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chill's Journal: Little Upgrades that Matter #1 3

Journal by chill

I've mentioned before that I have a small server in my basement that I use for media storage. All my movies, music and TV shows have been ripped from DVD or BluRay and encoded as h.264/AC3 files.

The server is nothing more than a mini PC case with a fanless Via C7 mini-itx motherboard, 2 Gb of RAM and a 2 Tb "green" hard drive. Since it is nothing more than a file server it needs very little horsepower and thus I used the low-power, low-performance parts. It works wonderfully.

I have about 1 Tb of files on it that took me almost a year to rip, encode and properly tag. I really don't want to do it again -- ever, so I bought a little external USB 1 Tb HD for $90 at Walmart.

The external drive is USB 2.0/3.0, but the motherboard is USB 2.0. You'd think 480 Mbps is fast, but once you try and copy over 1 Tb of data it seems a lot slower.

So I bought a USB 3.0 card to stick in the one slot the motherboard has. That was a trick, actually. It seems that the older Via motherboards have PCI slots and that since USB 3.0 is *faster* than the PCI bus, almost no one makes a USB 3.0 PCI expansion card. There are plenty of PCIe cards, but finding a PCI card was harder than I thought.

I finally tracked down one -- and only one -- on Ebay. It is from a Taiwanese OEM named "Serial Technologies Expander", whom I can't find online.

The card works like a champ under Linux. Power down, plug card into slot, plug in power from case power supply (for USB-powered device support) and go. No drivers, no nothing. Plugging in my external drive showed /deb/sdb1 available.

US 3.0 maxes out at 5 Gbps, but the PCI bus tops out at just a hair over 1 Gbps. So I'm not getting the full benefit of USB 3.0, but it is more than twice as fast as the USB 2.0 backup was.

I need to do a full benchmark of the speed just to satisfy by nerd curiosity. Because since I backed up once (just "cp -aR /home/media/* /mnt"), I wasn't really wanting to do the whole thing again. A quick "cp -aRu /home/media/* /mnt" did an "update" and only copied newer files over.

For the record: Makemkv is what I use to strip copy protection and rip DVD and BluRay movies. The actual encoding to h.264 is done with HandBrake. CD audio I rip to Ogg-Flac (lossless) using K3B. It all works like a charm. I chose h.264 for video because damn near everything has hardware acceleration support for it.

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Little Upgrades that Matter #1

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  • Consider rsync, works just as well on a local file system as it does remotely.

    Your A/V files probably won't change much, so this won't help them, but if you do end up with a lot of files that do change, rsync may be great. just have it run nightly and it'll copy the changes.

    Your -aRu is going to copy any file where the meta data has changed, such as the id3 tag in an mp3. rsync would just copy the delta, lots less to move.

    • by chill (34294)

      Thanks. I didn't consider using rsync locally because the external USB drive is only plugged in when I'm backing up and I'd have to kick off the rsync manually.

      I do have it set up to rsync my desktop's Documents and Downloads folders to the server every night. Not a lot changes, so it is quick.

  • I bought a little external USB 1 Tb HD for $90 at Walmart.

    Wow, didn't know they sold them. I'll have to look next time I'm there.

    The card works like a champ under Linux. Power down, plug card into slot, plug in power from case power supply (for USB-powered device support) and go. No drivers, no nothing.

    Ten years ago linux was about equal with Windows, better in some ways and worse in others. Today? Linux blows windows away. Your USB expreience mirrors mine.

    I bought a little dime-sized USB bluetooth dongle

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