I’ve been using Ripbot264 to encode DVDs and, more recently, Blu-rays for a few years now. I won’t call myself an expert or anything, but I am well versed in it by now. Despite Ripbot’s progressions and increasing features, I’ve pretty much maintained the same simplified usage of it as I did in its initial releases. After all, if you just want good quality at smaller file sizes, it does that well with little configuration. Well, my lack of tinkering with it ceased a couple of releases ago as an exciting new feature was included – Distributed Encoding.
Ripbot264 Distributed Encoding allows us to benefit from having multiple systems around the house by harnessing those extra CPU cycles and putting them to use – distributing the workload and allowing those extra systems to join in on the encode party! So far, I’ve done around a half-dozen DVDs using a single client and single server (two systems) and the performance increase has been quite substantial to me. This post is to act as a guide to help you set up your own distributed encoding network using the Ripbot264 engine.
The reason that I felt it necessary to create a guide is because there is no real documentation on how to set it all up. There is a YouTube video tutorial, but it is set to music, and there is absolutely no real direction to the video. I’m sure if you’re technically-minded enough, you could figure out how to set this all up using the video (I did, afterall), but it took me some trial and error to figure out a few steps. I hope to walk you through it all – beginning to end.
First of all, I’m not going to walk you through installing Ripbot264. I believe you are all competent enough for that. I’ll explain a few of my specific configurations as they pertain to distributed encoding, but that’s about it for Ripbot264 usage. I will begin the guide assuming you currently have a working install of Ripbot264 and now I will explain my specific install as it pertains to the distributed encoding feature:
- My Ripbot264 installation directory resides in C:\Program Files (x86)\Ripbot264 as I’m on a Windows 7 64-bit system.
- My Ripbot264.ini file has the TEMP directory set to X; therefore my true temp directory path is X:\Temp\Ripbot264temp. This is important as you will need to correlate my directions to your own true temp directory path.
- All systems used within the distributed encoding network MUST USE THE SAME VERSION of Ripbot264. I also highly suggest you use the same versions of ffdshow, Java, AviSynth, etc. that the application requires.
Now, let’s move on with our guide with that out of the way. The first thing we want to do is begin on our client system. This is the system where you will initiate the encodes…it should also probably be where the files you want to encode reside. Locate your Ripbot264 installation folder and open the Ripbot264.ini file contained within using Notepad or something. At the very bottom of the file, you should see the entry
You will want to change that “0” to a “1” and then save and close the ini file (you may need administrative permissions for this if you use UAC, but I’ll let you figure that out). That is the initial step to enable the distributed encoding client for use. All the other stuff in the ini file can be changed also, but that’s outside the scope of this guide. They are for setting default values within the application and are not necessary to modify…I do, but I digress.
Leave your Ripbot264 installation directory open, but minimize it…we will visit it later. Now we have to change some advanced sharing options, so let’s visit the Network and Sharing Center (remember, I’m on Win7). In the left-hand column, we want to visit the Change advanced sharing settings link, so do that. We have a single option to change, so scroll towards the bottom. We’re looking for the Password protected sharing section and we’re going to turn it off. Now, let me also say, Ripbot264 does include provisions for using password protected shares, but I’m not covering that. My home network doesn’t need them, so I don’t care so much about disabling this. If you require them, I don’t think it will take much work for you to figure out how to do it with the supplied options in the ini files. If you want to dig around in that client ini, you will also see there are accommodations for Wake On LAN support of target servers. Nice! Anyway, disable the password protected sharing and save your changes.
Next, we will need to create the temp directory as it currently doesn’t exist if you’re on a new install. If you left your default temp directory alone, then you are using the system specified temp directory. Let’s go there by typing %TEMP% in the Windows run box. You should get a directory similar to C:\Users\<USERNAME>\AppData\Local\Temp open up in Explorer. Within this directory, create a new directory named Ripbot264temp. Again, you may need admin privileges for this…figure it out. What we want to do now is share this directory out since this is where our work files go when creating a new job. So, right click your new directory and choose Share with > Specific people…
Now we need to share this directory with specified users. If you know what you’re doing, you can make this a bit more secure than this by adding specific users (this can also go along with the password protected sharing), but I have to assume you don’t in order to avoid answering a billion questions in the comments later. So, click the drop down and add Everyone to the shared users list.
