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Ask Slashdot: Easiest Way To Consolidate Household Media?

timothy posted about 2 years ago | from the one-way-data-transfer-is-much-simpler dept.

Data Storage 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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An ultimately simple concept... (5, Insightful)

jedidiah (1196) | about 2 years ago | (#42426383) 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.

Re:An ultimately simple concept... (1)

epp_b (944299) | about 2 years ago | (#42426569)

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.

Re:An ultimately simple concept... (2)

ottothecow (600101) | about 2 years ago | (#42426927)

For this, is an Unraid server [] 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 doesn't require matched drives or anything...). I've been looking in to making one for myself to stream media to xbmc and keep my music and photo collections in one place (and then you only have to back up one device). In the past I would have tried to roll my own, but now I kind of want something that just works, and I have a job so paying for it isn't a problem if I exceed 3 drives.

Re:An ultimately simple concept... (3, Informative)

Psicopatico (1005433) | about 2 years ago | (#42426619)


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 discussion). Plus the back-up (another minimum 5 drives).

For any choice but the absolute minimal one (the three drives example), be absofuckinglutely sure about airflow.
Cramming a lot of drives in a box probably not engineered for this task and putting it into a closet is the perfect recipe for a disaster.

Re:An ultimately simple concept... (4, Insightful)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 2 years ago | (#42426897)

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.

Re:An ultimately simple concept... (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | about 2 years ago | (#42426641)

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:An ultimately simple concept... (1)

krovisser (1056294) | about 2 years ago | (#42426735)

This is what I've done too. Plus, ssh server and it's my router as well. Even more, drop torrent files in a specified folder, and they are automagically downloaded and available for streaming. assuming it isn't some stupid multi-rar download.

Re:An ultimately simple concept... (3, Interesting)

jcoy42 (412359) | about 2 years ago | (#42426677)

Agreed. And in the spirit of K.I.S.S., I'd suggest you use external storage like a drobo [] . 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.

Re:An ultimately simple concept... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426701)

AND back the whole thing up. Twice if you can afford the extra drives.

Plex is the answer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426967)

If you want to watch/listen to all of that media from any device on your network, just use plex. It's really pretty great software and it's free!

freenas (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426393)

freenas, and a couple 2tb drives. done.

Just buy a NAS (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#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 (4, Informative)

rawket.scientist (812855) | about 2 years ago | (#42426669)

This! I Asked Slashdot [] 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:Just buy a NAS (3, Interesting)

StillAnonymous (595680) | about 2 years ago | (#42426695)

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 functionality and reliablity as any of the commercial offerings. Form factor, simplicity, and GUI are really what they are providing.

Re:Just buy a NAS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426843)

I also bought a Synology DS1812+. Also bought 2 of their DX512 units for expansion. This is for work purposes. We only use it to store our backups.

Years ago, people use to like
I have not used it lately, but it may be what you are looking for.

Weather or not you go with a purpose built NAS or a computer, Please raid it with anything ABOVE 0, and please keep a backup.
RAID is not a backup.

Re:Just buy a NAS (1)

Dan667 (564390) | about 2 years ago | (#42426851)

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.

Re:Just buy a NAS (2)

nabsltd (1313397) | about 2 years ago | (#42426807)

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 on cell phones or tablets, just store it at full quality that works with your hardware media streamers, and PCs will be able to handle it (as will some tablets). For audio, store two copies...lossless (FLAC is best) and whatever MP3 quality you want. This doesn't waste much space, as the MP3s won't take up much room when you are talking about a multi-terabyte server. Then, just read files directly through shares, or configure your DLNA server to never transcode anything.

Re:Just buy a NAS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426845)

My NAS is a Thecus unit. Affordable and reliable so far. The interface is kind lame, but it's just a UI...
Two 1TB drives in RAID1 (mirrored) with nightly Rsync to a 1TB drive on the in-home Windows AD server. I need off-site backup...
Drives contain 'movies', 'tunes', and 'pictures' shares.
As others said, a simple file-share does fine. Two media boxes (AppleTV and Xbox) and a few computers all have access to it. No performance issues...but I also doubt more than two devices have really hit it at the same time so far.
Nice to have it sync to my AD accounts for access/permissions.
Only stinker device is the ATV since it can't access the NAS share directly. I have a Mac Mini in between running iTunes, pointing to the NAS library, which then syncs with the ATV. Kinda silly. On the other hand, it is needed for the ripping/converting of home DVDs anyway...
Works well, not too expensive, etc.

