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Data Storage Entertainment

Ask Slashdot: Easiest Way To Consolidate Household Media? 272

First time accepted submitter Lordfly writes "The wife and I have started looking to buy a house. In the spirit of that, I've been giving away books, CDs, and DVDs to 'downsize' the pile of crap I'll have to lug around when we do find the right place. That got me thinking about digital files. I'm perfectly okay with giving up (most) books, CDs, and DVD cases. The only music I buy are MP3s anyway, and we stream most everything else if we wanted to watch a show or movie. That being said, I have a desktop, my wife has an old Macbook, we both have tablets, and I also have an Android smartphone. I'd like to set up something on an extra Windows box shoved in a closet that lets me dump every digital file we have (photos, music, ebooks, movies) and then doles it out as necessary to all of our devices. Unfortunately my best computer geek days are likely behind me (photography and cooking have consumed me since), so while I CAN schlep around a command line, I've lost most of my knowledge, so go easy on the 'just apt-get FubarPackageInstaller.gzip and rd -m Arglebargle' stuff. Something easy enough for my wife to use would be a major plus. So: What's the best way to make your own personal 'cloud'?"
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Ask Slashdot: Easiest Way To Consolidate Household Media?

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  • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @12:28PM (#42426383) Homepage

    ...you just have a fileshare. Create two if you want to be fancy. One is read only and is a media horde and the other is a scratch and play area that everyone in the house can use.

    Use any tech you want. Use any OS you want.

    Just create two samba shares and have at it.

    • by epp_b ( 944299 )

      Agreed, this is exactly what I do as well. Desktop running Ubuntu with a big hard drive or multiple external drives (make symlinks to all the drives, the share the parent folder of the symlinks).

      Plus, this way, you can setup any number of cool uses, like dynamic DNS for a web server, SSH for remote access to get around pesky filters at hotels or what-have-you, maybe even remote streaming of your media, if your connection can handle it.

      • For this, is an Unraid server [lime-technology.com] the best option?

        Obviously, everything could be set up on a linux box manually, but unraid is designed for this. You've got to pay a small amount for it if you want to use a ton of hard drives (I think you have to pay if you want more than 3 HDDs or if you want fancy features like Active Directory), but it seems like a pretty slick system.

        Everything just works and it is perfectly designed for media consolidation and storage (the writes are slow but the reads are fast and it

        • Get a Synology box [synology.com] like the DS-113 or DS-213 or some similar home NAS. It will do automated backups (to web storage or other NAS or external USB drives), and supports RAID if you get a multi-disk version. They also will provide your own "private cloud" services as well as web server, media server, and various other features which you may or may not find useful.

          • The Synology boxes tend to be more expensive than most folks are willing to spend. I've had good results with a Buffalo [buffalotech.com] LinkStation Duo, which was a lot cheaper than the Synology. Buy the one with no hard drives in it, and put your own drives in it for even cheaper (if you happen to have the drive lying around).

            Other than that, though, I totally agree with you. Get a consumer NAS device rather than trying to roll your own. It'll use less electricity, and for somebody who admits openly that he's not comforta

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)


      Basically set up a BIG container where to put the digital stuff, plus number of network shares and you're done.


      In any case do not forget about redundancy and back-up.
      Even in the tinyest case, that would mean a single HD, with its twin in RAID-1, plus another as offline backup. Total: 3HDs.

      Going up with sizes will add complexity.
      Let's say you target a 10TB container, made of 2TB drives. That translates into 5+5 drives for a RAID-0+1, or 7 drives for a RAID-6 (which one is more suited, is another di

      • by CastrTroy ( 595695 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @01:52PM (#42426897) Homepage
        I would probably just ignore RAID for a home backup solution. Just have a job run nightly ( or ever couple of hours) to copy off the files to a backup drive. Once in a while purge files off the backup that no longer exist on the first drive. For home purposes, it's probably not terribly important that every file is mirrored instantly, and the added cost and complexity of RAID probably isn't worth it for most people.
    • I have this.

      In addition, I use a DLNA streaming server to stream content anywhere in my home - the TVs in the bedrooms, living room or kitchen. MediaTomb on my Ubuntu box works very well. Very simple with a web based admin page.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jcoy42 ( 412359 )

      Agreed. And in the spirit of K.I.S.S., I'd suggest you use external storage like a drobo [drobo.com]. You can grow the disk as you see fit, no technical expertise needed. Just add/swap drives as you go. Braindead simple.

      No, I don't work for them, but for simple self-maintaining medium sized storage they work pretty well. I've got 4 (3 at work, one at home), and the only problem I've had was when I put a bad WD drive in a unit and it fried the slot.

      • I'm a Synology [synology.com] user myself, but this is definitely the right idea. If you want an appliance, buy one. Setting up my DS412+ involved inserting the drives, plugging it into power and ethernet, and running the Synology Assistant on my computer. Dead simple. Bonus: the DS412+ is an Intel Linux machine, so if you don't want to use their (very handy) software, you can just compile and run anything you like.
    • by fa2k ( 881632 )

      The problem with NFS and SMB is that they are not safe to use on the public internet. You can set up IPSec for Windows and Linux to protect the traffic, and firewall off anything that's not on IPSec. Getting something like that up on Linux will require some serious quality time with the CLI and a text editor. On Windows you may need some enterprise license.

      It is completely transparent once you've set it up, and it's a neat solution to make a "virtual private network" that's not actually a VPN tunnel. The do

    • I've run the gamut of various linux distros and am currently transitioning off an OS X server for home. I've come to realize that just because I CAN do something doesn't mean that's the best solution. I've hooked up external drives to a Mac Mini (win7 / Media Browser [mediabrowser.tv]) that drives our main TV. Shared my media folders to the network and mapped those to libraries on Windows, shares in the dock on the Mac. Why windows for a file server?
      1) I own the TV machine already. Broken down by cost, it takes a LOT of ele
    • Plex (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Plex media server on your storage server
      Plex client for windows and a new one for metro
      Plex client for OS X
      Plex client for iOS, android and windows mobile
      For everything else, use a browser to get to plex web service on the media server.

      Plex will index and fetch metadata for the files, play anything anywhere.

  • Just buy a NAS (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2012 @12:30PM (#42426399)

    Just buy a NAS box and start copying files. It's easier, less time consuming and less likely to break. Toms hardware has reviews. Get a decent one and it'll stream media to your digital devices without configuration. Suggest a static IP on your router if you have the inclination, but I've not gotten around to it. Similarly, suggest registering it with merge so you get software updates, but probably unnecessary. Other slashdot terms will give a lot more specific advice, but the best buy level NASs already have the compatibility you think you want froma windows box.

    • Re:Just buy a NAS (Score:5, Informative)

      by rawket.scientist ( 812855 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @01:15PM (#42426669)
      This! I Asked Slashdot [slashdot.org] about cloud storage for our small office a while back, and we ended up getting a four-bay QNAP NAS. That's probably overkill for home use, but we've been completely satisfied, and I'm seriously considering a lighter-weight edition for personal use.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I picked up a Synology DS1812+ earlier this year. It's expensive (~$1000 without drives), but I couldn't build anything in as small a form factor as they could. It's got an Intel Atom CPU, so it uses very little power. It's been reliable so far and the GUI is excellent.

      It's just a Linux-based system that uses mdRAID/ext4 under the hood, but I got tired of maintaining so many systems and just wanted something simple that was small and worked. If you'd rather roll your own, you can obtain the same functionali

      • by Dan667 ( 564390 )
        This is what I got too, but I got just the RS812 and that runs about $600. It has a very easy to use web interface and has the kitchen sink in what it supports (samba, nfs, ftp, and all kinds of other services). It is the easiest array I have ever setup and used.
        • If you don't need the rack-mount form factor, you can get a DS412+ for not much more money that has twice the RAM and a dual-core processor.
    • Get a decent one and it'll stream media to your digital devices without configuration.

