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Digitizing, storing, and using a 500+ DVD Blu-ray collection - Help Needed

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Hey everyone. I work for a Home Theater company outside of Atlanta and need some advice on a big project. I've been building gaming PCs for the last 8 years, and have the opportunity to work on something bigger.

(Apologies for the long post, I just want to give everyone a complete picture of what I'm trying to do and my findings thus far:)


I have a client who is wanting to take his 500 some-odd blu-ray movie collection and have us digitize it and set up a home media server. I am planning to put it into Plex to be able to stream around the house and to his mobile devices. The server would need to be able to rip these blu-rays, in which I plan to use Handbrake to do so. It would also need to be able to act as a media server of course, which I think having server grade components would help keep the server up and running for longer.


Where I see an issue happening is in the storing of all of these movies/shows. I want to make sure everything is backed up and can be accessed easily.


Therefore, I was thinking of building a server with a few instances of MakeMKV running to pull the video files off. I would have 2 Blu-ray drives, and an array of Seagate Enterprise SAS HDDs that has at least 50TB of available storage (possibly set up in a RAID 10 for speed and redundancy unless Unraid has something like that). All of these will be loaded into Plex for streaming to the Home Theater area as well as TVs around the house.


I want to have lots of extra room in case my client wants to add to his collection other videos, TV shows, pictures, files, etc. Therefore, the server will be in a 4U chassis, and the HDD array in a separate enclosure to store the hard drives (parts listed below). He has a 42U A/V rack that I am planning to install this in, however I'm not sure exactly what the depth is. If it has to stick out the back or have another smaller rack next to it, that's not a big deal.


I read through the FAQ on r/htpc and adjusted a few things on my build, but wanted to post the whole thing to see the nuances where I may have made a mistake.


Ultimately, my concerns/goals here would be to:

  • Have a highly reliable and powerful media server
  • Can rip Blu-ray disks to a digital backup while retaining the highest level of quality possible.
  • Able to play them back smoothly, at full 4K, HDR, 7.1 surround sound, in multiple locations, at the same time.
  • Possibly running 4 continuous VMs, or one for each Plex instance? Or just some way to distribute the load across the available processor cores for best performance (maybe this is done automatically?)
  • Is as quiet as possible
  • Rips DVDs to an array that is at least 50TB of usable storage space with redundancy.
  • Can be remotely accessed for updates and other services (TeamViewer kind of thing, where I can see and control the server)
  • Professional looking


After much research, I have come up with these specs that I believe will work well:



  • Intel Xeon E5-2620 V4 (8-core / 16-thread, 2.1Ghz, LGA 2011-v3)
  • ASUS Z10PA-U8/10G-2S
  • EVGA GeForce GT 730
  • Crucial Registered 32GB kit (4 x 8GB) (2133Mhz; ECC)
  • LSI 9380-8e RAID Controller (if I need to run RAID. How does Unraid handle this many drives and the redundancy?)
  • Preferably Unraid, otherwise Windows 10 Pro (x64)
  • 2x Samsung 860 Pro 256GB cache pool (I believe that's it) in RAID 1 [or other] for redundancy
  • EVGA SuperNOVA 1000w P2
  • iStarUSA D-400-6-ND 4U Server Chassis
  • EVGA CLC 280
  • 2x LG Blu-ray Optical Drive WH16NS60
  • ICY DOCK 2 x 2.5 Inch to 3.5 Inch Drive Bay


JBOD Enclosure:

  • RAID Machine R4412RM JBOD Enclosure
  • 12x Seagate 10TB SAS HDDs



  • APC 1000 Watts Pure Sinewave Smart-UPS
  • Netgear ProSAFE XS708T 8x10G Network Switch
  • StarTech SFP+ Cable
  • StarTech RACKCONS1901 19" Rackmount LCD Console


Some questions I have:

  • Am I missing anything glaringly obvious that won't allow me to achieve my goals listed above?
  • To stream around the house, what devices would I use?
    • The guys over at r/htpc recommended Intel NUCs or Nvidia Shields at the TV locations
  • Is there any way that I could remotely connect to a VM that the server is creating? So that I or the customer can log in and utilize the power of the server from anywhere.
  • What OS would I use?
    • Originally, I was just thinking of 5 copies of Win 10 Pro to keep the OSs all the same. But I would really like to use Unraid and the docker capability for automatic encoding, I just want to make sure all of this data is backed up.
  • Is there a way to use ZFS? Does Unraid support that? From what I've researched it seems like a good option here.
  • Can I get those VMs to automatically put the completed movies onto the RAID array?
    • My guess is yes, if I set up the destination folder of MakeMKV/Handbrake to be the shared VM folder, which is on the array.


Price is not super critical to me, more that it works reliably and is quiet.


On top of digitizing and backing up all of my client's movies, I'm looking for alternate uses for this server. So far I've come up with:

  • Plex server
  • iTunes or other music server (I know Plex handles music, just haven't played around with it)
  • PVR/DVR for their favorite shows
  • Spotify/Pandora Controller?
  • Backup computers in house
  • VM machine
    • How would we log in remotely?
  • Stream TV to anywhere in the house
  • Stream PC to anywhere in the house. Use any TV as an HTPC
    • Use Nvidia Shield/Intel NUC/Roku Ultra as receiving side
  • Use iPad's/Tablets to control TV using TeamViewer for Remote Control
  • Kodi
  • Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Prime/YouTube/HBO Go/DirecTV now player
  • Steam Big Picture (client doesn't really play games)
  • YouTube Leanback


Another idea that was recommended to me was to get a higher end QNAP/Synology NAS, install plex, hook up a USB blu-ray drive to it and rip the movies from there directly. I believe they can run a VM of Unraid/Win 10, but not sure if that would cause problems trying to do it that way. I would like to just run Unraid natively (or whatever the most stable solution is).


Anyways, thank you all so much for your help! Sorry for the giant post, just trying to figure all of this out and don't want to miss something silly.

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I hesitated a good bit before posting this, but I think it needs to be said. I don't believe this is going to work out for your client. I'm not saying you aren't capable of building and configuring a machine that does exactly what you said it needs to do, or that your client won't be able to operate it when first installed. I'm saying that one of two things will happen. Either you will spend a HUGE amount of time keeping it running well, and you or your client will be unhappy with the billing for said time, or your client will use it happily until it quits working because of an update or something stupid, and it will be tossed aside.


This is not a set it and forget it type of installation, and remote support will become a huge headache.


If you said YOU wanted this system for your house, you were building and maintaining it all, then not a problem. Doing this same thing for a paying client? No way.

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I will need to agree, while it sounds nice, there are just too many things that need to work together for this type of a setup for a client.  The only way I would do this for a client, is if part of the fee paid was living in the guest bedroom.  You are going to live there anyway with this setup.


  Now...  Basic concept I can agree with.  Intel NUCs are great for a TV device.  However, the cheap but very capably Chromecast Ultra works very well with PLEX, as long as you want to use a tablet or phone to cast from.  I like the Tablet option since you can get nice large tablets for cheap that make for great controllers for casting PLEX and other apps to the Chromecast units.  It all depends on if you also need 5.1 or 7.1 surround at each TV also.  The NUC is a better choice for full surround, BUT... you need to make sure which one works well for your audio set-up!


  if you want the highest quality possible, why would you need Handbrake?  Normally people only use Handbrake to compress video to reduce the size, which also reduces the quality.


  Unraid is great, and works well for many things, I love it as a video storage server.  XBMC (now KODI) is my favorite for a video player.  Plex is great for transcoding and watching server based video content to a wide range of devices.  Most people would NOT want to use KODI and Plex, they each have advantages and disadvantages compared with each other.  Unless you plan to also use one of the "hacks" to merge them together functionally, I would suggest sticking with Plex and forgetting KODI.


  I would suggest getting a copy of Unraid and Plex to try them out to see if they will work the way you desire.  Try them on any compatible hardware to start with and go from there.  It looks like you may have a real bottle-neck issue with that external drive enclosure however.  Yes I think you could get it to work, but the bandwidth would be limiting on parity checks and rebuilds it seems.

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jonathanm and electron286 are completely right.


If this would be a private project for your own, go on, open your wallet really wide for the hardware and spent a lot of time (and this will be a huge amount of time) building and creating all the stuff.


But don´t do anything like that for a customer. It will be a mess. One or both of you will be very unlucky and disappointed. The whole stuff will work for a while, until an update or any other reason.


Here are some points which might be useful:


1) My ripped (using MakeMKV) Blu-Rays in 2k (so 1080 or FHD) have a size of 20-50 GB, no compression with Handbrake or something like that. I like to have audio complete, not only german. I don´t know the size of ripped Blu-Rays in 4k.


2) As a rule of thumb, transcoding 2k-videos Plex needs 2000 points in Passmark. The CPU you mentioned reaches 11367 points, so maximum capable of 5 2k-streams concurrently. Have a look on this: https://support.plex.tv/articles/201774043-what-kind-of-cpu-do-i-need-for-my-server/ So the E-5 2620 v4 is not even strong enough for one 4k-stream in SDR, not to mention in HDR (17000 points). If you want to achieve this, think about a CPU starting at 1000$ and more.


3) Forget transcoding. Just buy useful stuff which is ready to work together with Plex. The Nvidia Shield TV works perfect, I bought mine in 2015 and I´m still satisfied. So you don´t have to mess around with Netflix, Prime Video, etc. Or try a Raspberry Pi with Plex Media Player for embedded platforms, works also very good.


4) To rip such a huge amount of disks try to build your own ripstation with vortexbox, have a look here: https://www.vortexbox.org/ You don´t need powerful hardware, a single core CPU around 1 GHz, 2-4 GB RAM and 30 GB for OS is enough. Maybe you have something like this laying around, unused and forgotten in your home. Use Google for searching "Ripping from multiple drives simultaneously vortexbox". It works really flawless. Rips DVD´s as well as Blu-Rays and CD´s. But there is manually work waiting for you, give the rips the right name before you put them in the media library of Plex. Plex needs correct naming of media files to find and match them, for example "Batman Begins (2005).mkv".


Best wishes in advance for your project.

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