Cheaper too. Eventually. (3, Informative)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Try unraid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426401)

Unraid can turn an old Pc into a network storage device. It can use plugins for pyTivo, as well as use plugins for tv, movie, and music management software like sickbeard. Plus if a HD dies it can rebuild the array.

Router and HDD (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Router and HDD (1)

evilad (87480) | about 2 years ago | (#42426537)

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

Re:Router and HDD (-1, Troll)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 years ago | (#42426645)

Sure. Here's the model of number one [] , as requested.

Re:Router and HDD (1)

mikael (484) | about 2 years ago | (#42426731)

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 []

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 through Cisco's website.

but how much IO can they do?? (2)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | about 2 years ago | (#42426563)

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.

Re:but how much IO can they do?? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#42426605)

Raid is not your backup. Backup is something that is external to the device itself, and preferably housed offsite and offline.

Re:but how much IO can they do?? (1)

Stormthirst (66538) | about 2 years ago | (#42426671)

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.

Re:Router and HDD (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426639)

These are generally terrible file servers. However, it's a great way to plug in your offline backup and copy from your NAS to the backup.

egroupware (2)

graphius (907855) | about 2 years ago | (#42426407)

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...

Re:egroupware (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426521)

egroupware seems to be 25 euros /mth.

What was the machine you were running owncloud as?

Plex will do exactly what you need (2)

rickatnight11 (818463) | about 2 years ago | (#42426421)

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.

Re:Plex will do exactly what you need (2)

Vectronic (1221470) | about 2 years ago | (#42426515)

+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.

Re:Plex will do exactly what you need (2)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about 2 years ago | (#42426697)

+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 [] .

Everything is backed up to the cloud using [] I can't recommend them highly enough.

Re:Plex will do exactly what you need (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | about 2 years ago | (#42426799)

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 them out), and then re-installed... tried the same with I'm not sure, about 8,000 or so images... not happening... remove, clean, re-install... (ok I'm a bit OCD there, but even with a couple hundred videos, there's thousands and thousands of XML files generated... that shit annoys me)

3570K OC to 4.2... 8GB DDR3 @ 1800 CL8... SATA3 SSD...roughly 500/500M/s for installation drive, SATA3 1TB 64MB 7200 mechanical for the data being accessed.

If yours is working well for you, great... but I wouldn't consider it a primary choice, I'm forced to use it for my (LG) TV... otherwise I wouldn't even touch it ever again.

Re:Plex will do exactly what you need (1)

Anonymous Psychopath (18031) | about 2 years ago | (#42426923)

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.

Subsonic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426423)

Streams music, video, pictures, whatever. Easy to install, dead simple to use (through a web browser). Has plugins for XBMC and apps for your phone/tablet.

Synology NAS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426429)

I'm a big fan of Synology NAS's. They come in a wide variety of form factors, simple to use, but they're very hackable if you're interested.

Re:Synology NAS (2)

aix tom (902140) | about 2 years ago | (#42426909)

I'm too since last week. ;-P

I especially like that the management fronted and packages seem to be pretty much identical from the cheapest 1-bay home user thing to the biggest 36-bay enterprise rack.

Want to set up iSCSI Targets on the cheapest consumer thing? No problem. Want to use the little consumer Photo Album thing on the most expensive enterprise thing? No problem.

The only thing to look for when you want to run "more" than just simple file sharing is to get the ones with a little more RAM and CPU power.

owncloud? (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426433)

seems ready for what you ask ...


Many options (4, Informative)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about 2 years ago | (#42426435)

Legality? (4, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | about 2 years ago | (#42426441)

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? (3, Insightful)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about 2 years ago | (#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.

Re:Legality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426561)

DVD's CD's and other physical items are owned, not licensed.

Re:Legality? (2)

swalve (1980968) | about 2 years ago | (#42426627)

The object is owned, the content is licensed.

