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HTPC storage options

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June 1, 2009 4:27:24 PM

Hello,

I am about to build my first HTPC and have not decided on a storage solution for my digital media. I currently have ~700GB of media (tv shows, movies, etc) on a HDD in my desktop, but need to expand my capacity to >1TB.

I have thought about a NAS but haven't done a lot of research into them. I've also considered an external solution w/ eSATA or USB.

FYI my media PC has room for only 1 internal HDD and has 1 eSATA port.

Also worth noting is that I plan to only connect my HTPC to my network via wireless G.



Any thoughts, experiences, recommendations welcome.

More about : htpc storage options

a b G Storage
June 1, 2009 9:44:01 PM

The reason to use a NAS in a home environment is to save power as it's running 24/7 and its CPU power are dedicated to disk activities and network. A typical 4xHDD NAS runs below 80W(wall) @peak.

For my particular setup as I didn't have enough space to have both HTPC and NAS, I decided to combine the two together, but still minding its power usage as it runs 24/7 in my home.
The setup consists of:
XFX 9300 mATX (AMD setup would've clearly be more efficient had I not have a spare E6300 around)
Dell PERC 5/i 512MB (I would have used Windows Server 2008 for RAID5 had I not picked it up cheap)
4x 7200.10 1TB (RAID5)
1x Hitachi 320GB (for OS and temp. storage)

Besides recording HD material over DVB-T it also runs P2P which were the other main reasons I combined the two. Total power usage should average ~120W.

Whether you want to go the route of separating storage from your HTPC depends on your need. If you do decide to combine them like I did then you'll obviously need to find a way to add more HDDs into your case. If not and going with a dedicated NAS then building one yourself will be much cheaper and flexible than pre-built ones.

If you intend to stream over WiFi-G, keep in mind it can supply about 24Mbit/s max. which is more than enough to stream Bluray rips encoded @~10Mbit/s with H.264.
June 1, 2009 10:58:29 PM

Thanks for the info. I like the idea of having a NAS. It just depends on how much money I can spend assembling another computer (or get a pre-built one as you said). I do like that you can do P2P with the NAS as well.

I tested streaming full 1080p content over the wireless and was pleasantly surprised to find it running smoothly (even on my laptop w/ a 3 year old Centrino processor).

What I'm considering is a simpler solution like this:

Western Digital My Book Home WDH1CS20000N 2TB USB 2.0 / IEEE 1394a / eSATA External Hard Drive
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This would be portable and has good connectivity options. But it is not upgradable. Still, 1TB is a fair amount of storage (for movie/tv/music media only).

I've also thought about just an enclosure and adding the drives, but I would like it to be a 2 drive bay and mirror them. I found this on newegg but havent heard of the brand.

StarTech SAT3520U2ER Aluminum 3.5" Silver eSATA USB Dual SATA External RAID Hard Drive Enclosure
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E168...

This way i could put 1.5TB drives in if i wanted.

a b G Storage
June 2, 2009 12:56:01 AM

You can certainly add more eSATA by using SATA-eSATA PCI plates. I think if I was in your position I'd do that and get the StarTech SAT3520U2ER enclosure as you suggested to have 2x1TB or 2x1.5TB in RAID1 for redundancy. An expansion to your current HTPC with the bonus of the drives being portable.

Most prebuilt multi-drive NAS aren't really that portable. And if you do a DIY build with mini-ITX the size/weight will still be the same more or less.
!