MCE with external storage

ukaudiophile

Active Member
Hello,

Just wondering if anyone has experience using external hard drives with Windows MCE machines?

My current primary MCE machine is in a small form factor Shuttle case, which is superb, but I have now run out of hard drive space. My options are to upgrade both internal drives, or stay with my current drives and place a couple of 500GB drives into either USB 2.0 external enclosures or a NAS enclosure such as the Netgear SC101. I know another option is to use a larger case which can hold more drives, but that would require a new MoBo along with a new graphics card, and I'd probably need to migrate to PCI-E along with an AM2 CPU (to future proof the machine as my current one is on Socket 939 with AGP X8). As you can see this would get rather costly so I'd like to stick with the current machine for at least a few more months.

My main concern is that MCE can transfer data to and from these external drives fast enough, I know that theoretically these drives are more than fast enough, but I am just concerned that Windows can consistently feed data to these drives fast enough.

If anyone out there is actually running a media centre with these external drives then please let me know which units you're using and how reliable they've been.

Thanks and best wishes,

Dave
 

MacBurp

Novice Member
I ran two single disk external enclosures, one connected by USB and one connected by firewire.

The USB drive was spotty in performance - USB driver problems mainly - and after a couple of months use would not play DVR-MS files without hanging. The drive died one day, and a replacement drive would not work.

The firewire drive performed fairly well, but the enclosure had no fan, and so the drive died during the hot weather. I lost 70gigs of music, which took a long time to put back!

Both drives got fairly full very quickly, so I would argue that single disc external enclosures have little value as a long-term answer and are unreliable. I bought an Infrant ReadyNAS NV, and currently have 3 400GB drives in it - it worked straight out of the box and provides RAID-5 restoration. Longer term I plan to add the USB external drive as further backup.

My advice - bite the bullet and get a server. You will never have enough storage space (76% full on my server!).
 

mannyo

Active Member
I'd second the problem with USB 2 performance, its just not sufficient for playing dvr-ms reliably. No problems for music though, I use an external drive to archive recorded tv, but playback can be hit and miss.
 

nutcase_1uk

Novice Member
I've yet to set it up on MCE, but I have a 14 drive bay array for mine. I've had it streaming 1x DVD and two or 3 CD's to seperate systems without a hint of stuttering. The array is controlled by a PC running linux and samba, but I have now bought a proper server to do the same thing.
 

alfaevans

Active Member
I've no need for a high capacity NAS or anything (yet) so have opted for External USB drives.

I've got two of these http://www.pcworld.co.uk/martprd/product/seo/240892/?int=right_nav_Storage

Each one is connected to a MCE2005 machine and both networked along with a small home automation server.

To put it into perspective the home automation server keeps my 'My Movies' Database and the films are spread across the two USB drives (640GB)

As I said, all networked and all shared (inc Recorded TV from both MCE machines)

I have no probs whatsoever watching any of my movies (DIVX, VOB or WMV) or any of the recorded TV stuff (DVR-MS) from any of the three PCs.

A Cheap alternative to a high capacity NAS or media server, but I know one day I will have to bite the bullet. But for now its all working flawlessly and I'm very happy :)
 

nutcase_1uk

Novice Member
The only reason I'm using the method I am is because I already had the array, and I got a lot of 73gb drives cheap. Today's huge SATA drives would mean if I didn't have it I'd just go for a few large capacity drives and a smaller enclosure.
 

nigelbb

Distinguished Member
I'd second the problem with USB 2 performance, its just not sufficient for playing dvr-ms reliably. No problems for music though, I use an external drive to archive recorded tv, but playback can be hit and miss.
You have a problem with your system then.

I have been using external USB2 drives for Recorded TV in MCE since I started testing the beta version several years ago. Currently have three MCE systems all with external USB2 storage for Recorded TV & all work fine both locally & over the network as Shared Folders or via Xbox 360 Extender.
 

fezster

Active Member
I use 2 external USB hard drives - one a seagate, the other an ATMT, and I stream hi-definition content (.ts files) across a network, with no problems, so throughput for dvr-ms files should be fine.
 

ukaudiophile

Active Member
Hello,

Thank you all so much for your valuable input. You have given me a number of great ideas.

After much consideration, I have decided in the short term to add something like a Seagate or Western Digital USB 2.0 external drive. I figure for the price I can get these for it is worth trying out. I suspect this will work fine, or at least keep me going enough into next year until I can afford to either replace my MCE machine with a new one in a biger case, or install a 3TB server for my media centre media and all of my CD's. ultimately I want to archive all of my DVD's uncompressed onto a server and then simply call them up on a discless client machine in my home theater or any other screen in the house aka Kaleidescape, but at a fraction of the cost. I think this is the most economic long term option for me, and will giver me all the functionality I'm looking for. At least now I am confident I won't need to either buy a new 600 or 750GB HD for my media center machine to replace the current 400GB model in their, instead I can simply add an external drive to see me though the next 3 months until I can get started in earnest on my server.

Thank you all again for your time and advice, it is greatly appreciated.

Best wishes,

Dave
 

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