SMB vs NFS for Media Services

The old HTPC here at the house has a small 64 GB SSD to boot the O/S and host temp files created when streaming media from other sources like Netflix and Amazon Video. It’s still enough space to temporarily host a few video files for direct play, but having download files every time you want to play them can be tedious.

Up until now I’d fallen back on just pointing the HTPC web browser at the file server’s media folder as published by the web server on that box. But playing even relatively small video and audio files served up by a web server can get dicey because web servers aren’t optimized for streaming media.

We used to have a mediatomb server running on the file server, but mediatomb development stalled at a certain point and it dropped out of the EPEL repository.

So I decided to see if mounting the file server’s media volume over SMB (CIFS) or NFS might be an option.

The results were what I expected from past experience. Lots of lagging over the SMB connection that made it pretty much useless for the purpose. NFS did better, much better than I would have predicted, in fact. For a protocol designed for simple file sharing, it was mostly able to keep up with the media player’s demand for bits. Of course, given we usually get around 100 Mb/s over wireless here, conditions were far better than my previous experience on corporate LANs throttled to 10 Mb/s.

Still, while NFS will probably do the job for anything less than media files in the 100’s of MB, I’m still of the opinion that a real media server like mediatomb is a much saner solution. All I have to do now is find one that isn’t a bear to configure and maintain.

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About phil

My name is Phil Lembo. In my day job I’m an enterprise IT architect for a leading distribution and services company. The rest of my time I try to maintain a semi-normal family life in the suburbs of Raleigh, NC. E-mail me at philipATlembobrothersDOTcom. The opinions expressed here are entirely my own and not those of my employers, past, present or future (except where I quote others, who will need to accept responsibility for their own rants).