I’ve been considering building a Windows Home Server. My problem is that I have three 1.5TB hard drives with media on them. Can I move these drives to a Windows Home Server machine without formatting them? They are currently formatted in NTFS on a Win 7 machine. I have everything for the home server except the case and power supply. I also have a 40GB hard drive that I had planned to install the Home Server software on. I don’t have the money to buy new drives to transfer the media from the other drives. Also, will I be able to stream .vob and Blu-ray files to Media Center on my other machines?
First things first, Michael: Windows Home Server reads NTFS-formatted drives just fine; it’s Windows’ default file system. You should be able to move them over without any problems, provided they’re not in a RAID config.
Although Windows Media Center doesn’t stream ripped .vob and Blu-ray files by default, you can stream them across your network, with a few caveats. First, you really need a wired connection between your server and the PC you’re watching the file on, especially for high-def streaming content. One of our editors prefers to keep .iso images of his DVDs and Blu-rays on his home server, which he then mounts on his other PCs and plays with PowerDVD Ultra. This technically involves breaking the law, as bypassing the copy protection on DVDs and Blu-ray discs is against the DMCA, but we think making a backup copy of a disc you legally own and streaming it within your own home falls well within the bounds of fair use. If you prefer to rip your movies to .mkv files, Hack Media Center has a guide to streaming those to other Media Center devices, like an Xbox 360.
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