We’re not done yet though…the permissions are no good. Our additional servers will need Read/Write access to this directory, so change that also before clicking the Share button.
Click the Share button and you should have a successfully shared Ripbot264temp directory in your default, or specified, location. You should have something similar to this:
Cool, now for the fun stuff. If you don’t run Windows Firewall, this will be pretty easy as you won’t get any prompts. If you do run Windows Firewall, you will get some prompts, so just pay attention and things won’t be difficult. If you run any other type of desktop firewall, you may be in for a time if it’s not interactive with newly detected connections. Anyway, let’s move along and get this part out of the way. The system(s) we want to go to first are our additional encoding servers. These should already have a properly installed and working Ripbot264 installation. It doesn’t have to be configured…just detected as a working installation (launch it and make sure all prerequisites are met). Now, for each server, go to the installation directory and find the EncodingServer.exe executable. Launch it. My server is running Windows 2008 Server R2, so my firewall notification box looks different than Win 7, but you will get something similar to this:
You will want toAllow access to this so that it can be added to the firewall exception list. For Win 7, the box looks like this:
Leave the encoding server running on all systems. It will probably be residing in your system tray…just make note of it for later.
Now, let’s go to our primary system – the encoding client. Locate the Ripbot264.exe in your install directory (we left it open) and launch it. Surprise! If you are running Windows Firewall, you will have received another notice of the encoding server needing access…it will look just like one of the two images above (2008 Server R2 or Win 7), so grant it access. You are now faced with the standard Ripbot264 application and it’s ready for you to add a new job. As I said, I’m not detailing that, so go ahead and add whatever it is you want to encode and get it ready until you have a new job listed in your queue.
Great..click Start and wait for it…
As with the encoding server application, the encoding client needs firewall access also, so allow it. If everything else went well, your encoding client will copy files to the share and start working. Unfortunately, it’s flying solo right now as we have not defined any of our servers yet.
So, let’s add our servers…remember, the encoding server MUST be running on all systems that will be aiding here or the connection will fail. It’s a graceful failure though, so it won’t ruin your job. Under Server 2 on the encoding client interface, type in the IP address of the first encoding server system and click the ON button. After a few seconds, you should see it take off:
For each running server you have, just enter the IP and hit that ON button…new chunks will be sent out and you will enjoy the extra time saved. From the server side, you should see something similar to this:
One other little nice feature I happened upon while doing this guide was what happens when you click the Abort button. It allows you to save your spot!
Well, that’s about it. Of course, the time saved depends on things such as how powerful your systems are and how many you have working. I haven’t run any comparison tests yet, but I use a 3.2GHz quad-core Core2Quad and a 2.4Ghz Core2Duo system and have seen very significant decreases in encoding time needed to completion. The quality of the results are just as they have been expected in the years I have used Ripbot264 – excellent.
Anyway, hope this helps some of you. Below is the YouTube tutorial I used to drive myself insane while figuring all this out. Maybe the two in conjunction will make it even easier for you Paragon Partition Manager™ 11 Professional Edition
If you’ve ever had to encode or transcode a video, then you know that it is both time consuming and difficult to get right. And if you have a lot of videos to re-encode, then it can be a massive pain in the neck.
In the A/V community, there are a bunch of popular tools that can do this for you, but the two that stand out the most are Handbrake and RipBot264. Both programs are free, but each offer something the other doesn’t. This article is meant to be a quick “compare and contrast” of the two programs.
The way this article works should be pretty obvious. On one side will be Handbrake and on the other side will be RipBot. Each major piece of functionality will be covered step-by-step and any nuance that is worth talking about will be covered.
ProTip: If you’re using Firefox, the Thumbnail Zoom Plus add-on will allow you to mouse-over each image so that you can easily view the images full-size without leaving the article. Chrome has a similar plugin called BetterZoom.
