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NAS or build a desktop for media server

Dave3000

Golden Member
Jan 10, 2011
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I currently have 2x6TB WD Green drives but I don't want to turn on my PC each time I want to watch a movie on my NUC which is my media streamer if my PC is not already turned on. I was thinking of either buy a 2-bay NAS or build a PC and use it as a media server. I don't need transcoding since my NUC can decode most audio/video formats and I use Kodi on it and I just the media server to host my files. I already have a spare DDR3 kit that I'm not using, Hyper 212+ CPU Cooler, and 2x6TB WD Green drives. If I build a PC, It's going to have an i3-4170, 16GB DDR3-1600, 2x6TB Green drives, 120GB SSD. I would still need to buy a motherboard, CPU, case, power supply and a SSD (for the OS). I want to avoid buying Windows and just use Ubuntu if it will be adequate for media server duties to a media client that is running Windows.
 

Kartajan

Golden Member
Feb 26, 2001
1,264
38
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Since your NUC is your streamer, and your content is in a format that works for you:

Option 1: Prebuilt "Diskless" NAS https://www.amazon.com/Synology-Station-Network-Attached-DS415play/dp/B00LO3KW7S/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1474313948&sr=8-1&keywords=ds415play
4 Bay, well regarded brand name. About $400, expandable, little to no effort on your part.

Option 2: DIY NAS w/ FreeNAS or the equivalent http://www.freenas.org/
Recommended minimum Hardware
•Multicore 64-bit processor
•16GB Boot Drive (USB Flash Drive suffices)
•16GB (ECC Recommended)
•At least 2 direct attached disks (Hardware RAID strongly discouraged) •For best results, see FreeBSD Hardware Compatibility List for Supported Disk Controllers

•Drives designed for NAS (such as WD Red drives) are recommended.
•At least one physical network port (Intel Recommended) •For best results, see FreeBSD Hardware Compatibility List for Supported Ethernet Chipsets

Cost: Up to your choices, tends to be less expensive (Best for specialized requirements/ special needs), but needs more work on your part.
 

MaxDepth

Diamond Member
Jun 12, 2001
8,758
43
91
Basically you are looking at what devices to you want powered on?

HTPC route means that you have the storage and network sharing set up on this one box. In case you want to share the files on other devices, that is.

However, if you want a media server then you have a few options. A stand-alone headless system comes in many flavors like the folks above suggested. FreeNAS, diskless NAS - which also includes some more modern household routers (USB plug-ins).

I'm not familiar with lime-technology. Huh I'm so old that when I saw 'lime' I was thinking limewire. But it does look like VM software though. Plus you need to purchase it. Oracle's Virtualbox is free.
 

Dave3000

Golden Member
Jan 10, 2011
1,047
37
91
https://www.amazon.com/QNAP-TS-251-Personal-Transcoding-TS-251-US/dp/B00L8GHOQ8/ref=cm_cr_arp_d_product_top?ie=UTF8

Is the one I listed above a decent dual-bay NAS? I have 2x6TB Greens that I want to install in a JBOD configuration. I don't need a NAS with transcoding capablity since my NUC can play all my blu-ray rips natively through Kodi but I want a NAS or a multi-bay USB 3.0 enclosure that is quiet as it's going to be in the same room as my TV and NUC. What about this 4-bay USB 3.0 enclosure and just connect it to my NUC through the USB port? http://www.hornettek.com/hdd-enclosure/3-5-quad-bay-jbod/hornettek-enterprise-4x.html It's much cheaper than a NAS.
 

