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My Current Media Center

August 24, 2013 Leave a comment

Someone on an Engadget forum asked me what kind of NAS I used.  I wrote a VERY long reply and thought I would just post that response here…  I’ve been rather quiet on this blog partly because my current Media Center is essentially perfect.  So, here is the answer I wrote:

That is a great question, because that is one of the 2 main differentiators from a basic PC.  The Tuners being the other.  For storage, I used to use external eSata Enclosures, but a 6-disk or more NAS always seemed overpriced, so I ended up with local storage!  I have 6 HDDs for media and 1 SSD for the OS and apps.  The disks are configured in JBOD so I could lose recordings if a disk dies, but if you keep your disks well cooled and they spin down when inactive, they should be obsolete before they actually die.  Also, JBOD allows me to have a rotation where I replace the smallest drive with a big one when I need to expand.  For instance, I recently upgraded by replacing the oldest disk (750GB) with a 4TB.  If I had RAID (and I used to),  I had to use disks of the same size as the others and the controller had to support expanding the array in place.  If you didn’t do the expansion right, you could lose everything!  RAID was a disaster for a system that needs to grow over time.  JBOD is easy and simple, and the risk is worth taking.  My last RAID experience was when I used the motherboard RAID… then the motherboard died.  Well if you can’t find the same controller for your array, you will lose everything on those disks.  I came to realize that end-user RAID-5 is probably more risky than JBOD.  And for critically important folders, just replicate those on another disk.   

So, to enclose the disks, I needed a short case depth with lots of bays to fit in my Living Room entertainment center, and I ended up with the Lian Li PC-Q18B.  I highly recommend this case.  There is also a MicroATX version from Lian Li, but it is deeper, so watch out.  I also upgraded the front fan with higher CFMs to cool the HDDs better.  I have had a Media Center running in some shape or form for 8 years and this is the best, most reliable configuration I’ve ever had.  It’s perfect.  Oh, and in the 5.25″ bay, I have a slim Bluray player (Panasonic UJ265; allows for 3D bluray) and an SD card reader for the occasional picture dump from our camera.  The bluray and card reader are in a StarTech SLIMCDFDCAGE. 

And here is a picture:

WP_20130824_14_45_09_Pro

Note: the fan blades are yellow, but they are visible in this picture only because of the flash from the camera.  In the room under normal light, I just see black.

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