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Media Hardware

Good Disk Library Solutions? 371

First time submitter fikx writes "How do Slashdotters manage large collections of disks? I'm hoping for a way to manage a large collection of movies that would give me menu type access to the content, and the only consumer device left seems to be the Sony disk changer, which is discontinued. I would have thought that handling disks would have been a solved problem and on sale in many forms, but I guess not. Have Slashdotters found or built solutions? Or has this problem gone the way of the typewriter?"
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Good Disk Library Solutions?

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  • by The MAZZTer ( 911996 ) <<megazzt> <at> <gmail.com>> on Sunday November 27, 2011 @03:34PM (#38183376) Homepage
    ... is to rip everything to a large hard disk and set up some sort of media center.
    • of doing that and if say you have blu rays that like 25-50GB per disk.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 27, 2011 @03:44PM (#38183450)

        Handbrake takes care of DRM for DVDs. For Blu-Ray use MakeMKV to extract the disc from DRM, then Handbrake to bring the file size down to 5 to 10 GB depending on the quality you want.

        I'm amazed anyone DOESN'T rip their discs. Who wants to be forced to wade through stupid menus and messages that you can't skip?

        • by PktLoss ( 647983 )

          Is there a good option (for mac preferably) that will rip a DVD after looking it up in some database (like CDDB) to get the names and indexing information correct. Ripping is easy enough, but I'm tired of choosing all the chapters for each episode when ripping season 3 of whatever. The last time I let RipIt have a go at a DVD I ended up with Battlestar Galactica disc 2 starting half way through the third episode.

          • by tibit ( 1762298 )

            Huh? ripit, in its basic mode of operation, creates a decrypted, clean copy of a dvd, without any bogus sectors etc. That's it. Why would it do what you claim is beyond me, perhaps it's a bug. I haven't used ripit's compress feature, so perhaps you're referring to that?

            • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @04:24PM (#38183724) Homepage

              He's asking for more than just a decrypted copy of a DVD.

              He wants the same thing that is commonplace and expected for a music CD: something that detects all the tracks and matches them up to content titles. Clearly he wants something that can sort out a pile of Buffy DVDs, correctly label season, episode and title names and possibly fetch extra metadata.

              A simple ripper doesn't do that.

              Besides Kaledescape, I am not aware of anything that does.

              • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

                by Anonymous Coward

                Apple's prohibited programs fulfilling some of those requirements from being sold in the AppStore. Off the AppStore, however, there are some solutions. You might look into iVI, though it seems targeted at the anime audience. http://www.southpolesoftware.com/iVI/iVI.php [southpolesoftware.com]

              • by chill ( 34294 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @06:13PM (#38184450) Journal

                Give it to XBMC, then point it to thetvdb.com and imdb.com. Name the files correctly, "Farscape 1x2" for example, and let the magic of the media center software do the rest.

                • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                  by Anonymous Coward

                  "Hey guys, is there anyway to automate boring task?"

                  "Sure! Just manually perform boring task first and this program will perform irrelevant task for you automatically!"

                  Thanks. Really.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Is there a good option (for mac preferably) that will rip a DVD after looking it up in some database (like CDDB) to get the names and indexing information correct. Ripping is easy enough, but I'm tired of choosing all the chapters for each episode when ripping season 3 of whatever. The last time I let RipIt have a go at a DVD I ended up with Battlestar Galactica disc 2 starting half way through the third episode.

            For the Mac, I use MetaX can write tags to ripped movie files, which gets data from tagchimp.com. But it's user-contributed data, so duplicates, errors and typos can creep in.

          • by guruevi ( 827432 )

            There is no such service (as CDDB) to get DVD chapters. DVD "chapters" don't really exist outside the menu-software of the DVD (a random software or hardware DVD player will never enumerate chapter names), Handbrake can handle CSV's if you really want to name them.

        • I'm amazed anyone DOESN'T rip their discs. Who wants to be forced to wade through stupid menus and messages that you can't skip?

          The two are unrelated, actually. There a players which offer unconditional skipping and which use the disc directly.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 27, 2011 @04:24PM (#38183722)

          "Handbrake takes care of DRM for DVDs."

          For *some* DVDs. It doesn't handle all of them because the producers of the DVDs keep updating their bogus DRM techniques and thus it is a constant arms race. And it is genuinely bogus, because that's what most of these techniques do: insert bogus sectors and other trickery that trips up a simple ripping program but not most DVD players (and the ones that don't work are collateral damage). Why the media producers bother to keep throwing money at a problem that people will just find a way around in order to use the product they have already bought is beyond my understanding. Do they really think they're stopping anything by spending all that money on DRM? And, no thank you, I don't want to disclose all sorts of unnecessary personal information in order to activate a digital copy that isn't ripped the way I want it anyway.

