Tech

How To Set-Up Your Own Home Media Server

August 19, 2015 | by Josh

If you’re like me and you have old computers sitting in your closets, why not put those to good use and try and reduce your cable bill while you’re at it? I’ll show you how to make a home media server for free!

The Basic Ingredients:

  • Any PC
  • The Internet

Alright, do you have those? If you don’t have the Internet, I’m not sure what to tell you. How are you reading this? If you don’t have a PC laying around, pick up this ASUS Desktop for just $271.00.

But it’s totally underpowered compared to my development/gaming rig!

I’m running a PC from 2007 as my HTPC server that’s way worse than that. You shouldn’t worry one bit.

Now for the fun part:

Let’s get PLEX installed!

In the video, Scott talks about bookmarked times on the video player. Those don’t actually exist. Here are the important times:

2:46 Adding Media
3:27 Adding Channels
3:44 Viewing Your Content
4:29 Plex Pass

Pointing your PLEX server to your movie or TV show repository is easy (2:44 in the video). All of my movies and TV shows that I DEFINITELY OBTAINED COMPLETELY LEGALLY are downloaded to a specific folder, and I just have to refresh my PLEX library for it to show up. I don’t keep TV shows and movies separate, because I don’t care that much, but you might and PLEX is supportive of your life choices.

Remotely Managing Your Media Server From Inside Your Home

I like having my Media Server dedicated to downloading and serving content instead of using it to display content. You can do this too if you set up Remote Desktop if you’re running all Windows devices, or set up VNC like I have if you’re running a number of different operating systems throughout your home. This setup will allow to to hide your crappy old computer in a closet or bedroom, which I know keeps my wife happy and it keeps me from needing to hook up a monitor to it!

Consuming Your Content

plex

I have an older version of the Alienware 15 as my HTPC which allows me to access PLEX via a browser for free and stream whatever I’d like on my TV by using a DisplayPort to HDMI adapter. I use the same URL that I use to manage the server software on my media server (the URL format is http://<NAME OF YOUR MEDIA SERVER HERE>:32400/web/index.html). You can also use the Media Server you just built and plug that bad-boy directly into your TV. If you pay $4.99 a month you can consume all of your content served through PLEX either through their app (which is available on most Smart TVs , Roku, and videogame consoles), but $40 a year is a little too much to stomach for a lot of the cordcutting crowd.

The added benefit of using another old computer or laptop to access PLEX is that you can quickly pull up Netflix or YouTube as well as video games (much like a Smart TV), but you can also do stuff like … write a blog post from the comfort of your couch!

Connecting your computer to your TV/Receiver can be a bit of a chore. If you have any questions about that, or if you get stuck, feel free to comment and we’ll try and point you in the right direction.

Added Benefit

In addition to playing your TV, Music and Movies on your TV, you’ll be able to play them on any phones, tablets, or computers connected to your home network. You can even put in the additional work to enable remote access of your media server from outside of your home network. Just a little extra work and you have all of you entertainment at your fingertips no matter where you’re traveling!

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Cordcutting is a rewarding hobby, though it takes a little time to get used to not having cable. Putting the effort into getting a media server set up is an investment that will pay off over the years to come. Are you a cordcutter too? Any suggestions? Let us know in the comments!

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