Advice with HP N54L

Discussion in 'Networking & NAS' started by bmouthboyo, Feb 27, 2014.

  1. bmouthboyo

    bmouthboyo
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Messages:
    36
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    UK
    Ratings:
    +0
    Hi Guys,

    Firstly I must state this is my first time with a home server, I have however taken the plunge and purchased a HP Microserver N54L to address, hopefully the following needs:

    My wife is an architect and has over 1TB of very import files. She currently uses an iMac for all her work. We need a solution where this data is securely stored periodically but preferably regularly to not only minimise loss of old files / work but also to backup current projects as much as possible. She currently keeps old important files on an external USB3 Drive.

    We live in Thailand and as you can imagine there is little good TV over the air so we rely on our Acer ER1402 eMachine to act as a HTPC to my HDTV. I have Win 7 installed and although bit clunky use a Keyboard and Mouse and mainly torrent constantly and watch HD movies on it. It is starting to lag up on HD 3D movies however. I have a Samsung UA46F7100DKXX LED TV that has wireless connection, not sure if that can access networked HD movie rips?

    I personally use a Mac Air for most of my work and I would like to safely keep all my pictures, and documents some place that can be shared with the wife. I would also like to be able to store my vast MP3 collection centrally so I can play it on iPad, computers etc and not have to rely on a larger HDD being plugged into the laptop like I do now.

    Summary:
    • Backup important work files
    • Backup current files being worked on iMac. preferably automatically
    • Central storage for Music, and HD Movie Rips
    • Shared Access to Photos
    • Ability to stream HD content to HTPC, preferably wirelessly.
    • Always on torrenting which can be easily accessed to add new torrents to download etc.
    At present my HTPC works well with Win7 and it is nice having the familiarity of the Windows OS. I tried XBMC and although looked nice it was a pain to pull in all my movies, episodes correctly and automatically etc and as it was on top of Win7 wasn't as responsive as I wanted. I would be open to trying something again though if I fixed the niggling issues. Unfortunately my TV is not in an area of the lounge where I can have wired network access so I am currently using WiFi from my router in another room to the HTPC. As files are on the HTPC they generally play well unless huge 3D HD movies which stutter. I guess I will need homeplugs to stream HD content that would be on the N54L?

    Through work I have access to the following:
    • Win 8.1
    • Windows 7
    • Microsoft Windows Server 2012 (Datacenter, Essentials, Standard, Storage Server and Foundation?)
    Could anyone advise on my best approach to meeting as many of these as possible with my current setup?

    1. What physical setup would you recommend? (Add RAM?, Wifi Card? Which RAID?, Replace as HTPC? Plug into router in spare room? HDD Size and brands that work well, is largest best? Homeplug for networking?)
    2. What OS would you recommend? (Win 8.1? Windows Server 2012? Which Distro?)
    3. What software would meet the needs of secure backups, and regular automatic backup of current projects from the Apple iMac?)
    Thanks in advanced guys, I am IT literate and learn fast but just thought this might give me a bump start and put me on the right track.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014
  2. cjed

    cjed
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,272
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    116
    Location:
    Highworth, Wiltshire
    Ratings:
    +587
    You should be able to acheive most of your requirements, however, there are a few things that should be pointed out.

    • Streaming full blu-ray quality HD over WiFi is always going to be hit and miss, Powerline units may improve things but are very dependant upon installation environment, so may also hit problems. Wired is the only guaranteed method.
    • A server/NAS can be used as a backup for other machines, but it shouldn't be the only backup of your data. You should have a regime in place to keep a least 3 different backups of important data, preferably one off-site.
    • I very much suspect that although you may have access to Microsoft OS software you will not have a licence to use it in your intended application, especially as it involves commercial use (your wife's work data).

    As for recommendations, Windows Server 2012 Essentials should support your Windows PC and Macs for backup, the downsides are it's quite complex to set up, and very expensive. Windows 8.1 Enterprise or Pro would be my next choice. If you're thinking of an N54L as the server/NAS then I'd expand it with 8GB RAM and a USB 3.0 PCiE card (for backing it up to external disks). Direct ethernet from your server to HTPC (via a Gigabit switch) would be best for streaming, but Powerline units as a second choice.
     
  3. bmouthboyo

    bmouthboyo
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Messages:
    36
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    UK
    Ratings:
    +0
    Thanks for your reply.

    I am starting think I will need to run a Cat5e Ethernet cable to my HTPC area as it will just cause me headaches without it. My problem is I am renting so no option to install in walls etc and the wife would not enjoy cables everywhere. We have wood floor in this flat so not even opportunity to tuck around the edge. I shall look tonight when home and see if there is any alternative routes.

    In terms of the Microsoft Server 2012 I have it available on dream spark through work. Does your comment relate purely to the legality of this setup or would actual functionality be a problem? i.e. The licence will not work due to the setup? Is Windows Server 2012 that complex to setup?

    With regards to the N54L, why would 8GB RAM be beneficial over 2GB if it is only used as a NAS / Torrenter / Media Server? What performance gains would I experience from this if I am not using the server as a HTPC itself? Also it has a few USB 2.0 ports on the back, would they be OK for backups of I assume the server OS? or did you mean back up something else?

