• Categories

  • Archive of Posts

  • Advertisements

Storage: Best/Worst Thing About Media Center

One of the best things about Media Center and really any HTPC is that you have total control over the amount of storage at your disposal. Once you realize this and start increasing your storage it can also be one of the worst things you can do (but of course not bad enough to go back or really regret it).

A driving factor in moving to a Media Center solution for my household entertainment was the limited recording space that was available to me on my Time Warner Scientific Atlanta HD DVR. According to Scientific Atlanta the DVR can record up 20 hours of HD content on a 160GB hard drive. I recorded everything in HD so 20 hours sounds about right.

In my current Media Center setup I have 1.75 TB worth of hard drive space dedicated to recorded TV. I have a 1TB drive that is my main recording drive and a 750GB drive to allow me to keep shows a little bit longer but not for archiving. Any shows I want to archive go on the Windows Home Server which has 3.5TB worth of space for TV, movies, music, photos and more.

So in moving from the Time Warner supplied DVR to a Media Center solution I was able to realize an almost 11 times increase in storage capacity. As far as hours, doing the math, that’s about 220 hours worth of HD content. So that means that if all I did was watch TV 24/7 I could watch for nine straight days. Nine days!

The increased storage has been a huge change in how we watch television. We can now truly watch television on our schedule. With the Time Warner DVR we constantly found ourselves racing against a clock to make sure we watched our recorded content before we ran out of space and it was automatically deleted. It felt like living through an episode of 24 where at any moment someone you cared about could be “erased”.

Now that is no longer the case for us. Now we can actually let full seasons record and do viewing marathons. I’m to big of a fan to do this, but if I wanted to I could let the full current season of 24 record (in HD) and then watch all the entire season over a few days without interfering with my other shows.

Another positive is that we get to try out and experiment with new shows without endangering the recordings of our regular shows. Leverage on TNT looks really interested so I decided to give it a shot. I just set the season to record and when I get a chance I will watch it and see if I like it. Very nice option to have.

The downside of all this is that I end up with content overload. You almost become a TV pack rat. I personally like to go into my recorded TV section/list and only see shows that I have not yet seen and that I really want to watch. My wife on the other hand could care less about cleaning it up. She is definitely someone who would just as soon let the DVR manage the space.

To further illustrate my good/bad scenario, I have created tables that shows all the recorded TV we have as of January 9th. I have broken it down into a few categories:
* 1 Offs (TV Movies, Specials, single episodes of non-regular series)
* Regular Series (shows we watch regularly and then delete)
* Daily’s (shows we record almost every day and keep a limited number)
* Kid’s (gotta have a few shows ready to go for the little one)
* Archive (shows I may want to archive)
* Piled Up (shows that have been on my Media Center way to long)

So now with that context, here is what is on my Media Center (with about 900GB of space to spare)

1 Offs
TitleHD/SD# EpisodesHrs
Barbara Walters SpecialHD11
Extreme Home MakeoverSD21
Popi (movie)HD12
Rendition (movie)HD12
Blacklist Vol 1 (movie)HD12
Legend of Bagger VanceHD12

Regular Series
TitleHD/SD# EpisodesHrs
Brothers & SistersHD11
Desperate HousewivesHD11
Prison BreakHD11
Pushing DaisesHD22
The OfficeHD1.5
True BeautySD11
Ugly BettyHD11

TitleHD/SD# EpisodesHrs
Good Morning AmericaHD12
The Daily ShowSD52.5
The Colbert ReportSD52.5

TitleHD/SD# EpisodesHrs
Max & RubySD52.5

1 Offs
TitleHD/SD# EpisodesHrs
Batman – Brave & the BoldSD42
Chris Rock SpecialHD12

Piled Up
TitleHD/SD# EpisodesHrs
Don’t Forget the LyricsHD1010
Generation KillHD77
Kimora SimmonsSD42
Life on MarsHD55
Private PracticeHD88
Life and Times of TimHD63

So as you can see, just in the Piled Up table there is 83 hours worth of television to watch. That is 3 ½ days worth of TV to watch. With some of these shows there is an obvious reason that they are piled up and they will go straight to the trash.

Others shows like Fringe I just have not made or found the time for it. I’m just glad Media Center allows me to decided how to watch versus my previous alternative.


5 Responses

  1. That list is HILARIOUS! 3.5d of TV is a lot (unless, of course, you are talking about March Madness 🙂 )So, you have a 1TB drive and a 750GB drive. These are both in your Dell XPS 420, right? Don’t you have a 300GB drive in there for the operating system and apps? If so, am I mistaken in thinking that the XPS420 can only handle 2 hard drives? Please set me straight on this!

  2. I actually had to go to the book for this one, but it will accommodate 3 drives.Two drives are side by side at the bottom and the third actually sits underneath the DVD drive.

  3. Nice post, Andres. The flexibility / expandability of Recorded TV storage is one of my personal favorite features of Windows Media Center. It really has to be when the four folks in our house have such wide ranging tastes. That and the fact my wife is a Law & Order fan — all 'versions' of that show each week for new + syndication almost require a terabyte just for themselves. 🙂

  4. I’ve got Vista with Media Center installed, and 1.5TB of storage, but I still have no idea how to capture HD from a premium service. I have Verizon FIOS, which has 100 HD channels, (and a wimpy 160GB DVR), and I’d like to capture these programs in HD on my Media Center. It sounds like you have this mastered, but it isn’t clear how you can capture your HD cable feed to a Media Center PC. Could you expand on this, please?

  5. I am using a Dell PC with Cable Card. Verizon FIOS actually offers Cable Card. You first need a Cable Card compatible PC and the only way to get those is to buy them from an OEM Manufacturer (i.e. Dell). You can’t build your own or add them on after the fact.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: