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AIW Media Center Storage Options

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Posted · Original PosterOP

I've been using a Windows 8 desktop machine as a Media Center for a number of years (It used to be an XP machine, then a 7, now 8) that has been overhauled several times.  It's storage has grown as needed and kind of organically.  It ends up being a bit of a NAS as I have it configured with WOL and VPN for access remotely.  This configuration gives me a balance of convenience and power consumption.


Currently it's running a medium capacity SSD as the OS / primary drive, an internal mechanical, then a disaster of too many external drives (some using storage spaces for convenience but not in any sort of redundancy).  Some are getting old enough that I'm starting to not trust their remaining life.  This has to end.


There isn't convenient room in the case to add more drives (Antec Fusion 430, brushed aluminum front and fits nicely in my Home Theater tower).  It's been cut and chopped internally for various size motherboards running almost silently with a massive cooler master passive cooler and over spec'd EVGA modular power supply (so it doesn't run the fans).  So storage external to the case is almost a necessity.  


I've been researching and investigating a number options and could use a suggestion of which way to go.


  1. I could create another server, I don't want to do that
  2. External Raid case, I get the impression these aren't great but that could be wrong.  Filling a five drive case with 4tb drives seems ok.
  3. Pair up two 8tb archive drives and keep two copies of everything (maybe still with storage spaces for convenience).  The price of this seems comparable to option 2 but simpler.  They could go in one of the external enclosures that isn't RAID.
  4. Is there something else that I should be considering along the same ideas that I've been doing?  Is this out to lunch and just wrong?
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That thing is huge. You could buy a chromecast, and build a new HTPC/NAS and stick it in a closet somewhere. Is there a desire to have an actual desktop environment on your TV? If there's there's room in the budget I'd use an AndroidTV box or AppleTV box - I've had some issues streaming beefy movies to chromecast while my xbox plays them flawlessly.


If you have a huge hankering to have a desktop environment on your TV, then instead of a Chromecast/AndroidTV you could buy something like an Intel Nuc - and still keep the NAS/HTPC in a closet.


I'm not sure of your layout but you could put the HTPC/NAS in a closet, and since wireless keyboards/mice use 2.4ghz these days it'll work through the wall - just need to either run HDMI through the wall or use wireless HDMI.


Just a few idears anywho

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What's your storage space setup? I ask because back when I ran storage spaces for a while I jumped in without really understanding them and just wanted to pool my drives so I saw one big drive not loads of smaller ones. I didn't realise at the time but it basically turns your drive into a RAID 0. One of my drives died and I lost everything. 


If you have a similar setup I would recommend getting a backup solution in place pronto. Or do like you said and get some drives to keep a second copy. 


You can get external raid enclosures but to get one that's worth it you will be spending a similar amount to getting a prebuilt nas unit anyway. Which is what I would recommend over the external RAID.


Synology and QNAP seem to be fan favourites at the moment. 


Something I have come to accept is that with computers a lot of things can be done cheaply but not storage. (I mean you can, but it will be inconvenient and you will lose data eventually) It's best to think about your long term goals and invest in something that will see you through the next few years. Or at least have a clear upgrade path or when you need to. i.e. if you need 5TB today, buy 10 so you have room to grow. And if you are filling an 8 bay nas, do it with 3x 5TB drives in a RAID 5, giving you space to add 5 more drives in the future. 



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Posted · Original PosterOP

It's extra big with http://coolermaster.com/cooling/cpu-air-cooler/hyper-z600/ hanging out the top of the case.  I'd need to do a much more dramatic redesign of the whole setup and software if I decide to go with the separate NAS / player box which might be a good idea sooner or later.  Right now the whole thing is built around the single box, even things like power and wiring for amplifier. 


The current setup involves a pair of seagate 8tb drives extended.  I set it up with one initially then added another.  I didn't realize that I wouldn't be able to set it up in a different mode (even mirror at least) when I needed more space since in my understanding it stores things in a normal FS and does the 'raid' in software.  There is an additional half dozen other external drives from 2-4tb each.  I had a close call with one of the 8tb the other day where it wanted to reset the drive in the storage space.  Oddly I disconnected the drive, connected it to a different pc where it connected fine identifying it was a storage space, then back to the first machine where it has been perfect ever since.  I've been playing catch up storage wise for a while constantly adding just a little more.

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Posted · Original PosterOP

After hunting around on other sub forums on the site I've ended up getting a Mediasonic Probox which will get populated with a combination of existing and new drives while I retire some of the really old ones.  It's likely going to be setup with eSata and storage spaces with mirroring as redundancy.  It'll let me refresh and expand without having to rebuild a whole new rig for this use case.

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