It may sound a complicated proposition, but building up a media server for home use is a comparatively simple task because a home structure is not that complicated than a bigger commercial building. The cost of setting it up can vary as the complexity increases. Here we will look at two popular methods that are simple and economical to set up.
What is a media server?
Put into simple terms, a media server will allow you to store all your media files in the same centralised location and access them from various devices around the home. The main advantage of this is that your files are not duplicated on PC’s or tablets and, as a media server has just one task, accessing the information is faster.
Definition from Wikipedia:
By definition, a media server is a device that simply stores and shares media. This definition is vague, and can allow several different devices to be called Media Servers.
What can be stored?
Virtually any type of data can be stored including digital music collections, films, photographs, and home movies. In fact, anything that you may wish to access in more than one place in the home.
There are no special requirements for a simple home media server set up but a number of minimums are suggested.
- The processor should be a dual core as a sensible minimum with 2 GB of RAM available. Better RAM makes the process smoother so it’s always good to have more RAM but you can keep it 2GB at the primary level.
- Current media server standards suggest hard drives should be 2 TB (Terabytes). If you intend to spend any money on your server then this is where you should spend it as the hard drives hold all your valuable data.
- Ethernet adaptor. A gigabit adapter will allow you to stream to multiple units without freezing.
- The Power supply unit should be capable of starting up all the hard drives simultaneously. This may become an issue if you are using an old computer as a base for the media centre. A quick rule of thumb is: A hard drive consumes around 5 Watts of power at idle and 30 watts on start up.
A variety of companies offer software to run your media centre, some are free and some will cost, but do come with online and telephone back up. The choice here is down to you and your budget. If you afford you can get a premium software which surely be better as free ones come with some limitations.
With the advent of Fibre optic broadband, Streaming information into the home has never been faster. There is a simpler way of sharing this information if you don’t wish to go down the dedicated server route.
All major operating systems offer file sharing option which will allow you to set up one of your PCs as a media server. This allows you to stream information to other points e.g. television, laptop or tablet. The advantage of this is that you are not investing time and money in purchasing or building a dedicated media server. The main disadvantage is that it will be slower and less efficient at streaming information. Plus it will also be necessary to leave the dedicated PC on permanently.
Setting up your media server at your home is a very good idea specifically when you know the affordable way. Steps are mentioned in the post are quite easy. Isn’t it?
So stop waiting and get your own media server installed into your home and enjoy accessing the media from the centralised system by sitting anywhere in your home.
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