      As long as you don't care about least common denominator quality, this is true. But, if you have Blu-Ray quality media as the source, it's unlikely that you can get full quality at devices that support it while also getting something that works on lesser devices. Transcoding on the fly sounds like a good idea, but decoding full HD video and audio and then re-encoding it (even at a much reduced resolution) requires a lot more processor than in the typical off-the-shelf NAS.

      If you don't want to watch video

    • by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @02:01PM (#42426953)

      And more environmentally friendly as well. Any halfway decent home NAS will spin down the drives when not in use, and probably use only a few watts while in standby (which will be most of the time, assuming you sleep, go to work, etc.). A desktop may well consume a hundred watts or more in standby. That's a MWh a year, about ~$100 at $0.10/kWh. As such an entry-level home NAS could pay for itself in the first year, a higher-quality one would take a few more.

  • Router and HDD (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2012 @12:31PM (#42426405)

    Lots of routers are now coming with USB3 connections that let you mount an external hard disk. It's cheaper than a file server and faster than cloud storage. At a $200 price point for an external hard disk and router I think this is a solid bonus. In addition, most external hard disks will sleep after a few minutes when they aren't being used, which is a 'greener' option than a server. You can also have multiple computers adding media to the hard disk at the same time via network to aid in your archival efforts.

    • by evilad ( 87480 )

      Do you have model numbers? I've never seen one.

      • by mikael ( 484 )

        Cisco E4200 does. Though there seems to be restrictions on the file system format (NTFS) and that only a single partition would work:

        Appendix B: How to Connect and Access USB Storage
        http://www.manualowl.com/m/Cisco/E4200/Manual/242917 [manualowl.com]

        This was the router that Cisco attempted to grant access through a centralised cloud computing service. If you allowed them to automatically update the firmware, you would find that the only way to enable and disable features such as VPN's, IPsec, user account and passwords was

    • but how much IO can they do??

      And most external hard drives do not have backup / raid.

      You can get a cheap pc with software raid 1 and 2 HDD's.

      • Raid is not your backup. Backup is something that is external to the device itself, and preferably housed offsite and offline.
        • I've just started playing with SymForm for backup. Upto 10GB free storage. After that you can pay either with Bytes (bandwidth, power and disk space) or dollars.

          • That's great for personal files, assuming you don't mind them being read by anyone who wants to, or do your own client-side encryption before using it. Kinda useless for backing up media collections though - even your typical DVD .iso is 6-7GB apiece if you don't want to throw away detail and menus by transcoding to a more efficient format.

            As an aside, does anyone know if there exists a software package that lets you perform securely encrypted incremental remote backups? It seems like it shouldn't be too t

            • As an aside, does anyone know if there exists a software package that lets you perform securely encrypted incremental remote backups?

              I have EaseUS Todo Backup and it looks like it can do all that, but it costs money (~$30) and probably only runs on Windows. I've got a Linksys Slug with 3TB storage and use EaseUS for weekly full and nightly differential backups. But I don't use encryption...hmm, I wonder why?

        • by fa2k ( 881632 )

          Raid is not backup, but sometimes you don't need a backup. I suspect that the OP woudn't be devastated if all the media was lost, and maybe it's not worth it to set up a second set of drives.

          By using a filesystem with RAID and snapshot supprt like Btrfs or ZFS, one is protected against disk failure by RAID and most user errors by snapshots.

        • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

          The thing about backups is that this means that you need to have least 2 of everything you are doing. At that point, things that are expensive become REALLY expensive and some of the more advanced features of the more expensive solutions become moot.

          1 Drobo becomes 2 Drobos or just 2 software arrays for far less money. Each array may have less sophisticated features but since you have two of them, it doesn't matter so much.

    • I enthusiastically second this. I have an older Drobo 4-bay unit plugged into our Airport Extreme router. Wired access is pretty snappy. Wireless access is easily fast enough to stream video in realtime to far ends of the house.
    • It really bothers me that everyone here is propping up all these new proprietary system for something like a backup solution whenever there are so [freenas.org] many [samba.org] open [ubuntu.com] alternatives [geektechnique.org].

      Almost anything is better than buying some black box solution that will sure to be outdated and out of the users control in a year.
  • by graphius ( 907855 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @12:32PM (#42426407) Homepage

    I have a small computer set up as a NAS (yes it is running ubuntu server, but any distro would probably work) I run egroupware server on it so I can get email, access files, and have a consolidated calendar (among other things) on all my devices. I tried owncloud, but it was a bit resource intensive.
    works for me...

  • Store your digital media on a server in any way you wish. Set up Plex Media Server, associate it with a MyPlex account, and point it at your media. Share your server with your family member's own MyPlex account, and they'll be able to stream everything from wherever (including using a snazzy new Web Client.) Make sure you set up some offsite backup solution, like Carbonite.
    • +1 for *NOT* using Plex.

      It's a horrible piece of "software"... easy? yes... fine for a couple hundred videos, absolutely... start getting into MP3's or images of any substantial number... >1000 you're going to be in progress pain.

      Also, it doesn't do back-ups... so the "dumping" part is still open for debate... and since there are apps that do both, alternatives highly suggested... but I have no suggestion.

      • +1 for *NOT* using Plex.

        It's a horrible piece of "software"... easy? yes... fine for a couple hundred videos, absolutely... start getting into MP3's or images of any substantial number... >1000 you're going to be in progress pain.

        Also, it doesn't do back-ups... so the "dumping" part is still open for debate... and since there are apps that do both, alternatives highly suggested... but I have no suggestion.

        I'm using Plex to manage a very large library and it's working fine. With the addition of PlexWeb I've been watching movies via web browser while visiting with relatives. I still prefer the OpenELEC (XBMC) interface for my main TV, though.

        As far as storage goes, I recommend either NAS4Free or FreeNAS for DIY (I prefer FreeNAS's interface). I did this on a hypervisor system a couple months ago, details are at http://pcpartpicker.com/b/yxP [pcpartpicker.com].

        Everything is backed up to the cloud using http://www.crashplan.com./ [www.crashplan.com]

        • Very large library of...? It's good at videos, as long as you don't dump/add a bunch all at once and expect to have everything functioning within a coffee break. DLNA, or direct connections without all the tagging/info/images/etc might work quicker... can't say I've tested that.

          I tried adding about 16,000+ MP3's... after an hour and a half, I gave up, killed the app, proceeded to uninstall and remove the zillions of left-over XML files (side note: do not suggest installing on an SSD unless your ok burning t

          • I scanned in a library of about 700 videos and 20,000 audio files. I just let it sit there and run, probably took a few hours but I really wasn't paying attention. The speed of building your library has nothing to do with your hardware and everything to do with how fast it can access the media info scrapers on the 'net.

            • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

              I have a library of 7000+ videos. Plex doesn't handle that so well.

              It's a pretty bloated program. Although it's pretty good for dealing with those mobile devices that can't fend for themselves. It's not something I would use for real HTPCs.

        • by BLKMGK ( 34057 )

          Take a look at unRAID. I'm currently running it and have been for years but am now also looking at NAS4Free and wow is it waaay more complicated to setup! It's going to be faster mind you and I can use it's NFS shares for VM storage but no way would I ask someone who wasn't willing to spend a few hours to set it up to try it out. I am considering trying FreeNAS too, especially since you seem to like it's interface better, but it's going to be VERY hard to beat unRAID for simplicity IMO...

      • by rueger ( 210566 ) *
        Just yesterday on another ./ thread someone suggested to me: I also messed around with Servio, Plex and some other open source DLNA servers. I found that the best DLNA option was Wild Media Server which will run fine in Wine on your Ubuntu box. That shit just worked with my Sony Bravia without a lot of hassle and the license for WMS is only 15 bucks.

        Gotta say that WMS installed under wine with no hassle whatsoever, and it feeds my Sony BluRay with ease - something that neither Plex nor Serviio did.