    On a side note:

    If I was going to run a Cat5e cable to the current HTPC area, I could feasibly replace the HTPC with the N54L and use it as a new HTPC / NAS for the iMac. Is this advisable or is it better to let it do it's thing as a NAS? Would it outperform my current Acer ER1401? which can sometimes stutter with 3D and larger 1080p files.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014
  4. cjed

    cjed
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 30, 2007
    Messages:
    2,272
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    116
    Location:
    Highworth, Wiltshire
    Ratings:
    +587
    I'm referring to legality, this use would be against the DreakSpark license terms.
    Windows Server 2012 is a very different UI from Server 2008/2008R2 (in a similar way to the way the Windows 8 UI is very different from Windows 7), there are also new features such as Storage Spaces.

    Windows likes having more RAM, pretty much any Windows OS should have at least 4GB for decent performance. You could use the USB 2.0 ports, but if you're connecting external Hard Disks for backing up large volumes of data, then the additional speed of USB 3.0 is very welcome (in actual use I get between 3x and 4x the throughput to external USB 3.0 hard disks than for a USB 2.0 interface).
    I'm referring to backing up ALL the data on your server, including the "backups" of your Macs and PCs. You should budget for external hard disks of 2x the server capacity to keep 2 different backups.

    I wouldn't advise using the N54L as an HTPC, you would need to add a graphics card (a low profile PCiE one, preferably with passive cooling and there's limited width in the N54L). It's also quite large, and not silent. It's CPU performance is far better than the ER1401, but that's all it has going for it in that application.
     
  5. R-CAD

    R-CAD
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2007
    Messages:
    232
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    31
    Location:
    Ingatesone
    Ratings:
    +52
    Some good advice so far.

    I would just add that with your Samsung screen, you don't actually require a separate HTPC. With the Smart functionality it will be able to pick up movies etc. of the N54L via the Network, using DLNA on the N54L.

    Even better than that would be to load Plex Media Server (free) on the N54L and install the Plex App on your Samsung and you'll have a great interface. (But you will have to name you're files correctly to get the benefits)

    Unless you're familiar with the Windows Server OS's, I'd go with W8.1. (although you will need to flash the updated BIOS from HP) however I have no experience of "mounting" Macs on to Windows served storage.
     
  6. bmouthboyo

    bmouthboyo
    Standard Member

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Messages:
    36
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    9
    Location:
    UK
    Ratings:
    +0
    I had never thought about using the Samsung without a HTPC, that would be great as I could move my HTPC into another room. Would it handle 1080p MKV files, 3D etc well compared to the HTPC I have given the TV has only Fast Ethernet Port (10/100Mbit/s)?

    Is it possible to simply locate the media files on the TV and it play them or do I need to have Plex on the server? What difference would that make to simply having the TV play the media? Can the TV handle MKV etc? Would the TV be able to output HD audio via the optical out to a Surround Sound System? Or would the audio be an issue?

    Thankyou for your help so far, makes the whole process so much more reassuring.
     
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2014
  7. mickevh

    mickevh
    Well-known Member

    Joined:
    Apr 30, 2007
    Messages:
    7,203
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    133
    Location:
    West London
    Ratings:
    +1,722
    Pretty much all of these questions are dependent on what your TV is capable of. In the absence of someone here who "just knows," dig out/download the TV's manual and have a read.

    The speed of the ethernet port is not a concern, 100mbps is more than enough for current video formats.
     
  8. R-CAD

    R-CAD
    Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2007
    Messages:
    232
    Products Owned:
    0
    Products Wanted:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    31
    Location:
    Ingatesone
    Ratings:
    +52
    I don't know your specific model of screen, and Samsung do use different processors in different territories so can't confirm how capable your screen will be, but it will be easy to check. Stick the highest-def movie you have on a usb and pop it into your TV and play it through Smarthub.

    There's no storage on your TV, although you could add an external drive via USB, so you can't hold you Media on their directly. Better would be to hold all Media on a separate Server so all devices in your house have access to it.

    I have the same level of Smart hub that I believe is on your screen on my BluRay Player, so you should have the same features that I'm familiar with. There will be a standard media player that can handle 1080p mkv's. As long as the processor is up to it you should get seamless playback. I do on my BD-F8900.

    But the standard media player is a little "clunky" in its use, lots of moving though different directories to find what you want. Loading the Plex App changes that and gives a great interface.

    A wired connection to the screen at 10/100Mbit will be more than enough. I actually connect mine wired via a HomePlug. My HomePlug can drop as low as 60Mb/s, and I never get stutter.

    The TV can pass the HD Audio on to your Amp via HDMI, as long as your Amp is capable.

    So, at the lowest level you'll need the N54L to act as a DLNA Server, via it's OS or 3rd Party App, to serve any DLNA clients on you Network with that Media.

    I choose to use Plex Media Server as the DLNA Server and then for TV (via the BluRay) use the Plex App as the Interface.

    But, Plex is so much better if you take the time to name your Media in a way it understands.

    If your Amp is also DLNA certified (and Network connected) then it will also be able to pick up any Music in your DLNA Served library and play it direct, as will any other DLNA Certified device on your Network.
     

Share This Page

Loading...