I've recently started to approach my storage limit on my main system at home. I've had the notion for a little while now that I'd eventually like to build a media server at home and then serve the content to an entertainment center in our house so that I have my own "video-on-demand" system.

The main system I use at home is a server-type machine, not to be confused with my Linux 450 MHz PIII machine. No, my main system is a little heftier: It has on-board SCSI, dual on-board network adapters, dual CPUs (1.5 GHz), 500 MB RAM, and about 90 GB in SCSI disks (10 and 15 krpm). It's not exactly a lightweight, even by today's standards, and it's almost 4 years old. It could use a shot of RAM in the arm and the disk capacity is lower than more modern systems because I paid top dollar for SCSI, but overall the system been belly belly good to me (sorry, old SNL joke). Even with all the crap that I've installed on it over the years, Windows 2000 is still stable and runs snappily...

Anyway, when I eventually step up to a newer system, I'll probably convert my current system into a media server. Currently I've put about 18 hours of DVD-quality video on a 72 GB SCSI drive. I'm primarily doing it to transfer the video from VHS/Laserdiscs to DVDs (see my Carving DVDs entries: [1] [2] [3]), but I've been leaving the video files on the system and playing a few in shuffle mode every once in awhile when I'm bored.

Eighteen hours of video may sound like a lot, but that's really only 9 movies (ok, actually it's 160 cartoons). I have over 1000 cartoons that I'll eventually want to have access to. Plus eventually I would put Little Rascals shorts, Charlie Chaplin/Fatty Arbuckle movies, episodes of Monty Python's Flying Circus, The Kids in the Hall, Mr. Show, The Simpsons, etc. Let's just say that in the dawning age of videos on the hard drive, 18 hours is a pittance.

[Editorial Side Note: For those of you who have a hard time believing that computer hard drives will eventually be large enough to hold hundreds or thousands of DVD-quality videos/films, did you also have a hard time believing that computer hard drives would be large enough to hold your entire CD collection?]

Anyway, at the current rate which I've been capturing and encoding the videos, I'll probably run out of comfortable "maneuvering" space in about a month and then I'll be completely filled up by the summer. I could always delete the older video files (since they're backed up on DVD) but the glutton in me wants to simply have it ALL on demand and the sloth in me doesn't want to have to rip the films from the DVDs, name the MPG files, put them in the proper directory, etc. And that all adds up to mean one thing: More Storage! After all, what else am I going to use the disk space for?

This has led me to consider drastic alternatives, such as the Dell PowerVault 200S. I could spend $800 and get about 400 GB of SCSI disk in an external rack-mountable unit (of course I have no rack yet). I could spend a couple hundred more and get a RAID controller with it to improve seek time and get some redundancy out of it. I called up one of the technical guys at DiscounTechnology and he didn't rush me or give me any fluffy answers, he seemed to "get" what I was on about so I left the phone call with a sense that these were good guys, but I guess you never can tell.

Anyway, $800 may seem like a lot to spend on only 400 GB of hard disk these days (especially when Costco has a Maxtor 250 GB for $150), but when we're talking SCSI here...well, let's just say that I'll never go back to buying cheap external USB drives from crap companies like Western Digital...but I've ranted about that before, haven't I?

§95 · May 23, 2005 · Entertainment, Life, Technology · · [Print]

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