Quantcast Best way to setup a home media server?

Closed Thread
Results 1 to 5 of 5
  1. #1
    Notebook Evangelist
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    447
    Rep Power
    21

    Default Best way to setup a home media server?

    So, I'm trying to set myself up with a home media server so that I can organize all my music, videos and whatnot into one central location.

    I've searched online, but all I come up with are a bunch of old articles that date back several years and are with outdated components etc...

    Does anyone know where to start, or what the main steps may be in order for me to setup this media server? Is it as simple as buying the components, and connecting it to a router, or is there more to it than that?

    I know I don't need a very powerful machine, and I have a lot of the components already ranging from the ram, to the dvd drives etc... but do I need certain software to run a server, or how exactly do I go about doing this?

    Any help is appreciated.
    Dell E1705 Inspiron
    Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 2.0GHz | 2GB DDR2 RAM @ 533MHz | 256MB Geforce Go 7900 GS
    Come play some Team Fortress 2 with me!

    New Team Fortress 2 Community just opened up!

  2. #2
    Notebook Deity
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    1,295
    Rep Power
    18

    Default Re: Best way to setup a home media server?

    How do you want to run this?

    If you just want it to be a simple file server, you can just setup any computer throw Windows (XP or newer, excluding Vista) or Linux on it, setup sharing and be done. I've done it with laptops, old P3's and more.

    If you want it to work with Itunes it becomes a bit more tricky, but Apple handles that pretty well, of course you'll need Windows.

    If you want to use it to actually broadcast to your TV, obviously you need a card with compatible TV output, but also a faster processor and memory if you plan to push HD to your TV. And Media center software and a remote.

    There is lots of media center software for this sort of thing, like I said, from simple file sharing on up to to XBMC, to Myth, SAGE, and more. Some free, some not so free, from simple, to rather difficult (Myth). I recommend a basic OS install, then image it, and try various systems to see what you want if you go this route. None are perfect, none will do everything (except maybe Myth). So long as you have a drive image of the basic OS you can just keep reloading it fresh and try each. Personally I loved Myth when I used it, but it can be a nightmare.I also used to use GB PVR, it was nice and simple, but did most things I wanted, however that was years ago and I haven't really looked into any of them lately.


    If you do end up buying parts, my advice is do not go Atom. I know that is the popular way to go, but it's not a good way to go. Atoms with a graphics card can broadcast HD, however if you try sharing a file at the same time it can start to skip. Same thing with using Wireless G. You need t100, 1000 or N. G can sometimes do it, but it depends on your components, and again, you do anything else, and it will stutter. Gigabit you can do anything. Even with gigabit on an Atom transfer rates will stink, same with a cheap NAS box.

    Also if you need any major parts to use your spare stuff, forget it, my advice is get you something like this:
    HP Compaq dc7100S SFF, P4 HT 3.2GHz,1GB DDR,NoHardDrive - eBay (item 180608566079 end time Feb-03-11 14:49:11 PST)
    With a drive and legal copy of Xp these boxes run about $110 to $120 (mine even had 2gigs ram for that). They come with a 40gig sata, spare sata port, 3 bays (2int/1ext), gigabit ethernet, and pci-e. At idle with the drive swapped with a 1TB drive, you can expect about 25 watts, almost as low as an Atom. You can't assemble a system for less really. This machine has the power to do anything and if you need more you can upgrade it. transfer rates on it blow away any NAS under $500. Simply put, for the money, you cannot build a better media center or server. They aren't silent, but close, the bios has an adjustment and if that's not enough, you can always start messing with the cooling system.

    Buy something with room for upgrades, not some little NAS box you can hack or Atom. Start with a real, small computer. If you want to add features later, you can and you likely will. Mine started off simply file serving and doing a few downloads for me. Now it handles all of my work load, taking as much off of my desktop and notebook as possible. This includes imaging customers hard drives, file storage, web cam streaming, torrents, file downloads, FTP for personal files, backup system, web server, you name it, it's probably been used for it. Had I used a NAS box or Atom, it would have been crippled and I would have either not done it or had to spring for something else. For me, I wanted esata ports, I added a card, if I need TV out, I can add a card. Need another Ethernet port or wireless, add a card... You can't do that with some of these Atoms and such

    I started out with an old p3 900, it worked fine for small stuff and was very efficient, but it was slow, like slower than USB. I moved to an old Sony notebook I had laying around. It was just as efficient, but I was relegated to USB speeds (still faster than many cheap NAS boxes!). With my current system (mentioned above) my transfer rates and such are so fast I can use the file server as if it was a local hard drive. Granted, not SSD fast, but a 2 year old sata drive type fast, which is more than enough for most tasks really considering it means I can have access to those files anywhere.
    Last edited by leslieann; 21st January 2011 at 04:14 AM.