  • owncloud? (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2012 @12:36PM (#42426433)

    seems ready for what you ask ...


  • Legality? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @12:37PM (#42426441) Journal
    Are you going to keep the receipts of purchase around? If not, how are you going to prove all your digital copies are legal? Particularly the ones from physical media that you no longer possess.
    • Re:Legality? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ArcadeMan ( 2766669 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @12:44PM (#42426497)

      Even with a receipt, if he gives or sells a DVD then he gives up the license for that movie. He could give/sell the boxes away and simply keep the original discs inside a tower like you get when buying 100's of blank discs. That way he would still be legal and still own the licenses but cut on the space required for them.

      Another idea: apart from those stupid printed-directly-on-cardboard boxes, most DVDs come in plastic boxes so he could keep the printed sleeves in a binder and the discs in a tower.

      • Would it matter? Even if he still has the original media, copying a DVD is only possible by illegally breaking the encryption. If you're going to be doing something illegal anyway, you might as well go all the way and skip buying the DVD entirely, just download a torrent.

        Full-on piracy is actually better, legally. It's just nice simple civil copyright infringement. Ripping your (legally-purchased) DVD is not just civil copyright infringement, but a criminal offence too: Trafficking in a tool for circumventi

    • Re:Legality? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Nerdfest ( 867930 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @12:44PM (#42426499)

      Why should he have to? "Innocent until proven guilty" should still apply until the copyright mafias completely buy out the government.

      • by ankhank ( 756164 ) *

        Innocence doesn't exempt you from the cost of defending against a lawsuit.

        "I was never ruined but twice; once when I lost a lawsuit and once when I won one."
        -- Voltaire.

      • Re:Legality? (Score:5, Informative)

        by hab136 ( 30884 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @02:26PM (#42427143) Journal

        "Innocent until proven guilty" and "reasonable doubt" is for criminal cases.

        "Preponderance of evidence" is the standard in civil cases (lawsuits), which basically means whichever story is more likely.

    • Are you going to keep the receipts of purchase around? If not, how are you going to prove all your digital copies are legal? Particularly the ones from physical media that you no longer possess.

      Frankly, I don't think it would be terribly unethical even if he sold the collection and still kept copies on a HDD. There are bigger problems to worry about. He's not running organized piracy or anything, it's just some joe's media collection.

    • Somehow that is not considered an issue related to music people buy on-line. Or do iTunes, Amazon, etc. issue paper receipts for your purchases? I very much doubt it.

      By the way if you buy a CD, make a copy of it for personal use, and then give away or sell the original disk, you should destroy the copy you made. As soon as the original CD leaves your possession, you lose the right to that copy. So even if you have the purchase receipt but not the CD, you're still in trouble if they were to knock on your doo

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        People don't consider it an issue because they lack imagination.

        If you have "some file" that happens to be someone else's intellectual property then all it takes is one lone jerk to decide to accuse you of pirating that "some file".

        All it takes is one abusive or ambitious beaurocrat at any level.

    • Re:Legality? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Immerman ( 2627577 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @02:57PM (#42427343)

      Does it really matter? If you're ripping DVDs or Blu-rays you're already violating the DMCA, even if you keep the original discs in spindles/binders/etc. in the attic. Whether you face legal ramifications depends entirely on whether anyone notices and cares, and as long as you're not publicly sharing the media online that's pretty unlikely.

  • I am going through a similar exercise right now, all of my music CDs have been ripped to flac format and I'm 3/4 of the way through my DVD collection. In my case I have a server in the basement running Linux Mint fitted with two 3TB hard drives. Linux Mint is the secret as all of the audio and visual codecs are pre-loaded and so far I haven't found a single file that I can't play.


    • This. Add in xmbc on top of it, and you can be off and running.

      I'd get back into the geek thing a little for setting it up - all a fairly well documented and straight forward process. I'd also look into using multiple physical disks and setting up a RAID array - hate to consolidate your stuff and then loose it to a hardware failure.

