WHS vs unRAID

sjackson

Well-known Member
Being doing some reading over the last few days on the issue of media servers and I think it's time I put one in at home. I have a Gb Netgear Switch (one of the blue ones) with Ethernet points through out the house so the infrastructure is in place. I'm thinking server first and then the media players, but which server OS I use must allow MovieJukeBox s/w and those players also use that s/w (if you know what I mean).

The machine I'm planning to use is as follows (built in 2007):
Antec P182 (7 x 3.5" bays plus 4 x 5.25" bays)
Corsair HX620W PSU (I think this is efficient so will reuse it)
ABIT IP35 PRO Motherboard
QX6850 3.00GHz S775 Quad-core CPU
4Gb Crucial DDR2 BallistiX PC8500
GeForce 8800GTS 320 MB Graphics Card

Back in the day it was quite an animal but far too power hungry I think for a media server so I'm thinking of replacing the motherboard, CPU, GPU, RAM etc with an Asus AT3IONT-I and just need to add the new motherboard and hard drives (2Tb 5400rpm drives should be ok).

So the very tough decision I'm having now is to go with WHS or unRAID. Both have their pro's:

unRAID
1) Probably more power efficient as it can spin down unused discs
2) If a drive dies, it can be recovered not like WHS where I would have to duplicate files on other drives (not very efficient when we're talking Tb's of video files)
3) More secure against viruses etc than WHS

WHS
1) It's windows. I have zero experience with any form of Linux
2) I could probably add a BluRay drive to the system for ISO'ing BluRay discs (could the Atom handle that though?)
3) Might be easier to set up automatic torrent downloads (based on RSS or something)
4) Not really bothered with home backups but it's something I might use. All my photos go to SmugMug.
5) MovieJukeBox software might be easier to install and run, including scheduled rebuilds/refreshes
6) Should be able to make energy efficient with wake on LAN and some sort of timeout sleep.

I'm thinking the idea of good MovieJukeBox software might swing it one way or the other. I've not yet bought any media players so I need to forward think that part - IE. if YAMJ works well on WHS and the Dune Prime can use this then it might be the way to go.

My primary uses of the player will be to play my 150 or so DVDs (backed up to ISO on the server) and play the massive amount of TV shows I have downloaded in both SD and HD. A major plus will be full use of BluRay ISO's (menus etc). Not too concerned with my MP3s but it would be nice to be able to use these too.

A nice slick but simple interface to my media is important (for the wife).

So which would suit me better? One minute I think WHS is the way to go but I keep coming back to the redundancy of unRAID. It might be an obsticle I can't overcome in my head. I think I can add some sort of software RAID to WHS but it might just be over complicating things.

Any thoughts appreciated.
 
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Omertron

Active Member
YAMJ works fine on both WHS and Unraid (there's even an install package on the Unraid site with YAMJ in it).

Most of the nice downloading tools work with either system, SickBeard, CouchPotato, Sabnzbd, etc. However, like you, I have ~0 experience with linux so I wouldn't know how to troubleshoot the Unraid installations.

You can use something like MyMovies on WHS to just pop disks in and have it rip the appropriate format, which, depending on the size of your collection, may or may not sway you.

Other things to consider:
Unraid: Free to $60 (depending on your needs)
WHS: Approx £99

WHS: Autobackup of all windows machines on your network is very nice. And a life saver.
 

JimiAces

Active Member
I use unraid and it is very good for what it is. I, like you had zero linux experience but trust me, its not that bad once you get used to it, the unraid forums are very useful when you start out!

I use rtorrent for automatic downloads and it works brilliantly, the ui is almost identical to utorrent; however i dont use it very much now as i have discovered newsgroups - sabnzbd is amazing, fully automatic, i can start a download on the server from any pc or even my mobile phone, i even get an email to tell me its complete.

one thing i would suggest is trying out the free version of unraid since you have a pc spare, if you like it you can stick with it, if not then shell out for WHS.

the main pro for me is that i can control the system fully from any pc on my network. the unraid server only has a power cable and cat5 plugged into it. you dont need a monitor, keyboard, mouse etc that i think you may need with the WHS.
 

chilli_pepper

Standard Member
I have put together an Unraid box little over 2 months ago. I have minimal linux experience.

It's not as obvious to use as WHS but its still very simple and for the very small effort it takes to learn what you need its more than worth it.

Very power efficient.
Expandable to your hearts content.
Great community.
Powerful software

Get the trial version and give it a shot - and if you don't get on with it then take the plunge with WHS!
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
Cheers lads. Think I'll give unRAID a bash.
 

springtide

Well-known Member
unRAID vs WHS

WHS is more power efficient due to the more advanced power management features implemented within the OS 0 if your h/w supports it.
But it does depend on how many disks, what power consumption etc to how this alters the overall power usage.
i.e. if the majority of your power is used by the disks - then the other savings from the motherboard might not be such a factor.

I'm not convinced on the duplication technology within WHS. I've had a few issues with it in the past with v1 (and have never easily been able to recover from an OS disk failure). Rsyncing data to the shares (remotely via CIFS) seemed to kill the permissions on my shares.. it was so broken I had to reinstall and start again.

I've been testing with Vail the last few weeks - and even though I now have 2x performance with my new system (Atom vs i3) , my backups were taking a lot longer. I don't like to admit it (as I had big hopes), but it seemed slower... and always busy doing stuff (even without duplication switched on).
I'm wondering whether the removal of this duplication functionality was because of this performance issues?

The main reason why I like WHS is the backups. I must admit, it works very well and I have used it to recover a few PC's in the house after an OS disk failure. You also have the option of backing up your shares on WHS to a separate drive.

As for media serving... I have switched to Twonky Sever as it's a lot better than the one in WHS (for various reasons).

I'm not sure how you go about backing up your data with uRAID to a separate disk (say a USB). I can see you can mount NTFS volumes, but it appears to be lacking any backup s/w (to allow proper incremental backups with retention)

If you don't need backups, then I'm not sure WHS is worth it.
 

sjackson

Well-known Member
Springtide: Cheers for that. I've read some of your posts on WHS and was very close to going that way but in reality I don't need backups. The redundancy in unRAID would suit my needs better and TBH I'd prefer spend the cash on a UPS for unRAID than to buy double the disks for WHS. Granted I'm snookered if I lose more then one HDD with unRAID but if I have a UPS in there the chances of that should be small.

I've decided to use as much of my original PC in the first post above and bought a Celeron 430 which will fit on my current motherboard. unRaid may have some issues with the Ethernet controller on that board but I have a couple of D-link Ethernet cards lying around so they should be ok.

Box of bits just arrived - couple of 2Tb HDDs (one parity, one data), 4Gb USB key, Celeron processor. Fun times this weekend!
 

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