One Media Server to Rule Them All – Part 1

One Media Server to Rule Them All – Part 1

After The Burning, it’s really not that difficult to understand why I wanted to take control of my media. I felt betrayed and stabbed in the back by my oldest and best friend. So I would do what any sane person would do. I would stab them back.

The Pre-Alpha

The first “Media” server consisted of nothing really more than moving files back on forth on USB Sticks from my computer. Once the media was on the USB stick, I would plug it into my Xbox 360 or PS3, and later a fancy DVD player given to me by my brother-in-law.

Unfortunately, when you are on a mission to rip and encode every piece of media you can find, it doesn’t take long to fill up drives. And it becomes more and more of a hassle relying on moving USB sticks back and forth.

As it didn’t take long for my collection to spill out and over my computer hard drive, I wanted to have a slightly better external solution.

Remember these guys?

I wish I could forget them. I had two of them. One for TV and one for movies.

Still the Pre-Alpha

My solution at the time essentially involved storing media on the external hard drives and then carting it back and forth between the XBox/PS3 and the computer when I wanted to load new media. While this worked, it had a number of notable problems.

  • Despite being somewhat mobile by design, these enclosures with full 3.5″ drives inside of them REALLY don’t like being moved around. I was almost constantly losing data to bad sectors. And of course because I only had a pair of drives, each holding a different kind of content, that meant that I had zero redundancy.
  • I was regularly running into media that the XBox or PS3 wouldn’t play natively due to encoding. And of course the XBox and PS3 supported different media types, so I would have to move the drives between them when I ran into something I couldn’t play. Of course, more often than not, neither one worked.
Enter the DLNA

DLNA was one of the available solutions at the time. Using my Desktop computer, I could hook up both of my drives at once (WHATATTTT????) and run a program like PS3MediaServer. While this worked pretty good, it still had problems. I still ran into files that I just couldn’t play. For a long time an MKV file was the bane of my existence. DLNA also spit out a directory dump of files rather than an actual meaningful library of data.

It was around this time where data loss started to become a very real problem. On almost a daily basis, I would be watching some media and have it crash due to bad sectors on my drives.

I needed something. FreeNAS was the answer continued in part 2…

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