archive product design

Meet Aretha

Enclosure for a server in retro style. Bi-directional protection.

In my previous post I tried to outline few benefits of a home server. It happened that the plastic casing of the HP MediaSmart Server didn’t make it to my Top Ten favourite elements of interior design. Also a computer that holds three fans and four 3.5” mechanical hard drives can be quite noisy.

I was looking for some quick solution for the noise and came up with an idea of a thick-walled box. I was thinking of fairly simple box made of MDF and some thick acrylic, something easy to build for a skilled carpenter.

Then, unfortunately I started to wonder: what if…


Above are the inspirations found on internet, something that better suits an interior of a century old flat in Camden Town.

Luckily I found a carpenter brave enough to take-on my crazy idea…


IMG_8936The box is almost finished at the moment. It still needs some investments in an intake part of a cooling system – a strong blower that would allow for even better sound-proof properties of the box. Also, I am thinking of hooking it up with a Raspbery Pi – a credit card size computer that would be responsible for monitoring all the temps, fans and also allowed for a remote power control of the server.

Nevertheless Aretha has already proved its reliability working continuously for 6 weeks without any monitoring or whatsoever, backing up my laptop and serving files during my summer trip.



June 2016

Aretha got a complete refurb of her internals. Sounds weird, I know :-)

I retired the good ‘ol Mediasmart with its over a decade old OS and replace it with a new, shiny Mac Mini. I recycled the Mediasmart’s case and use it as a 3.5” HDD’s bay.

The whole process of getting that done can be tracked in this thread at forum.


Main storage

A 12TB G-Raid with thunderbolt 2, Yay, finally! ;-) contains two enterprise-grade 3.5” HDDs.
The unit is set in raid 1 (mirror), 6TB usable which is more than enough that I need as long as I get rid of the accumulated films collection ;). Fits perfectly in the Aretha’s enclosure.

This G-raid  unit comes with a drawback, unfortunately. After purchasing it I found out that it won’t recover from a power failure after the power restore automatically… :-(

A mechanical button needs to be pressed in order to start it again! What a bummer!

I’ve posted a thread on the WD forums but no one came-up with a solution so far.


Finally resolved the air intake connections problem – with the help of 3D printing of course. Not installed yet as few bits and pieces such as fans and fan management system are still missing (still using the front hole as the air intake). It will most likely gonna be powered by a Raspi sitting at the bottom of the case.

Mid 2019

A new system drive

Finally retiring the mechanical HDD as it is a huge performance bottleneck and only upgradeable component in this Mac anyway…

Going for the SATA SSD as a most reasonable option. This upgrade is well documented on pages such as IFixIt, …. and also this video. IFixIt and OWC even sell upgrade kits, but I’ve decided to buy them separately on eBay, saving 75% on costs ;-)

Off-site backups

Finally decided to go with the iCloud Drive as a convenient off-site backup.

From many cloud storage options available, iCloud Drive has the benefit of being already integrated in the macos. It has a well-working build-in speed throttle mechanism so it won’t block my, rather modest, broadband and also is quite reasonably priced, with flexible plans, cancel anytime etc.

I would have gone for that solution earlier, but didn’t know how to prevent the Archives from syncing with my other Mac.

Luckily I’ve found that easy workaround: Prevent iCloud Drive folders from sync with a Mac

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