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Complex-ish WHS questions - trying to understand and see if it's worthwhile RRS feed

  • Question

  • I've been pondering purchasing a new computer in order to centralize photos, music and movies etc to other clients throughout the house.  Currently our home network is on a wireless G network but am looking at the new N standard.
    Our computer assets are:
    - 2 Vista Ultimate laptops - wireless G (kid's) - potential usage = stream movies, photos, music
    - 1 XP laptop - wireless G - potential usage = stream music
    - 1 XP laptop - wireless B - potential usage = stream music
    - 1 Vista Ultimate desktop - wireless G (kid's) - potential usage = stream movies, photos, music
    - 2 XP desktops - 1 GB wired
    - 1 Xbox 360 wireless G - potential usage = stream music, photos

    I am interested in centralizing all media and sharing it to all the above devices (not necessarily at the same time due to bandwidth restrictions) but each has its own nuances from what I can gather.

    Questions are:
    - Can I stream VOB (raw DVD files, not RSS encrypted) files either using the standard media player/streamer or TVersity (or other) to Vista-based clients?  I know it will do AVI (divx? xvid?), MPEG, etc.
    - Can privileges be set up such that our kids can only access certain movies, photos, music etc or is it all or nothing?  I'd like for them to be able to attach to the server and see categories of things they have access to and chose from them but I'm not sure if it's possible.
    - Is there an inherent downsampling that happens for network transmission for audio or video quality (such as ffdshow)?
    - Is wireless G sufficient for streaming uncompressed video without noticeable latency or should we be using wired/wireless N?
    - Is it recommended to use a standard builder of machines (HP for example) or build your own. I can certainly build one it's more a question of cost/benefit.  I would like to get 1 TB of storage if possible. 
    - For this application is the processor, RAM and video card really as tasked as it would be for intensive graphics apps or is it mostly HD and network that's utilized?

    Sorry if these have been asked and answered before but for all my research I've not really found comprehensive answers.  Are the retailers that people trust in the Seattle area to answer these questions?

    Thanks in advance!
    Tuesday, June 10, 2008 11:00 PM

Answers

  •  tedliq wrote:
    I've been pondering purchasing a new computer in order to centralize photos, music and movies etc to other clients throughout the house.  Currently our home network is on a wireless G network but am looking at the new N standard.
    Our computer assets are:
    - 2 Vista Ultimate laptops - wireless G (kid's) - potential usage = stream movies, photos, music
    - 1 XP laptop - wireless G - potential usage = stream music
    - 1 XP laptop - wireless B - potential usage = stream music
    - 1 Vista Ultimate desktop - wireless G (kid's) - potential usage = stream movies, photos, music
    - 2 XP desktops - 1 GB wired
    - 1 Xbox 360 wireless G - potential usage = stream music, photos

    I am interested in centralizing all media and sharing it to all the above devices (not necessarily at the same time due to bandwidth restrictions) but each has its own nuances from what I can gather.

    Questions are:
    - Can I stream VOB (raw DVD files, not RSS encrypted) files either using the standard media player/streamer or TVersity (or other) to Vista-based clients?  I know it will do AVI (divx? xvid?), MPEG, etc.


    Vista can play VOBs.

     

     tedliq wrote:
    - Can privileges be set up such that our kids can only access certain movies, photos, music etc or is it all or nothing?  I'd like for them to be able to attach to the server and see categories of things they have access to and chose from them but I'm not sure if it's possible.

     

    Permissions are set on a per share, per user basis.  So if you want to allow access to only certain movies for kids, create a share (i.e. Kids' Movies) and grant access to that share to their user profiles.

     

     tedliq wrote:
    - Is there an inherent downsampling that happens for network transmission for audio or video quality (such as ffdshow)?

     

    Not to my knowledge.

     

     tedliq wrote:
    - Is wireless G sufficient for streaming uncompressed video without noticeable latency or should we be using wired/wireless N?

     

    I can stream wmv-hd 720p files to my XBox 360 using G without any issues at all (and can even get 1080p to stream with no stuttering most of the time).

     

     tedliq wrote:
    - Is it recommended to use a standard builder of machines (HP for example) or build your own. I can certainly build one it's more a question of cost/benefit.  I would like to get 1 TB of storage if possible.

     

    That's personal preference.  For me, I chose to build my own for 2 reasons:  1)  I want to be in control of the hardware in my server (and from what I've heard, the HP model doesn't have enough RAM to adequately handle all of the functions of WHS) and 2) I have sufficient knowledge of hardware to build (and troubleshoot) it myself.

     

     tedliq wrote:
    - For this application is the processor, RAM and video card really as tasked as it would be for intensive graphics apps or is it mostly HD and network that's utilized?

     

    The main pieces are CPU, RAM, and HDD (video card is irrelevent since you won't even have a monitor hooked up to it once it's set up).

     

     tedliq wrote:
    Sorry if these have been asked and answered before but for all my research I've not really found comprehensive answers.  Are the retailers that people trust in the Seattle area to answer these questions?

    Thanks in advance!

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008 5:11 AM
    Moderator

All replies


  • You can play a raw VOB file from a network share if the connection is fast enough. Wireless B or G is probably too slow. Some 3rd party apps like TVersity can re-encode on the fly to let you stream on slower networks (with loss of quality)

    I use a plug in for Windows media Center called My movies to keep track of where a movie is stored (either locally or on the server) and play it back via my 1 gigabit ethernet. The movies are stored as the VIDEO_TS directory on hard drives either on the Vista UItimate machine or on the Windows Home Server shared directory. As such I really am not streaming but it works well.