    Sony VGN-SZ750N - Win7 x64, 4gigs ram, Intel 40GB SSD, Intel 5300 Win7 X64 upgrade guide
    Fujitsu Stylistic ST5020D tablet - Ubuntu, 1.25gigs ram, Wacom Penabled for graphics work.

  3. #3
    Notebook Evangelist
    Join Date
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Illinois
    Posts
    447
    Rep Power
    21

    Default Re: Best way to setup a home media server?

    Wow, thanks for all the info leslieann.

    So you're saying to just start with something small like this Hp pc that you linked me to, and in time with upgrading and all, I should be able to perform pretty much anything I'm looking to do with a server?

    I'll be honest, I don't know much about the Atom, or NAS box that you speak of, or yet alone the Myth or XBMC for the file sharing, but that's something I suppose I can figure out later. As you mentioned though, I should start with installing a simple OS, and then going from there. I'm not exactly sure what you mean by "imaging" it, but I'm sure I could do some research.

    I guess than, the biggest thing to do now is to get all the parts together, and get it up and running and from there I can get some more assistance with how to set it up to work properly and how I want it networked.

    I love how low cost though setting up a server can be and how efficient it ends up making everything. It's unfortunate I haven't been able to use or set one up a long time ago.
    Dell E1705 Inspiron
    Intel Core 2 Duo T7200 2.0GHz | 2GB DDR2 RAM @ 533MHz | 256MB Geforce Go 7900 GS
    Come play some Team Fortress 2 with me!

    New Team Fortress 2 Community just opened up!

  4. #4
    Notebook Deity
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Midwest
    Posts
    1,295
    Rep Power
    18

    Default Re: Best way to setup a home media server?

    Atom is a low powered Intel processor.

    NAS is a network attached storage, it's a box of hard drives that has a network connection. Some of these have a mini computer inside that can be tweaked, like adding ftp, or Itunes sharing to them, but they have minimal power.

    Myth is a Linux based Tivo type interface for a computer that handles your media. A full screen menu system that you control with a remote. It is not an operating system, in fact in runs on an operating system. It's like Windows Media Center for XP, except in this case for Linux and way more powerful. MythTV, Open Source DVR While Media Center is sold as a seperate operating system from Windows XP, it's actually Windows XP with a media interface is all).

    XBMC is the same as Myth except it runs on Windows, Linux, Mac, and more. XBMC



    And yes, it's actually surprising how little it takes to setup a personal server. Most people woudl be shocked if they knew how many businesses use a normal desktop for servers, and why not, where is the dividing line between server and desktop? There really isn't one, but it really does make new things possible and simplify things once you get it all figured out.

    Sony VGN-SZ750N - Win7 x64, 4gigs ram, Intel 40GB SSD, Intel 5300 Win7 X64 upgrade guide
    Fujitsu Stylistic ST5020D tablet - Ubuntu, 1.25gigs ram, Wacom Penabled for graphics work.

  5. #5
    beep beep
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Posts
    5,234
    Rep Power
    41

    Default Re: Best way to setup a home media server?

    I agree that it's easy to set up a little file & media server for your house... in fact, any old laptop lying around can be converted to this duty.

    Is this a server or a playback machine (HTPC) or both? Because some of the stuff discussed here sounds more like playback to me (XBMC, etc.). If it's just serving files to other computers on the network and/or the internet, then an Atom cpu should perform fine. If you plan to connect this machine to a TV and play stuff back on this machine, then I agree that you should go for something beefier.

    A dedicated NAS is also an option for a file server, but using a PC as leslieann describes is the more flexible route.

    Anyway, you may want to look at www.smallnetbuilder.com for info about NASes and other networking stuff.
    Last edited by swarmer; 22nd January 2011 at 09:20 PM.

 

 

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
All times are GMT -4. The time now is 08:21 PM.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.2.2
Copyright © 2014 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.
SEO by vBSEO 3.6.1