Re:Legality? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426939)

If the content is licensed then why is it that when I "lease" a console game i don't also get access to it on my PC or another console? If companies opted for a 'buy once, use everywhere' type of licensing that would make me less likely to pirate their shit. Like things on Steam, i don't ever pirate Steam games, they offer too many great deals and I can play/install anywhere (if I'm allowed to).

Re:Legality? (5, Insightful)

Nerdfest (867930) | about 2 years ago | (#42426499)

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

Re:Legality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426579)

You, my friend, are naive.
Corporations have no interest in right/wrong or innocent/guilty. They are only interested in profit. Having everyone re-purchase digitial media is pure profit.

Re:Legality? (2)

ankhank (756164) | about 2 years ago | (#42426607)

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? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426621)

My understanding is that this level of paranoia is largely relegated to geeks who have either some form of dementia, or OCD combined with anxiety disorder where they worry about roving gangs of digital Gestapo agents who consider you guilty until proven innocent.

In the real world the RIAA simply sues you if they find you torrenting their songs. The idea that you need to prove that you own all your music is as ridiculous as needing prove you own everything else in your house.

Re:Legality? (1)

StuffMaster (412029) | about 2 years ago | (#42426659)

how are you going to prove all your digital copies are legal?

Prove to who? He didn't mention anything about defending a lawsuit.

Re:Legality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426711)

Some geeks have this disease where when doing anything they think that they have to stop everything bad that's "possible". "Possible" is defined as running your imagination wild and without regard to reality. The extreme cases worry about things like all the molecules of air in the room suddenly appearing on one side of the room and not the other due to quantum mechanical effects.

Re: Legality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426829)

I believe that's called an anxiety disorder. :)

Re:Legality? (1)

jones_supa (887896) | about 2 years ago | (#42426715)

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.

Re:Legality? (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about 2 years ago | (#42426767)

Legality? Why should we care about that anymore? The law is nothing but a massive witch hunt, a dysfunctional game of roulette. Those with the most money win. Why should anybody show any respect for that?

Re:Legality? (2)

Immerman (2627577) | about 2 years ago | (#42426907)

Mostly to avoid being repeatedly kicked in the crotch by a pack of rabid lawyers. Moral considerations aside you're far less likely to be detected making personal copies of DVDs than, say, beating someone senseless. But if the lawyers do get a hold of you you'll likely be wishing for the assault charges. Such is the insanity of modern law.

Re:Legality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426895)

how are you going to prove all your digital copies are legal?

In which country do you live that has the Digital Inquisition going around persecuting people that harbor digital media?

One of the reasons I, as a citizen of the United States of America, own guns is to protect myself from illegal search and seizures at the hands of the Federal Tyrants^H^H^H^H^H^H^H Government. If the Digital Inquisition shows up at my home with the assumption I'm guilty until proven innocent, they should be expect a bullet filled reception.

Meaning, if I don't get to use the first three boxes (soap, ballot, and jury), you bet your sweet ass I will use the fourth box (ammo).

Re:Legality? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426949)

How did this troll get modded insightful?

Do you carry all your receipts around for your clothes everywhere you go? How do I know you didn't steal them? Do you have the dealers agreement or bill of sale in your car? How do I know you didn't steal it? Do you have the invoices ans relevant signed contracts in your pocket for your laptop, tablet and smartphone at all times? How do I know you didn't steal them?

See? You can take a stupid argument like that to ridiculous levels.

Physical containers for digital media are a relic of the 90's and early 2000's. They have been obsolete for years and the media industry just can't seem to wrap their head around this newfangled internet thing. In the mean time, what are we supposed do? Relegate technology to uselessness until some corporate serpents can figure out how to snort every last penny out of us? Fuck that.

How did we get to the point where mere accusation of something as dainty and quasi-unethical as copyright infringement is burdened a harsher stigma than real, actual, tangible, provable *theft*? It's pathetic.

Re:Legality? (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | about 2 years ago | (#42426987)

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 door to check your drives. Which is not going to happen, unless you put those files on a public share or so.

unraid (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426449)

For something scalable try unraid:

There is a license cost, but I find that it's well worth it.

