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Is 8.75TB too much storage ?

Posted by Ub3rG33k on Oct 16, 2010 in Apple, Tech

First of all, this little story is made of fail, however I’m happy with the outcome 🙂

First of all, let me take you back a couple of years. As myself and C tend to have a lot of shared content, eg Movies, Music, Photos, we used to use the good old shared folders on our Windows PC’s. The downside of this was if a machine was off, you had no access to the shared folder !. So I went with plan B, build a cheap server out of old parts I had kicking around, and have all our content on that. This way neither of the 2 main machines would need to be on, and we could still access shared content.

After 6 month or so running like this, I just found it used far too much power, and went for plan C…a NAS drive. I bought a 500GB Western Digital MyBook World, plugged it into the network, and bobs your uncle, storage that didn’t need a PC to be on. My only issue with the drive was it was very slow, I even upgraded my entire network to gigabit to try and improve the speed, but to no avail. About a year later, I decided to upgrade the firmware on the device, which somehow repartition the drive, meaning I’d lost everything ! ARGH !…it took a piece of software nearly 3 days to recover the content !

So onto plan D, a NAS drive with redundancy….so a forked out a lot of money for a 2TB NAS drive with that hard RAID so if the worse case happens, I just plonk in a new drive, and I’m back up and running again. I went with the Acer Aspire easyStore, which at the time was perfect, I had multiple RAID options, gigabit network, wireless, iTunes server, and media server. I went with RAID5, as I felt this would give a decent amount of performance and would only lose 500Gb to redundancy.

As hard drive do die, I set up a piece of software on both mine and Cs machines called SyncBack. This would mirror our chosen folder to the NAS drive, to ensure we could recover our data. This worked great on the PC’s and can highly recommend it, however when we moved to Mac, I planned on using the Time Machine software build into the OS.

Now for plan E, No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get the Macs to see the NAS drive as a Time Capsule, so went with the real deal. I bought the 1TB Time Capsule back in March of this year, and does the job perfect !. Currently I have 2 x iMacs (with 1TB hard drives), 2 x MacBook Pros (with 250GB hard drives) and a MacMini with a 160GB hard drive. Now I know that if you add all that up, that is a lot more than a terabyte, however I was happy that I only had around 500GB of data across all machines at the time, and would address the space issues at a later date when it became an issue.

So about a month ago, the space became an issue, and I bought an external caddy to house a couple of drives I had kicking around. This external caddy allowed 2 drives to be plugged in via USB giving the Time Capsule an additional 750GB to play with.

So early this month, I got the new Apple TV, and got into my head, that I should digitise my entire DVD collection. As it stands, I’ve ripped 72 movies, and 7 boxsets….guess what ?…I’m running out of space on the 2TB NAS drive ! ARGH !…so onto plan F !

I was in 2 minds, I could either upgrade the hard drives in the NAS drive, or get another NAS drive, or get an external hard drive and plug this directly into the MacMini. As you can probably tell from the above, redundancy is key, so the drive would have to have some kind of RAID to ensure the data was safe.

I spend the weekend looking around, and found a decent little 4 drive caddy which had USB, Firewire 400/800 and eSATA connectors, and a variety of RAID options !. After spending what seemed like hours looking, I found a site which seemed to do them for £60 less than everyone else. The model they were selling didn’t have the firewire, however I thought “For £60, I don’t really need firewire”. I ordered this on Wednesday, as well as 4 x Samsung 1TB hard drives, knowing I would lose 1TB with RAID5.

On Thursday, all turned up, I went to the PDF manual I’d downloaded in preparation, but couldn’t find the RAID dip switches ?!?……then it occurred to me, for £60 you don’t only get Firewire, you also get RAID !!! ARGH ! I’d ordered the StarTech SAT3540U2E instead of the S354UFER I’d been looking at and downloaded the manual for !

So Thursday in a panic, I ordered the S354UFER, so now I have both. I could have sent the original one back, but thought I’d keep it and plug this into the back of the Time Capsule giving me the option of having another 2 drives as additional storage. Currently the Time Capsule has it’s own 1TB drive, plus a 500GB, and 3 x 250GB, giving it a total of 2.25TB

Now for the final fail….the S354UFER turned up yesterday, plugged it in via firewire, but I was getting a red light on one of the drive (suggesting it was broken), I moved it up and down the bays, but still got the same !. So….in a panic at 5pm yesterday, I rang the place where the hard drives came from and ordered another drive on Saturday delivery so I could finally build this box.

Today, as expected, the 2nd drive turned up, I put it in the caddy, to only be told another drive had failed !….NO !!!…..I went, had a coffee, double checked the manual, only to find that I hadn’t set the dip switches correctly, and the box was only expecting 3 drives. I flicked them to the right position, and both the old, and the new hard drives work fine ! DOH !

However, all is not bad, it does mean if the worse case happens, I have a spare 1TB drive to slot straight in.

This gives me my total of 8.75TB of storage, the Startech S354UFER with 4 x 1TB hard drives, 2.25TB on the Time Caspule, a 2TB NAS drive, and finally my 500GB MyBook World. Now granted I lose 1.5TB to redundancy however it’s a small price to pay knowing my data is safe 🙂

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Mac Mini

Posted by Ub3rG33k on May 10, 2010 in Apple, Tech

“Dear Mr Jobs,

When I said “Your work here was done”, in my previous post about my iPhone, I may have been telling porkies, as I still had a Windows machine in the house, however you’ll be glad to know, that I’ve done the right thing, and replaced it with a Mac Mini. Sorry for the porkie, and I am now 100% Apple.

Your ever faithful disciple

Darren.”

As you can probably tell from the above, I’ve replaced my last remaining Windows machine with a Mac Mini (Really ? No sh1t Sherlock). To be honest I’ve been toying with the idea since getting the MacBooks last year, as essentially all the Windows machine did was act as a server. It was my media server, my iTunes server, my torrent downloading machine (all legal of course) and a way of dialling into my network from the outside world using remote desktop and port forwarding.

As you can probably suss from my ted post, I spent a little time and ensured that I could still carry out the same functions on the Mac.

I’m using PS3 Media Server to stream to my PS3’s and Xbox,I’m using a uTorrents as my torrent client,iTunes (obviously) for my iTunes server and finally VNC to dial it.

All these pieces of software are available cross platform, so all is good.

The Mac Mini turned up on Monday (unboxing below). The thing that got me about this was just how small the Mac Mini actually is, imagine stacking 4/5 CD cases onto of each other, and that it !

This this is silent, so compact, so tidy, and takes up no room whatsoever !.

As this is just going to be used for the same purpose the Windows machine was, I didn’t really need a high spec, as the Dell I was replacing was only a 2Gb Core 2 Duo, with 2Gb of Ram.

I went for the below, which to be honest it more than adequate for what I need.

  • 2.26GHz Intel Core 2 Duo
  • 2GB memory
  • 160GB hard drive1
  • 8x double-layer SuperDrive
  • NVIDIA GeForce 9400M graphics
  • Mac OS X Snow Leopard

Now unlike the iMac, this doesn’t come with a mouse or keyboard, these are optional, however I had a spare set kicking around. The Mac Mini does have an internal speaker (which to be honest I was a little shocked at, as this device is so small. You do however have the option of connecting external speakers via the 3.5mm jack plug at the back.

The Video out connections are both the Mini DVI and the Mini Displayport adapters, allowing you to connect this to VGA, DVI and HDMI, however you only get a Mini DVI to DVI connecter included.

As with all my apple equipment, I switched it on, entered my details, and done !

This has been the final piece is a very expensive jigsaw, however my household is completely Mac, Goodbye Windows, I hope I never have to use you again ! (well, I do have to use it every day at work…but I don’t really have a choice in that)

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ted (Television Episode Downloader)

Posted by Ub3rG33k on May 8, 2010 in Apple, Microsoft, Tech

If you are anything like me (and god help you if you are :)), and use the internet as a PVR, then this software will be a god send to you.

I’ve just recently ordered a Mac Mini to replace my last remaining Windows machine, and thought I’d better check if I could still do what I do now.

Currently my Dell machine, sits in the corner, and is used as my media server, my iTunes server and my torrent machine. Currently I have uTorrent installed, which downloads each episode using the RSS Feed option. Each of the RSS feeds points to a particular RSS feed for my favourite TV program from eztv, and once a new episode is detected, it’s downloaded.

Once the episodes are downloaded, these get copied to a shared location on my NAS Box, which I can then stream to my PS3’s or Xbox using PS3 Media Server.

I did a little googling last night, and even though there is a Mac version of uTorrent, it’s still in beta, and missing a lot of the functions that the Windows version has, eg the RSS downloader.

After a little more googling, I found a tidy little piece of freeware software called ted (Television Episode Downloader). Essentially it has a list of all the TV episodes that you can select from, and when a new episode appears, it will download the torrent file, and open this with your default torrent client.

Ok, this that fixes the missing functionality of uTorrent, however the software is a lot smarter that the RSS Downloader function in uTorrent, as once you’ve added your favourite shows, you can choose to start from the next available episode, the previous episode, or even download every episode. You then have the option to select “HD Only”, which will only download episodes with the tag of HD or 720.

The interface will also show you the name of the next episode, and when it’s going to be aired.

The good thing about this software is that is available free of charge on Mac, Windows and Linux, and only requires that you have a torrent client installed (I highly recommend uTorrent, Mac and Windows clients available).

Now some people may have a problem with downloading episodes from the internet, I however don’t mind, as I tend to buy the boxsets once they are available. Also this is little different to using BBC iPlayer, or Sky Anytime.

Anyway, let me know your thoughts, and enjoy

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