I’ll talk about what I do in terms of media, what i’ve tried in the past and what i’ve ruled out completely along with one thing that i wish was more useful but i see the potential of.
To clarify on the hardware i have:
1 Windows 11 desktop with every drive shared over the network
1 M1 Mac Mini connected to my 4K TV with 2 external drives shared over the network
1 Google Pixel 5 that uses a file manager app to access the shares on both of these computers
I mainly watch media on the Mac Mini using the video playing app IINA or in Edge. I listen to music on the Mac Mini just using Music and i have all my music local on this computer in a shared folder (In ALAC format).
I ingest my media by transcoding movies / tv shows to X265 using a custom bit of settings on my Windows PC using StaxRIP and manually converting any surround sound audio to stereo using Resolve and then exporting that to WAV and transcoding that to AAC using Apple’s AAC encoder using dBPowerAMP. Music, annoyingly, usually goes to the horribly inefficient ALAC format but i’ll transcode it to optimfrog or ape for devices that can use it, flac as a compatibility fallback.
I’m simple. SMB / Windows sharing on my LAN. It’s always just worked for me from any device I have that would need to consume the media i have. I’m rarely outside of my own LAN but in times i was i just set up an encrypted VPN server on my router itself, which is a normal Asus AC-1900P running AsusWRT Merlin, to get into my LAN that way.
In the past i’ve tried pretty much everything. Plex sucks, i’ll just say it. they want me to jump through too many hoops. Jellyfin and Emby are slightly better but still, why not just go to a folder and double click a thing or copy a thing over the network share to the device i’m using to watch the thing? metadata and indexing and transcoding is silly to me. I already do that when i first grab any media anyway.
For music i just do what i’ve always done, local files, copy albums to my device that i want music on and listen to it. no need for a server to handle that really.
There is one that I’m sure not many people will mention or even know exists.
perkeep/perkeep: Perkeep (née Camlistore) is your personal storage system for life: a way of storing, syncing, sharing, modelling and backing up content. (github.com)
Annoyingly at the time of me posting this their website is being weird with HTTPS cert things… BUT the GitHub is still up.
This isn’t particularly “media” but it does allow you to put “anything” into a very unique storage system that can be accessed in a web browser and interfaced with in a lot of interesting ways.
EDIT: I forgot to mention something. The program called digiKam. This is a multiplatform “photo” library program. It also handles videos of pretty much any type. It has thumbnailing and facial recognition and tons of other features. it can be set up to be accessed remotely too. it’ll store the metadata and such in a SQLite DB or it can use MySQL. its just a simple program you can just run but its so good!
EDIT: another one, I’ll just throw MrMC / SPMC out there as another useful app/program. I used that on my Shield TV before. I had my media hosted on a Windows based NAS at the time and MrMC just linked to the SMB shared media folder and i did things like that until i got my Mac Mini.
Hope there is something here interesting in the way i handle my media.