Media Fileserver (Revision 3)

Home Media Fileserver – Revision 3


A few months ago I had issues with my OpenSolaris RAID-Z array which resulted in he loss of most of my beloved music collection. Since then i decided to do things a bit differently. (These had nothing todo with raid-z nor with OpenSolaris, but rather with a pci-express SATA RAID card failing). 

Requirements for the new solution:

  1. Must be stored on hot-swap, single drive acceptable failure storage of some sort.
  2. Around 7TB of space iniially needed. Should be expandable if possible (even if it just means swapping out current drives for larger ones).
  3. As I no longer have a stable home, this should be able to be collocated and accessed remotely.

Storage Array

Having always had a small interest in the drobo project, and having the opportunity to pick up a Drobo-S 5-Bay array for less than half price on craigslist, I decided to give it a shot.

Setup was very easy, took only a matter of minutes to get the drives initializing in a redundant array (where one of the 5 can safely fail).

All 5 drives show up as one logical drive within windows (the appear as one hard disk), and i’ve things connected via FireWire 400 (I know 800 is available on the Drobo but its not on my machine at the moment, i don’t believe this to be te primary bottlekneck though. I have single disk USB enclosures that operate faster).

*note* The drobo software will autoload with whatever user first logs onto the computer, so if running in a shared environment (like when running in a terminal services session remotely), if you login and cannot launch drobo dashboard, its likely because its already running under anoter login.

UPDATE: After over 3 months of running, I’ve found this drobo to be extremely slow. Doing anything with my collection takes hours to days while the storage slowly reads and writes.



At this point I’m running Windows Server 2008 (as little as I like it) for other reasons. I use RDP to access the Desktop GUI, Filezilla for FTP/FTPs services, and am using Subsonic to stream music and video to my desktop clients.

Subsonic ( is a free, multi-user music server that is compatible with web browsers, and most cell phones. So now I can login from my living room, or a hotel room, or on my blackberry (or iPhone) and listen to my whole collection (even in flac quality), from anywhere.

This also solves the cross platform player issues. Now everything is always the same, no matter what computer i’m on.

Subsonic also uses ( to track playcounts, no matter what device your using to play the song. This unified playcount between all devices – mobile and otherwise, is one of my favorite features.


<Update 5.3.12> I’m still using the same setup and everything seems to be running just fine. Every other month or so the Drobo will randomly disconnect and has to be power cycled (this is the last time i’ll buy a drobo device, its slow, hot, and fails unexpectedly every couple months). The subsonic software is running great, without issue. I’m also now trying to get it to work with TV so that I can download TV to my server instead of on my home connection (will be convenient for traveling, and allow family and such to watch my TV collection from their homes as well).


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