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Network Attached Storage (NAS) & XBox
Old 11-11-2007, 01:48 PM   #1
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Network Attached Storage (NAS) & XBox

I was thinking of buying a network attached storage device so that my wife and I can backup the data on our computers. I noticed that some NAS devices have a media server installed on them.

I'm really very new to NAS devices and media servers. I understand the media server on the NAS streams music and such (which are stored on the network drive(s)) to different clients on the network. What I'm not sure of is this: can I listen to one song from my home office desktop while my wife listens to a different song from her laptop in the living room at the same exact time? Or can only one client listen to/view media at a time? I would think that if were a true server that multiple clients could listen to/view different media at the same time. Am I correct?

I understand that the XBox can be used as a media player in such a configuration. Can the XBox be hooked up to a stereo system or will it only play media through a television?

Thanks.
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Old 11-11-2007, 02:19 PM   #2
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Yes, multiple clients can access the box for different requests.

If you already leave a computer on all the time (like we do), why not just use the computer as a file/media server?
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Old 11-11-2007, 02:55 PM   #3
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The only NAS box that is worth its salt for Home/Small office use is ReadyNAS NV+. Its salty on the price, like $1K, but you can get up to 25MB/s read/write on a gigabit network.
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Old 11-11-2007, 03:40 PM   #4
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I don't recommend the Buffalo NAS devices. I bought one and never got it to work. Well, it "worked" with transmission speeds of around 100 bps (yes, 100 baud) between my computer and the NAS box. I was with tech control literally for days and they couldn't help me, claiming it was operator error. They finally hung up on me, and I returned the box. I went online and found many others with exactly the same problem I had. To be fair, other said it worked fine for them, so it appears to be an incompatibility between their devices and certain computer configurations. But if you have a problem like that, Buffalo is just as clueless, and won't do anything to help the end user. Just my 2c.

By the way, I now use an external Acomdata 250Gb USB 2.0 hard drive. Can't access it over the network, but it works fine to back up files from my desktop.
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:12 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by twaddle View Post
Yes, multiple clients can access the box for different requests.

If you already leave a computer on all the time (like we do), why not just use the computer as a file/media server?
We have two laptops - one hers and one mine. We both need a backup solution, hence the NAS. Plus DW is into digital photography so she's filling up the drive on her laptop quick. I had a WD Passport but I fried it when, instead of using it as a backup device, I installed Slackware Linux on it and had it boot up my laptop. I guess the Passport was not meant to do that, eh?

The one that I'm looking at, which is just an enclosure, is the D-Link DNS-323 and happens to have a media server as well (I'm thinking about getting two Seagate 500 GB Barracuda 7200.9 SATA internal hard drives for it). I think leaving the D-Link on would consume less electricity than a laptop or desktop but what do I know.
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:35 PM   #6
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Yeah, if you don't already leave a computer on all the time, I guess a NAS makes sense. I just never found the idea of a proprietary box very compelling when a generic expandable computer can do the same thing.

I assume your laptops are wireless. If so, your main concern will probably be saturating the wifi bandwidth when all of the media files and backups start flying through the air.

Of course, you're going to want a slingbox to watch live TV on your laptops as well, and that's also a bandwidth hog.
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:38 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by CybrMike View Post
The only NAS box that is worth its salt for Home/Small office use is ReadyNAS NV+. Its salty on the price, like $1K, but you can get up to 25MB/s read/write on a gigabit network.
A grand! Ouch!! 256MB/s sounds nice but probably not necessary for our needs.
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Old 11-11-2007, 04:54 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by twaddle View Post
Yeah, if you don't already leave a computer on all the time, I guess a NAS makes sense. I just never found the idea of a proprietary box very compelling when a generic expandable computer can do the same thing.

I assume your laptops are wireless. If so, your main concern will probably be saturating the wifi bandwidth when all of the media files and backups start flying through the air.