Ready Ok, let’s go!
Installation: Of the two, Handbrake is far easier to install. It has a standard auto-installer that we’ve all used at some point in our computing lives.
RipBot comes in a compressed file which you must un-compress and drop into a folder somewhere (say your desktop). Then when you run the application for the first time, it will tell you if you are missing any software. RipBot depends on some free software: AviSynth, FFDshow, Haali Media Splitter, and the Java run-time environment. Thankfully, it has links to all the software, so it’s pretty easy to just download, install, and restart.
Main: The two programs take different approaches on the main screen. Handbrake starts the user off with a screen that represents “job configuration”, while RipBot displays the “job queue” as the main screen. From a programmer’s perspective, it makes sense to have the queue be the master controller, but from a user’s perspective it probably makes more sense for the job configuration to be the central aspect of the program. As such, Handbrake makes the queue a non-modal window that can be opened and closed and moved around.
Opening a Source file: For Handbrake, it’s relatively obvious how to open a file. Just press the Source button and select File, then choose a file from the “Open” modal dialog box. For RipBot, it’s fairly obvious that with an empty queue, one needs to click Add and select a file. And to RipBot’s credit, there are a variety of file extensions that one can filter by (which Handbrake leaves out for some reason.)
Scanning the File and Gathering Info: When Handbrake opens the file, it appears to scan the file for basic meta data about the file like audio and video codecs, bitrate, frames per sec, etc.
RipBot does the same, yet takes the time to also demux the file into separate audio and video files in a “temp” folder. This takes a little longer (depending on the size of the file) and requires a little more hard disk space. Not necessarily a bad thing since demuxing will have to take place at some point in the process, but demuxing up-front sometimes can slow down the process of setting up a job.
(Incidentally, the temp file location for RipBot is set in the “RipBot264.ini” file.)
Setting the Output file: Shown above are the main job configuration screens. Handbrake has two options for output: MKV and MP4, while RipBot has 4 output options: MKV, MP4, AVCHD, and DivxPlus, the latter two are highly useful for burning to DVD R discs for playback in Blu-ray and DVD players that have such support.
Cropping and Adjusting Size: Handbrake and Ripbot both have the ability to crop and adjust video frame size. Handbrake has it available right on the first tab, while RipBot has it hidden via the Properties button (which is a confusing placement for a button since it is right next to Mode and CRF which are encoding options, not frame size information.) On the other hand, Handbrake seemed to needlessly want to crop the frame down from 1920×800 to 1800×800. Ripbot correctly detected that the frame was fine the way it already was.
Handbrake has a set of Anamorphic options as well which is defaulted to “Loose”. For most encodings, it seems that “None” would be a smarter option which is exactly how RipBot behaves. There’s also a drop down selection of sizes in RipBot that have all the popular sizes pre-defined as well as a couple “custom” options.
(For those curious, this sample MKV file was used as a demo file for re-encoding purposes throughout much of this article.)
Filtering: Both Handbrake and RipBot have filtering mechanisms to de-interlace/de-telecine as well as deblock and denoise. In this example shot, RipBot is cleverly able to detect that the job is already a progressive video and disables the “deinterlace/decimate” options. Another thing that RipBot has that HandBrake does not is the ability to view/edit the auto-composed script. RipBot uses AviSynth to do a lot of its work and for those of you with experience in AviSynth, this is quite a boon to be able to hand tweak the script.
This is actually an important distinction. For example, when running inverse telecine to remove the combing/interlacing visual effects, RipBot has a preview button which picks a single random frame and shows the user the effects instantly and allows the user to video the effect in real time.
Handbrake also has a preview button, but it must pre-render a 30 second clip at a chosen spot before the user can determine if the de-interlace/de-telecine options are working correctly. This can slow down testing and checking while setting up a job. With RipBot, it’s much clearer than Handbrake how to setup Inverse Telecine. On the the plus side, Handbrake appears to offer more Deinterlace options than RipBot.
Handbrake also offers two de-noisers: hqdn3d and NLMeans. The hqdn3d filter is a temporal de-noiser that is also found in RipBot. Hqdn3d is apparently a decent filter, but the new “Non-Local Means” (NLMeans) is a slower, but better de-noising filter.
For the most part, de-noising is something that isn’t typically needed when transcoding/encoding with clean video sources.
Video Codecs: On the “Video” tab in Handbrake, 3 sets of options are given: the codec, the tunings for the codec, and the quality/bitrate setting. Handbrake will do the current H.264 codec and the up-and-coming H.265 codec, as well as the older MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 ASP codecs. In contrast, RipBot264 can do H.264 (shown as “AVC” in the screenshot) as well as H.265 (aka. “HEVC”). The lack of MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 ASP support isn’t really much of a drawback since there is very little real need to encode in MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 ASP these days.
RipBot largely relies on a pre-programmed set of “profiles” which display which H.264 Profile and H.264 Level is optimal for the target playback device. Handbrake also has these same “presets” on the right side of the job window, but the presets don’t indicate what settings they consist of until you click on them.
VideoQuality/Bitrate: Handbrake does a good job of making it clear what the Constant Quality (CQ) factor does. Moving the slider to higher numbers results in lower quality (and lower file size), while sliding towards the lower numbers indicates that the user is approaching undetectable (placebo) quality. Default setting is wisely set at a safe choice of 20. There is also a choice to set the quality based on average bitrate with options for 2-pass encoding and turbo first pass.
RipBot also has similar features. Instead of a slider, the CQ factor is available in a drop-down box. It is also wisely set to a safe choice of 20 by default, but it isn’t clear which way gives better results or better space saving. The choices give a useful range from 16 to 24 which is seemingly restrictive, but in actuality is pretty smart. The user can still type in values outside of this range if needed. The Average bitrate option in Ripbot isn’t quite as flexible as with Handbrake. The only method is 2-pass (there is no 1-pass option) and turbo first pass is turned on by default (in the “RipBot264.ini” file.) On the plus side, RipBot has a method to target file size when using 2-pass (not shown above) and will adjust the average bitrate automatically to match this.
Despite the lesser flexibility in RipBot, these are probably the smart choices if the user is not going to use CQ. (No harm, no foul.)
Optimize Video: Handbrake has a slider for x264 Preset which offers a range of speeds defaulting to “Very Fast”. RipBot has the same range of speeds, but changing the speed must be managed by clicking the […] button and entering the Profile manager. As shown, there is a drop-down for x264 Preset where the default is typically “Default” (which is the same as “Medium” in Handbrake.)This choice actually makes RipBot appear to run slower compared to Handbrake. The trade-off is that files produced with RipBot are usually 1 or 2% smaller (because of the extra time used.)
Since both Handbrake and RipBot use the same x264 encoder, both have access to the same options and can both encode at the same speeds. Also available in both are the “extra options” (aka. command line switches.) As the profile options are changed in RipBot, the command-line switches are changed on the user’s screen so that it is apparent what will happen when the job is actually queued and run. Handbrake does not show command-line switches associated with settings… (at least, not in the “Video” tab…)
Advanced Video: Handbrake has an advanced tab which needs to be enabled both in the Tools -> Options menu as well as clicking on the Use Advanced Tab checkbox in the “Video” tab (which disables the Optimize Video options.) When clicking on the Advanced tab, the user gets the above menu. It’s a cornucopia of various x264 encoder options all made easily available as drop-down, slider, and checkbox options. It also has an “encoder options” window to add custom command-line switches like RipBot. The average user has pretty much zero need to mess with this screen, but if you like to fiddle, then this is the screen for you.
RipBot has no such screen and understandably so. Unless you’re chasing some edge case in video compression, then there’s probably little reason to make such adjustments. RipBot does have an “encoder options” window such that if you truly need to tweak the encoder, you can do so via command-line switch. Naturally, this presumes that the user knows what he/she is doing.
Audio settings: Handbrake has a myriad of settings. As shown here, it can re-encode to AAC, MP3, AC3, or do a number of direct stream copy options (which it calls “passthru”.)
RipBot knows that the user has selected MP4 and intelligently restricts the user to the smartest of options. In this case, AAC 2.0 or AAC 5.1 with varying bitrates from 96 to 320 kbps.
In the case of MKV, RipBot enables broader options like “Copy Stream” which keeps the audio exactly as it is. It also gives options for AAC, AC3, and the new and very excellent Opus audio codec. Handbrake is not capable of Opus in MKV, but it can do both FLAC and Vorbis.
Transcoding DVD and Blu-ray: Both Handbrake and Ripbot have their own special ways of handling the re-encoding of DVD and Blu-ray data.
Handbrake has one or two options. It asks the user to either choose a VIDEO_TS folder of a DVD or the STREAM folder of an extracted Blu-ray disc. Or alternatively, it can directly access an unencrypted disc either via drive or drive emulation (through a 3rd party program.) From there it automatically scans all the Titles found on the disc.
RipBot asks the user to browse for the VIDEO_TS folder as well (for DVDs) or a single M2TS file in the Blu-ray disc. In the case of Blu-ray, once the single file is selected, it scans the remainder of the disc and displays a Blu-ray Structure screen (shown above.)
Here, the user must select which playlist, chapters, video and audio stream, and subtitles desired. It also gives the option to the user to convert the video to WAV, FLAC, just extract the lossy Core (if there is one), or just plain Demux the audio from the video. Oddly, the default is “Wave” when it should probably be “Demux” since that gives the greatest options and flexibility without altering the audio at all.
From there, Ripbot proceeds to demux the audio. This often takes anywhere from 1 to 10 minutes.
Batch Encoding: If you have a bunch of files that you would like encoded all the same way, Handbrake and RipBot can do this for you as well.
In Handbrake, you must select a source folder and then Handbrake brings in all files to the Job Scheduler screen. Then when all settings are configured, select Add ALL in the Add to Queue drop-down. The first time this is done, an error window may pop up and ask the user to configure a few output folder settings. After that, the jobs can be started in the queue.
In RipBot, Batch is click on and a dialog window appears. At this point, the user selects all the files desired. Then RipBot brings these files into a new window known as Batch Mode, which looks a lot like the regular job configuration window, yet is somehow a bit different. As shown above, all the input files are listed in a window and all the major settings (video profile, mode, CRF, size, audio profile, deinterlace, and the save as option) are there. When you click the Start button, the jobs are dumped back into the queue and (optionally) started.
Parallel processing: Handbrake and RipBot both can perform multi-threaded video encoding and can take advantage of multi-core and multi-processor machines. But RipBot has 1 more trick up its sleeve:
Multi-computer Distributed Encoding!
That’s right. RipBot can employ up to 8 computers to process a video! RipBot does this over a Local Area Network (LAN) by handing out approximately 1500 frames at a time. Each computer (running its own copy of RipBot) crunches away on these 1500 frames and then sends the final results back to the master RipBot machine. All chunks of compressed video glory are then stitched together into the final product.
The result is quite linear and when using 2 computers simultaneously, the result is a 2-fold increase in encoding speed! 4 computers 4x increase! 8 computers 8 times faster (presuming that all computers being used have equivalent computing power.)
Naturally, one must have extra computers at his or her disposal to try this, but it really does work! Instead of waiting 2 hours for a video to encode when using a single computer, with 8 computers working together, it can be done in 15 minutes!
| Handbrake Pros:|| RipBot264 Pros:|
| Handbrake Cons:|| RipBot264 Cons:|
Handbrake is your everyday encoder. It works on all major platforms: Windows (32 64-bit), Mac OS X 10.6 , and even Ubuntu! Software install is easy and job setup (for the most part) is a breeze. When you want to get technical, Handbrake also has an Advanced tab for every video nerd that wants to tweak the heck of the encoding settings.
RipBot264, in contrast, is a heavy lifter. While it is possibly to use it for everyday purposes, its strengths lie in intelligently steering the user to safe settings that would be good for processing lots of files in a batch mode. And when doing lots of encoding, it helps to have the ability to press into service up to 8 other computers for speeding along the process using distributed encoding. RipBot also is ideal for targeting physical media where capacity limitations sometimes must be considered.If you liked this article, please help spread the word using one of the social networking sites below Cool Edit Pro 2 Thanks!
tsMuxeR is a transport stream muxer that supports most HD input formats such as H.264/VC-1 and E-AC3/DTS-HD, and can output to Blu-ray's M2TS
tsMuxeR is a transport stream muxer that supports most HD input formats such as H.264/VC-1 and E-AC3/DTS-HD, and can output to Blu-ray's M2TS.
Supported output formats: TS, M2TS
Supported video codecs: H.264, VC-1, MPEG2
Supported audio codecs: AAC, AC3 / E-AC3(DD ) DTS / DTS-HD
Supported containers and formats:
- elementary stream
- Transport stream TS and M2TS
- Program stream EVO/VOB/MPG
- Matroska MKV/MKA
Additional features currently implemented:
- Ability to set muxing fps manually and automatically
- Ability to change level for H.264 streams
- Ability to shift a sound tracks
- Ability to extract DTS core from DTS-HD
- Ability to join files.
Input Files: AVC, H.264, MPG, VC-1
Output Files: TS
| PS3 H.264 Conversion Guide |
Description: This guide shows you how to convert DVD/AVI/DivX/XviD/MOV files to a PS3 compatible H.264 file that can uses AAC or AC3 5.1 audio, covering 3 methods for making MP4, VOB or a M2TS stream
| RipBot264 PS3, Xbox 360 H.264 Encoding Guide |
Description: A guide that shows you how to use RipBot264 to encode files to MPEG-4 AVC/H Game Euro Truck Simulator 2264 for use on your PS3 or Xbox 360, with bonus M2TS muxing instructions for the PS3
The Hassle-Free Guide to Ripping Your Blu-Ray Collection
|DVD Library Manager||dvdid.xml editor for the Vista Media Center DVD Library. Can scan your collection then allows you to download metadata and artwork from IMDB and Amazon.||Y||All||View||10/1/09|
|FixGenres||Simple tool that will go through your existing metadata and cleanup your messy genres to those pulled from IMDb. Can also be used to assign icons and backdrops for genres directly to the ImagesByName directory!||Y||All||N/A||6/22/10|
|HD Movie Trailer Downloader||Automatically download HD trailers from Apple iTunes and Yahoo!, complete with metadata and artwork compatible with Media Browser!||Y||VMC,7MC||View||10/1/09|
|HD-Trailers.net Downloader||Command-line utility for downloading HD trailers in 480p/720p/1080p from HD-Trailers.net. Can be set up for batch scheduling.||Y||All||View||10/1/09|
|Media Center Master||Automatic metadata and artwork fetching application for Media Browser. Grabs content from IMDB, tMDB and theTVDB. Can also grab trailers and torrents.||Y||VMC,7MC||View||10/1/09|
|Media Scout||Automatic metadata and artwork fetcher and file renamer for Media Browser. Works for movies and TV series. Sporadically maintained and no longer developed, but still works…most of the time. Some support available at the Media Browser Forums.||Y||VMC,7MC||View||10/1/09|
|meta||All-in-one metadata retrieval utility that pulls metadata and artwork from tMDB.org and theTVDB.com. Originally designed to work exclusively with Media Browser, MetaBrowser can now save content for additional media libraries (i.e. info and dvdid.xml files). More functionality than any one person knows what to do with! Free version available here.||Y/N||All||View||10/1/09|
|Metadata Browser||Compact metadata and artwork fetching tool. Scrapes IMDB and stores files compatible with Media Browser. Formerly known as Metadata Tool.||Y||VMC,7MC||View||6/14/10|
|MetaVideoEditor||Manage movie and tv show metadata. Works with MediaBrowser, MyMovies, XBMC and Windows DVD Library.||y||All||View||6/22/10|
|Movie Pimp||Movie Pimp is first and foremost a movie manager. It was created to keep track of movies from various sources, download information about the movie from blu-ray.com or IMDB and store that information in an SQL database. Slowly I've been adding more "front-end" home theater functionality.||Y||All||View||12/3/2010|
|My Movie Finder||Grabs metadata (dvdid.xml) and cover art for the 7MCbuilt-in movie library.||Y||,7MC||View||10/1/09|
|Salami’s Movie Organizer||The original metadata and artwork fetcher for Video Browser. Simple and easy-to-use metadata retrieval from IMDB and posters from IMPAwards. No backdrop retrieval.||Y||VMC,7MC||View||10/1/09|
|Stark Covers||Complimentary utility to add some very nice effects such as 3D, case framing, gloss, etc. to your existing folder (poster) images automatically while preserving the original image.||Y||All||View||10/7/09|
|TV Metadata Finder||Replaces the old Ruby Scraper coded by Sam Saffron for populating TV series in Video Browser (Media Browser). Now includes a GUI and much more functionality.||Y||VMC,7MC||View||10/1/09|
|YAMMM (Yet Another Media Manager)||Runs as a Windows service, automatically scanning specified folder structures for new movie files and then can rename them, grab metadata and artwork, create playlists and then store it in a number of formats that are compatible with the most popular media managers 한글과컴퓨터오피스2010 정품||Y||VMC,7MC||View||10/1/09|
Metadata Managers – theHTPC.net
Updated 05/26/2016: If you are one of the 12 million Nintendo Wii U owners out there, chances are that you know how awesome the Wii U truly is. As you may recall with the regular Wii, there were the larger games found on disc and online shopping known as “WiiWare” that you could download. Because this downloadable content was rather small, it didn’t really take up much space on the internal memory system. And if you really needed more storage, there was always the SD card slot. No big deal.
With the Wii U, there are two models:
- The white model with 8GB of internal flash storage
- The black model with 32GB of internal flash storage
By today’s standards, both sizes are rather paltry. And now that it is possible to download full games directly to the Wii U, it is quite easy to fill up the internal memory. (Xenoblade Chronicles X… Super Smash Brothers… etc…)
What to do… What to do…
Nintendo did put an SD card slot on the Wii U, but it’s only for backwards compatibility with the regular Wii subsystem. (i.e. It does NOT work with Wii U games.) Nintendo could have put a 2.5″ SATA hard disk slot in the Wii U, but it did not. This was a huge missed opportunity!
Can you imagine just grabbing a 2.5″ laptop drive and stuffing it in your Wii It would have stored all of your downloadable content for the Wii U in a very clean and simple way.
Instead, all we have are the two USB2 ports on the back.
The obvious choice is to grab a full-size external hard drive, plug it into the wall and then plug it into the Wii U. A good 1TB will set you back $70 and easily hold all of your games.
But boy is it big! And extra wires running everywhere. Ugh! Not the cleanest or simplest look. And you have to remember to turn the drive off when you’re done (or you can be lazy and just leave it on to burn the extra 120 watts per day of power just sitting around idling.)
In a different post, I proposed using a 2.5″ external portable drive like the Seagate Backup Plus Slim (because of its exceptionally low power usage compared to all other externals) with either a Dual A to Micro-B USB 3.0 Y-cable to get extra power from the 2nd USB port or custom wire a capacitor in-line to deal with voltage sag on the 5v rail of the USB port.
Side note: You may want to use the 2nd USB port on the back of your Wii U for a 10/100 wired USB 2.0 Ethernet adapter. It’s more reliable than WiFi and you get WAY better network performance.
The results with the external portable drive with the capacitor were pretty good, but still, it seemed kind of hack-ish. In a not-so-good kinda way. Definitely stick with the a Dual A to Micro-B USB 3.0 Y-cable if you want to use the Seagate 1TB Backup Plus Slim.
Then an amazing thing happened!
A magical, small form-factor USB device appeared!
It’s called a Cute USB Mini 2-port hub splitter and it’s only ($10)
This awesome device allows you to use both a USB 10/100 Ethernet adapter (above) as well as the Dual A to Micro-B USB 3.0 Y-cable ($5) with either an external SSD (like the Anker enclosure PNY SSD) or the low-power 1TB Seagate Backup Plus Slim.
I specifically noticed in my round-up of 1TB portable drives that the Seagate Backup Plus Slim drive used the least amount of power by a sizable margin, so it is definitely safe for using with the Dual A to Micro-B USB Y-cable. In fact, I tested it on my own Wii U and it works perfectly!
If you want SSD goodness, read on:
For the enclosure, I chose the Anker external USB3 enclosure ($13) and you have a very sleek, slim, fast, and low-power device to store all your Wii U downloads and save game data.
Why choose the Anker USB3 external enclosure
The first few external USB enclosures I tried weren’t so good in the power efficiency department. Then I came upon the Anker which used notably less power than its competitors (about 50 to 70mA less!) The Anker and the PNY together are pretty cheap, too. Amazon’s prices have been fluctuating a little bit lately, but the two together can usually be had for $65 to $75, total! That’s a solid deal!
Update 12/01/2015: I previously used to recommend the PNY CS1111 120GB because it was so low power and cheap, but it has now become an “old” model (despite still being generally available) which is to be replaced by a newer model, the PNY CS1311.
So I purchased the PNY CS1311 240GB model (because who doesn’t want more space) and the Dual A to Micro-B USB 3.0 Y-cable ($5).
This cable is very important as it allows the SSD to use both USB ports to effectively draw twice as much power.
The results are that the 240GB formatted just fine and showed up as 223GB on the Wii U. And everything runs great.
And if you also want the Wired USB 10/100 LAN Ethernet, then just pick up the magical, small form-factor USB device called the Cute USB Mini 2-port hub splitter ($10) and the 10/100 wired USB 2.0 Ethernet LAN adapter ($12). It all fits perfectly and cleanly on the back of your Wii U.
And if you just want to use the built-in WiFi (read: no Ethernet), do not buy the cute 2-port hub nor the Ethernet LAN adapter. Then skip right to step 4 below.
Once you have everything, you’ll need to do the following. Make sure the Wii U is OFF when doing all of this:
- Plug the cute 2-port hub on the top USB port.
- Plug the Ethernet LAN adapter into one of the ports on the cute 2-port hub.
- Connect the short end of the Y-splitter to the other port on the cute 2-port hub.
- Connect the longer part of the Y-splitter to the bottom USB port.
(If you did not buy the cute 2-port hub, plug both ends into both ports.)
- Connect the external portable HDD or SSD to the micro USB3 end of the cable.
This allows the external HDD or SSD to take a little extra current from the other port (which the Ethernet LAN adapter wasn’t using anyway since it’s a fairly low power device.)
Have I ever mentioned that you should only use the COPY function (and NEVER the Move function) on the Wii U
Apparently, if the Wii U fails in its attempt to move your games from one location to another, what happens is that all the games it has already moved are deleted off the source location meanwhile the target location is completely corrupted. Yup, that means you just lost all your save games and you have to re-download your game from the Wii U store.
I consider this a bug, but I doubt Nintendo will ever fix it.
Moral of the story: ALWAYS use COPY.
Then once you’ve confirmed that everything copied over fine, then (and only then) should you DELETE from the source location.
So how well does it work
As shown in this photo of the Drok USB Multimeter, the 120GB PNY SSD together with the Anker USB3 enclosure idles at a mere 180mA and sometimes peaks at 250mA while under full load. (All of which is far less than the 500mA maximum that the USB2 port can supply.) I’ve used this setup for weeks now and it is rock solid. Zero crashes or lockups.
When formatted, it yields 111GB of storage space (and 223GB for the 240GB model!) Games are very snappy to load!
And just a single cable carrying both the power and data. It’s barely noticeable! No need to turn it off when you’re done. And you still have an extra USB2 port free in the back for a 10/100 Ethernet adapter!
Now it is entirely possible that you may be one of those gamers who has every game ever and a 120GB of additional storage won’t hold all your games. But if you’re like most Wii U gamers, chances are this will be more than enough! And you can always upgrade to a 1TB Seagate portable drive. That should hold everything!If you liked this article, please help spread the word using one of the social networking sites below uTorrent Thanks!
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