What should I do: Ext. Hard Drives, Media Servers, NAS, etc.
March 4, 2013 6:34 AM Subscribe
Please talk to me like I'm stupid. I have a bunch of video files (~5TB...so far) hanging out on a bunch of external hard drives. Right now I just take turns plugging them into whichever laptop I'm going to use to watch the videos. I'd like something a little more convenient and easily accessible from multiple rooms in my small apartment, but I'm not awesome at setting up networky things (I've never successfully gotten two different laptops in my apartment to even "see" each other over the wireless router). What should I do?
posted by aswego to computers & internet (9 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Current external hard drives owned (in case these could be repurposed somehow): A Seagate 4TB that needs a wall outlet to be used, a Seagate 3TB that needs a wall outlet to be used, and two 1TB WD drives that don't need wall outlets to be used (but are presumably very fragile).
I would probably be adding more video files to this collection on a daily basis.
Several different Windows laptops and VLC would be the primary potential viewing methods.
Don't own or care about Netflix/Roku/Video Game Systems.
Would avoid using iTunes to the extent possible (have an iPhone and iPad, but use them primarily for podcasts and ebooks).
Though the ability to possibly watch some of these video files on a television someday could be nice, it's not a priority as I don't currently have one.
Similarly, being able to get at the files from somewhere else (via FTP, maybe?) in an emergency seems like it'd be cool, but it's not really a priority.
Don't really care about backing up my laptops constantly...nothing too important on them.
The appeal of having redundant copies of the video files comes from experience with hard drives failing and the months/years it takes to accumulate all those files all over again, as well as the idea that it might be harder to accumulate them next time (basic digital hoarder mentality).
I checked out previous AskMefis, but a lot of the cheap NAS's recommended maxed out at something like an 8TB setup where two 4TB drivers were mirrored for backup purposes. I'm already well past the 4TB point, so I'm hoping for something with even more space. Also, I would probably need a lot of hand-holding setting one up. I can learn this stuff if someone explains it slowly and walks me through, but if somebody starts out by mentioning something like "Tomato" or "firmware," I'm probably lost already.
I also saw the recommendation of the ASUS RT-N16 wireless router, which at least seems like it'd get me partway there by just plugging my two largest external hard drives into it (is this correct?). My current router seems to work fine as far as upload/download speeds go, even though it's pretty old (>5 years), so maybe that money is better spent toward an NAS.