Dave3000

Golden Member
Jan 10, 2011
1,047
37
91
What about this NAS? https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BNPT1EG/ref=ask_ql_qh_dp_hza Would this NAS be worth the extra money over the dual bay Icy Dock USB enclosure? I right now have an external 6TB hard drive connected to my NUC's USB port, but once I run out of space on this hard drive I'm going to need another external USB enclsore for my 2nd 6TB hard drive and I rather go with and enclosure that supports dual drives. I would prefer to have a device with two hard drives and a fan to be in a different room than my HTPC to minimize noise while watching a movie. Also is it common for a NAS to sometimes go offline and require power cycling to get it to be accessed on a home network again? The reason I ask is because I have a printer with network capability and whenever I connected it via ethernet to my switch, sometimes it will not print and say it's offline and I have to uplug the power chord from it for 10 seconds and replug the power chord to get my printer to work again. I don't get this issue using the USB connection to my PC.
 

Kartajan

Golden Member
Feb 26, 2001
1,264
38
91
That is a good 2-bay NAS, but my previous comment still applies. Although to be honest, I would never personally go for a 2-bay NAS- 4-bays or more is better from an availability point of view (Can run raid-5 or similar on a 4 bay to keep availability high without losing 50% of your capacity for your trouble)

Also, it is NOT common for a NAS to "go offline and require power cycling to get it to be accessed on a home network again", as that is the very antithesis of the entire idea. Your printer or your network are not functioning properly (Printer could be having trouble with it's sleep state understanding network activity, or network "router" could be having issues (DHCP? Something else?))
 

JeffMD

Platinum Member
Feb 15, 2002
2,026
19
81
I stumbled on a 2gb Western digital My Cloud NAS that was on clearance. It turned out to be very useful for my media network setup. My media was on usb 2/3 portable drives and up til now, the usb ports on my routers have all been ass slow. My current one has a bad habit of not dumping its write cache so any time the router needs to reset or power down, files become lost clusters on the usb drives. Using the My Cloud device gave me a NAS on the network I could plug my usb drives into, and it was FAST. I could also have my files accessible via web quite easily, and while it supported DLNA it wouldn't do anything complex like PLEX plugins and such.

I would find building yet another PC just to NAS would be a PITA, it would be big, noisy, lots of power. Just get one of western digitals or seagates NAS devices and put your 3.5 drives in external enclosures.
 

Kartajan

Golden Member
Feb 26, 2001
1,264
38
91
...usb 2/3 portable drives and up til now, the usb ports on my routers have all been ass slow....
I would find building yet another PC just to NAS would be a PITA, it would be big, noisy, lots of power.
no doubt a USB2 portable would be slow- they are both hampered by the transfer rate of USB2 as well as typically a painfully slow rotational speed.. And then trying to manage that in a router...
and as far as building a PC- It all depends on what you select for parts.. My main Plex transcode server is none of the 3...

(Although a PR4100 NAS has the horses and optimization to handle both Plex server and NAS duties for a reasonable transcode load)
 

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
50,758
6,258
126
I recently deployed a QNAP TS-451 on my home LAN. It works fairly well, although, when it hasn't been accessed in a while, when I access a shared folder on it, it takes maybe 10-20sec to be "ready". I don't know if this is because the drives have spun down, or something else causing the lag.

I know that it takes quite a while to start up, or shut down, though. (Running RAID-5, with 4x5TB Seagate 5900 RPM 3.5" HDDs.)

I bought four Seagate Expansion 5TB desktop external HDDs, and shucked them to get the desktop drives out of them. Then I read about that exact drive, not being a good NAS drive, and that many vendors online were doing the same thing (shucking externals), and selling the bare drives on ebay and Amazon, and selling them with a "dealer warranty" of one year.

So far so good, but I wonder how well off I'll be longer-term with these drives. I would feel a lot safer for my data, if I were using some Toshiba X300 5TB HDDs, or some WD Red / Red Pro 5TB HDDs. Those Toshibas have been as low as $140 at Newegg for the 5TB models recently.

I think I paid $110 for my Expansion Desktop External 5TB drives, each, when they were on sale. Probably false economy, and there's a reason why those particular drives are $40 cheaper than everyone else's drives for the same capacity.

I have a BNIB TS-431 too, that was my original order that I tried to cancel. It has an ARM CPU (the TS-451 has an Intel Atom), and the TS-431 is apparently limited in the size of the RAID array, to a 16TB logical volume size. The TS-451 has no such limitation.
 

