Tuesday, 30 July 2019

A Cheap Solution

I do like a cheap solution to a problem and have I had an expensive problem to solve. 

The issue was the computer media server which contains all our video files.  The server is connected to our local network and is capable of streaming multiple video files simultaneously to multiple devices (TV’s tablets, etc).  We have so much video data that it takes four hard drives to store all of it.  I have a smaller, 5th drive which holds the Linux operating system.  The problem was one of the hard drives was randomly disappearing from the system.  It would disappear and then reappear making me think the hard drive was failing.  Eventually I replaced it and the problem disappeared.  Then a month later the problem re-appeared, but with a different drive.  After several months I started to suspect the hard drive controller on the computer motherboard had developed an intermittent fault.  Testing equipment is expensive and I didn’t want to take it to a computer shop where they would charge an initial $80 just to open the case.  I’d resigned myself to the expense of replacing the motherboard <ouch>. 

But then whilst lying on the bed trying to forget about my back pain I started to wonder whether it might be possible to fit a hard driver expansion card to the motherboard.  Did such a card exist?  Google said yes….. but they were more expensive than a replacement motherboard.  After further searching I found a Chinese retailer selling a 4 port card for $25.  This card would expand the existing hard drive port capacity on the motherboard from 6 to 10 ports.  I need 5 ports and two on the motherboard have failed.  This card might be a cheap solution.

The card arrived today.


I guess the same Chinese factory produces the same cards but with the expensive brand name embossed on it.  A DVD containing drivers was included which initially concerned me as I’m using Linux.  But Linux is rather forgiving and I was hoping the card would work straight from the box.

As you can see in the next photo there are four SATA ports on the end of the card.


The expansion SATA (hard drive) card has been fitted and it was immediately recognised by the Linux operating system.  The two “defective” server hard drives were then connected and recognised by the system.  The media sever is back in business for $25 <phew>

Now I can get back to struggling with the second desktop pc (which is very old) that contains the five TV capture cards.   

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