Never Enough Storage for Media Center


Lament of a Media Center user

I, like many Home Theater PC owners, simply don’t have enough storage.  Even though Terabyte hard drives are available (and somewhat affordable), I still don’t have enough.  I have a dedicated seperate drive for music, one for Recorded TV, another one for movies, another for photos, and another for High-Definition content… and that’s just ONE of my Media Centers!

The physical limitations of the drive also makes organizing difficult.  I could mix my high-definition movies with my normal Divx and X-vid movies, but I don’t have a drive large enough to accomodate both.  Sure, I could make a simple JBOD array to make them a logical letter, but this will be a never-ending process of adding more drives to my box until it is as noisy as a construction site.

I would love to have access to all my TV shows, but I can’t justify a dedicated drive to store every episode of Star Trek (well, maybe I could, but my wife would exile me to the couch).  It would be quite novel to have access to all of those shows, but I might watch an episode every once in a while… but at least I would have ACCESS to them.

Having a Media Center PC has made me lazy… if I can’t access it in three seconds then I just don’t watch it.  I used to have every episode of South Park compressed in Divx format, but then delete them when I buy the DVD box set.  Guess what?… we don’t watch South Park anymore.  The same thing happened to Friends, Heroes, Lost, and every other show that we ended up buying on DVD.

I find myself deleting alot of content to make room for the new movies I want to watch.  I hate having to delete Aliens and Die Hard to make room for the new movie that I’ll watch once and end up deleting, knowing that I’ll eventually have to recover it from the archives.  Hard drives are expensive, so this is just one of the facts of life for a Media Center owner.  Or is it?…

Instead of buying larger and larger hard drives (that will eventually need replacing), why not invest in a DVD or HD-DVD Jukebox?  I already backup all my files onto these discs anyway, and having them in a archive-storage system (aka Network Jukebox or Network Library System) would allow me access to the shows I want without having to delete them.  The files are permanent, too and would be salvagable in case of a hardware failure, and are impervious to hard drive corruption, accidental deletion, and formatting.

Several years ago when CD-R drives were all the rage, there was a CD drive that could store 5 CDs in a single 5.25″ bay… what happened to these drives?  A DVD drive outfitted with this could have access to 45GB of files without wasting precious hard-drive space on them.  I have a “temp” drive that could be virtually eliminated by such a device.  A 5-disc Blu-Ray jukebox could store 120GB alone, and a 100-disc Blu-ray Jukebox would store 2.5 Terabytes of Divx movies, easily holding my entire collection of pr0n, I mean Disney movies.


There are currently several jukebox appliances available, but unfortunately they are very, very expensive, and really only worth owning for businesses with big pockets.  A 45-slot Blu-Ray storage system costs over $16,000, and the DVD storage systems aren’t that much cheaper.  And this is for the hardware only; the middleware (software that manages the archive) is seperate, and also very expensive.

It appears that my dreams of having all of my media available is still dashed, and multiple hard drives is the way to go for now.  It really doesn’t make sense, though.  It costs about $5 to manufacture a DVD burner nowadays… why can’t someone come up with a simple mechanism to change the dics out?  Surely some manufacturer can come up with a 20-disc (or more) changer for a few hundred dollars.

So, I put out this challenge to the computer hardware industry:  Make an affordable jukebox with optical discs for Media Center users.

Alan is a web architect, stand-up comedian, and your friendly neighborhood Grammar Nazi. You can stalk him on the Interwebs via Google+, Facebook and follow his ass on Twitter @ocmodshop.