Kartajan

Golden Member
Feb 26, 2001
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Feb 25, 2011
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I recently deployed a QNAP TS-451 on my home LAN. It works fairly well, although, when it hasn't been accessed in a while, when I access a shared folder on it, it takes maybe 10-20sec to be "ready". I don't know if this is because the drives have spun down, or something else causing the lag.
It is almost certainly because the drives have spun down. You should be able to turn that off.
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
83,602
8,723
126
I recently deployed a QNAP TS-451 on my home LAN. It works fairly well, although, when it hasn't been accessed in a while, when I access a shared folder on it, it takes maybe 10-20sec to be "ready". I don't know if this is because the drives have spun down, or something else causing the lag.

I know that it takes quite a while to start up, or shut down, though. (Running RAID-5, with 4x5TB Seagate 5900 RPM 3.5" HDDs.)

I bought four Seagate Expansion 5TB desktop external HDDs, and shucked them to get the desktop drives out of them. Then I read about that exact drive, not being a good NAS drive, and that many vendors online were doing the same thing (shucking externals), and selling the bare drives on ebay and Amazon, and selling them with a "dealer warranty" of one year.

So far so good, but I wonder how well off I'll be longer-term with these drives. I would feel a lot safer for my data, if I were using some Toshiba X300 5TB HDDs, or some WD Red / Red Pro 5TB HDDs. Those Toshibas have been as low as $140 at Newegg for the 5TB models recently.

I think I paid $110 for my Expansion Desktop External 5TB drives, each, when they were on sale. Probably false economy, and there's a reason why those particular drives are $40 cheaper than everyone else's drives for the same capacity.

I have a BNIB TS-431 too, that was my original order that I tried to cancel. It has an ARM CPU (the TS-451 has an Intel Atom), and the TS-431 is apparently limited in the size of the RAID array, to a 16TB logical volume size. The TS-451 has no such limitation.
Get the He10s :p
 

Kartajan

Golden Member
Feb 26, 2001
1,264
38
91
Get the He10s :p
Overkill much? I see newegg has a bulk deal for Qty: 20 for only 15466.99

What about this NAS? https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BNPT1EG/ref=ask_ql_qh_dp_hza Would this NAS be worth the extra money over the dual bay Icy Dock USB enclosure? I right now have an external 6TB hard drive connected to my NUC's USB port, but once I run out of space on this hard drive I'm going to need another external USB enclsore for my 2nd 6TB hard drive and I rather go with and enclosure that supports dual drives. I would prefer to have a device with two hard drives and a fan to be in a different room than my HTPC to minimize noise while watching a movie. Also is it common for a NAS to sometimes go offline and require power cycling to get it to be accessed on a home network again? The reason I ask is because I have a printer with network capability and whenever I connected it via ethernet to my switch, sometimes it will not print and say it's offline and I have to uplug the power chord from it for 10 seconds and replug the power chord to get my printer to work again. I don't get this issue using the USB connection to my PC.
Have you decided which way you are headed yet?
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
83,602
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Overkill much? I see newegg has a bulk deal for Qty: 20 for only 15466.99


Have you decided which way you are headed yet?
Lulz how is buying a 20 pack more expensive than buying twenty individual drives?
 

Kartajan

Golden Member
Feb 26, 2001
1,264
38
91
The point wasn't that the 20 pack was more expensive than individual, but NAS grade vs enterprise grade. (Maybe I should have left a :) to indicate my angle on the overkill comment...)
I was mostly referring to the He10's (being enterprise grade) more likely use case for a LOT of storage

(I even checked to see if that drive is even compatible with the DS-216j the OP mentioned an interest in- I was surprised to see it is in fact compatible)
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
83,602
8,723
126
The point wasn't that the 20 pack was more expensive than individual, but NAS grade vs enterprise grade. (Maybe I should have left a :) to indicate my angle on the overkill comment...)
I was mostly referring to the He10's (being enterprise grade) more likely use case for a LOT of storage

