Advice on media streaming server needed

Joust

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Guys, I'm a noob in need of direction. I have some spare gear: a10-7700k/8gb ram/unlimited rx580 GPU's materials to work with. I am receiving a few enterprise hdds and I'd like to set up a media streaming server in my humble dwelling. I was hoping to make a freeNAS-based rig. I'd like to stream both 1080p and 4k content, if possible, to firesticks or the like. I will need either a RAID- or some kind of SATA controller to get enough ports for hdds.

So, I suppose I'm looking for direction as to what card I should use to expand SATA ports that plays nice with freeNAS, and all other recommendations since I don't know anything.

All help greatly appreciated.
 

biggins

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Aug 24, 2018
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I have a FreeNAS box that I built and do love it for media storage, so I am one with your intentions. I will recommend going higher on the memory side than 8 GB. They recommend ECC memory as well, however I'm not totally sure that is necessary. In terms of your question, it depends on your current motherboard. Most mobos have 6 SATA ports, and FreeNAS runs off of a cheap USB drive, so you'll only need a controller if you have more than 6 HDDs. Can also look for a mobo that has more, which may be cheaper than an add-on SAS card.
 

Joust

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I have a FreeNAS box that I built and do love it for media storage, so I am one with your intentions. I will recommend going higher on the memory side than 8 GB. They recommend ECC memory as well, however I'm not totally sure that is necessary. In terms of your question, it depends on your current motherboard. Most mobos have 6 SATA ports, and FreeNAS runs off of a cheap USB drive, so you'll only need a controller if you have more than 6 HDDs. Can also look for a mobo that has more, which may be cheaper than an add-on SAS card.
I cannot accommodate ecc memory. I might MIGHT have some additional RAM laying around. It's a ddr3 based system. (model MS-7906 ) Not sure how many drives I will have available. Maybe more than 6, with software raid (planned). I will run it off a USB.

Have you tried to stream 4k content? What was the bandwidth usage? I'm very very new to this. I greatly appreciate your input.
 

biggins

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I cannot accommodate ecc memory. I might MIGHT have some additional RAM laying around. It's a ddr3 based system. (model MS-7906 ) Not sure how many drives I will have available. Maybe more than 6, with software raid (planned). I will run it off a USB.

Have you tried to stream 4k content? What was the bandwidth usage? I'm very very new to this. I greatly appreciate your input.

Sure, happy to help. In order to give the best advice to you, I will need some more information about your use case. Are you planning on streaming outside of your house/home network? If so, then your upload pipe from your ISP could be your limiting factor. If not, then you're constrained by your local router, but that should not be of much concern.

To answer your questions, I only stream 1080p content because that's what my TVs are, but I have multiples of those streams going at one time and it is no issue. If it helps, my upload speed is 100 Mbps and I've have four concurrent 1080p streams without a problem. I know that transcoding has made my system work heavily, so I try to avoid that if possible.
 

Joust

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Sure, happy to help. In order to give the best advice to you, I will need some more information about your use case. Are you planning on streaming outside of your house/home network? If so, then your upload pipe from your ISP could be your limiting factor. If not, then you're constrained by your local router, but that should not be of much concern.

To answer your questions, I only stream 1080p content because that's what my TVs are, but I have multiples of those streams going at one time and it is no issue. If it helps, my upload speed is 100 Mbps and I've have four concurrent 1080p streams without a problem. I know that transcoding has made my system work heavily, so I try to avoid that if possible.
I have CRAP upload speed, but fiber infrastructure is installed just the stupid company hasn't turned it on in my area yet. I have like 30Mbps download. Probably like 10Mbps upload.

I would like to attempt a single 1080p stream outside the house. I agree, upload pipe might interfere. Otherwise, I have a number of TVs in the house, some 1080p some 4k. I have two Asus routers, both ac1200. Actual setup is modem=>hardware firewall=>bridge=>access point.

Should be plenty of bandwidth, I'd hope.

Transcoding is always CPU intensive, right? Can it be offloaded to a gpu or gpu array? Does Plex automatically know which format to transcode to per streaming device?
 

biggins

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I have CRAP upload speed, but fiber infrastructure is installed just the stupid company hasn't turned it on in my area yet. I have like 30Mbps download. Probably like 10Mbps upload.

I would like to attempt a single 1080p stream outside the house. I agree, upload pipe might interfere. Otherwise, I have a number of TVs in the house, some 1080p some 4k. I have two Asus routers, both ac1200. Actual setup is modem=>hardware firewall=>bridge=>access point.

Should be plenty of bandwidth, I'd hope.

Transcoding is always CPU intensive, right? Can it be offloaded to a gpu or gpu array? Does Plex automatically know which format to transcode to per streaming device?
In that case I can see your upload speed hampering you for out of local network streaming. In the house though you should be perfect.

