Home Sharing USB Attached Content - Canadian TV, Computing and Home Theatre Forums
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post #1 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-01-31, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Home Sharing USB Attached Content

Hey folks, long time visitor, first time poster.

I would really appreciate some advice here, as Im not getting much help from my local tech shops. Ive been struggling with this conundrum for 6-years, revisiting it every couple years, without any real solution.

I hope Ive posted in the right forum.

Im looking for suggestions on how to share content located on 12 (or more) external USB HDDs between 5 (or more) televisions over a home network. My vocabulary may be wrong here, but to do this Im looking for advice related to:
-HTPCs or Media Servers
-Media Players
-Router Upgrades (currently have a Linksys E3000 Wireless-N Router)

My 12 hard drives contain a lot of different types of media, mostly DVD rips and 720p MKV encodes, but there are some Blu-Ray rips and 1080p (or better) encodes.

Currently I connect my media to a single TV using a PCH C-200 and USB hubs. Its great for playing content, but Ive never been able to configure it properly in order to allow access to the content attached to the C-200 by other media players over WiFi.

If I can get it to work, my ideal setup would be some type of computer / server connected to HDDs through USB hubs. My server knowledge is almost non-existent. This server(?) would connect to the network by an ethernet cable, and each TV would connect to the content on my USB HDDs through WiFi enabled media players.

Im confused by the NAS hub options; as I need to attach 12 (really more like 15) HDDs, I think Id be spending more on the hubs than I would otherwise need to spend on a barebones server that I attach my USB HDDs or hubs to USB HDDs.

I dont need the server to connect to a TV, which is why Im hesitant to look at an actual HTPC. I would like to be able to connect to this server (via Macbook or desktop PC) in order to add/delete/modify content on my HDDs.

Id rather save money on a server and/or media players in order to spend it on additional HDDs. Beyond Netflix, I dont imagine Ill care what else my media player can do beyond allowing me to view HD media files over a WiFi network. It would be very rare that I would ever stream media to more than 2 TVs at once.

Does anyone who uses USB attached external HDDs for media storage have any recommendations for the type of setup I am going for?

Thank you so much for your advice or suggestions.
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post #2 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-01-31, 05:36 PM
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I have a main server with 3 internal and 6 external drives connected. I use Plex media server to share my content. Works fine.
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post #3 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-02-01, 01:35 AM
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It doesn't really matter how the drives are connected (internal or external, USB or eSATA), sharing the files will be the same. One easy method would be a PC. It doesn't need to be anything special, just capable of supporting enough USB drives. That means adding USB cards (preferable) or USB hubs until the number of required ports is reached. The drives or drive directories must then be shared on the network in order to make them accessible. Optionally, media server software could be added for devices that are DLNA compatible but don't support file sharing. Some media server options are TVersity, Serviio and Plex.

No information is given on the size of the drives but it may be possible to create a more reliable and efficient setup. Using a PC or NAS and some very large internal drives is a better solution. The files on the USB drives could then be copied to the large drives and the USB drives kept as backups. The PC doesn't need to be very powerful or expensive. It can run Windows or Linux. (There are some quick and easy, free Linux solutions for turning a PC into a NAS.) A case that supports lots of drives (some support 10 or more) is not that expensive either.
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post #4 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-02-01, 10:52 AM
 
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As mentioned above, a pc running plex with all the hdd connected to it serving content to each TV via roku or nexus players. Blu Ray players running plex app would work too
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post #5 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-02-01, 05:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ExDilbert View Post
It doesn't really matter how the drives are connected (internal or external, USB or eSATA), sharing the files will be the same. One easy method would be a PC. It doesn't need to be anything special, just capable of supporting enough USB drives. That means adding USB cards (preferable) or USB hubs until the number of required ports is reached. The drives or drive directories must then be shared on the network in order to make them accessible. Optionally, media server software could be added for devices that are DLNA compatible but don't support file sharing. Some media server options are TVersity, Serviio and Plex.

I have a similar problem and solved it satisfactorily for the last two years (for me at least).

I use a PC with 6 disk drives (a mix of 2 and 3 TeraByte, SATA and USB connected). I am comfortable with the windows file system and the native(built in) windows file sharing is just fine. A Wired ethernet connection to WD streaming media player(s) at the TV(s) can play every file format (with subtitles as well) (except new x265).

I see little value in the complication of Media Software such as PLEX etc.

Last edited by 57; 2015-02-01 at 05:48 PM. Reason: quote syntax fixed
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post #6 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-02-01, 05:18 PM
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I tend to agree. Media servers are a mixed blessing. They can allow use of devices that don't support Windows (or Linux) file sharing, transcode media on the fly for devices that have limited codec support or forward streaming services.for devices that lack suitable apps. If a media server is not required, skip it. That's why I said it was optional. I don't recommend Plex since it is the most expensive option of the 3 mentioned.
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post #7 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-02-01, 05:49 PM
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Plex is free. Plex app comes on a lot of devices. Plex has played everything I have tried watching on it. We really like the movie sheet style display that has full movie info,etc. Zero issues here. Even Our Arris Gateway see's Plex running and plays everything fine all over the house.
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post #8 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-02-01, 06:40 PM
 
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AFF - is the Gateway Shaw?
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post #9 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-02-01, 07:41 PM
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Same gateway but not with Shaw. I live in Yellowknife.
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post #10 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-02-01, 09:05 PM
 
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Quote:
I see little value in the complication of Media Software such as PLEX etc.
I have three drives that have over ten thousand media files and 10 TB of storage. With 12 or 15 media drives, OP might have a hundred thousand files.

With Plex for video and something like iTunes for music, all your media files are categorized and you never need to know where anything is physically stored.
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post #11 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-02-01, 09:46 PM
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Plex is free. Plex app comes on a lot of devices.
The basic server is free, are the TVersity and Serviio servers. Of the three, the Plex "pro" version is by far the most expensive. The free Plex server is also more crippled than the other two, with fewer working features.

Quote:
all your media files are categorized and you never need to know where anything is physically stored.
That's a definite advantage. However, media server cataloging is usually far from perfect, can take a lot of work and can sometimes make finding titles more difficult.
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post #12 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-02-02, 08:40 AM
 
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However, media server cataloging is usually far from perfect, can take a lot of work and can sometimes make finding titles more difficult.
I do not have any video files not properly cataloged by Plex. The only time it can become an issue is if you don't use a proper naming convention for your files.

Regardless, how could it not be easier to use a backend that catalogues your media?

I'd love to know how anyone with hundreds of thousands of files stored on 15 HDD's could remember where all the files are stored.

Even if you decide to not use the plex front end interface, just having your files catalogued would be a huge asset.
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post #13 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-02-02, 11:41 AM
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One situation I'm aware of is where DVDs are ripped to files on disk. Even if the files are in correctly named directories, media servers simply serve up hundreds of identically named VOB files. To be fair, few media players handle this situation correctly but some do. It's not that difficult if the DVD file structure is maintained.
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post #14 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-02-02, 12:22 PM
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Thats the fault of the person that ripped it though. Mine are names like Jaws.iso and there are no vob files.
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post #15 of 46 (permalink) Old 2015-02-02, 12:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wetware View Post

I'd love to know how anyone with hundreds of thousands of files stored on 15 HDD's could remember where all the files are stored.
18 TB of video and music indexed instantly with a little free gem called "Everything".
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