          These days it's easier for a pirate to set up a movie library than a legitimate purchaser, and that situation *sucks*.

          • by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @04:44PM (#38183848) Homepage

            Anything that Handbrake can't handle, AnyDVD will.

            There are really very few DVDs that you will need to use AnyDVD for. There have been a few failed attempts at extra copy protection on DVDs. However, for the most part it's mainly Disney disks that will give you trouble.

            The vast majority of DVDs won't give you trouble.

            However, since you're going to need AnyDVD for BluRays anyways you've got that as a backup option.

            +...yeah. It's easier to pirate than use modern video media to it's full potential.

      • by ThorGod ( 456163 )

        of doing that and if say you have blu rays that like 25-50GB per disk.

        That's a really good point. BD movies would fill a tb drive in 20-40 movies. That's bad, but not crippling. I doubt a carrousel BD changer for 20-40 disks would be much cheaper (and you can always expand a FS).

        I still think backing physical content up on HDs and then long-term storing the physical copies wins.

        • BD movies would fill a tb drive in 20-40 movies. That's bad, but not crippling.

          You can easily double that capacity by recoding both the video and audio streams at lower bitrates.

          For my own Blu-ray archival, I convert all of the Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD audio tracks to AAC 5.1-channel 640kbps or 2-channel 224kbps using eac3to. Next, I convert all of the H.262, H.264 and VC1 video tracks to H.264 using a constant quality value of "16" and the "slower" encoder preset using x264. Lastly, I convert the graphical PGS subtitles to text SRT using SupRip. For a two hour 1080p movie, I averag

      • At 50GB/disk, you can still get 40 movies on a single 2TB drive. Even with the hard disk shortage, this is an affordable solution. In reality, you can delete all the extras when you rip and get far more movies on the drive, or you can even re-encode. Though I use FreeBSD with ZFS to add disks in pairs for redundancy, a Windows Media box can also work well, as it has a way to add capacity... a co-worker of mine goes this route, though I think ZFS has him intrigued.

        • by epine ( 68316 )

          Yeah, I upgraded my FreeBSD 8.1 box to 9.0-RC2 so I could start playing with ZFS v28. Madly sacrificing chickens in triplicate, after a Gentoo-like recompile of 400 ports, freebsd-upgrade left me a somewhat hosed system where basic services (startx, portupgrade) won't run complaining that libz.so.5 is missing. I guess I'm looking at a fresh install.

          As far as I got with ZFS, it totally rocked. In my test I set up a three drive mirror (which I think of as a plain mirror with a presilvered hot spare). Seei

          • Cool. I'm still on FreeBSD 8, just because I'm redoing rooms in the house and don't have time to experiment :)

            Like most home users crazy enough to run their own basement server, I use it for several jobs. It's a time machine target, it's a music server, it's a pictures repository, it's a CrashPlan target (thanks to Linux emulation), it's a web server, and probably things I'm forgetting. For me, the main appeal of ZFS is the data integrity. A few years ago, my backup scheme involved Unison, and it caught a b

      • by sirdude ( 578412 )
        While the price of HDDs have gone up only recently, it's a temporary "action-of-god" hike which will dissipate shortly (January?). Besides that, HDDs are dirt cheap. It's unlikely that the OP is talking about blu-rays as people who want a disc database usually have multiple (usually ripped/leeched/home) movies on each disc.
        • Like many commodity shortages this one is aggravated by hoarding. The hoarders will likely suffer as they usually do, by overpaying. Some few will make a killing by gouging late hoarders. Eventually things straighten out.
      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        BluRay jukeboxes aren't exactly cheap either. Plus the software isn't very widespread. DVD jukeboxes had the exact same problems which is why it became more common to see people rip everything.

        Furthermore, the DRM of your disks is still going to limit you with a physical jukebox solution. It's still there and getting in the way.

        The only way around that really is to just get rid of the DRM to begin with.

        People have put together hard drive based solutions specifically because they don't like DRM limitations a

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Niether Blu Ray or DVD are compressed for storage, they are compressed to fill their respective discs. Please keep this in mind for all future conversations involving home media theaters and internet streaming.

    • ... is to rip everything to a large hard disk and set up some sort of media center.

