Press "Enter" to skip to content

What Is A Home Media Streaming Server?

In today’s digital age, media streaming has become integral to our lives, allowing us to access video and audio content on demand. Whether watching your favorite TV show, enjoying a movie, or listening to music, a media streaming server, whether yours or one from a streaming service, is crucial in delivering this content to our devices. 

The problem with this model is that we no longer own the media we consume. The media is stored somewhere else, and the company that owns it and therefore makes it available to us can remove it or revoke our access to it at any time.

What if you could set up a media streaming server at home that hosts all your content and makes it available to all your devices?

Jump to The Relevant Section

Understanding Media Streaming Servers

A media server is a dedicated server that stores and delivers multimedia content to clients or client devices upon request over a network. 

It acts as a central repository for media files and enables users to access and stream media content on various devices, including computers, smartphones, smart TVs, and tablets.

Why Should I Own a Media Streaming Server?

The question you might have at this point is why you should create a media streaming server at home when you have streaming services like Netflix, Spotify, Amazon Prime and others serving you this content. 

Total Control Over Your Media

The first answer is control. As the number of streaming services increases, media fragmentation continues, with each service wanting to retain exclusive access to content it owns. When Netflix was becoming a thing, this fragmentation did not exist since everything was on one platform. 

Now services like Disney+ have exclusive access to their content and have started deleting some of it to save on storage and bandwidth. This means that you might not be able to access a beloved movie or TV show in the future. 

A media streaming server gives you total control of your media so that you have it available even if your favorite streaming service or production house removes them.

Always-on and Always-available Media

A home media streaming server is always one and always available, that is, unless you decide to switch it off. You do not have to wait for it to boot, run antivirus software and then complete a boot sequence like you would a computer. 

All of the above eliminates many people’s frustration when they want to watch something quickly and have to wait until their computer is ready. If they cannot do what they want to do quickly, most people lose patience and do not bother.

Additional Benefits

A home media streaming server has additional benefits that you should know about, and that makes owning one worth it. First, you can access your files much faster through your local network without downloads or buffers. That said, access speed will depend on the server’s performance because it is possible to access online content faster if you have a fast internet connection and a slow home media server.

The second additional benefit is privacy. If you have robust network security, you can be sure that nobody outside the network can access your home media streaming server and, thus, your stored media.

What Is a Media Streaming Server Used For?

A media streaming server is used for various purposes related to distributing and delivering multimedia content.

Media sharing is one of these uses, as the media streaming server allows users to share their personal media libraries with others. It enables family members, friends, or colleagues to access and stream media files stored on the server, creating a centralized hub for media consumption.

If you set up your media streaming server correctly, it can also provide remote access to media files stored on a local network. If it is set up right, you can stream your personal media collection from anywhere as long as you have an internet connection. This is an excellent option for those who want to access their favorite movies, TV shows, or music while away from home.

A media streaming server allows you to watch your content anywhere
A media streaming server allows you to watch your content anywhere

Media streaming servers often support transcoding. Transcoding is converting media files into different formats or bitrates to ensure compatibility with various devices and network conditions. 

Transcoding allows content to be optimized for streaming on different platforms and devices. For example, you might transcode a file so that you can stream it from a smartphone at a smaller resolution and lower bitrate and a larger resolution and higher bitrate on a smart TV. 

You can also use a media streaming server for personal media management. Media streaming servers offer tools to organize and manage personal media collections. They provide features like metadata retrieval, artwork display, playlist creation, and advanced search capabilities, making navigating and finding specific media files easier.

Lastly, they provide multi-device support. Streaming servers cater to the needs of users with multiple devices. They ensure that media content can be streamed and enjoyed on various platforms, including smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, computers, and gaming consoles.

How Does a Media Streaming Server Work

A home media streaming server is a combination of software and hardware, so you have to set both up before using the server to stream your favorite media to your devices. 

The Hardware

You will need a dedicated computer or a network-attached storage (NAS) device to serve as the media server for the hardware set-up. 

This device should have enough storage capacity to store your media files and enough performance for transcoding and serving your media files. Additionally, you will need a home router to create your local network and a stable internet connection to access your server and files remotely.

The Software and Apps

Once you have set up the hardware, you will need to install an operating system and media streaming server software on your computer or NAS. You will need an operating system before installing the streaming software, popular options being Linux and TrueNas

Next, you will need to install the media server software. Popular options include Kodi, Plex, Emby and Jellyfin. These software packages provide a user-friendly interface and organize your media library, making it easy to browse and stream content.

Accessing Files

Once you have the hardware and server set up, you need to import and organize your files. There is no right or wrong way to do this; you can do it according to the system that makes the most sense to you. 

Popular options include organizing and categorizing by genre, artist, album, or any other method that suits your preference. 

Depending on the media server software you use, you might have access to functionality that helps with automatically fetching metadata, such as movie posters, TV show descriptions, and music album covers.

Now that you have the server, software and media ready, the media server software can transcode (convert) your media files into compatible formats and bitrates on-the-fly to ensure a smooth playback across various devices. 

For example, if a device requires a lower resolution or different file format, the server software will transcode the file accordingly.

The next step is installing media player apps on the various devices you want to use to consume your content. In almost all cases, your media streaming software will have clients for different devices, such as smartphones, computers and smart TVs. 

Stream content to all devices from your media streaming server
Stream content to all devices from your media streaming server

These apps connect to the media server and provide a user interface for browsing and playing your media. The other option is accessing your media server through a web browser.

Additional Functionality

Some media server software allows you to access your media library remotely over the internet. You can stream your media from anywhere if the server is powered on and connected to the internet. This feature is useful when you want to access your media while traveling or away from home.

An additional functionality you should be aware of is user management. Media server software often supports user management, allowing you to create user accounts with different access permissions. 

This lets you control which media content is available to specific users or restrict access to certain folders or libraries.

For example, you might allow your children to only access content rated GE or PG-13 and only accounts that belong to adults to access R-rated content.

A Media Streaming Server Lets You Own Your Streams

A media streaming server is an excellent option for those who want to own all their media and have a convenient way of accessing it. With the way things are going, no one knows whether the shows and movies you love will be available on streaming platforms in the future. 

Having a media streaming server alleviates this fear while streamlining the process of storing, organizing, and accessing your media files from various devices and providing a centralized and convenient solution for media consumption within your home network.

One Comment

  1. Dewayne Becker Dewayne Becker February 5, 2024

    I’ve been surfing online more than 4 hours today, yet I never found any interesting article like yours.
    It’s pretty worth enough for me. Personally, if all
    site owners and bloggers made good content as you did, the net will be much more useful than ever before.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *