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One of the ways that I’ve been ramping up on the remote server idea is to test with a friendly machine nearby.

And something interesting happened…

Browsing the library through Plex/Web, through an iOS device, or through the Roku is actually significantly faster from the remote server.

Also; Videos start quicker, and playback is more responsive.

Why is this?

The setup we are testing is as follows:

Setup 1: A typical older server wired in locally

  • As mentioned before, this server is local; physically connected via Gigabit (1000Mbps) ethernet
  • Mini-ITX server, running Ubuntu, with SATA Hard drives
  • It runs Plex, and does all the downloading in the house
  • Normally, Plex has access to 98% of the CPU’s 4 virtual cores

Setup 2: A new iMac connected remotely

  • The connection here has to go through the public internet, with 15/15 FiberOp on both sides
  • i7 iMac, OSX 10.8, Fusion drive
  • This computer is rarely taxed, so Plex has access to 95% of the CPU’s 4 cores
  • Also of note, this computer is connected via wifi and is regularly asleep (Using any Plex client wakes it up)

Initial Conclusions

It’s quite obvious that if there is enough bandwidth between the server and client to do a HD stream, that the performance of the computer is a far greater factor on how much of a pleasure Plex is to use.

Plex/Web feels snappy, with thumbnails posters, and fanart loading almost instantly (subjectively, I would say that this is a 300% improvement)

With the Roku, pressing Play on a local-server file that does not need transcoding, there is a small wait of a couple seconds. I thought this was simply a cost of using the Roku this way…

However; even when pushing the limits, by pressing play on a high-bitrate 1080p file that needs transcoding, the remote iMac responds and the file starts playing while barely showing the Roku’s loading screen (it feels instant).

This requires further testing, but it seems that if you have a choice between upgrading your home server, or start looking at renting a remotely-hosted server,

it could actually work out better all around to rent a remote server instead.


Interesting Note:

When running a device with Airplay on the same network as a Mac without a way to output sound, 10.8 will output to the airplay device by default.

Running the Raspberry in the other room while building a new mac,

we heard an echo of mouse click sounds

before realizing what happened.

MEGA Launched today to much interest (500,000 accounts created already), and with the inspiring statement that “The Internet belongs to no man, industry, or government”.

The idea is simple to explain, complicated to pull off: Let people store whatever they want, and make it encrypted in such a way that no one can see the data unless that single user decides it.

This, of course, means that MEGA can’t see it, nor can any government agency in the world.

Interesting.. You said something about video?

To keep the blog on task, the question is: Will this work for all my video?

4TB of storage for $29.99/mo is decent enough to consider, if it means never having to think about security again.
Home movies, recordings for court cases, and hypothetically: even movies that the MPAA does not want you to have.

However, as it stands, MEGA does not fit in to any solution for actually watching video content.

To be fair; this is just not what it’s made for.

The way it works means that in order to view any file stored on mega, it must first be downloaded to your computer, then decrypted.

Very much a “file locker” where everything is locked away safe until you need it, then it’s locked again when you walk away with whatever you came for.

Of course, this means that streaming files is completely out, and it’ll take some serious work (assuming anyone is interested in doing the work)  before there’s a program that can talk to MEGA, download the file, decrypt it, then show it to you.

For now, everything is accessed through the browser, and while there is an API, it’s going to really come in to it’s own for encrypting communication, not static files.

I’m going to try it out, simply because it’s worth seeing how it’s done, but to be honest; it just doesn’t fit in to anything I do right now, and it won’t until it’s as seamless as Dropbox or Bitcasa, with mobile apps and everything.



Aside from all this, there is one thing I want to say about the Terms of use and Privacy policy:
There have been some people saying that it’s worrying that MEGA collects and stores IP addresses, communication logs, site usage, etc. People have also expressed concern that MEGA does so to help serve advertising.
While there have been scares before, and I understand the initial hesitation; the way that MEGA works means that theoretically they could collect every shred of data they have access to, and still never have any idea what you have in your files, or even what the files are named.
In my opinion, it’s better for them to own up to being a for-profit company (which they are), while building a solution that cannot be policed.

There’s a lot of work going in to this question about servers, and I’d like to get some perspectives from people so that I can narrow things down and open some really interesting doors…



This is just me; I’m not entering your email addresses anywhere, won’t use them to send you email, and will never give it to anyone else.

I may quote great questions in the followup.