Recent Full Downloads

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There is only one conclusion with all this, I’m pretty much a download junkie. I have been downloading all the recent TV shows a consistent pace but sometimes some of them fall off the way side and sometimes I don’t know why but I might not have all the seasons of a show I was following. This is what happens when you migrate your data so much, and over the past couple of years I have had a few major migrations. So this time around I am trying to see which shows that I want to have, I don’t have Entourage so I’m downloading the whole thing, then there are a few shows which I don’t seem to have the seasons even though I remember watching them like Dexter, I have kept Prison Break and Heroes on hold so I can watch it one go. There are a few other odd shows that I want to download like Red Dwarf and MacGuyver, I’m trying to look for some other old school shows. Archiving old shows is another task which has increased my download list. Just one note for those reading the download speeds, this is based from a Server hosted in Europe which we have managed to configure for our downloads and not the speeds in Kuwait, it would be phenomenal if those were the speeds but that isn’t the case.

  • Battlestar Galactica Season 4 720p (23.49 GBs)
  • Dexter Seasons 1 & 2 BlueRay Rips (23.31 GBs)
  • Entourage Seasons 1-4 (12.77 GBs)
  • Heroes Season 3 720p (27.98 GBs)
  • Justice League Complete (16.21 GBs)
  • Prison Break Seas 4 720p (24.72 GBs)
  • The Spectacular Spiderman Season 1 (2.17 GBs)

WHS Hazmat Upgrade II (11.14 TB to 13.87 TB)

I did something a while back with my Hazmat WHS a while back when I was building it that I forgot about it. I knew the backplane wasn’t full, I just assumed it had all but one slot empty, I plugged in one hard drive and it didn’t show up so I assumed I left the SATA connection empty inside the server which was the case. When I went to plug it in, I found out that I had another slot in the backplane open so out of 5 only 3 were being used and only 3 were connected. I plugged the two but I still had one slot empty. And at the same time I have received the replacement drive for the 2TB which worked perfectly, I was surprised Amazon dispatched it so quickly. The only extra cost I had was spending a couple of KD sending the damaged hard drive back to the states.

After adding the hard drive in the WHS console to the collective of the server I managed to bump it from 11.14 TB to 13.87 TB and still a lot of room for expansion. Now all I need is to get the port multiplier and a few other parts to continue my expansion.

WHS Hazmat Upgrade (7.5 TB to 11.14 TB)

This is the Windows Home Server (Hazmat) sitting next to my 24U Rack which houses the Netgear 24 Port Gigabit Switch, ReadyNAS 1100, UPS, Access Point, and soon to be rack mount server. Sitting next to the big Lian Li case is the eSata attached Storage Tower, which takes up only two eSata ports on the PCI-X card, which has two more eSata ports for later expansion if I wanted to add another Storage Tower.

I have been dumping more and more data into my second WHS Server, Hazmat, for a while now. I had about 7.5 TB of space available without duplication, and after a couple of months I have reach 94% of the capacity and I didn’t want any of the files being stored on the OS drive, and I haven’t even switched on duplication for the files which makes the total space needed about 15 TB. I took snap shots of the WHS Console, and by clicking on the smaller images you get the larger images to see all the details.

Luckily I ordered a couple of 2 TB drives to bump up the amount of space by about 6 TB, so to about 14 TBs which would be the equivalent of 12.9 TB of logical data. The setup I have is pretty simple, I have one backplane in the Lian Li case which I plan increasing once I cannibalize the old WHS server which has two extra backplanes fill with 1 TB drives, which adds up to another 10TB worth of space. Instead of plugging in more backplanes I decided to take advantage of the PCI-X slot in the mother board, so I plugged in an eSata controller to integrate the 8-HDD Raid Tower which housed all the other disks. You can even tell the ones that are mounted by the Disk Management screen on the Console where the drive temperatures that can’t be read, and say “n/a”.

Continue reading…

Server Rebuilds

I think I have a love of building PCs and seeing these creations come to life, such simple steps to building great machines. I’m going to dismantle and pretty much cannibalize the first Windows Home Server and use it as parts for the current WHS Server. I’m also building a rackmounted server as test bed and I managed to find another Asus P5Q WS motherboard, I have to say that it is probably one the best motherboards I have used and its a real work horse.