Plex (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426451)

Plex is pretty nice for streaming the media from the file share. You'll need the server installed on a box somewhere. They have client apps for just about all major desktop and mobile OS's.

Dropbox (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426453)

It sounds like Dropbox might be able to help you out (and is probably the easiest solution).

A lot of people I know do a similar thing through their service. If you gotta have it local, and have a good wireless connection, there are Remote Desktop clients for all of the devices you describe. That would at least prevent the data from being redundant on multiple devices. I think you can find good Android clients for ~15$.

Just some ideas, you'll have to Google around for setup instructions.

Similar Thinking (1)

Ganty (1223066) | about 2 years ago | (#42426467)

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.


Re:Similar Thinking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426549)

That is pretty close to what I did. I put an old tiny computer to work doing just that. Its a Via Epia EX10000EG motherboard in a mini-itx form factor. It uses nearly zero power and is fanless. It is in a tiny Travla C138 aluminum case. I can also remotely log into my Linux Mint PC while it is quietly sitting in the closet with VNC. So it doesn't need a keyboard, mouse or monitor. It's not nearly as difficult to do as you think. I recommeded this to a friend who did the same and found the stuff used on eBay for cheap too.

Re:Similar Thinking (1)

i.r.id10t (595143) | about 2 years ago | (#42426693)

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.

take a look at GCD of all your devices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426471)

Don't forget to take a look at all your consuming devices and take the greatest common denominator of what they accept.

Maybe you have a TV which accepts streaming from a specific library format like DNLA. Maybe you're a mac addict who needs itunes everywhere (although your contemplation of using Windows seems to end that train of thought).
There are plenty of NAS setups possible to stream data. But where will the player be? Will it be your TV, your laptop, do you want to go for wireless speakers?


Synology (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#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:

Re:Synology (3, Interesting)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#42426629)

How is your CPU usage? I added a bunch of packages and once i did that my CPU was pegged at 100% for months, limiting transfer speed to 15 MB/s. I finally wiped it and went with the standard packages and it works great now.

pcpartpicker and freenas (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426489)

You can part up a cheap JBOD and install some nas software (I like freenas) or just run some linux you like with samba.

Built my last system for under 200 shipped. 8 gigs of ram, g540 celeron, 10 bay case. The mobo is no longer available, but they're under 40. Drives are where you rack up the $'s

cloud (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426491)

just use dropbox, it works on linux win and mac, android and ios. If 2 gb free are not enough just buy more space.
If u know someone who has it get an invite, it's 250mb extra free.

I am you from the future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426495)

Well, not really, but... my wife and I recently purchased and moved into our first house. We downsized a lot of crap. While I couldn't find it in me to part with my CD collection (too much love and effort went into it), it IS sitting in basement storage.

I ended up buying a Synology NAS. My uses are more hardcore, but if one of my non-technical siblings came to me, this is what I would recommend. I can dump tons of data on it and make sure that it's redundant. It's crazy easy to set up as well - if you can still fart around a windowed environment, you'll get this set up easily. And it's one of the cheapest and well-supported consumer NAS solutions out there.

Yeah, I could have gone with a PC hanging out file shares, but I didn't want something that bulky and that noisy, and the Synology uses less electricity too.

Also, good luck with finding a place, closing on it, prepping it, and moving in. I'm glad we did it, but man - I never want to have to do that ever again.

Simplest - network capable external HD, best XBMC (1)

raymorris (2726007) | about 2 years ago | (#42426513)

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).

PogoPlug Solution (1)

NoHandleBars (10204) | about 2 years ago | (#42426519)

Check out the PogoPlug Solution which combines a hardware device for storage with cloud accessibility for all the devices you listed. It's extremely easy to use. You don't have to use their cloud solution if you purchase the cheap hardware device. You simply plug in an external hard drive/thumb drive and use their Internet interface on all your devices not just for file storage, but also for streaming.

