If you’ve been running a media server for any amount of time (like Plex or Emby), you realize how fast your media library can build up and how much storage it can require. The good news is that storage space on hard drives seems to double on a very rapid basis. So finding a hard drive with ample storage space isn’t really going to be a problem, but upgrading from time to time should be a concern.
Running my media server over the past couple of years, there’s a lot of data there. Storing movies, TV shows and music takes quite a few mega-megabytes (being modest). Not only do you have to have storage for your media, but she also to think about redundancy. Converting your videos and storing those takes time and you don’t want to lose that investment if something goes wrong. It’s important to have a backup of your data.
One of the most sensible things you can do is purchase a NAS USB storage system to backup all of your data because those systems typically have redundancy built in. If 1 hard drive fails you don’t lose everything; the system typically gives you a little bit of time to get the defective drive replaced and reestablished. Unfortunately, those NAS systems can be a little expensive.
With me being on the inexpensive side, I’m looking for more economical solutions. One of the things that I’m working with right now is using an external USB 3 docking station; it’s a WAVLINK.
For my purposes, I wanted something that was portable, had good transfer rates and I was able to switch out hard drives fairly easy. And with the unit that I purchased it handles up to 8 TB hard drives; giving me a total of 16 TB of storage space. I can split that storage space up into whatever configuration that I want to, but the drives don’t work in tandem, they function as individual drive letters. You can create whatever directory structure you want for handling your media.
So far, I’m able to plug the docking station into my Plex media server and server files as fast as I want to. Once a week, I use backup software to synchronize my media files over to another set of hard drives, using another docking station.
It’s noteworthy to mention that when you plug in the drives to the docking station, it temporarily disconnects from your machine and then once the drives are rediscovered, they are back placed back online. This is another reason why I have another docking station.
In the case that my Plex server fails, I can take my docking station to another server and I don’t lose any of my media. In the event that one or both of my hard drives fail, I have redundancies there only a week old; recovering a week’s worth of data is not that big of a deal.
Using these docking stations is very simple. Once you receive one, you simply plug up all the cables, insert your SATA hard drives and turn the power on. The hard drives will spin up and once the drives are ready, your operating system will detect the hard drives and make them available to you. Depending on the status of the hard drive, you may have to have it formatted. The USB docking station can also handle those functions.
Another benefit of these docking stations is that they function as a backup/cloning station. They function without the inclusion of a PC. Simply insert both hard drives, the docking station has the bays listed as source and backup. Press the cloning button on the front of the unit and the backup process will start. Had a very simple progress meter on the front to show you how things are going.
Overall, I think this works out as a very inexpensive and simple way to add storage to your media server, backup your storage and allows for flexibility if you’re having to switch out media servers.