media servers

Discussion in 'Home Networking' started by themilhouseman, Jan 23, 2015.

  1. themilhouseman

    themilhouseman Member

    Jan 1, 2015
    Does anyone use and old pc as a media server if so how do you do this? I am looking at making one into a server but not sure how to yet thanks
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  3. GeorgeB

    GeorgeB Staff Member Community Manager

    Oct 23, 2012
    I use a WD MyCloud with WD-Red drives. Now that Roku supports true DLNA with the Media Player app, I can literally hook up one STB to each TV via HDMI and connect an OTA antenna feed to the coax input and get everything I need. Even down in the basement.

    If you are set on using your PC as a media server I'd have to recommend you look into Plex. Though, if I'm not mistaken, Plex is no longer completely free. I think there is a monthly fee to run it which, for this particular app I'm kind of against. I see nothing wrong with a service that stores and streams content to you on-demand charging you a monthly fee for that service. But to charge you to provide the ability to stream your own content in your own home? Seems off to me.
  4. olandir

    olandir Well-Known Member

    Dec 27, 2014
    Richmond, VA
    I use both Plex and PlayOn on a computer as a media server. I don't know if my computer would qualify as "old" I bought it off of eBay for about $200 though but I made sure it had a fast CPU, an HD graphics card and a good amount of memory. It runs Windows 8 (though I downgraded to 7... might upgrade to 10 when it gets stable).

    If you want to make sure your computer can handle being a media server, find out the type of CPU it has and then search for the CPU on PassMark If it has a PassMark of, let's say 1200 or better, you're good to go... minimum would be 1000.

    Plex is free for the media server on your computer. If you want to watch the content on your connected device, there is a 1 time fee. $5 for the roku app, I assume the same for other devices. There is no monthly charge if you're just using the Plex server on your computer to host media. If you want to get into cloud based storage and a whole bunch of other cool (but for me unnecessary) features, then yes they have monthly subscription services... and honestly if you're using Plex servers for their cloud based storage than of course you'd have to pay a fee, makes sense to me.

    If all you're trying to do is host your personal collection of meda, then Plex is definitely your go-to. It's interface is GREAT. It organizes stuff for you pretty much on it's own, you only have to setup a few things and the only division you need in your media collection is to divide your movies from your tv shows from your music. As long as you do that, Plex can handle everything else. It has a guide about how you should organize shows into folders and then into seasons and all that, but honestly, all of my content just dumps into one giant folder and Plex still organizes it no problem.

    Plex is highly polished, well designed interface, and easy to use. Plus it has some plugins for some other great content if you're willing to poke around. It's easy to install, easy to keep updated and easy to load your content. It pretty much handles itself.

    I use PlayOn as a media server for watching and downloading content from sites like ABC, CBS, NBC, CW, FOX, etc. PlayOn has a feature that allows you to watch shows from the websites of content providers directly on your TV. It works great for the main channels, and it works "so so" for channels that require you to have a television provider logon (i.e. cable subscription). The best part about PlayOn is PlayLater, which allows you to download shows to your computer for later watching, this is great for shows that may only be available for a brief period of time on the site itself but you want to watch it at your leisure. PlayOn also had a media section for your own media but it's not as robust as Plex by any stretch. PlayOn with Playlater costs $80 but they're having a sale for $40 right now.

    PlayOn is NOT polished, it always feels like you're using the BETA version of a product that still has some bugs in it. For the major networks Playon and PlayLater work pretty flawlessly but for networks that require a logon like TNT, TBS, SyFi, USA, etc... you're going to be pulling your hair out at times and that's just the reality of those sites... they're not trying to make it easy for you to watch them on your connected device, which is what PlayOn is trying to do for you. Also if you're ONLY using a media server to watch your own content, then PlayOn is NOT for you. Get Plex. Even when I'm downloading content using PlayLater, I drop it into my Plex folder so I can watch it through the Plex interface. I like that interface a lot better. I typically use PlayOn to watch shows like Big Bang Theory or Scorpion (CBS shows) that I can't get through Hulu but are available on the sites of their providers.

    I hope this info helps.
  5. mattattack

    mattattack Member

    Mar 20, 2015
    Following on what everybody else is saying about Plex - if you live in the UK you can get a SkyNow box for a tenner, which is basically a branded Roku, and you can get plex on that pretty easily and for free (source). I have a nettop which plugs into the main tv, running XBMC and plex, and we have 3 nowboxes around the house for streaming.
  6. jgwiggins74

    jgwiggins74 New Member

    Apr 8, 2015
    Info on PlayOn was valuable. I purchased a lifetime
    License for PlayOn when it first came out. I jhave been using Plex for two years and love it. I will now implement the PlayOn option for my affiliate shows. Thanks!!

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