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Ideal Network Setup and Media Sharing/Streaming?


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#1
MichaelsTheory

MichaelsTheory

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Hi and thank you for reading. I am looking for some advice. I am not computer illiterate, but i am very "Networking" inexperienced. I have 2 questions, so i will summarize my current situation and then ask my two questions:


Currently my home network consists of 3 desktop PCs (2 with XP, 1 with vista) and 3 laptops (1 with XP, 2 with vista). Desktops are wired and laptops are wireless. My connection is Cable from Time Warner > modem > Netgear Rangemax Wireless Router > Computers. It is very common for there to be 4-5 of the computers being used at one time. Almost always 3.


Question 1: Quite often my internet connection slows to a crawl. Is this to be expected from a home network of this size? If it is just the way it has to be then that is fine, i am just curious if the issue could have more to do with particular settings. When i set up this network i pretty much just followed the routers instruction manual and plugged the computers in, ran the network wizard on them, and they connected. One odd irregularity of note is that if i attempt to download (torrents most notably) on my Vista desktop it is unbearably slow, but on my XP laptop wirelessly i get way faster downloads. That doesnt seem right to me.


Question 2: As a family, we have tons (seriously) of pictures, home videos, and music. Im talkin at least 100 gigs currently, but growing rapidly. I recently (2 or 3 months ago) went out and bought a Maxtor 500 GB Onetouch External Hard Drive. I connected it to one of my wired desktops and set it up to be shared. I put 3 folders on it for Pics, Videos/Movies, and Music. The family loved being able to stream Movies and music to their respective computers from the "Main" computers storage. I thought i had found the easy one-step media storage/serving solution. Well after a couple months the External hard drive burnt out. I managed to get most of our important pics and vids off it before it was completely toast. So now i am asking you guys: What is a good reliable storage solution for a busy home network, that can store and stream movies/music accross a home network and is not going to cost me an arm and a leg?


Thank you so much for reading this. If i left anything out or you need additional info to assist me please just ask, ill be checking back often. Thanks again.
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#2
MichaelsTheory

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Anyone have any ideas?
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#3
dsenette

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Question 1: Quite often my internet connection slows to a crawl. Is this to be expected from a home network of this size? If it is just the way it has to be then that is fine, i am just curious if the issue could have more to do with particular settings. When i set up this network i pretty much just followed the routers instruction manual and plugged the computers in, ran the network wizard on them, and they connected. One odd irregularity of note is that if i attempt to download (torrents most notably) on my Vista desktop it is unbearably slow, but on my XP laptop wirelessly i get way faster downloads. That doesnt seem right to me.

first part of the answer is a word of caution...we do not support P2P so don't ask questions about fixing your torrents (this question isn't about getting your torrents working per se so don't worry about it right now)
second part...MOST speed issues on a network exist at the ISP....the speed you pay for on an internet connection with your ISP is a "maximum" speed...it's not a guaranteed speed...the connection speed depends on a lot of things, the quality of the cables in your area, the amount of people connected to the system and the amount of people actively using the system in your area. along with those issues are internal issues such as malware/spyware infections on your network, other system corruptions (corrupted files etc), and the possibility of "wireless thieves" (make sure your wireless router is configured to be secure)

you might give your ISP a call and report the problems and see if they can test your lines


Question 2: As a family, we have tons (seriously) of pictures, home videos, and music. Im talkin at least 100 gigs currently, but growing rapidly. I recently (2 or 3 months ago) went out and bought a Maxtor 500 GB Onetouch External Hard Drive. I connected it to one of my wired desktops and set it up to be shared. I put 3 folders on it for Pics, Videos/Movies, and Music. The family loved being able to stream Movies and music to their respective computers from the "Main" computers storage. I thought i had found the easy one-step media storage/serving solution. Well after a couple months the External hard drive burnt out. I managed to get most of our important pics and vids off it before it was completely toast. So now i am asking you guys: What is a good reliable storage solution for a busy home network, that can store and stream movies/music accross a home network and is not going to cost me an arm and a leg?

you might want to check out a dedicated solution for this

two quick options:


HP Media Vault mv2120 500GB NAS
a NAS (Network Attached Storage) is basically a hard drive with a network card built in (this one is a bit more fancy than that but that's a basic definition)...they're designed for more constant access than a standard desktop external hard drive enclosure...this one is specifically designed with media streaming in mind so it's got a more rugged hard drive inside of it as well as extra software features to facilitate backups and media sharing


HP MediaSmart Server EX470 500GB is an actual home server....so it's a computer with some hard drives in it (it's got extra space to add more in the future as well)...it's also designed SPECIFICALLY to stream media and be a home backup solution (read Sari's WHS review on our blog)....with WHS you can set up some really nice sharing options and stream things across the internet to share pictures with friends and family outside of your home as well (technically you can do this with the NAS as well)

for certain things it's just best to get something that's designed for the job at hand
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#4
MichaelsTheory

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Thank you so much for your response.


Regarding the first question, i will definately speak to Time Warner regarding my bandwidth.


Regarding the second issue; The home server you linked sounds like exactly what i am looking for. I will most likely purchase it.
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