Building your own File and Media Server, on the cheap! – Part 1

July 18, 2009

Prologue – The Imperative & The Cognisance

Recently me and my sis decided to switch to Windows 7, as the Release Candidate was out and Badri raved about it. I was naturally the sacrificial goat (being more tech-savvy AND more patient). I found myself in the most ghastly situation. Both our laptops had only one partition and Windows 7 doesnt allow you to upgrade from Windows XP. It has to be a clean install. Which means the entire hard drive needs to be formatted. It wouldnt do at all to lose my entire 20+ GB music collection and assorted movies now, would it?

I managed to get through the installs after jumping through a million hoops. Imagine transferring almost 100 GB of data onto other computers (yes, plural there), installing Windows 7, hunting for audio and video drivers that were released like 3 days prior to my installing the OS, then transferring all the media back to my computer, to get a fully functional Windows 7 installation.

Trust me, its worth it! Windows  is the best thing to come from the belly of the beast in the last decade. The last time i was so pleased with an OS was when the XP beta started floating around in mid 2001. It was called Whistler then, and ran gloriously on my then cutting edge machine (800 Mhz P3, 128 MB RAM, 20 GB HDD!). Ah the good old days..

But this is not a nostalgic piece, neither is it a review of Windows 7. You can find plenty of those two on the interwebs.

What I realized during this painful transition is that every home should have a centralized repository of their files, photos, music, videos. The huge convinience of not having to move around data when upgrading PC’s, regular backups of all data to ensure availability and reliability, and the instant streaming of all music and video to any device on the home network is not only cool, its mandatory in this day and age!

As a victim of a failed laptop whose day came all too soon because it was subjected to the pressures usually reserved for hardy desktops, I came to the conclusion – Never send a laptop to do a server’s job!

With this in mind, and an extremely tight budget I began to do the research that would culminate in ATLAS – my media + file server ( I love giving fancy names to my devices, my personal laptop is called PROMETHEUS).

Part 2 – Servers are cheap! Coming Soon..

Advertisements