This Old Nerd
September 16, 2010

02: Put together a home media server

Last week, we built a gigabit Ethernet network. This week, we’re putting all our pictures, music, and movies on a server and accessing everything through front end software all over the network.

Download: HD (mp4) | HD (M4V)SD (mp4)

  • Peter

    Will you please encode with a format playable with Zune?

    • iyaz

      Sorry about that. I will get on that right now. I’ll have a link up hopefully within an hour.

  • Gavi

    I have a computer that I want to connect to my HDTV in the second room (about 35 ft. away) and wanted to know the best way to connect and run an HDMI cable through walls.

    • iyaz

      @gavi You’ll be very interested in our next ep then. :)

  • Jason P

    Well done Iyaz! awesome episode. In the end, were you watching your media through a Media Centre PC or Xbox?

    • iyaz

      Thanks @Jason P. I was using a Media Center PC at the end.

  • Enrique

    iyaz, I would also suggest using Media Browser at and Metabrowser to add the Metadata at

    This can handle both TV shows and Movies.

  • Kal

    I love the “It’s not working!” clip…so true!

    • iyaz

      @Enrique, neat. I’ll check it out.
      @Kal, you can thank my lovely wife for providing the sound clip.

  • Steve__D

    I use Mediaportal( ) form my front end with the plugins “My TvSeries” for Tv shows and “Moving Pictures” for movies, Mediaportal also has a TV server built in to stream tv over your network, check it out it’s open source.

    Loving the show.

    • iyaz

      @Steve_D – I used to use MediaPortal years ago. Looks like I’ll have to do a follow up ep focusing on front-ends with all these great suggestions. Thanks for watching!

  • Chris

    A while back, I’ve begun ripping my dvd collection into uncompressed .iso format. I’ve been watching them with VLC on my computer so my PAR wasn’t critical. Now I’m not sure if it was the best idea. At least it will be easy to “re-rip” the .iso’s into anything I want. My question is, if I want to stream out to my xbox360 in the living room (increasing PAR), what format should I use? (I’m running windows7x64)

    I’ve been meaning to build a networking panel with my gateway, router, vonage box and all that mounted cleanly with nice short cat5 runs. Thanks for the motivation to actually get to doing it. Btw, great show and thanks for the follow on twitter.

    • iyaz

      @Chris – I haven’t tried to stream to my 360, but that’s a good idea. I found this official 360 info on formats it supports. Long story short: there is support for AVIs (incl Divx) and H.264 but compatibility for each depends on bitrate. Here’s the link:

      Also, keep in mind your portable devices and compatibility for those so you can take your video on the go. Personally, I would lean towards H.264 mp4s.

      Once again, thanks to all this feedback, I’ll end up doing a follow up on front-ends. Maybe episode 6.

  • Matt Burley

    Great episode, Iyaz.

    I really like the Drobo but I just wish it had more features. We use a Windows Home Server here. I was drawn to the feature of the “Lights Out” which means you can set times when the server comes on and off, great for saving power. Some of the plugins also look useful, although I haven’t really had time for these. Like you said, the Drobo is for people who just want to leave it and not have to think about it, but the Windows Home Server is a great option for others who might want more control over the system.

    Thanks for the great episode! Keep up the great work!

    • iyaz

      @Burley! Yep, WHS is another one I didn’t have time to cover. I know of an HP WHS that automatically converts stuff for you — and I think it was around $600 (US). Thanks for watching, Matt.

    • Andriesk

      We used HP Media Server and had hassels like streaming was broken and HP techs could not fix it. What works for us is hooking up a PogoPlug to a Drobo. Way more stable and useful. We use this at our church to store our music and videos and share them with teaching staff. We have PC server but also use Macs. PogoPlug is about $80.

  • Sam

    I noticed people suggesting other pieces of media software. One kind of software that I’ve heard of is LinuxMCE, Media Center Edition. It is operating system that does much more than is needed hpfor this application though, it can be wired to lights and other things around the house.
    Great videos!

    • iyaz

      @Sam. The Linux path is definitely something I will be looking into. It is a little involved, but it is a very interesting option. Thanks for watching, Sam.

  • Paul

    Linux MCE does great things. There is a video of how it works and what it can do. Its amazing what you can get for free…
    Hope you dont mind posting this one!

  • Russ

    Next for my want list is a VPN server so I can access the art/video/e-books/whatever where ever I can find an internet connection.

    • iyaz

      @Russ – you read my mind. We’ve got that some VPN/accessing-your-files-online-goodness in the pipeline.

  • Matt Burley

    Please do a 320×240 version of This Old Nerd :)

  • erazmus

    As requested, here’s your reminder to look in to a smaller version of the podcast, perhaps called ‘portable’.

  • Derrick

    Can we get this show in L, XL and XXL sizes?

  • Karen Nakamura

    When I saw you talking about the Drobo, I was initially *very* interested, but then when I went to Newegg to see how much it cost, I was overwhelemed by the negative reviews about it:

    * Slow performance
    * Drives not rebuilding
    * Units breaking

    It seems that most people who are having problems are WIndows users, and the mac people seem to be doing better. But still…

    and I’m also a bit surprised that the Drobo people lock their forums behind a serial number firewall so that potential buyers can’t read any of the criticism. And they also encrypt your logfiles so you can’t view it yourself.

    So I’m not sold on Drobo although I guess many other people have had success, including you!

    • iyaz

      @Karen – I haven’t had any of those negative experiences with the Drobo, but I’m running it on a Mac. I was unaware of the Drobo SN / forum thing. Maybe I’ll contact them to see what’s up with that. If you don’t like the Drobo, I encourage you to build a RAID. Just make sure you back up all your hard work.

  • Andriesk

    On the Mac I prefer Handbrake and MPEG Streamclip. Both are free.

  • Bryan

    Hi Iyaz,

    Great info on this show. Have you heard of or used something called Amahi? I have read that it is like the windows home server only on linux and open source. I am wanting to see if anyone out there has used this before.

    Also, I have heard mixed reviews of the Drobo. Unfortunately the cost is prohibitive to try it out, hence why I was thinking Amahi might be a good option. Plus I think Amahi handles DHCP… although not sure why I would want that on a small network at home.

    Thanks again for the info.

    • This Old Nerd

      I haven’t heard of Amahi, but I’m watching the video on it right now. It kind of reminds me of Tonido. I may have to give this a shot.

      I have only had positive experiences with my Drobo, but I understand why people would be luke-warm on getting one.

      Thanks for watching the show and commenting!

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  • Progrocktv

    Hi Iyaz,
    I was doing a Google search on Drobo and came across your GREAT piece. I’ve set up a video media server (just bought a Drobo) and am using an interesting front end, radio automation software! There’s a few programs that play video as well and one of the nice features it the ability to schedule certain video files to play at certain times. I know that wounds goofy however watching the Classic TV Saturday night lineup I remember seeing growing up is really cool (my wife (partner) thought I was crazy at first but after sitting in our robes watching cool Saturday Morning cartoons from the 70’s, she was sold!) Another nice thing is my server has been running 2 years now, I did all of my scheduling 2 years ago and it’s done, you turn on the server and there’s ALWAYS something cool on (also eliminates the common problem I always had of spending MORE time figuring out WHAT to watch than it took to actually WATCH something). Anyways wanted to pass that along.

  • cjeffries

    Hey Iyaz,

    I just now am running across you website and am wishing I had found it sooner. I was wondering if there is a possibility that you can do or have already done an episode on actually setting up a computer for hosting the server where the main storage is. A in depth one would help very much.


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