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How to make a DVD Server


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I had the thought to use my upcoming PC (still in the making) as a media server. Then I thought it would be awesome to serve my DVDs in my quest to go as disc-less as possible.


After researching what it would take, I thought it would probably be better to NOT rip my entire DVDs, but instead just the movies themselves as DIVX and serve those to my 360. I think if you provide a JPG cover file then you'll have a thumbnail to go with each of your DVDs which would be really cool.


So, anyone have experience with this? Good idea? Advice for ripping DVDs to DivX that isn't super complicated. Every software solution I looked at had like 14 steps. I'd kind of prefer one step (Provide filename, Click Rip).



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I started doing this using http://www.dvd-wmv.com/ about a year ago. I then upgraded to vista, and windows media doesn't play nice with vbr wmv files. :furious Microsoft to this day hasn't gotten around to fixing it. :td I gave up from frustration.


I bought one these to store all of the movies on, and I don't have any complaints.


The process went as follows...

1. Convert Movie

2. Place new file in it's own folder on network share

3. Crop a jpg to the appropriate dimensions and place in folder


That's about it. The main downfall is you lose your extras and your chapters. You'll be able to play the movies through the dashboard as well, but the interface isn't nearly as pretty as media center.

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I like HandBrake for ripping. I haven't tried the Windows GUI yet, but the Mac GUI is pretty much as simple as DVD ripping gets. Do the settings once, then save a preset. Ripping each DVD then comes down to selecting which title you want (usually the right one is automatic) and whether you want it deinterlaced.


For storage (depending on how many movies you have or plan on), I would go with some kind of expandable failure-tolerant RAID. Expandable RAID-5 gives you the advantage that a single drive can fail (and drives will fail) without losing any of your data (all those DVD's you've spent time ripping), and when you've filled it up you can add more storage without reorganizing things. A Drobo or ReadyNAS would probably be the easiest hands-off way to do this, but will set you back $500-600 diskless. I set up my own file server with Linux, which was actually surprisingly easy, but still requires some technical know-how/confidence. For Windows and Mac, I think only the server versions of the OS support software RAID-5 (with no expansion), so you'd wind up getting a $200-500 RAID controller unless you wanted to use unexpandable RAID-1.

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