Setting Up Media Server At Home: What You Need To Know

Are you thinking of installing a media server at home? Setting up a home media server is a great way to build a home entertainment server by yourself. On the one side, the paid streaming services offer a library of online media, you can host the files by yourself.

Once you have synced the media server with your content, you can access it from anywhere. A media server at home is a great way to share access to your favourite movies, music, and TV shows.

Do you want to set up media server at home? In this article, we will show you how you can install your very own home theatre. Keep reading to find out more about building a home media server.

What is a home media server?

In one of its technical definitions, a home media server is essentially a central location for all your media devices. With a media server at home, other users can also access your content. It consists of three main components, that includes:

  • Server

It is a smart device to deliver media files

  • Storage device 

This will store all your media files like the photos, computer files, and videos

  • Clients  

Devices that other users can use to access your media which can be TV, personal computer, or mobile phone

Your three components should be compatible with each other. Generally, these elements get connected through a local area network. However, you can also use wireless methods.

The local media servers have gone out of trend. Microsoft Windows no longer creates the Windows Home Server and is also phasing out Windows Media Center. But there are still great techniques if you want to run a home media server and stream the content to all your devices.

We are sure that you could just connect a PC to your TV, but these will provide convenient interfaces across all of your devices. That means apps for TV streaming boxes, mobile phones or tablets, and even web-based interfaces for everything else. They even function over the Internet.

Bring Your Media

There are some amazing yet free software packages for this, but you will require to bring your media. If you own a large collection of local videos and music files — perhaps the videos ripped from DVDs and music files ripped from audio CDs — this may be the best method to access that particular content on all your devices without relying on streaming services like Netflix and Spotify.

These apps will often allow you to find and access photos, too — perfect if you are that type of person who keeps a local photo collection too.

media server

Plex vs. Media Browser: Choose One

The two biggest players that we recommend are probably Plex and Media Browser. Both of them work similarly. They offer a server that you install on a desktop PC, the laptop, NAS device, or a dedicated home server. You can also go for Kodi which was formerly known as XBMC and it can be a bit more complicated to install and works a bit differently.

Both Plex and Media Browser offer the servers that can run on Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, BSD, and on various NAS devices. You can install them on your desktop computer, a dedicated server, or even get a pre-made NAS device that will support the server software.

Plex platform offers clients for platforms like Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Xbox, and PlayStation platforms. It also supports Chromecast. They offer a smartphone application for devices like iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows 8. There is also a web interface and powerful Plex app for desktop if you hook up a computer to your TV.

On the other hand, Media Browser offers clients for Roku and some other television-streaming devices including the Chromecast support. There is also a mobile app for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, and Windows 8 devices. Do you want to use it on a computer? Well, there is also a convenient web-based interface.

Both of them have pretty similar features, although Plex offers a more comprehensive suite of apps like PlayStation, Xbox or the Fire TV support. However, some Plex services will cost you money. For instance, the iOS Plex app costs about $5 and the Xbox and PlayStation app both need a “Plex Pass” subscription that will cost you $5 for a month.

However, the Media Browser and its apps are entirely free, so there is no monthly fee or per-app purchases that you will have to deal with. But the Media Browser doesn’t even offer PlayStation or Xbox support that you could purchase if you wanted to. So, you are required to pick on. Alternatively, you can try considering trying both and figuring out which one works best for you.

Set Up the Server, then Install the required Apps, and Start Streaming

To set up media server it should just take a few minutes. It does not matter what server you choose to use. 

  1. Simply, Install the Plex or Media Browser on your device of choice and then set it up to point at your media. Both Plex and Media Browser will offer you an optional account system. This will simplify signing into the smartphone and TV apps and then connecting to your server remotely over the Internet.
  1. Then, you can install the appropriate apps on your smartphones, TV Streaming box and tablets. You should use them to access your streaming media. This part is pretty easy. Remember, If you have a Chromecast then you do not need any special Plex or Media Browser app on your TV. However, you can still install the appropriate app on your mobile and then use the same to cast media directly to your Chromecast.
  1. You will also need to run your own home media server for this. If you own a desktop or a laptop and you are happy just accessing the server while your computer is working, you can just go and install the server software on your PC. 

To run the server you can also set up a dedicated server system. That would be a computer that you can leave running all the time and even access your media server anywhere over the Internet. It does not have to be a full and high-powered computer. It can be a low-power or a small-form-factor NAS device with a large hard drive for holding all those media files.

So this is our complete basic guide of setting up your own media server at home. 

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