Storage For Home Server

I've currently come to impasse in how to store files for my home server. I can't decide where to store them and what to use to store them. My home network is setup as such:

An HTPC machine in the basement that runs Boxee which we use to watch movies stored on our network, hulu, youtube, netflix, etc. It also contains my PVR software which we use as a DVR.

A server machine that will reside in the basement that runs a webserver, ftp server, and other developer type software that is usually automated to some degree. This server needs to be on 24/7 because it contains all my server software (websites, ftp, etc)

A home PC up in the office that we use for gaming, listening to music, web browsing and just about everything. It's the most powerful machine we have in the office which is why it's the most used I would imagine.

An emu machine that sits in an arcade cabinet in the basement. This machine is soley used to run my Arcade cab and is only on when the cab gets turned on.

Several notebooks.

Basically my question comes down to how should I store all our music, movies, and pictures so that all computers have access to them at anytime and we don't have turn anything on to access them.

Right now they all reside on our home PC that we use for a multitude of things. It has the most storage (mostly because the external HDD is attached to it) and is also the most powerful so that's where I started storing things. However, I'm starting to regret my decision because that machine is a power hog and it generally stays on 24/7 so we have instant access to all the music, movies, and pictures. We also don't like having to run upstairs and wake it up out of sleep mode (happens occasionaly) when we're downstairs ready to watch a movie. And even then, when it does go to sleep, the HTPC loses the connection to it so we lose all our file access and have to restart the HTPC to get it back anyway, which is a huge pain. I'd like to move those files off that computer and I'm unsure where to put them.

The way I see it I have two options:

1) Keep the storage connected to the HTPC

2) Keep the storage connected to the Server machine

I would really prefer option #2, because the server machine needs to be on 24/7 anyway. However, my uncertainty comes in because the server machine is fairly old and it does not have any SATA connections, which all the HDDs I would put into it are. I'm not sure if I can get a PCI sata card or anything like that to stick in it, and if so what kind of speed loss I would see if I did something like that. I'm really interested in a Hard Drive Enclosure that can house multiple internal HDDs. I have 3 internal SATA HDDs that I would be using for storage and 1 external HDD. I need to stream video, music and pictures from this storage. If I used a SATA card or HDD Enclosure Case would I lose any speed when streaming (100mb network). Also I'm unsure how those enclosures connect to the PC.

Option #1 I'm not so keen on because the HTPC does not have any extra room for HDDs at the moment so I would be forced to use and external method. And I don't really want a case of Hard Drives sitting below my tv, it would look a little unnatural imo. However, this HTPC pc is more powerful than the server machine, would that have any affect on the streaming speeds or is that really only throttled by network speeds?

Looking for some expert advice on what to do. I really like option #1, but I'm not sure what would be better for streaming speeds an enclosure or some sort or a SATA card in the PC to store them internally. I'm also a little worried about heat with all those hard drives in there (would be 5 total + optical drive) which is why I'm leaning towards an enclosure of some sort.

Any advice is much appreciated!
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  1. I think I've decided I'd like to try and use option #1 above, which means I need to somehow connect 3 internal SATA hard drives to a motherboard that doesn't have any SATA inputs.

    So I think my only two options here would be to either:

    1) Get a PCI Sata Card and connect the hard drives to that

    2) Get either a docking station or hard drive rack and connect it to the computer via USB.

    I'm not sure how either rate performance wise. I'd really like to get the best performance possible while streaming video and music from this server.

    Any advice?
  2. I currently use a Windows Home Server, with a 4-SATA drive bay with 3 of them being hot-swappable, but it's NAS only. Unfortunately, most of these WHS's seem to be being fazed out - perhaps due to Microsoft not including Drive Extender in their latest WHS OS.

    If I had a dedicated HTPC like you do, I think I'd lean toward a DAS solution for multimedia content exclusively, and quite possibly a Drobo ( to take advantage of all my drives that have been replaced at minimal risk to any of the data.

    What have you looked at so far?
  3. Thanks for the response. After doing a ton of research, I decided to give a an eSata 4 Bay enclosue a try. I got the following from NewEgg and plan to see if they work for me. If not I'll have to go a different route.


    I just picked up a eSata card to fit into my PCI slot in my server machine, I'm hoping it is compatible.

    The main reason I was somewhat against hooking up all the storage to my HTPC was because I wanted it to be available 24/7, but I didn't want my HTPC to be on 24/7 (the least power consumption the better). There are times when I'm away for the weekend and the wife needs to access pictures and music, but doesn't necessarily like to have to turn on an additional computer to get access to them. The server machine is always on 24/7 anyway so I figured that was my best route. And I'm already streaming video to my HTPC from another machine and it has worked out fine. I just wanted a centralized storage.

    I'll try and post back when I get the RaidTower hooked up and see how it works for me.
  4. ponyboy_nd said:
    Thanks for the response. After doing a ton of research, I decided to give a an eSata 4 Bay enclosue a try. I got the following from NewEgg and plan to see if they work for me. If not I'll have to go a different route.



    I'll try and post back when I get the RaidTower hooked up and see how it works for me.
    Have you got this tower running yet? If so, what do you think so far? I'm really interested in how it could be used not only as a storage/backup solution, but also for things like offline cloning of entire drives without having to alter any of our standard PC's. Do you know if you can have added drives get their own drive letter on a plug-n-play basis for file-by-file copying?
  5. I did get it setup later this past week and so far I'm pretty pleased with what I wanted it for. Setup was painless, it comes with RAID configurations on it so you don't need any seperate RAID software or hardware. I ended up just using my normal HTPC machine to connect to it, and since it already had an eSata port I didn't even need the included eSata addon. Plugged it in, enabled it through disk management and now the 3 drives I have in it, all different sizes, show up as one single drive to store all my home media on. Everything in our house now just accesses the content from the HTPC box. I'd definitely recommend it, works just the way I wanted and no hassles whatsoever.

    I'm pretty sure it does come with a configuration that allows for the drives to each have their own letter, in fact I think it was the default configuration when I received. However, I didn't try it in that mode. I immediately switched it to a spanning configuration, which worked right away as I intended.

    I decided to hook it up to my HTPC machine because I realized it already had eSata ports and my concern with it having to be on 24/7 to access the content on the drives was remedied with Wake On Lan. I now have WoL setup so as soon as another machine tries to access the content, the HTPC comes out of standby and serves the content. Works out perfect for me.

    Hopefully that helps!
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