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Media Serving

Next I explored a StorCenter maintenance menu, which provided several options, including formatting the internal drive, repairing the internal drive, and updating the firmware. One of the more interesting features on the StorCenter was its ability to act as a media server. Basically, the idea is that you use the StorCenter to hold your music, photographs and videos.

The StorCenter then employs the UPnP protocol to serve the files to a multimedia device hooked into your entertainment center, with your TV becoming the user interface. This allows you to build a large multimedia library on a small, low-powered device, and store it somewhere out of the way.

I've been using my NAS devices this way, but I've had to do a hack to install the software myself, rather than using pre-loaded software that is supported by the manufacturer. There are a number of multimedia devices on the market that support the UPnP protocol, but for my testing I used a Buffalo LinkTheater. Figure 9 shows the main menu from the LinkTheater when communicating with the StorCenter.

Buffalo LinkTheater talking to StorCenter

Figure 9: Buffalo LinkTheater talking to StorCenter

The media server was fairly easy to use. All I had to do was populate the shared disk with my music, pictures and movies, and the server would see my files and make them available through the LinkTheater's menu. Automatic music groupings were made for artist, album and genre. The server tried to do the same with my movies, but it wasn't able to categorize them, so I ended up with everything in a single folder. Configuration of the server was limited to turning it on or off, or restricting it to certain directories.

One more item found in this menu was the ability to "repair" the media server database (see Figure 10). I found this a bit curious, since it indicated that there have been problems with database corruption, but at least Iomega provided a way to correct problems that might crop up.

Repairing the Media Server

Figure 10: Repairing the Media Server

There were a couple of things missing that I usually like to see in the configuration menus. First, I didn't see any way to set the spin-down time on the drive. My NAS appliances sit idle most of the time, so it's nice to be able to tell them to spin the drive down when not in use; this might also keep the loud fan from coming on so often. Another thing I usually like to see is some sort of alert mechanism. For example, if the drive starts filling up, it would be nice to get an email, or at least a warning LED.

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