I have about 8 TB in the new Hazmat Server, and that has been the capacity since day one. Now that I’m going to use the parts from the other server I’m planning to expand that to about 18 TB or more. WHS safeguards your data by spreading it across multiple drives and switching on the “Duplication” feature which basically keeps a copy of it, meaning I would need about 16TB to duplicate all the data I have, which I don’t have at this point. I have to commend Microsoft, for once, on a great product such as WHS, I think they need to dedicate more support and development for it since it can really make having a server at home a very simple task. The hardware setup is fun for someone such as myself, and the software setup is a breeze so I don’t mind that I keep reinstalling or reconfiguring. Then there are the new WD 2TB drives, I already ordered a couple of those and I am waiting to see their performance and durability, I’m hoping they drop in price quickly because right now they were a little too pricey. I’m planning to use the Kandalf case from the gutted WHS Server and use it as a power house machine, I have had the skultrail motherboard laying around for a little while now and its a powerhouse of a mother board, but its so damn big that it doesn’t fit in any normal case, it needs a special case and this beautiful silver case will do the job wonderfully. I also have this sudden urge to build some Lego Technic machines, those were the days I loved putting those machines together.

WHS – Hazmat Server Setup


We had to start off with a clean install and a few items to work on. We put the basic hardware together to make a clean server install.

The Skeleton Crew:

  • Lian Li – PC80
  • ASUS P5Q WS
  • Intel Core 2 Quad Q9450 Quad-Core Processor 2.66 GHz
  • NVidia 7200 GS
  • (2x) 2GB G-Skill DDR2-800 Ram
  • Sata/Raid Card PCI-X
  • (2x) Seagate 250 GB Slim
  • (8x) 1 TB Drives
  • (1x) Back Plane
  • Tower Raid 8 Slots

 

After installing just the backplane and main hard drives we started up the machine. After a few tries nothing came on the screen but everything was working. We switched graphics cards from other machines, and tried it multiple times but something wasn’t working. Turns out we forgot to plug in the PCI-Express power cable into the motherboard so thats why nothing was coming out into the screen, after finishing that little problem we proceeded with the install which went smoothly.

After the basic install was complete I proceeded to install the mobo drivers, then connected to the internet for the rest. Basic rule of thumb with us, not to install drivers from the CD but to perform a Windows Update with the optional items checked so that you can get the latest versions of the drivers compatible with the OS. And this the point we have reached, I tried using the tower raid with eSata connections on the mother board but that didn’t work out very well, requests to those hard drives kept timing out, so I have to take a different route. Nothing feels better then working on a clean installation.

Windows Home Server – Hazmat Server


I have gone through a lot with my Windows Home Server and most of all my media is installed on that machine. It has turned out to be the easiest and simplest back up solution I have with huge expansion capability. My Original Bunker Server is maxed out at 11 TB, and I have used 97% of the capacity available with duplication switched on. It has been working perfectly and for very long periods without being switched off. Microsoft has built an excellent product with Windows Home Server and I hope they keep developing it.

This is the second iteration of my Windows Home Server, I am building a new machine with at least 23TB starting, and easily going more with the new Western Digital 2 TB Drives. Thanks to the Addonics Port Multipliers this is achievable with the Back Planes and a SATA Array which is connected by eSATA through the motherboard. I will be cannibalizing Bunker Server once I start transferring files over to the Hazmat Server, mostly all the Addonics parts and hard drives. I will be listing all the parts for this install once we begin with it, and it will be a monster of a machine.

Restructing Hardware

So I have been operating very well with my current network and hardware setup, it has done very well to centralize most of my items and having a certain system to move media around. At this point I have reached a point of expansion. First off I’m rebuilding my WHS server on another server and reaching the maximum expansion this time on one go. My current setup is at 11.2 TB which I have almost maxed out, so the next setup will be around 18 to 21 TB and I will be reusing a lot of the hard drives that I currently have.

I will be shifting the big server to a Lian Li case and placing it next to a 27U rack which will hold three readynas 1100, one gigabit network switch, one rack mount server, and one 1500 KVA UPS for all the equipment including the WHS Server. This is going to take some time but it will really clean up my storage solution and I would have a very reliable and expandable setup. And I keep expanding in that rack.

FTP and more

From the other day I just kept on downloading more and more, thinking that I wanted to make sure I had the full list of items I wanted to watch. From yesterday evening I was facing a problem, for some reason my FTP wasn’t connecting correctly, I tried it from another connection and it seemed fine. I check the firewall settings, restarted both router and switch, checked the program, and again checked the other connection.

