Whether you are running Windows, Linux or Mac, if you want to share your movies and music on the home network you are going to need some Media Server Software.
There are quite a few available (Windows Media Player, Tversity, Twonky Media Server and MediaTomb are just some of many) and frankly, choosing one can be quite a pain.
So which one do you go for? And what should you base your decision on?
Some of the things you will need to consider are:
- What will you be using to view or listen with?
- What Hardware will you be using as your server?
- What sort of network will you be streaming over?
- Which formats are your files using?
But this is not all, how much time do you want to spend configuring the software? Do you want to be able to configure every last detail of how it behaves? Or just have everything work straight out of the box?
Luckily regardless of how you answered all of these questions, the chances are unless you are using a NAS to store your media, PS3 Media Server is the best Media Server Software for you.
I thought this just for the PS3?
Nope, PS3 Media Server did originate as software to enable the PS3 to become a fully fledged Media Center, but it has grown to support most players on the market, Software and Hardware.
Installation does not require any additional plugins or codecs, you install, it scans your harddrive(s) for media and checks the network for available media players (renderers).
This is just the easy option, you can set the software to just scan specific folders if required.
There are plugins available for internet TV or Radio, IMDB metadata etc, as well as the ability to access and share the libraries of various media players including itunes.
PS3 Media Server can play from compressed (Zipped or RAR) archives, plays DVD ISOs, FLAC music files as well as just about anything else you throw at it.
The best bit
The best bit actually is that the software is free and currently supported with regular features and new updates.
The second best bit is the Transcoding and muxing abilities of the server.
What does that mean? In absolutely basic terms, it means you can play files on your media players that are not natively supported.
And you can do this on the fly, without having to convert file types or anything beforehand.
Basically if the container type (eg MKV) is not supported by the media player, the TSMUXER will change the container for you, as you select the file to play!
If the codec is not supported, the MENCODER engine will convert that to a compatible one also. All this without you needing to know what you are doing!
Photos are also supported, with the ability to display thumbnails of your photos when browsing, even for RAW files. There are also options for sharing Picasaweb and Flickr albums.
So if you are still sharing your media with “out of the box” sharing software that came with your Operating System, we definitely recommend trying out PS3 Media Server!
You can download PS3 Media Server here