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Nerva

Poor streaming performance with Smooth Stream enabled

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I have found that DB has trouble streaming video files even with the Smooth Stream option enabled for all files.

 

This clears up a mystery that has been nagging me for months -- why my new, more powerful server with 4GB RAM running WHS2011 and DB was having playback issues, when my old 1GB server running WHS1 never had problems with the same files.

 

The files in question are m2ts files I ripped from my blu-ray collection, so they are the highest bitrate video files in use, although the bitrates are a fraction of what the drives and ethernet can handle.

 

To nail down whether it was a DB problem, a drive problem, an ethernet problem, a video player problem, etc. I shared the drives directly and tested a number of videos when accessed via the DB structure vs. the individual shared drive letters, and the pattern was quite clear -- the files never once skipped when accessed directly, but there were intermittent problems when accessing them via DB.  I also had problems playing from DB with both Media Player Classic and PowerDVD.

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I'm streaming m2ts files from my WHS2011 server over my home network and haven't encountered the issues you've described.

 

However, I do not use WHS2011's built in media server. I'm using Serviio for that role.

 

I'm using a PS3 as the client connected to our TV using HDMI.

 

So, I offer this as evidence that it is possible to stream smoothly with DB. I do have smooth stream enabled but do not have file duplication on.

 

Wouldn't hurt to open a support ticket to give the DB folks some log files to chew on.

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I'm not using a media-streaming feature -- I'm playing the files directly from Windows Explorer using either Media Player Classic (mostly) or PowerDVD 11 (as a backup).

 

When I access the file from the shared DB directory, if I jump ahead a minute in the movie, there's a noticeable pause, then it starts to play for a fraction of a second, then it pauses briefly, then it plays -- this is very repeatable.  Intermittently (not sure why) it will seize up completely for several seconds or more, stutter, and have other serious playback issues.

 

When I access the same file by using the shared drive where the file is located, any seeking I do is instantaneous and once it resumes playing it plays smoothly, and without intermittent interruptions.

 

I have noticed the DB problems are worse if the server is downloading a few hundred kb/s using BitTorrent, and also if I am recording one or more TV shows using SageTV -- but both use dedicated drives that are not pooled in DB.  I ran a test, downloading at 300 kb/s and recording two HD shows all at the same time, and it made the DB file access noticeably worse, and it made the direct access not quite (still nearly) instantaneous when seeking but still smooth once playing.

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Understood. I can try with a PC I have connected to my TV and see how WMP or VLC performs.

 

Update: I used both VideoLan and WMP 12 to test out a 24GiB, 26Mbps .m2ts video file and can report that VLC had numerous stuttering issues as you described, but WMP 12 did not.

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I should say the problems are mostly when I use Media Player Classic, which in the past had been known for its poor buffering over networks but in the last couple years it seemed to have been resolved -- evidently network performance is still not its strong suit.

 

However, I can see problems when I run PowerDVD 11 -- if I click on a different point in the movie, it is slow to start playing if I'm using DB but instantaneous when playing it directly.  I also detect small video hiccups as if frames are being dropped when it starts to resume playing -- I suspect it is having the same network problem as MPC but it is more graceful in handling the problem.

 

Also, in running the PowerDVD tests while recording 2 HDTV shows and downloading BitTorrent, I found the DB directory suddenly quit on me altogether and Windows Explorer said it could not access the directory.  Trying to access the non-DB shared folders continues to work just fine, and I'm still logged into the server via RDC -- it's only DB that has crapped out.

 

So, it seems that DB has trouble with networking when the server's network connection is being shared with other activities.

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A curiosity... How are you set in the WHS Dashboard -> Settings -> Media -> Video streaming quality? I shut off the DB Smooth streaming and just let WHS 2011 do the stream quality management. I think that if you do jumping around in media the DB smooth streaming buffers need to be flushed and reloaded which could account for stutter/delay when jumping ahead or back in a media file. I know this sounds contrary, but without DB smooth streaming turned on these buffers should be much smaller and managed quicker.

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Media Streaming has been turned off all along, since I don't care for Windows Media Player and Windows Media Center.

 

Your idea about turning off Smooth Stream is so crazy it just might work!

 

And it does indeed cure the lag when seeking.  It remains to be seen if it also eliminates the intermittent freeze-up, since that's hard to reproduce on demand.  But now I'm hopeful this can be easily fixed.

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Unfortunately, I have found that with Smooth Stream off, the intermittent playback problems are definitely there when accessing files via DB and definitely not there when accessing the same file directly.

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