    Privileges can limit what shared directories on the WHS a user has access to. So you could create a share for PG movies, R movies etc. and control who can view them if they are stored on the WHS.

    Reductions in quality occur w some streaming apps, but the above method plays full quality.

    DVD quality on a wireless link may require 2-6 megabits per sec. Haven't tried streaming on a wireless N. G can barely handle it and is usually a problem. B forget it. As wireless links are prone to interference from microwave ovens, wireless phones and other wifi boxes I'ld stick w wired signals for the TV room etc. Laptops at least can move to a place where the signal is stronger.

    Building vs buying is a personal preference. I built mine using the motherboard I had before I got a quad core for my personal desktop. I have 6 terabytes mostly movies and software backups and run it on a  Athlon 64bit which I think is a 3200 or so w 3g of ram. The more powerfull the server machine is the better speed you will get w multiple people accessing it. So if you intend to have 2 or three people using the server I'ld build it so you can determine how much ram u want etc.

    Video card isn't needed. I use remote desktop from a client to manage the WHS. CPU, ram, and HD speed are the bottlenecks. I get 5 - 30 MB/sec on network transfers from the WHS to a client depending on the server's activity level and size of the files being transfered. (over 1 gigabit network) This is below network capacity so my network is not the bottleneck. As a general rule I can copy a 4 gigabyte movie to a client machine in 8 - 10 minutes.

    The best reason for having a WHS is the backup capability. I backup 2 vista ultimate machines, 2 xp pro desktops, and 3 laptops automatically. My normal backup  data is about 600 gig.  Restoring a machine to a  previous backup is  ridiculously simple. Just boot from a  WHS restore  disk and the machine will restore from its WHS backup quickly and painlessly. The one problem I have seen is that it is easy to get the backup database corrupted. Hopefully this is fixed in the new update that just came out. But there is a method for making a backup of your backups to an external drive so you can store it offsite if necessary. Its just a little clumsy at the current time and they are working on improving it, it just didn't make the cut on this latest update called power pack 1.




    Wednesday, June 11, 2008 1:56 AM
  •  tedliq wrote:
    I've been pondering purchasing a new computer in order to centralize photos, music and movies etc to other clients throughout the house.  Currently our home network is on a wireless G network but am looking at the new N standard.
    Our computer assets are:
    - 2 Vista Ultimate laptops - wireless G (kid's) - potential usage = stream movies, photos, music
    - 1 XP laptop - wireless G - potential usage = stream music
    - 1 XP laptop - wireless B - potential usage = stream music
    - 1 Vista Ultimate desktop - wireless G (kid's) - potential usage = stream movies, photos, music
    - 2 XP desktops - 1 GB wired
    - 1 Xbox 360 wireless G - potential usage = stream music, photos

    I am interested in centralizing all media and sharing it to all the above devices (not necessarily at the same time due to bandwidth restrictions) but each has its own nuances from what I can gather.

    Questions are:
    - Can I stream VOB (raw DVD files, not RSS encrypted) files either using the standard media player/streamer or TVersity (or other) to Vista-based clients?  I know it will do AVI (divx? xvid?), MPEG, etc.


    Vista can play VOBs.

     

     tedliq wrote:
    - Can privileges be set up such that our kids can only access certain movies, photos, music etc or is it all or nothing?  I'd like for them to be able to attach to the server and see categories of things they have access to and chose from them but I'm not sure if it's possible.

     

    Permissions are set on a per share, per user basis.  So if you want to allow access to only certain movies for kids, create a share (i.e. Kids' Movies) and grant access to that share to their user profiles.

     

     tedliq wrote:
    - Is there an inherent downsampling that happens for network transmission for audio or video quality (such as ffdshow)?

     

    Not to my knowledge.

     

     tedliq wrote:
    - Is wireless G sufficient for streaming uncompressed video without noticeable latency or should we be using wired/wireless N?

     

    I can stream wmv-hd 720p files to my XBox 360 using G without any issues at all (and can even get 1080p to stream with no stuttering most of the time).

     

     tedliq wrote:
    - Is it recommended to use a standard builder of machines (HP for example) or build your own. I can certainly build one it's more a question of cost/benefit.  I would like to get 1 TB of storage if possible.

     

    That's personal preference.  For me, I chose to build my own for 2 reasons:  1)  I want to be in control of the hardware in my server (and from what I've heard, the HP model doesn't have enough RAM to adequately handle all of the functions of WHS) and 2) I have sufficient knowledge of hardware to build (and troubleshoot) it myself.

     

     tedliq wrote:
    - For this application is the processor, RAM and video card really as tasked as it would be for intensive graphics apps or is it mostly HD and network that's utilized?

     

    The main pieces are CPU, RAM, and HDD (video card is irrelevent since you won't even have a monitor hooked up to it once it's set up).

     

     tedliq wrote:
    Sorry if these have been asked and answered before but for all my research I've not really found comprehensive answers.  Are the retailers that people trust in the Seattle area to answer these questions?

    Thanks in advance!

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008 5:11 AM
    Moderator
  • If you go the route of building your own, don't forget that WHS is built on Server 2003, so for stability and reliability, you really should ensure that whatever components you use, they have Server 2003 drivers available, a large proportion of consumer boards do not. Also, there is no great advantage to going down the route of ultra-fast processors, disks et., as, unless you are going to use the system to do internal transcoding, there just isn't the need for them. A couple of gigs of ram, a middle range processor, and a few largish hard drives are more important. Try to go for 3 drives as a minimum, and then add drives in pairs, if at all possible, when you require extra space.

     

    Colin

     

    Wednesday, June 11, 2008 11:31 AM