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I'm a bit late to the party, but I've been considering setting up a home server for a while now and would like some advice. (First question on SU, tell me if I'm messing anything up.)

My current setup is pretty basic. I have a cable modem + wireless router (WRT54GS w/DDWRT, still kicking). I have two Xbox 360's connected wirelessly, as well as three Windows 7 desktop PC's, 4 Android/iPhones, and a couple tablets/laptops. (I have family+liveins; it's complicated.) One of the Win7 desktops has a USB drive that contains all my family's photos/videos/documents; this is shared via HomeGroup, pushed to the Xboxes via PlayOn Media Server and backed up solely via Crashplan. I'd prefer Windows Media Center, but it's been extremely laggy and unusable every time I've tried it so far.

This works, but it's pretty crappy for a number of reasons. I'm military and will be deploying in 6 months; I'd like to build something better for my wife and kids before I leave and I'm not around to fix all the IT issues.

I'm leaning towards taking an old Core2Duo PC I have in the closet, installing WHS2011+about 4TB of space, and wiring it directly into the router (which probably also needs to be upgraded, and I'll take recommendations; I tried a few cheap N routers before going back to the WRT54GS+DDWRT for stability reasons). I've heard lots of stories about how Microsoft is moving away from WHS, though, and would consider other options.

What I'd like:

  • Stable/reliable operation, not something I'd have to reset/tweak frequently to keep working
  • Remote management (for obvious reasons)
  • Media streaming to an Xbox 360, preferably via Windows Media Center because the built-in interface is pretty terrible. Don't have much HD content, but a lot of stuff is MKV/AVI from years of various DVD ripping programs, which caused problems in the past.
  • Some kind of on-site data backup/protection to couple with off-site Crashplan
  • Cheapish (I'm not averse to paying for good stuff, as long as it's worth the money)

Other links I looked at:

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closed as not constructive by Keltari, Canadian Luke, TFM, Siim K, Graham Wager Jan 28 '13 at 20:17

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