  • Synology (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 30, 2012 @12:42PM (#42426485)

    I got another Synology DS212J this year. It has a lot of click-to-add packages like photo, audio, media shares. Works with Win/Mac/Lin/I/And (everything I have is Linux/Android).
    Great browser based setup/admin, built in RAID, Network Attached Storage. Best home NAS I have used.

    Here is their live demo page:

  • Probably the very simplest is a network capable external drive like the Western Digital World Edition. Just plug it in and you have network storage. That just gives you a folder full of media files visible to the network, though. A much nicer, searchable interface with playlists etc. can be had with XMBC, a media center for Windows, Linux, Mac and others (including some Android support).
  • A lot of people are talking about NAS devices and so on, but they all come back to "filesharing" as the software portion of their solution.

    I use Plex [plexapp.com] to serve out media and love it. Transcodes a Blue-Ray rip to my iPad. I hit pause and bring the movie up on my television and start where I left off. You can run the server on a Windows machine, a Mac, or even some NAS devices.

    I can be on the road and bring up any movie I have.

    Client-wise they have iOS, OS X, Windows, and Android.

    • Re:Software side... (Score:4, Informative)

      by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @01:12PM (#42426647) Journal
      Costs money, phones home, and they are desperately trying to monetize it. Avoid Plex.
      • by root_42 ( 103434 )

        Do you have a reference for the phoning home stuff? I am using Plex on the Mac and like it very much. However, if there were serious problems like unwantedly transmitting data, I'd really like to know.

    • Transcodes a Blue-Ray rip to my iPad.

      How does it decode DTS-HD and Dolby TrueHD? How does it handle multiple audio streams? Does it support subtitles (especially Blu-Ray PGS)?

      My Blu-Ray rips only have video re-coded for reduced size...everything else is as it appeared on the disc, so without support for these things, it wouldn't work for me. As I said in another post, most on-the-fly transcoding solutions are fine as long as you only care about least common denominator quality. If you want high quality for your 60" HDTV and 7.1 surround sy

      • I don't really use Plex, but I feel like you are missing the point.

        You don't need on the fly transcoding to stream to your 60" TV and 7.1 surround system. You need an xbmc box or something that can handle full uncompressed video output to your giant tv. If your hardware can handle the raw files, there is no need to transcode

        You need on the fly transcoding when you are sending content to a device that can't handle it. That way you can still keep your uncompressed bluray rips for use on your TV, but al

  • If you plan on centralizing all your data, that will greatly simplify your media management and space. There are tons of perfectly good ways of doing it, from buying a NAS to setting up a dedicated computer using Windows/Linux/BeOS/C64 or whatever. If you don't want to take the time to set up a good linux based solution, then I would actually recommend buying a used mac mini and either replacing the HDD with a bigger one or getting a USB3 (if the mac is new enough to support it) or a firewire external enc

  • I just went through a similar exercise with our 200 disk DVD collection - copied the DVD images to a RAID fileserver (I used ubuntu + ZFS, you could buy something like a Drobo or a ReadyNAS if you don't want to set up your own fileserver - don't skimp on the hardware, you want something solid and reliable). DIsk space is so cheap I didn't even bother compressing the DVD images on the initial copy.

    3 or 4 of the DVD's had some copy protection that dvdcopy couldn't handle - I almost got some WIndows software t

  • Don't DSL/fiber boxes already do this?

  • I'd like to set up something on an extra Windows box shoved in a closet that lets me dump every digital file we have (photos, music, ebooks, movies) and then doles it out as necessary to all of our devices.

    It's folks like THIS guy. Their unpatched infected Windows machines sit forgotten in closets all over the world, spraying the malicious packets of Code Red, Nimda, Sober, Blaster, Sasser, etc. despite modern OSs being invulnerable. We call this Internet Background Radiation; This is the reason your modem's "activity" light blinks even if you've just turned it on -- We're being scanned! This is why an unpatched machine connected to the net becomes infected in mere minutes just sitting there... From a r

    • by arth1 ( 260657 )

      The tl;dr version:

      If you can't admin it, you shouldn't run it. There's a real risk your negligence will cause problems for others.