Parity RAID based NAS + Secondcopy works for me (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426523)

I've been a big fan of FlexRAID ( It is a parity based "smart storage" system that essentially lets you pool in N+1 hard drives while giving you access to storage space on N hard drives (enables recovery from a single HDD failing). Based on your desired redundancy, you can also set it up to be resilient for M simultaneous hard drive crashes...which allows you access to storage space on N+1-M hard drives. It is a paid solution but I've been using it since it was a free Beta. It has a very neat drive extender solution that pools in all the folders across all hard drives in the FlexRAID and makes all the storage accessible under a single drive. It makes accessing and storing data on your FlexRAID exceedingly simple as every software simply sees it as just another drive letter. Also provides you with very slick web based administrative controls (running on local host, not the cloud) that let you monitor your FlexRAID and schedule daily/hourly/weekly sync operations to keep the parity RAID system up to date. It does take a bit of effort to read up on it to understand how it works (if you care) but there is also a fool proof setup option that does all the configuring for you.

Of course, FlexRAID is only part of the solution. It lets you store your important data locally on a NAS or across several hard drives while giving you some redundancy and enabling simple access to the entire storage pool via a single drive letter. The other part of the solution for me is to use a very simple but awesome piece of software called SecondCopy ( It has a lot of options, but you can configure it on each of your computers to automatically watch certain folders and upload any changes, additions, etc to your NAS to keep it up to date with what is on your hard drive. You can also set it to only add or edit changed files but not delete files of the NAS when you delete something locally. That's just scratching the surface. You can even have it zip all the files being archived if they are purely for backup purposes and you care about the space savings.

I've found that the combination of FlexRAID and SecondCopy works really well for me. The only problem is that SecondCopy only runs on Windows, so you might have to look for something similar on the Mac.

Finally, since you are a photographer, you probably already know about services like SmugMug. I'd highly recommend paying the $60 a year for such a service. They have a plugin that integrates into Lightroom allowing you to publish photos on your SmugMug website as soon as you are done processing them. It serves as an off-site backup for all my photographs (which I care about a lot) and gives you unlimited uploads and lets you store images at their original resolution. Smugmug also lets you request a zip file containing all pictures of any given album that makes it easy to redownload any albums of images that you might have misplaced or lost. Not only does it serve as a backup, it also makes it very easy to share all your pictures with friends and families and also allows them to easily download any of the images they like (if you enable downloads) and/or order prints straight from the website.

For me, FlexRAID + Second Copy + Smugmug works well enough with zero hassles once I have everything set up.

ownCloud or NAS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426525)

I would strongly suggest either A) looking into ownCloud. The set up for a local in-house box is fairly inexpensive and I believe ownCloud will let you rent space on their server if you want file sync on the road. Alternatively I would suggest looking into FreeNAS. Basically you install it on a spare box and FreeNAS will manage pretty much everything for you. You can set up shares through an easy point-n-click web GUI.

The whole set up process for FreeNAS or for a local ownCloud install is probably less than an hour, even if you haven't used them before. Plus they are pretty much set up and forget solutions, which is ideal for most people.

Software side... (1)

singularity (2031) | about 2 years ago | (#42426547)

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 [] 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... (3, Informative)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 2 years ago | (#42426647)

Costs money, phones home, and they are desperately trying to monetize it. Avoid Plex.

Re:Software side... (1)

nabsltd (1313397) | about 2 years ago | (#42426877)

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 system, then most of the DLNA solutions won't work.

Skip the old computer (1)

berchca (414155) | about 2 years ago | (#42426555)

You'll just be adding another system to maintain. Just buy a network attached drive, much simpler to maintain and smaller to book.

I know that Western Digital (my book) has software to share with iOS devices at least. Maybe Android, too.

How about just using the cloud? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426565)

It sounds like you are trying to downsize, and have less stress/crap in your life. You are also buying a house, which for the next few years is going to increase the stress level by a bazillion.

I recommend just using the real cloud. I went to Apple icloud. So. Damn. Easy. If you despise Apple, Amazon also offers cloud services. To badly paraphrase Larry Ellison, circa 1995: "You don't keep all of your money at home, under your bed, you keep it in a bank; so why keep all of your data at home?"

I don't know much about DIY servers if you share Mac and Linux and PC devices, so I'm eager to read the user responses. However, If you do go DIY, I would recommend that you at least backup your pictures, vids, and important legal docs/financial docs up to Carbonite or some online backup service (iron mountain "Connected", etc.) THose services are worth their weight in gold, so to speak.

