Media server help?

Hi everyone, I have a massive movie and music collection stored on a 4bay external enclosure hooked up to one pc. This is great for my HTPC but what I would like to do now is have a set up where I can watch/listen to different files on any pc in the house (hardlined and wifi) simultaneously. In other words, I want to watch(and control) 2 different movies on 2 different pc's at the same time from one central storage location. I use VLC so I would like to still use this program.


Is this possible? Do I need a server or Nas or what? And what kind will handle multiple streams simultaneously?


I am willing to build or buy whatever is needed. Sorry if this is a noob question but networking is not my thing and I have burned my brain up trying to google it. Thanks


A little info:


broadband cable

router netgear WNR3500(this has a usb port which I can stream 1 movie at a time with flash drive(hardline/wifi)to 1 pc(never tried 2 pc at same time). Never tried the 4bay on router.

4bay external enclosure as single drives (2 hdd files and 2 hdd backup)

whole house has cat5 to every room but still want to have wireless option also

all computers are pc. either xp or win7


Didn't see a network category so I put this in harddrives. If it needs to be moved please do so.


Will be grateful for any help. Thanks again


ps. I will be happy to give any additional info needed

If all the machines run vista/windows 7 you could just make a workgroup/homegroup, and share the folders from the pc with all the files. - If all pc's are getting their ip's from the same DHCP of the router.


Give it a shot, come back or to the IRC if you need further guiding : ] (Community > chat )

GreenSLi said:

If all the machines run vista/windows 7 you could just make a workgroup/homegroup, and share the folders from the pc with all the files. - If all pc's are getting their ip's from the same DHCP of the router.


Give it a shot, come back or to the IRC if you need further guiding : ] (Community > chat )

Not all machines are win7. Some are xp as I stated but even if they were will your way allow me to stream 2 different movies off the same external hdd at the same time? Thanks

Yeah you can stream as many as you want at the same time (if you use 2 different video players, as vlc wont open 2 videos on the same computer) , but needs vista or windows 7 for it to work.

um, i guess set up a FTP on whatever computer has everything (for this example, say the ip is 192.168.1.123)

then go to your other computer, open up my computer and type in ftp://192.168.1.123 and press enter. all your music / movies will be there and ready to watch.


however, if you want to set up a home media center... linux mce is the way to go :p


oh, also wanted to point out.... ftp is a very well known protocol, so all your shit will work cross platform on any android device, any apple product, windows machines, and any linux pc's you have... however you might need a program or app for the mac/iphone

Thanks everyone for your help. I have been able to get the win7 machines to do it with the homegroup method. I will try to educate myself on FTP before I try that as I still haven't been able to do it on the XP machines.


Wondering if I shouldn't just build a new system to just hide in the closet with all the drives and maybe try the linux solution but when it comes to linux I have struggled in the past to set up the hdds properly. Everything showing up as a drive letter(inside the hdd) just gets me all confused with linux. I do okay at using the UI and am able to use linux from a live CD rather well but like I said I am a nood with linux. Being able to use it with my android devices would be a plus. Guess I just need to read and educate myself more before moving forward.


Thanks again everyone and for this site. I will let you know how it goes.

eastexas said:

Thanks everyone for your help. I have been able to get the win7 machines to do it with the homegroup method. I will try to educate myself on FTP before I try that as I still haven't been able to do it on the XP machines.


Wondering if I shouldn't just build a new system to just hide in the closet with all the drives and maybe try the linux solution but when it comes to linux I have struggled in the past to set up the hdds properly. Everything showing up as a drive letter(inside the hdd) just gets me all confused with linux. I do okay at using the UI and am able to use linux from a live CD rather well but like I said I am a nood with linux. Being able to use it with my android devices would be a plus. Guess I just need to read and educate myself more before moving forward.


Thanks again everyone and for this site. I will let you know how it goes.

ftp is damn easy... basicaly download the filezilla server, and install it.

create a new folder on your c drive somewhere, like c:\ftp

put all your stuff in that folder, thats gonna be your root folder, you wont be able to access anything outside of that.

go into filezilla, create a new group called user or something. set the path to be your c:\ftp folder, and then enable read, write, and all the other stuff (just check them all, because you want full privileges).

create a new user and add it to the group you just made.


dont worry about port forwarding, you dont want to be able to access any of these files from outside of your house, so if your reading another guide... skip that.


now you should be able to test it by going into my computer and typing in ftp://127.0.0.1

if it works, great....