      That said, my advice is: Go buy a NAS that isn't Windows based (most of them aren't). The risks are much lower, and it's easy enough to do basic admin on through a web interface.
      They're made for people who aren't interested in all the important details of setting up and maintaining a secure internet-facing file share.

  • It's like Dropbox, but everything resides on the server of your choice. Ridiculously easy to set up, literally copy a directory into the web root, set permissions, and done.

    Has MOST features Dropbox does, sharing files, access from anywhere...photo gallery, you can open files in the browser with native internal apps..

    It gives you the drag-and-drop simplicity of Dropbox with its syncing with nearly the same simplicity to set up.

    • by Lispy ( 136512 )

      Owncloud is really great. I'd put it on a webhoster so you can reach it from everywhere.
      For my home I use a NAS, an old one actually (Siemens AMS150). If you have already decent hardware (lots of drives and a PC) you could try FreeNAS [freenas.org], it does everything a dedicated NAS does and more but of course you won't get the great powersavings of the custom built ones. Setup is trivial and it comes with a HTML-based GUI.

  • Real estate is the slimiest, vilest industry there is, based on lies, deceit and willful holding back of information. Who cares if you have to lug three boxes of junk instead of one? You're moving! Who cares?

    What you NEED to be spending your time on is finding out exactly how much this will cost! How much in welcome tax, municipal tax, school tax, water tax, insurance, inspectors and whatever other creative ways we invent to suck money out of people's wallets.

    If you are renting, what's wring with your p

  • Network Attached Storage appliances are cheap and quite reliable. Get one that can a couple 2tb drives and set them in a mirror mode. The NAS will have a simple web interface for management and expose your drive(s) as a Samba share on your network.

  • You really just need a NAS box take whatever hardware you have install and be done with it.Few things need more than cifs or http access to work.

  • Hello Lordfly!
    I understand you're basically trying to digitalize your library and allow some streaming features to all your digital devices (mac, windows, tablet, phone, etc).
    Now there are various options available to you, there are some factors to consider:

    * How much data are you looking to store?
    * How much time do you want to spend tinkering around with it (looking for a hobby or a solution)?
    * Are you looking to stream this data outside of your home and if so, do you have the bandwidth to support
  • Plex - http://www.plexapp.com/ [plexapp.com] ($free$)

    I reused an old Acer w/ an amd 4050E and 4GB ram. Installed a simple Newegg/Rosewill SATA card and added 2 WD green drives. I then stream all of my audio/video/photos to everything (android phone/tablets, tv via roku, itunes music, xbox, etc). I use standard windows file sharing along with FreeFileSync (http://alternativeto.net/software/freefilesync/) to use the server as a backup for everything else in the house.

    • by log0n ( 18224 )

      Forgot to mention.. the UPS reports the system usually hovers between 60-65w and is configured to shut the system down at 11pm (12am weekends), start back up at 8am. Almost negligible effect on the monthly power bill (~$1.75 iirc). Well worth it.

  • itunes (Score:4, Informative)

    by um... Lucas ( 13147 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @02:22PM (#42427119) Journal

    For myself, I've got a computer running iTunes with a big external drive attached for all the media. A couple of Apple TV's scattered around the house make streaming movies shows music and audiobooks a synch. The "Automatically add to itunes" directory is shared, so any other computer can add media to the library for everyone to watch. On top of that, I'd recommend Handbrake for ripping your old DVD's to your library.

    The reason i'm pointing out the apple solution is because of the Apple TV's. Admittedly, once I came upon this, I stopped looking for other solutions, so I don't know if there is anything else comparable for streaming media to multiple TV's from a single repository at home, with a simple remote (as opposed to a wireless keyboard or what not... been there, done that, not at all preferable).

    If you use any idevices, you can stream from your phone or ipad back up to your TV as well, using the Apple TV. Or from your wifes macbook, supposing she updated to the latest OS.

    Commence the Apple bashing now... No, I don't work for them. I'm just pleased with the experience.

