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setting up shared storage for home network - what method?


dandys
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Hi everyone,

 

I am looking for a video/recorded tv/ music/ media centralized storage method for my home network that functions like "Libraries". By that I mean I would like to categorize the data into different types ("Videos" "Pictures" "Recorded TV" etc.) but have those types span multiple hard drives.

 

I have looked at Server Folders but it looks like that can only use one hard drive at a time per category? My "Videos" or "Recorded TV" would be more than 4 TB so that isn't going to work. Does that mean I'm stuck?

 

Would I have to create a Storage Space that combines hard drives to do this? I mean I like the idea of having some kind of redundancy (maybe a parity or mirroring Storage Space) and that would count as "one" hard drive, right? The only thing I am put off by with that though is the fact that it wipes the drives clean when creating the storage space, and the fact that I'm not sure how easy it is to add to them once they're created, etc.

 

Is there any solution that would allow me to just combine NTFS formatted disks into "library" like shares? Is it smarter to use the Server Folder / Storage Spaces method, or something else?

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Do you already have your server and WS2012ER2? It sounds like you have your data on NTFS disks, what does your existing system look like?

What is the total capacity of storage for you media? Sorry for all the questions, just trying to get an idea of where you are coming from.

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Schoondoggy asks some very good questions.

 

But it sounds like you want/need some sort of drive pooling software.  They accomplish exactly what you are looking for. 
They do require the drives to be NTFS (or to be formatted if they aren't).

 

You may want to check out StableBit DrivePool, Drive Bender, PoolHD or FlexRAID.

Each one has their strengths and weaknesses.

 

 

As for media streaming... John (diehard) makes a good suggestion, but I personally prefer Subsonic. I feel it does a much better job of playback.

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I am running Server 2012 R2 Standard actually so I can go either way (Essentials experience). One thing I had considered was the possibility of, since it's standard, keeping it a workgroup with or without homegroup? I have been unsure as whether to use homegroup since I liked the idea of simplified sharing but I was concerned since it didn't let me set my own categories. I'd like to separate Recorded TV from Videos, for example (mainly because of WMC separation). I have also been concerned about the fact that every computer has to leave the homegroup to delete it. If I'm being unreasonable please tell me. Otherwise I would use an Essentials domain with Server Folders instead of any of that.

 

On the other hand, with a domain, I am a little bit drawn to the idea of having certain program sets/suites that I can sync across multiple computers. For example, each HTPC has the same video player programs , etc. On the other hand, see commend below about autologon.

 

--

 

I don't have a particular reason to want NTFS and I would be fine using something else (ReFS, or whatever) but I guess what I really mean is I like the idea of disks being movable between computers if something happens. I have some Windows 8 computers so it seems like Storage Spaces would meet this requirement.

 

I have to say that I haven't really liked the Essentials media streaming and haven't gotten it to work properly. I assume if I were to just use folder sharing instead I would get a proper folder structure (rather than just everything opening in Windows Media Player), read/write, and I would still be able to stream videos and such by opening them?

 

The concern with a full-fledged Domain is the fact that it requires user accounts with long, complicated passwords. That is good for a business or workstation or something but in a home with multiple HTPCs I need some computers that can autologon quickly and act as sort of "kiosk" computers. Having to enter an alphanumerical password to turn on the TV scores very low with so-called WAF.

 

In terms of what kind of disks I currently have 4 4TB data disks and I am considering how to set up some kind of Storage Spaces or something. The way the disks are currently set up I have the same folder structure on all of them (D:/Videos, D:/Recorded TV, E:/Videos, etc.). I would be open to pooling these disks and making pools for each of these types (say an 8tb Storage Space for just Recorded TV or something). Options have included JBOD (two independent disks with folders shared as a library or something with two as offline backup), or Storage Spaces single volume for two and two offline backup, or Storage Spaces mirrored. Other options include signing up for some kind of cloud backup and configuring three or four as a single volume or parity storage space with only most critical data backed up locally.

 

The reason I am more drawn to Storage Spaces than other solutions is because it is new, and most importantly I am more comfortable with the vanilla features built into the OS than trying third-party software RAID or something like that.

Edited by dandys
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snip.....

 

The concern with a full-fledged Domain is the fact that it requires user accounts with long, complicated passwords. That is good for a business or workstation or something but in a home with multiple HTPCs I need some computers that can autologon quickly and act as sort of "kiosk" computers. Having to enter an alphanumerical password to turn on the TV scores very low with so-called WAF.

 

...snip

 

This is true in that you should (technically you can get round it) have long complex passwords but there is a method of getting a domain joined PC to automatically log in on startup - it does need a bit of registry editing but it is fairly straight-forward. Best plan would be to just google 'Auto login on a domain', go through the search results and see which one explains it best for you.

 

 

snip....

 

In terms of what kind of disks I currently have 4 4TB data disks and I am considering how to set up some kind of Storage Spaces or something. The way the disks are currently set up I have the same folder structure on all of them (D:/Videos, D:/Recorded TV, E:/Videos, etc.). I would be open to pooling these disks and making pools for each of these types (say an 8tb Storage Space for just Recorded TV or something). Options have included JBOD (two independent disks with folders shared as a library or something with two as offline backup), or Storage Spaces single volume for two and two offline backup, or Storage Spaces mirrored. Other options include signing up for some kind of cloud backup and configuring three or four as a single volume or parity storage space with only most critical data backed up locally.

 

....snip

 

As you are running Server 2012, you could set up exactly what you want by using a feature called DFS (distributed file system). I'd suggest that you google it and read through all the documentation and see if you think you will be ok to set this up. Basically you could set up a domain-based DFS system on your server such that you can have a share called \\mydomainname\Videos. Behind the scenes this share actually points to multiple shared locations (d:\Videos; e\Videos etc.) which could exist on different servers if you wanted, but they appear to the client to be one single location.

 

OK I've massively simplified this but from your description I'm sure that it will do exactly what you are trying to accomplish and more.

 

John

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DO NOT USE THE HOMEGROUP feature.  Period.  You will cause more problems down the road.

 

Create your own Shares and apply permissions as needed.

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You mentioned that you have 4x4TB drives.

Possible solutions:

1. All four drives in one storage space (16TB). Pluses: max storage, can add hard drives to increase your pool. Negatives: no redundancy. If one disk fails, you lose data only on that disk.

2. Stable Bit drive pool. Pluses: max storage, you can add hard drives to increase your pool, you can remove hard drive and use in another computer and all data is retained. Negatives: same as above

3. RAID 5. Three drives for data and one for parity. Plus: safe. Any one disk fails, you can replace it and data will be restored. Negatives: not expandable. If you want to add a new hard drive you have to back up your data, break current raid, create new raid with all drives, then copy over saved data.

4. Storage space with mirror. Two drives 8TB data, other two drives for mirror. Any disk fails, replace it and it will rebuild. Down side, you only get two usable drives for data.

Edited by Pete
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To add to what Pete said, you can do duplication with virtually any and all of the drive pooling programs: DrivePool, DriveBender, PoolHD, flexRAID. The drives do remain readable on any other Windows computer as simple NTFS drives.

 

I would not use Storage Spaces. ATM, it seems to have significant performance issues, particularly with certain types of spaces. IOW, it's not a fully polished product so I would avoid it for now.

 

To echo jmwills, do not use HomeGroup with a WHS.

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