(I even checked to see if that drive is even compatible with the DS-216j the OP mentioned an interest in- I was surprised to see it is in fact compatible)

I would love to to replace my collection of hdds with He10s. I can go down to 5 drives :)

The sas interface one is the really expensive one. And I found a cheaper supply.
https://www.amazon.com/0F27352-20PK-20-pack-Ultra-7200RPM-26-1MM/dp/B01M696YCM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1478269898&sr=8-1&keywords=hgst+he10+sas+20+pack

One day I shall have a Backblaze Pod :hearteyes: Lulz 3 dollar shipping.
 
Last edited:

VirtualLarry

No Lifer
Aug 25, 2001
50,758
6,258
126
Speaking of buying HDDs, I just recently ordered a qty of "WD 500GB SATA" ("Green") HDDs. Seems like they are AV-GP drives that were discontinued by WD, due to them dropping the "Green" line of HDDs. Ebay listing said that they were new, hope that they come well-packed. (Hope that the qty I ordered is shipped in an OEM multi-slot HDD container.)

Edit: Oh, and unlike that 20-pack of He10s, mine only cost $15 ea. shipped. :)
 

JeffMD

Platinum Member
Feb 15, 2002
2,026
19
81
no doubt a USB2 portable would be slow- they are both hampered by the transfer rate of USB2 as well as typically a painfully slow rotational speed.. And then trying to manage that in a router...
and as far as building a PC- It all depends on what you select for parts.. My main Plex transcode server is none of the 3...
Well..My USB2 drive is nothing to write home about..ok its actually kinda sucky. The rest of my 1tb and 2tb drives are 3.0 and have no problem reaching ~60Mb a sec. Maybe slightly slower then my internal 1tb on my PC. I use them as my media drives. One is on a computer running plex for the family and my stuff is on the MyCloud NAS for direct access. Like I said, the MyCloud NAS is giving my great speeds to my USB3 drives. Far more up to the task then any if my routers have (current is asus RT-N56U).
 

sdifox

No Lifer
Sep 30, 2005
83,602
8,723
126
Speaking of buying HDDs, I just recently ordered a qty of "WD 500GB SATA" ("Green") HDDs. Seems like they are AV-GP drives that were discontinued by WD, due to them dropping the "Green" line of HDDs. Ebay listing said that they were new, hope that they come well-packed. (Hope that the qty I ordered is shipped in an OEM multi-slot HDD container.)

Edit: Oh, and unlike that 20-pack of He10s, mine only cost $15 ea. shipped. :)
I don't think I have any active 500gb 3.5" drives. Only 500GB drive are 2.5" and in laptops.
 

simas

Senior member
Oct 16, 2005
345
59
91
NAS, no question - cheap, supportable (high WAF), easy, much more flexible in usage. In such decisions it is all where you want the brunt of the work happening (on the server itself, on consumers, etc). if you have very stupid and low power consumers (i.e. some $50 android Chinese knockoff tablet) , then server is the only thing that could transcode. if you have consumers with some power (NUC or set up box like Nvidia Shield TV) or run Kodi locally , all 'server' need to do is provide the file and the server part of that is really not necessary.

Questions for you
- do you have or planning to have other media consumers (ipad, etc)? I thought it would be silly to watch media on a tablet, but sometimes it fits the bill greatly vs going to living room for TV, if all you want is finish watching a particular episode on the series. very convenient as an option
- how many people would consume media (anyone besides you) and what is their tech level? i.e. for me, any technology has to be usable by non-techy (Wife Acceptance Factor- WAF) and it is so much easier with voice search and real remotes vs keyboard hacks and plug this thingly into that thingly and run this command and then you can type instruction.


Here how the evolution usually goes :)
- person (usually guy) starts single with single computer to do everything, gaming, browsing, media serving, media consumption, etc
- then a desire to watch media on nicer TV set up appears, welcome KODI or its equivalents (openelec, etc) and welcome to all of the headaches with proper remote, plugins, etc.
- then other people join, other devices, kids come. f%cking with KODI settings becomes tiresome , and decision is made to centralize all media and expose it through things like Plex to whatever device wants it. person becomes aware of 21st century features like voice control and voice search, time becomes more valuable then saving $100 on such DYU build , and experience/wisdom of having to repair these things vs just buying and having it work finally gets to a person

- data moves to low power, feature rich server (aka NAS) . Almost all of the NAS boxes have built in media streamers (DS Video for Synology as example)
- consumers become better in user experience, things like good controllers out of the box, voice search, excellent experience makes Kodi look like bad dream.

so if I were use I would go out and pick one of the major NAS vendors (QNAP, Synology, etc) , I myself use and happy with Synology but there are many alternatives. for $170 I get a barebone server with multi HD support, with cloud integration capabilities, with built in management apps on my Ipad , domain integration if I want it to SMB/NFS/FTP/etc support if I want it, low media consumption, QAed OS that someone else cares for , excellent and simple backup capabilities, low power consumption. of cause it does not have the full flexibility of x86, I can not run things like virtualization ,etc. but in its class for its needs, it is very hard to beat

then, think of your media consumption experience - for me I moved from homebuilt devices to things like Shield and similarly have not looked back. I can still run full Kodi/SPMC if I want to but no longer driver wars, updates, patches, user experience is excellent, and it could be your Plex Server (actually transcoding for the rest of consumers, while having the data on NAS) if you want it to be.
 
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smitbret

Diamond Member
Jul 27, 2006
3,388
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NAS, no question - cheap, supportable (high WAF), easy, much more flexible in usage. In such decisions it is all where you want the brunt of the work happening (on the server itself, on consumers, etc). if you have very stupid and low power consumers (i.e. some $50 android Chinese knockoff tablet) , then server is the only thing that could transcode. if you have consumers with some power (NUC or set up box like Nvidia Shield TV) or run Kodi locally , all 'server' need to do is provide the file and the server part of that is really not necessary.

Questions for you
- do you have or planning to have other media consumers (ipad, etc)? I thought it would be silly to watch media on a tablet, but sometimes it fits the bill greatly vs going to living room for TV, if all you want is finish watching a particular episode on the series. very convenient as an option
- how many people would consume media (anyone besides you) and what is their tech level? i.e. for me, any technology has to be usable by non-techy (Wife Acceptance Factor- WAF) and it is so much easier with voice search and real remotes vs keyboard hacks and plug this thingly into that thingly and run this command and then you can type instruction.


Here how the evolution usually goes :)
- person (usually guy) starts single with single computer to do everything, gaming, browsing, media serving, media consumption, etc
- then a desire to watch media on nicer TV set up appears, welcome KODI or its equivalents (openelec, etc) and welcome to all of the headaches with proper remote, plugins, etc.
- then other people join, other devices, kids come. f%cking with KODI settings becomes tiresome , and decision is made to centralize all media and expose it through things like Plex to whatever device wants it. person becomes aware of 21st century features like voice control and voice search, time becomes more valuable then saving $100 on such DYU build , and experience/wisdom of having to repair these things vs just buying and having it work finally gets to a person

- data moves to low power, feature rich server (aka NAS) . Almost all of the NAS boxes have built in media streamers (DS Video for Synology as example)
- consumers become better in user experience, things like good controllers out of the box, voice search, excellent experience makes Kodi look like bad dream.