My $0.01 (I'm not savvy enough to offer $0.02)...

Re:How about just using the cloud? (1)

mikael (484) | about 2 years ago | (#42426759)

"You don't keep all of your money at home, under your bed, you keep it in a bank; so why keep all of your data at home?"

You keep your money in a bank, because the bank provides a safe storage medium in exchange for a commission from making more money by lending it out to other people.

You don't keep all of your furniture in your home because you want to use it when you need it, not when some store is open business hours.

Media server (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426571)

I use Plex. It is free and it runs on any platform as the server and any platform as a client. It is a painless and quick way to setup your own Amazon or Netflix type media server with very little work.

File Share (1)

StuffMaster (412029) | about 2 years ago | (#42426575)

Sounds like a file share to me...

Vortexbox (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426581)

I run the vortexbox software on a HP microserver.

Vortexbox is a modified linux distribution based on Fedora, that has a straightforward web interface that minimizes any administration, and is designed for your use case.

It includes:
Automatic CD ripping (just insert the disk, and it will be ripped and tagged, with album art)
Automatic DVD ripping (as above)
Plex media server integration
Squeezebox server integration

All music is streamed via Squeezebox hardware and software. There are cheap/free ipod/android players for Squeezebox audio, and remote controls, so you don't need a Squeezebox device. It also supports spotify,

TV / movie / photo streaming is via Plex. There are clients for Android / iThings.

Just run a disk share for the remaining ebooks etc.


Usually one buys a house so that.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426593)

they have enough space so that they DON'T have to give away all of their stuff.
If you give away all of your physical media, why do you need a house?

Share + XBMC (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426599)

Create a Samba share, then use the various flavours of XBMC to access movies, pictures, and music. If anything, I found since I started using XBMC that it has forced me to keep all my digital files better organized to ensure they show up correctly.

cheap mac (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426603)

I bought a used Mac Cube for short money on craigslist and attached a Firewire drive to it. It runs silently, headless and keyboard less without configuration, consumes little electricity and it's beautiful to look at so no need to hide it. Just remember to check wake on LAN and you are good to go and install a VNC. I use it to feed everything from Apple TV to PS3.


ilsaloving (1534307) | about 2 years ago | (#42426683)

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 enclosure. You said you have access to an old macbook. That would probably do you perfectly. Depending on which version of OSX is on it, you could even hook it up to your TV and use it as your main media centre because it will have Front Row. (I'm dissappointed Apple got rid of it in later releases... I guess not enough people used it to justify maintaining it?)

BUT.... Getting everything together is still a fair amount of work. Not just setting up the initial system but the time spent having to rip all your media. And if that machine dies, or get stolen in a burglary, your stuff will be gone and (unless you kept all the originals in a storage locker or something) unreplaceable.

It is imperative that you get a backup solution in place, even if it's just an external HD connected via USB to the main unit. Make sure it's a nice big drive. This goes nicely with the Mac solution because Macs come with Time Machine, which is the single best backup solution I've ever seen for a personal system. It will backup your entire system to your chosen external drive, and continue to perform hourly incrementals as long as the machine is turned on, without any effort at all on your part. Better yet, you could have your backup drive in a completely different and protected location of the house and have your data backed up to it over the network.

Best of all, you could then use this setup as the basis for setting up a central encrypted repository for other more critical data like copies of your household finances, photos of everything you own to show the insurance company in case there's a fire, etc etc.

A DLNA server (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426691)

There are several choices, but I'm new to them. So far Serviio seems decent enough.

FIleserver and dvdbackup (1)

hawguy (1600213) | about 2 years ago | (#42426699)

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 that's supposed to be able to bypass the copy protection, but then I found bittorrent images of the missing movies. I wonder if my ISP is going to report me to the MPAA for pirating movies I already own?

  I also keep another offsite backup on a pair of 3TB hard drives that I shuttle back and forth to the office, one is always at home, one is always at the office. I've debated sending a hard drive to Amazon to import into Glacier storage - after paying the transfer fee, for less than $20 month, Amazon will store the movies for me (and all of the rest of my data too - pictures, mp3's, etc).