  • One master computer.. running SuperSync, Plex Server, iTunes, FileZilla, with as much storage as you need (4T USB drive at Costco for $179). Use a remote backup service. Then have remote clients throughout the house, at the office, etc. that can log in and upload/download/add playlists, sync ratings, etc. http://supersync.com/ [supersync.com]
  • by Vrtigo1 ( 1303147 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @02:44PM (#42427263)
    Here is what works for me, as well as a few things to keep in mind.

    If all your client devices support samba (i.e. they're all computers) then by all means just install Windows on an extra box and set up shared folders and dump your media in there.

    You mentioned tablets and smartphones. Those likely do not support samba, so I'd suggest a DLNA server such as Tversity. It works pretty well, but there are some rough edges. What about accessing data to present on TVs, etc?

    Another concern is the ongoing cost of powering a system sitting in the closet serving only as a file server. Assuming your old computer will suck 100W 24x7x365, do you really want to pay $100 a year to your electric utility to run it?

    If I were you, I would look at some of the appliance solutions such as a USB NAS device that lets you plug Cat5 into one end and multiple USB devices (such as USB HDDs) in the other end to create networked storage. Such devices only use a fraction of the power, plus they're silent and generate no heat. A device like that will pay for itself in power savings in under a year.

    Another option would be something like a Boxee Box. That will also let you share two USB hard drives to the network, plus it lets you play just about any file format and stream Netflix, etc to a connected TV. The Boxee Box was recently discontinued in favor of the Boxee TV, so you ought to be able to find one on clearance somewhere for $140-150. Just get a couple 2TB USB drives and connect them. If you need more than 4TB of storage, you're probably better off looking at one of the network hard drive appliances that let you put 4 or 8 drives in anyway.

    As far as backup, I wouldn't bother messing with RAID, just buy double the storage you need and make a nightly or weekly differential backup between the two storage sets.

    But the REAL question is...with Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, Vudu, Pandora, SoundCloud, Spotify, etc, do you really need to keep all that media anymore? Why not just pick one or two services to pay a small subscription fee to and let it all live in the cloud? That'll save you from spending money on a computer, storage, software and electricity, and will probably give you a wider variety of media.
  • "Cloud" is a marketing buzzword, nothing more. People are using the term to describe all kinds of fileservers and appservers now. "Cloud" started out describing the sort of apps that already existed: fileservers like dropbox and what is now iCloud, VPSes with secured CIFS/SMB shares, and appservers like Google Apps and SugarCRM subscriptions . It has since been expanded to include local fileservers, proving how the term really means nothing.

    What you want ideally is a fileserver, possibly one running Plex or XBMC to serve up media streams and catalog your media, preferably one built on RAID5 or RAID6 on a hardware-based controller, with a separate array to serve as a backup.

  • by Bomarc ( 306716 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @03:57PM (#42427643) Homepage
    Windows Home Server is a viable option. You can choose the power of the server... from a Dell PE 1900 class to a Atom processor.... or more or less. In addition to homing all of your media (MP3, Vid etc) it can allow remote access to your system(s), perform nightly backups of (windows) based systems. It is expandable (add another multi-TB drive whenever you want to). It can be headless (depending on the home layout, find a nice 'cool' place in the basement). There are also many 3rd party add-on's to enhance your network.
  • by mckwant ( 65143 ) on Sunday December 30, 2012 @07:55PM (#42428837)

    I have an FS, which I think is similar to the 5N.

    http://www.drobo.com/products/professionals/drobo-5n/index.php [drobo.com]

    That initial cost is quite the leap of faith, but dually redundant mismatched drives that I can upgrade seamlessly at my leisure (and if drives ever get cheap again)? Done.

    And yes, you could build your own network of rsync shares more cheaply, and performance is frankly unspectacular (may be my crusty 100M network.) But it's a ten minute setup for a virtually inexhaustible file share that you don't ever have to worry about. Sounds about right for our tech-wary OP.

interlard - vt., to intersperse; diversify -- Webster's New World Dictionary Of The American Language