so if I were use I would go out and pick one of the major NAS vendors (QNAP, Synology, etc) , I myself use and happy with Synology but there are many alternatives. for $170 I get a barebone server with multi HD support, with cloud integration capabilities, with built in management apps on my Ipad , domain integration if I want it to SMB/NFS/FTP/etc support if I want it, low media consumption, QAed OS that someone else cares for , excellent and simple backup capabilities, low power consumption. of cause it does not have the full flexibility of x86, I can not run things like virtualization ,etc. but in its class for its needs, it is very hard to beat

then, think of your media consumption experience - for me I moved from homebuilt devices to things like Shield and similarly have not looked back. I can still run full Kodi/SPMC if I want to but no longer driver wars, updates, patches, user experience is excellent, and it could be your Plex Server (actually transcoding for the rest of consumers, while having the data on NAS) if you want it to be.
Pretty good piece on the evolution except for the issues that can/will be created when going from a full power server to a NAS for media consumption. Your movement towards OEM devices like the Shield, cell phones, Roku, etc. kind of warrant a server that can do a real-time transcode since supported formats and codecs are still a confusing mess. For example, try to play back a video file with a multi-channel, Dolby Digital audio track on a Galaxy 6 using the native media player... hope you like silence. You need a media server that an convert that DD track to AAC. As other devices come and go (phones, tablets, Roku, AppleTV, FireTV, Shield, etc.) it's a lot easier to just have the horsepower on the server and know that you can watch something from your server on any device, regardless of how it sits on the Hard Drive.

There's also something to be said for a common library between devices, especially when it comes to the WAF. I use Mezzmo as my media server software, transcoder and library manager. I can build custom playlists, control device and user access, content rating, etc. and the library will be the same whether it is on my phone or on my HTPC. Family and friends spend a lot less time in a state of confusion when they see the same library on their tablet as they do on their phone or HTPC setup.

I started out with some video files on a HDD when I discovered that I could play them back through my PS3 using DLNA and a transcoder. So I installed Mezzmo. Then I discovered with Mezzmo that I could also play the files back on my DirecTV boxes (poorly but watchable). None of these devices supported cover art or metadata via DLNA so I dumped the PS3 for a WDTV Live and shared the media files via SMB for a couple of years. This worked OK because 75% of media consumption came through the main TV with the WDTV Live but as my library grew, the family started to get frustrated because the library they saw on main TV with the WDTV Live wasn't the same thing they saw on the DirecTV boxes or their tablets and phones. I tried to use the DLNA server with the WDTV Live but its metadata support was horrible so I dumped it for Chromeboxes and RaspPi 2s that ran LibreELEC. Because Kodi has pretty good DLNA support it was a nice replacement and everyone was happy. When the time came to replace DirecTV with Dish Network, it was an easy swap. Even though the file types and codecs for streaming media are completely different between DirecTV and Dish, the transition was seemless because my server simply feeds the same library and makes any file conversions automatically. Now I am in the process of swapping out a couple of RaspPi 2/Kodi locations with Amazon FireTVs and once again, the transition is seamless. With the FireTV I can use the Mezzmo App, Mezzmo's network streaming interface or even just a media player lke VLC that will read a DLNA stream and the library is still consistent between all devices. My daughter on the couch watching DVD rips of My Little Pony with her Kindle Fire gets the same experience as my 13 year old daughter in her bedroom watching Adventures In Babysitting on her iPad which is the same as my wife browsing for a RomCom on the Chromebox(Kodi) in the living room. Plus, I can lock out R rated movies from my kid's devices. If someone stays over for a couple of days they can surf and watch on their phone just like every TV in the house.

There's a reason NetFlix runs a server and not just a glorified NAS.
 
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Kartajan

Golden Member
Feb 26, 2001
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Pretty good piece on the evolution except for the issues that can/will be created when going from a full power server to a NAS for media consumption. Your movement towards OEM devices like the Shield, cell phones, Roku, etc. kind of warrant a server that can do a real-time transcode since supported formats and codecs are still a confusing mess.
I agree with your points, although I will say that
1) There are NAS devices that will do the job well for a reasonable load such as the PR4100 (Can TC 4 HD streams on Plex on it's own)
2) For those with more unreasonable needs <like me>, the NAS can be used as merely the storage, while a more capable device handles the serving.

There are many paths to success, but finding which one works best requires some investigation....
 

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