I even asked to restart the remote server, but it seems nothing could solve the issue. I was looking at the screen frantically trying to figure out why I can’t get to my media, what the hell could be wrong. After 24 hours it just took one person to look at my FTP log to notice that I no longer have any space on my hard drives, they are majorly full. I did some organization, moving some files over, and now I’m getting rid of all my torrent files on my local computer since all my downloads will be through the server, and keeping the ratios very happy.

Windows Home Server – Stage 4

This is one of the final stages of the Windows Home Server modifications, all other modifications will be on a minor scale. These are one the last major changes that I will be making for at least a few months.

Parts:

  • 5 Slot Backplane
  • 4 TB Western Digital Drives
  • 36″ SATA Cables

Tools:

  • One Thin Screw Driver
  • Pliers

WHS Add Ons:

  • Windows Home Server Disk Management – To get details regarding each hard drive status and temperatures, to replace any failed drive.
  • Media Connect Controller – It is an Add-On that automatically formats videos in a way to play through your X-Box 360 which can only play specific formats but through the Windows Home Server you can see all the different files (MKV, MPEG-4, DVIX, and AVI).

I decided to move the CD Rom drive down to the bottom and installing the new Backplane just under the current Backplane. The current Backplane is filled completely with 1 TB Drives, and so will the new one. I will be filling it up with four 1 TB Drives and keeping one open for later purposes and expansion. I currently have 7.2 TB which will soon be filled up with all the Anime, TV Episodes, and Movies that I have floating around in the network. I still haven’t consolidated my network map due to some technical difficulties which I will be discussing later. So the process of dumping data onto the server will take a little longer then expected but it shall be completed in a timely basis.

The first issue I had with this case is to remove the flaps that could bloke the insertion of the Backplane which took sometime. After cleanly installing it and taking some time to organize my CD-Rom wiring I had to figure out how to wire the power to the Backplane. At this point K came into the picture and started rewiring to his usual standard and turned it into a work of art. I know I did a decent job for the start but nothing close to K’s perfection. The SATA Controller and Port Multiplier were moved around to accommodate the extra 5 drives and cleanly incorporate them into the setup.

After that the SATA connection was made to the Backplane, finally all rewiring was finished and the process was to begin. We started the backplane without any drives to check if everything was operational which passed that test. Then I inserted the four drives into the slots, I cleaned up the table, got rid of all used junk, paper, and other materials. It took about 8 minutes for the server to boot up since it was still trying to figure out all the drives to be identified which was the same the last time, after that it booted faster. After booting up into Windows Home Server the process of duplication starts the process of Balancing the server so it starts shifting data round which takes a few days to complete this whole intricate process. I now created more folders and moved the data around to make sure they are located in the appropriate folder names.

I completed one aspect which is online access during the WHS – Stage 3 about a month ago and I do have online access, but again after my network complication I need to figure out how to do it again. It was great having access to all my files at a specific URL. I would like to start syncing my machine but I still have to wait for the Windows Home Server Patch to make sure there aren’t any more read/write problems. Overall this is a great asset for those who store their data and would like a centralized location. The way I have my Windows Home Server is for large media use, it could be used differently, I haven’t even backed up any machines yet but I am looking forward to fully utilizing it. More details and modifications to come.

Continue reading…

Drive Space Junkie

One year ago I thought I had more then enough space to satisfy all my downloading habits, I knew I might need to expand later on. I was completely wrong as to the scale of expansion, the amount of space that I have has expanded exponentially over the past couple of months due to my archiving all my Movies, TV Shows, and Anime, then taking all that media and backing it up.

Computers:

Main HQ

  • 2792 GB

Mini Monster

  • 931 GB

Bunker Server

  • 7014 GB

The Bunker:

  • 2094 GB

Alienware Laptop

  • 93 GB

Workhorse Laptop

  • 74 GB

Infrant NV

  • 3724 GB (2739 GB in X-Raid for Redundancy)

Infrants Bunker NV

  • 3724 GB (2739 GB in X-Raid for Redundancy)

Maxtor Network Drive

  • 278 GB

Total: 20724 GB (20.7 TB)

That is the current space that I have available to me, I think I’m using 63% between all the drives, and I haven’t fully backed up everything at this point I know when the 1.5 TB Drives come out, it is going to jump up very quickly.