Plex supports hardware acceleration at the server level, but last I checked you need the PlexPass(paid subscription but you can go lifetime) to use that. I have seen my H.264 content require much less CPU usage than HEVC encoded content does, so I usually go towards that. I know it uses much more space, but my NAS server CPU is not the greatest. Its basically what I need to sacrifice for the cheap and low power CPU. You’ll figure things out as you go along.

Also you can have Plex optimize certain titles, which is basically it transcoding it ahead of time. I do that with some of my favorites that I know I watch more than once.
 

Joust

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In that case I can see your upload speed hampering you for out of local network streaming. In the house though you should be perfect.

Plex supports hardware acceleration at the server level, but last I checked you need the PlexPass(paid subscription but you can go lifetime) to use that. I have seen my H.264 content require much less CPU usage than HEVC encoded content does, so I usually go towards that. I know it uses much more space, but my NAS server CPU is not the greatest. Its basically what I need to sacrifice for the cheap and low power CPU. You’ll figure things out as you go along.

Also you can have Plex optimize certain titles, which is basically it transcoding it ahead of time. I do that with some of my favorites that I know I watch more than once.
When you say optimize content...how do you mean? I mean, I figure I'd have to have two catalogs - 4k and 1080p. Could you explain a bit about optimization? Doesn't the client tell the server what format (or whatever) it needs?
 

biggins

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When you say optimize content...how do you mean? I mean, I figure I'd have to have two catalogs - 4k and 1080p. Could you explain a bit about optimization? Doesn't the client tell the server what format (or whatever) it needs?
You can optimize individual files through the app itself. You’ll choose what format to optimize it to. The client will tell the server what format it needs, and if it isn’t there, the server starts transcoding. I’m not sure what your client is, so I’m not sure what type of optimization to tell you to run.
 

Joust

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You can optimize individual files through the app itself. You’ll choose what format to optimize it to. The client will tell the server what format it needs, and if it isn’t there, the server starts transcoding. I’m not sure what your client is, so I’m not sure what type of optimization to tell you to run.
I have a bunch of firesticks. That's likely a starting point, because I have already have the gear. I prefer the interface to Chromecast. Do you have a preferred alternative client?
 

Joust

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So, what I've got is 2x 4tb drives and 7x 1tb drives. I'll put FreeNAS on USB drive today and start experimenting. Busy day, lots to do - probably, I'll get to it this evening. Hopefully, I'll get some good results.
 

biggins

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I have a bunch of firesticks. That's likely a starting point, because I have already have the gear. I prefer the interface to Chromecast. Do you have a preferred alternative client?
I have no issue with your choice of client, in fact I have multiple Fire TVs. In order to avoid transcoding, you will want to "Optimize" any movies that you play frequently. Hopefully you had a fun weekend with your setting up.
 

Joust

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I have no issue with your choice of client, in fact I have multiple Fire TVs. In order to avoid transcoding, you will want to "Optimize" any movies that you play frequently. Hopefully you had a fun weekend with your setting up.
Man, I spent my weekend building a stinking fence. I'm too old for that crap. No time to mess with it. Maybe I'll have some time tonight. Hopefully. Debating if I want to do an open air rig with a custom hdd chassis or rather if I should just get a normal case and load it up. Hum. In the intern, I'll build it on a test bench.
 

Joust

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Ok. So. I ended up with a 2U supermicro dual Xeon box, which had a chassis that could support lots of drives. I have a RAID card on the way that I'll be flashing to use as a SAS controller. I've set up FreeNas and Plez. It was working fine, and I was migrating content to it...

Until I had a power outage. The dhcp assigned a new IP to the box and now my shared files system is messed up. I re-assigned it back to the original DHCP assignment, but it doesn't work. That...I don't completely understand.
 

Algrim

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Until I had a power outage. The dhcp assigned a new IP to the box and now my shared files system is messed up. I re-assigned it back to the original DHCP assignment, but it doesn't work. That...I don't completely understand.

Inside or outside your house? If inside, set up your DHCP server to serve the same IP address to each MAC address. That way you keep DHCP for others to join and leave your network without impacting yours.

If outside your house, most likely the IP address you were assigned and lost is associated with someone else's internet connection and is unlikely to work for you until the address bank assigns you that IP address again.
 

Joust

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Inside or outside your house? If inside, set up your DHCP server to serve the same IP address to each MAC address. That way you keep DHCP for others to join and leave your network without impacting yours.

If outside your house, most likely the IP address you were assigned and lost is associated with someone else's internet connection and is unlikely to work for you until the address bank assigns you that IP address again.
After additional testing, I've concluded the network stack is messed up. Won't talk with my workstation even directly wired to the nic. I've configured it a hundred times. I'm going to try to do a fresh install of the OS. I've just gotta figure how to do it without data loss.
 

Joust

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So. I reinstalled FreeNAS. I imported the old volume, data appears to be there. I installed Plex in a jail. I cannot seem to get the shared drive to be accessible from a Windows machine. Then I need to figure out how to get the data in the legacy volume to be organized into the new shared drive.
 
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