I took all of the physical DVD's out of their cases as I copied them, and put the DVD's, slipcovers and booklets into some excellent DVD storage binders [] so I have proof of ownership.

We buy a lot of used DVD's (for what I used to pay for Netflix's DVD by mail subscription, we can buy 2 or 3 used DVD's/month at Amazon - most cost between $3 - $9), so I set up a simple script that my wife can use to copy new DVD's, she just puts in the DVD, and types in the name.

After copying everything I set up a script to use Handbrake to compress the DVD images into smaller files suitable for putting on a tablet, smartphone or laptop. It was nice to have 200 movies to choose from on the plane while traveling over the holidays.

I did the same with my CD's ages ago - back when it took longer to encode an MP3 on my computer than it does to play it back. I haven't bought a physical CD in a long time, so I don't know how long it takes to encode them these days.

Don't DSL/fiber boxes already do this? (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about 2 years ago | (#42426707)

Don't DSL/fiber boxes already do this?

How about streaming? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426727)

I recently set up a media server and had a pleasant experience with Serviio (
Although I believe it's intended for smart TVs the UPnP will allow you to browse and stream to other devices (I'm currently using VLC for computers, PS3 in living room and UPnPlay for my andoid phone).
I used an atom netbook with ubuntu but it appearst to support windows and osx.
Then a simply sharing the folders will allow you to add and maintain your media.

Eureka! I found the source of Background Radiation (2, Interesting)

VortexCortex (1117377) | about 2 years ago | (#42426745)

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 raw sampling of unsolicited data coming into an Internet connection I can determine the date at which the sample was taken by the Internet Background Radiation collected, I can "carbon date" the age of the network traffic. Now think: Your ISP bills you for traffic... Are they billing you for all those packets that are dropped at your firewall / router? In a way we are all funding the malicious behavior, we are at least feeding the machines electrons...

The Internet is much like a primordial soup, configurations of malware self assemble from the fertile components of energized silicon. Code Red is infected by Nimda, which alerts modern bot-nets of vulnerable systems ripe for the picking. The cascade of malware produces patterns in the network similar to a neural network, still untrained, not yet aware of itself, so you assume... Yet, as another fertile machine is attached to the net its connection is immediately flooded with enticing electrons, and soon a new infection has formed, as if a neural cell forming a fresh synapse compatible with the type of nodes at the end points.

The malware authors each supply a simple cascading self propagating pattern that grows in complexity over time, but it is YOU and your Windows Media Servers who provided the core components -- the amino acids, so to speak -- that enabled the Sentient Machine Intelligence to emerge! It's YOU I blame for the DEATH OF ALL MANKIND!

Re:Eureka! I found the source of Background Radiat (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426981)


ownCloud (1)

Scarred Intellect (1648867) | about 2 years ago | (#42426809)

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 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.

Wrong priorities (1, Insightful)

50000BTU_barbecue (588132) | about 2 years ago | (#42426823)

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 place? Don't you realize that home "ownership" makes little sense these days? What if you lose your job? What if you want to move on a moment's notice? What if repairs need to be done?

You are on your own when you "own", and you probably have no real idea of the real costs of that.

Real estate hasn't made sense for the individual for a long time. The whole idea of "owning" was based on the idea of life-long commitment to one career at one employer in one place. That was true for my Dad's generation in the 1960s.

Are you buying a new house? You realize how utterly cheaply they are made these days? Particle board and glue instead of real wood, etc.

Some things are better these days, but structurally? No way.

So forget your "household media" and concentrate on the HOUSEHOLD itself.

Let me know after you buy if what I said makes sense or not.

windows home server enough said (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426841)

Just look up the rating of windows home server on amazon and all your troubles are done for. It even will backup images of any windows machines on the network automatically. Best solution Microsoft ever made for home based backups.

Buy a NAS (1)

MMC Monster (602931) | about 2 years ago | (#42426847)

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.

openfiler or simialr (1)

silas_moeckel (234313) | about 2 years ago | (#42426951)

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.

Get Plex Dude (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#42426963)

Plex server will do everything you want except books. Keep your books for when the power goes out. Google plex server and get plex!

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