'm not sure what the point is. It seems like it just allows you to only map one path in the MB Configurator while all the mapping is done in MEFA. Why not just do it all in MB in the first place? Buy a new drive, add a Movies folder to it, and add that to MB's Movie entry.


Maybe I'm missing the point.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pagali /forum/post/20806433


Strangely, I've found folder organization in Media Browser to be very different than the OP describes. You imply that each menu item in MB can only be pointed at one location. That's not the case. For instance... I have a Blu-Ray heading in the menu that's pointing at 4 different locations on my LAN. All are on different servers, different drives. The same applies for my menu items for TV shows, SD movies, Movies by Genre, TV Recordings... but there's only one heading for each, and all items within are sorted together in whatever order I've chosen (from within MB). There's absolutely no need to have BluRay1, BluRay2, etc etc...


In the MB Configurator, there's an "Add..." button at the bottom when you're setting up your menu headings, where you specify all the locations to be included in each heading. I haven't come up against a limit as to how many locations you can specify there.


I can see a definite need for your software with some other front ends, but not Media Browser's recent versions. Granted, I only started with MB about 5 months ago, so maybe I jumped in with a later version than you've been using?

I agree 100%, this feature is already included stock in MB. I see no reason to use this program with MB...
Quote:
Originally Posted by assassin /forum/post/20806445


This is one of the great things about mediabrowser that gets overlooked often. It makes adding multiple files from across your network into a single folder that is displayed in mediabrowser.

Yup, I use this as I have two internal HD's and 2 external HD's, with media on all of them. I add multiple directories to my "Movies", and they all show up as a common collections.
Quote:
Originally Posted by bryansj /forum/post/20806532


Since the target of this was to use with MediaBrowser, I'm not sure what the point is. It seems like it just allows you to only map one path in the MB Configurator while all the mapping is done in MEFA. Why not just do it all in MB in the first place? Buy a new drive, add a Movies folder to it, and add that to MB's Movie entry.


Maybe I'm missing the point.

Same here.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pagali /forum/post/20806433


Strangely, I've found folder organization in Media Browser to be very different than the OP describes. You imply that each menu item in MB can only be pointed at one location. That's not the case. For instance... I have a Blu-Ray heading in the menu that's pointing at 4 different locations on my LAN. All are on different servers, different drives. The same applies for my menu items for TV shows, SD movies, Movies by Genre, TV Recordings... but there's only one heading for each, and all items within are sorted together in whatever order I've chosen (from within MB). There's absolutely no need to have BluRay1, BluRay2, etc etc...


In the MB Configurator, there's an "Add..." button at the bottom when you're setting up your menu headings, where you specify all the locations to be included in each heading. I haven't come up against a limit as to how many locations you can specify there.


I can see a definite need for your software with some other front ends, but not Media Browser's recent versions. Granted, I only started with MB about 5 months ago, so maybe I jumped in with a later version than you've been using?

I think what he means it even though you can add multiple drives for one section, i.e. "movies". You still end up having multiple hard drives in your system called movies1, movies2, movies3 etc.


I believe that is his concern, never really a big deal for me but oh well.
 

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This sounds fantastic. I just built my htpc, and already I've begun thinking about expansion concerns. This may solve one of my primary issues!


Thanks!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by whiteboy714 /forum/post/20806562


I think what he means it even though you can add multiple drives for one section, i.e. "movies". You still end up having multiple hard drives in your system called movies1, movies2, movies3 etc.


I believe that is his concern, never really a big deal for me but oh well.

So with MEFA you just get to name each one HDD1, HDD2, HDD3 instead?
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by bryansj /forum/post/20806532


Since the target of this was to use with MediaBrowser, I'm not sure what the point is. It seems like it just allows you to only map one path in the MB Configurator while all the mapping is done in MEFA. Why not just do it all in MB in the first place? Buy a new drive, add a Movies folder to it, and add that to MB's Movie entry.


Maybe I'm missing the point.

Yes, looks like I'm still using an old version of Media Browser! I did not realize that Media Browser was enhanced with this feature. My Media Browser works so well, I haven't touched it in quite a while!


Oh well, not all is for not... MEFA still provides some advantages:

- It allows Media Browser to refresh very, very quickly by solely reading the movie folders and metadata strictly from one source, which in my case is a very fast SSD. And the external hard drives need not power up until a movie is played, in which case just the one external hard drive will power up.

- While you can do the folder mapping with this new Media Browser feature (i.e. have KidsBluRay folder be under the MB's Movies, Kids, and BluRay folders), it might be pretty tedious with as many folders as I have.


But yes, with this new feature Media Browser has it definitely reduced the need for MEFA!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mforte
My Media Browser works so well, I haven't touched it in quite a while!
You should definitely consider upgrading to the new version of mediabrowser. It is much better and faster than older versions.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by mforte
Yes, looks like I'm still using an old version of Media Browser! I did not realize that Media Browser was enhanced with this feature. My Media Browser works so well, I haven't touched it in quite a while!


Oh well, not all is for not... MEFA still provides some advantages:

- It allows Media Browser to refresh very, very quickly by solely reading the movie folders and metadata strictly from one source, which in my case is a very fast SSD. And the external hard drives need not power up until a movie is played, in which case just the one external hard drive will power up.

- While you can do the folder mapping with this new Media Browser feature (i.e. have KidsBluRay folder be under the MB's Movies, Kids, and BluRay folders), it might be pretty tedious with as many folders as I have.


But yes, with this new feature Media Browser has it definitely reduced the need for MEFA!
Wow man you must have not updated in quite a long time. But I do like how the drives don't need to spin up when it loads, thats pretty cool.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by wygant78 /forum/post/20807248


It sounds like it's an emulation of Drive Extender in a way.

Which is exactly what I said. Drive Extender basically has one large folder, but the actual data is spread out over as many hard drives as you have. Which is what this appears to do.


I personally see no need for this because XBMC in Library mode shows my media from all sources and you don't know/see where it's coming from. But if I go into file view, I can select the source/drive. So it's the best of both worlds.


Sounds like a nice piece of software but I just do not see the use for it in my setup.
 

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Library mode in XBMC takes care of this for me, but its a nifty approach. I suppose it could be beneficial if you have multiple boxes and only want to configure or add folders/drives in one place.


Sounds like it could be a good platform for an enterprise document management system.
 

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I'd look beyond MB, and think of it as a basic replacement for Drive Extender (so sorely missed in WHS2011). If you can aggregate folders across multiple drives in WHS2011, that could fix the main problem of running out of disk space on a single disk. Sure, it wouldn't handle the actual placing of data on the drives, but if I can have just a single folder for Movies for example, but with aggregated links across multiple disks, I could just happily put the movies where there's space and not worry about having to buy bigger disks when they full up.


Does this work with UNC paths to access the aggregated link via shares?
 

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suggest renaming it and the thread to Drive Extender Replacement and watch the crowd build....
 
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