Of course, you're going to want a slingbox to watch live TV on your laptops as well, and that's also a bandwidth hog.
I'd thought about building my own (using FreeNAS). I still have an old 486 lying around. Nobody wants it - I even tried to donate it - I can't even give it away. I was thinking maybe I could use that. But it is a HUGE tower case and the room in which it'll be placed is not large - I'd like something with as small a footprint as possible. He he - I remember when I got that thing. It was probably the fastest 486 on the market and I was the envy of all my geek friends.

As far as the wireless thing and the media server - I was actually thinking not about playing music or videos on our laptops, but buying a couple of XBoxs and hooking them up to receivers or TVs. This way my wife can listen to whatever she wants in the kitchen (she's a great cook and spends a lot of time there), while I listen to whatever I want in the home office. The XBoxes would need to be wired to the router. Sounds like a fun project.
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Old 11-11-2007, 05:15 PM   #9
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I've tried several brands of NAS, and always found some limitation or incompatibility. And they're often sort of slow.

I might recommend an old laptop with windows media center edition and an external hard drive that'll spin down when not in use. The whole thing will use about 25-40 watts when not in use and still under 100 when its spun up. Then you can use laptops, either the old xbox or xbox 360 with media center extender, or any other MS compatible device to stream music, photos and video.

Another option is a short tower desktop. I've seen some dell and hp core2duo 965 chipset based units in the $299-399 range, both new and refurbished. You can mount two drives internally and it does hardware raid. I'm using an HP one as the home 'server' with a color photo and b&w laser printer attached and 320mb of mirrored raid, Windows MCE, and an xbox and xbox 360 to redirect to the tv's. It pulls about 67 watts when fully running and 3 watts when its in suspend mode. I have it suspend after a couple of hours and we're both trained to go tap the mouse or keyboard to wake it up. Some of the newer boxes come with vista premium which also has MCE features...but I'd stick with good old XP MCE if I had the option.

Its nice. We can print from where we are and pick it up later, I'm using Synctoy on a timer to automatically synchronize our documents and immediate use files. Once ever few months I spin everything onto an external drive and leave it at a relatives house.

The lower speed core2duo is economical and offers a pretty good batch processor platform if you're going to convert a big movie from one format to another or do mass changes to a library of music.

I also periodically downconvert all the music and photos to 128K mp3's and 800x600 and download those back down to the laptops.
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Old 11-11-2007, 09:26 PM   #10
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FreeNAS is horrible, unreliable, and slow. Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ can do read/write of 25 MB/s, not 256 MB/s. Many of the other ones run from 2 - 6 MB/s, so the readyNAS does a really good job where others fail.

If your going to use this as a media server (music/movies), the extra speed is an absolute necessity.
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Old 11-12-2007, 06:16 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CybrMike View Post
FreeNAS is horrible, unreliable, and slow. Infrant ReadyNAS NV+ can do read/write of 25 MB/s, not 256 MB/s. Many of the other ones run from 2 - 6 MB/s, so the readyNAS does a really good job where others fail.

If your going to use this as a media server (music/movies), the extra speed is an absolute necessity.
Ah, yes, I see I misread your response - 25 MB/s, NOT 256 MB/s. Just a minor difference .

Yeah, in one of my past responses I said that we don't need speed but then I thought, "yeah, we will need speed" if we want to use the media server. The main purpose of the NAS for us is the backup solution that it provides but using the media server would be a plus.

I read (very little) about gigabit ethernet. Do you know anything about that and is the 25 MB/s that you mentioned the speed using gigabit ethernet? I understand that the standard is still in draft but that they have routers and devices that will do gigabit. Do you think it's worth upgrading my network to gigabit at this point? Is it all that it's cracked up to be?
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Old 11-15-2007, 09:06 PM   #12
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Yes im using gigabit ethernet to get the above speeds. You can pick up a gigabit ethernet router at Best Buy for like $100.00.

I didn't think the standard was a draft (are you thinking of 802.11n), but my Apple Airport Extreme works great.
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