      Absolutely. Rip it to your format of choice, and put the discs in a box in the garage... in case you have a HD failure and need to re-rip them or want to re-rip them in a different format later. Alternatively, sell/give away/throw out the discs after ripping and when you need another copy buy/download another copy.

  • Yes, typewriter (Score:4, Informative)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @03:34PM (#38183380) Homepage Journal

    Rip discs. Use media center application.

    • Same here. Just wish my system could do it faster. The sooner I get rid of my physical DVDs, the better.

    • Precisely. Even at today's prices, it's still pretty affordable to set up a fault-tolerant array with several tb of storage. Most 1080 movies compress to 8-10 gigs without much loss of quality. That's 100 HD movies per tb of storage, give or take.

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        Many movies don't do justice to the extra data used to encode a BD version. A lot of content isn't available in high definition to begin with..

        Regardless of how you manage your disks you might want to peruse a review or two before you shell out extra money for a new version of something that you likely already have or can get dirt cheap.

      • Why fault tolerance? He still has all the disks?
  • Googling for cd rom jukebox first hit in shopping is a 100 disc cd/dvd jukebox with usb and dasychainable for ~150 bucks each. other than that ISO's and a fat NAS

    • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

      That represents 900G of storage space tops.

      Plus you need the software that can manage that device.

  • Kaleidescape (Score:5, Informative)

    by LoudMusic ( 199347 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @03:42PM (#38183436)

    How big is your budget?

    http://www.kaleidescape.com/ [kaleidescape.com]
    http://www.kaleidescape.com/products/ [kaleidescape.com]

    Beautiful stuff. Flawless operation. Drains your bank account.

    • by hipp5 ( 1635263 )

      Beautiful stuff. Flawless operation. Drains your bank account.

      They gotta make their money now before the business model evaporates in 10 years.

    • by tibit ( 1762298 )

      About the only problem I have is that they sell exclusively via distributors. I really dislike hardware that I can't simply order online... I mean, you can get a $50k custom-built server spec'd and ordered online, their stuff isn't any different so why can't one buy it directly?!

    • Looks great, but what does it actually cost? I assume it follows the old adage "if you have to ask, it's too much". Seems that you can only get it via stupidly priced "Solution Designer" type folks.

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        It costs more than any other available option.

        It's highly proprietary. You can't just use any playback client. You must use THEIR playback client. The same goes for jukeboxes and disk packs for their RAID arrays.

        What you rip isn't portable. It can't be taken "out of the system".

        You can't load your rips onto your phone or tablet.

  • by PolygamousRanchKid ( 1290638 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @03:46PM (#38183468)

    ... sitting on the living room floor. The system is managed by an ugly bag of mostly water.

    Surprising efficient and effective.

    Low tech for high brows.

  • In March of 2011 I bought an HP desktop that has a media center remote. (It also has a TV tuner, BluRay, and HDMI.)

    I installed XMBC, which supports the remote. It provides a great menu to navigate EVERYTHING, isos, avis, mkvs, mp3s, aacs, flacs, and some of those other whacky DVD rip formats.

    The only problem is that my hard drive with about 500 gigs of DVD rips crashed! Just make sure to back up everything on a regular basis!

    • The only problem is that my hard drive with about 500 gigs of DVD rips crashed! Just make sure to back up everything on a regular basis!

      It's easier to re-rip/download than it is to backup media (movies/music).

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        > It's easier to re-rip/download than it is to backup media (movies/music).

        No. It is much more of a bother to rip stuff again.

        Backing up your media can be as simply as "cp DiskA/* DiskB".

        Messing around with any number of optical disks is going to be more bother than that.

      • "It's easier to re-rip/download than it is to backup media"

        depends. If you're just ripping DVDs and playing the VOB's in some media center that can stream them, then yeah, it's not toooo big a problem. If, however you rip, then re-encode, that's a big pain. I can re-encode most DVDs to MKV in handbrake and get a file size of around 1.5 to 2GB w/ 5.1 and the resulting file is pretty much indistinguishable from the DVD on my 65" DLP. On smaller screens it looks even better. Unfortunately, it runs 45-60 m
      • by Kjella ( 173770 )

        It's easier to re-rip/download than it is to backup media (movies/music).

        No. Handling hundreds of discs or torrents to recreate a collection is a lot more job than hooking up another 2-3TB disk and keeping two copies. That is, if you're insisting on keeping a collection, I know more and more that don't at least for movies. They download, watch and delete and if they want to see it again, they'll download it again. Music is different, there you can play it many many times in playlists but movies you see a handful times tops, most actually just once or twice.