now you need to figure out what your local ip is (it helps if you have a static ip, look it up, its to verbose to cover)

to find your local ip, open up cmd [win7: start->type cmd in the search->enter | win xp: start->run->type cmd->enter]

once your in the command prompt, type "ipconfig" and press enter. scroll up untill you see something that looks like 192.168.1.xxx

thats your local ip address..... now to get onto your files from any other computer, you just type in ftp://192.168.1.xxx


=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=

linux MCE is not like most distros

its a media center distribution, basicaly you have one main station with all your media connected (satellite box / cable box, hard drives, portable media, disc changers, ect..) then any other computer running mce can get media from the main box. the ideal setup is to have a small computer behind every tv... because then you can watc your high def shit on any tv wthout paying extra....


it has some cool other features, like controlling your lights, or setting up webcams as an alarm (if it is set and it detects motion, it goes off... alerts you on your phone... you can look at the cameras and even talk to an intruder... and if you dont pick up your phone, it can even call 911), and it can control your lights and shit.... too much to type, watch the video below.


the whole idea behind mce is that it can be controlled by a simple remote, no need for a keyboard and mouse.


http://vimeo.com/1259720


heres a video showing it all off..... keep in mind, this is from 3 years ago.... linux is damn cutting edge.

While this video shows the nifty remote.. you can get android software to use your phone as a remote for this baby.


might actually play with this myself....

Thanks for all the great info. I WILL be seriously looking into doing this. Making some linux machine for each tv shouldn't be that expensive and if i can control the set up with android then that makes it a win.


Can I access the files from the linux hub with windows pc's also if needed? Because I thought I read that if I did that and didn't close it out properly that linux would freeze the access or something.


Will I have to reformat my hdds as they are not Fat?


Can you recommend hardware for these builds because I am very interested in doing this? I want to build them myself


My media is just in individual folders. No tags of any kind. Like to keep things simple. I assume this will not be a problem.

eastexas said:

Thanks for all the great info. I WILL be seriously looking into doing this. Making some linux machine for each tv shouldn't be that expensive and if i can control the set up with android then that makes it a win.


Can I access the files from the linux hub with windows pc's also if needed? Because I thought I read that if I did that and didn't close it out properly that linux would freeze the access or something.


Will I have to reformat my hdds as they are not Fat?


Can you recommend hardware for these builds because I am very interested in doing this? I want to build them myself


My media is just in individual folders. No tags of any kind. Like to keep things simple. I assume this will not be a problem.


no, linux can handle ntfs just fine, however, the linux machines you would be building would most likely be ext4.

also, linux has ftp and work group support, so transferring files or reading them off of another computer would be easy.


if you want to keep a windows pc, you set up MCE, and then want to transfer new media from windows to the MCE.... that can be done via workgroup or ftp.


although, if your doing a one time transfer, after you setup MCE... put your windows hard drive in. mount it, and then copy your media from it to your linux hard drive (where ever it stores the media)....


media in individual folders is probably best....


as for hardware, im not sure.... thoes "slim pc's" in the video looked like they were perfect, but any small pc with an on board video card that can support 1080p (almost every pc now a day) should work.

take a look at the ASUS Eee Box.... they are about 200 dollars, VERY small.... and would be perfect for a station.... however the main MCE pc would need to be a bit more beefy.

Thanks for all the great info. I am looking forward to doing this and will let you know how it goes. Might take me a couple of weeks as I am very busy all of a sudden but it will happen and soon. The video really looked good. The UI impressed me the most.


Can't say I am very familiar with ex14 but will read up. If I can keep the drives NTFS I would prefer that as I will have one less step but if I need to format no big deal. Only time consuming with the copying of all the files.


If I understand this correctly, the MCE is its own media player and will handle all my media formats. I just hope it is as easy to use as VLC with resizing and such but I will get a much better idea when I get the main unit built. Nothing beats hands on training or failure.lol


Going to need something to add to the router to make all the Ethernet connections. Switching box or whatever you call it when you add a second router for access point


Got to find that android app also but that shouldn't be hard.


I am sure I will run into trouble down the road but with the helpful and knowledgeable people here on RTW I feel I am in good hands.


Thanks again to all for the help and taking the time to reply.

no problem.


in regards to the formatting, the partition that MCE is on should be in ext4 (its much nicer than ntfs... doesn't get fragmented or anything) however, any other hard drive with media OR any other partition on the MCE hard drive would be fine no matter what file system it uses.

Sadly I went to the Linux MCE site today to get jump started on this and the download is unavailable. Says it is being moved and is not updated yet.:(


That is my luck.lol

this has nothing to do with you problem i just want to say i love your avatar lol

mickeydeath said:

this has nothing to do with you problem i just want to say i love your avatar lol


Thanks, I made it myself with Bryce. Took me forever but it taught me a lot. It is only a small part of a much larger scene I made