    • I already have a file server, I wanted my media center to be small and silent. So I bought an Apple TV gen2, jailbroke it and dropped XBMC on it.

      It's low power, damn near instant on and completely silent. The single only down side is that it'll only play H.264 HD since that's all that's HW accelerated, but I can live with that

  • It wasn't until the middle of second line that I noticed that the poster was suggesting optical disks.

    People actually use optical storage for anything but backups?

    • People use optical storage for backups?

    • by mmcuh ( 1088773 )

      They aren't useful for backup either. Hard disks are cheaper and easier to handle, and often last longer.

      The only reasonable use for DVDs is for when you need to send a couple of GB to someone with a slow or capped internet connection.

  • by D4C5CE ( 578304 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @03:50PM (#38183522)
    http://dacal.com.tw/ [dacal.com.tw] with Windows disk database, stackable with USB through ports.
    Robot arm optional by DIY ;-) if you take a unit without internal drive (which reduces capacity by 50 disks).
  • KISS (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 27, 2011 @04:00PM (#38183574)

    Just put all your movies on a shelf in alphabetical order. If you have LOTS of them, then use a more orderly system [ehow.com]. For the 5 seconds it takes to manually swap out a disc to watch a one or two hour movie, anything else is massive overkill.

  • These have a single row for disks, but it's just a matter of rearranging the spacings to make a few hundred feet of disk shelving.

    http://i46.photobucket.com/albums/f104/tsudhonimh/bookcases/bookcase_4unit.jpg [photobucket.com]

  • by Venner ( 59051 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @04:18PM (#38183694)

    I wanted a home theater PC with instant-access to all of my films. My solution was as follows:

    (a) Rip all discs to hard drive,
    (b) Index and link to files with software solution

    In detail:
    (a) I chose to go with MakeMKV for most of my ripping. It rips the mpeg2/4 video directly to an mkv file, without reencoding, and you can choose all the tracks you want to go with it. (I.e., some titles I rip multiple audio streams and subtitles, some I take just English 2.0). For me, I just ripped the main title from each film; if I want to see the special features later, I'll take the box down off the shelf and pop the disk in. (Special features don't really matter to me that much.) Each rip averages 3 to 6Gb. Now MKV, while a great file format, isn't compatible with some (especially older) consumer electronics. You can always re-encode, if you really need to make a particular title portable. And for my Blu Ray / HD-DVD titles, I re-encoded anyway. I found a 1080P 6Gb-target-size h.264 two-pass re-encode to be indistinguishable on my 52" TV from the original. In fact, it's probably quite a bit of overkill.

      For storage, I have a couple of 3Tb drives in an external enclosure, with a duplicate unit for backup. (Got them for a song before the manic price gouging going on now started!.) So far, it's holding over 500 titles and several TV series, and plenty of room to grow. And I can always increase capacity.

    (b) For keeping track of everything, I eventually went with Collectorz.com Movie Collector. I've tried many solutions, both free and payware, and Movie Collector was the one that fit my needs the best. (There is a lot of good software out there -- look around!) As I ripped my collection in my spare time, I simply scanned in the UPC on the back of each film using an old CueCat barcode scanner. The software then populates all of the data for the film. Once the film was ripped, I simply linked the title in Movie Collector to the video file on the hard drives. Now I can visually browse my entire collection and watch any title at the click of a mouse. And it's nice to be able to go, "Hey, how many Humphrey Bogart movies do I own?" and find out with a simple filter.

    What worked for me might or might not fit your needs, but hopefully it gives you ideas.

    • Why not keep them in MPEG2/4 containers if you're keeping them MPEG2/4 codec, that way commercially available consumer electronics media devices can play them as well.

      • That's worthless if you want 5.1 AC3 audio - that doesn't fit in an MPEG2 container in any way that consumer electronic devices like. If you have a home theater receiver, that matters.

    • 1080P 6Gb-target-size h.264 two-pass re-encode

      For future reference, the only thing multi-pass encoding gets your is accurate quantizer scaling to precisely hit a target filesize. If you don't have any filesize constraints (because you're storing this crap on a disk several hundred times larger than the file), just set a static quantizer or quality target and forget about it. The codec is much better at deciding just how much data is needed than you are.

  • by pak9rabid ( 1011935 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @04:34PM (#38183790)
    Rip it, store it on a network storage system that XBMC can access (there are many [wikipedia.org]), and stream it to your display device. There are many thin-clients you can use as an XBMC box. I personally use an old Acer Aspire Revo (which have since been discontinued). Probably the cheapest device you can use as an XBMC box that's currently available and doesn't look hideous is the Apple TV 2. For $99 with a remote that works out-of-box, you can't really beat that (granted, it can only output up to 720p).
  • by Jane Q. Public ( 1010737 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @04:40PM (#38183824)
    Hard drive solutions are all well and good. But if you are using discrete disks (CD, DVD) for storage, then I highly recommend Discgear Selector [discgear.com] products. While not automatic like a disk changer, finding and getting a disk out is as simple as sliding a knob and lifting the lid. I have several of the larger models.

    And you can use the included software to maintain your library index, and print index labels for the containers.
  • but I'm retiring it out (at my own pace) for a stack of hard disks which have far higher data density.

  • Just to fill in some detail, I have the collection alphabetized on shelves, and yup, I can walk over and get them easy enough. Just trying to declutter the movies (and possibly games, CD-ROM's, blue ray, whatever) like I did the audio CD's a while back. I ripped the audio CD's to disk easy enough, and was looking to do same with others but ripping movies I kept running into little issues. Nothing that would make it impossible, just was hoping that since discs were common for several generations of media, th
  • by Registered Coward v2 ( 447531 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @06:42PM (#38184670)
    I am a fan of DVDCatalyst (www.tools4movies.com). It will rip and convert DVD files to various formats; has batch renaming so you can use various databases to pull information; experimental Blu-Ray support; and is inexpensive. The developer responds fast to questions (sometimes I wonder if he sleeps). I've been a fan of it for many years.
  • by 140Mandak262Jamuna ( 970587 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @06:51PM (#38184744) Journal
    Of the hundreds of movies that you own, how many are you going to watch? Go through your collection and make three piles:
    • Movies that you have watched in the last one year
    • Movies that you were planning to watch but did not get around to
    • Movies that you did not even know you had, especially the second and third copies that you bought without realizing you already had a copy or two

    Store those movies in these file folders with plastic pockets. Buy the kind that will let you also store the jewel case printed material.

    Figure out how many hours a week you are planning to watch movies from your collection. Figure out how many years it is going to take to finish what you already have. Finally realize the only reason you have such a big collection is to brag about the size of the collection. So save some money on the techno solutions and buy more movies to enhance the bragging.

  • by mark_reh ( 2015546 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @09:12PM (#38185680) Journal

    Sounds like a Lego Mindstorms project... Start building!

  • by geminidomino ( 614729 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @09:47PM (#38185914) Journal

    You didn't specify how large your collection is. If it's just a few hundred discs, then I personally agree with whoever it was way up there that just recommended one of those big honking disc binders. One or two 320-disc binders, while weightier than you might imagine, are nice and easy to keep in alphabetical order, if you've got a fairly static collection.

    Once the numbers get much above that, though, yeah, I'm not sure, either. Six of those binders can break through a cheap ikea-type shelf (true story), and anyone who pipes up "rip them" can go suck on a tesla coil... I'm still trying to find a solution myself, maybe something like a DIY Redbox Kiosk, though I don't know how much those actually hold...

  • by jotaeleemeese ( 303437 ) on Sunday November 27, 2011 @10:37PM (#38186180) Homepage Journal

    How many DVDs can you watch?

    7 a week? Really? Haven't you got a life?

    I suggest a normal person with varied interests and in employment won't watch more than 2 DVD's per week on average (and with TV, movies, music, gaming, Internet and other exotic activities like going to concerts, doing sports, or reading a book requiring our time, I reckon the number may be smaller. Have you got kids? You watch more than 2 DVDs a week, but I guess you are tired by now of watching Toy Story yet again).

    So lets say you will watch 100 DVDs this year. All of them only once. And most of them, perhaps all, will never be seen again ever, because you have other 100 to watch next year.

    At this time of the year if you have a DVD "collection" what I suggest you should be doing is to get rid of half of it in order to make space for next year 100 DVDs.

    The situation does not change much if these DVDs are in your computer (or server farm, whatever).. YOu won't watch most of it ever anymore.

    So my solution is keep a collection of 100 and be scrupulous about this: a new disk gets in one gets out. It is that simple. Eventually you build a real collection of movies that you may watch sometime again. Keep the collection in a shelf, alphabetically, and forget the bloody computer and ripping: you have better things to do with your life (I hope).

"I will make no bargains with terrorist hardware." -- Peter da Silva