5 things I learned while setting up my first media server

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For years, there was a lonely Raspberry Pi 3 gathering mud on my desk, proper subsequent to a cup of pens and a stack of Publish-Its. Often I’d choose it up and absent-mindedly twirl it round, as if it had been a stress ball. However throughout a protracted vacation break, an thought began forming in my head: Might I really flip this glorified paperweight into one thing helpful?

Working right here at TechHive as I do, I used to be conscious of not less than one attractive technique to put a Raspberry Pi to work: as a media server for movies and music information. Now, I’m not an knowledgeable at constructing PCs, nor do I think about myself an audiophile (though I feel I do know good sound after I hear it), however I used to be drawn to the thought of placing my modest CD assortment (and a few outdated DVDs as nicely) into my very own private cloud, the place I might stream it to my cellphone, my pill, my residence theater, or simply about any machine I wished to.

Now, I’m not right here to offer you a step-by-step information on the best way to construct your individual media server (we have already got these). As an alternative, I wished to share a couple of issues I discovered throughout my very own expertise, beginning with…

It’s surprisingly simple

Organising a house media server could sound intimidating, however it doesn’t need to be. For my very own first undertaking, I took the center highway, selecting to make use of the Linux-based Raspberry Pi (which entails spending high quality time with the command line in Terminal) with Plex, a well-liked, off-the-rack, and comparatively easy-to-use media server package deal. (We reviewed Plex as a DVR, however it’s additionally a succesful music and video server.)

There are many on-line tutorials on the best way to set up Plex Media Server on a Raspberry Pi, and inside an hour or so I had Plex up and working. Mounting an 8GB USB thumb drive (I made a decision to begin small till I knew what I used to be doing) on the Pi turned out to be a bit trickier, though I even had that licked after one other 45 minutes or so. I then tossed some outdated MP3s and residential video information on the reminiscence stick, and earlier than I knew it, my unused Raspberry Pi had was a media server.

plex home media server library Ben Patterson/IDG

I’m no anticipate at constructing PCs, however I had my first media server up and working on a Raspberry Pi in just a few hours.

In fact, you don’t essentially want a Raspberry Pi to arrange a house media server. In minutes, you possibly can merely set up Plex Media Server on a Mac or Home windows PC, choose some folders full of music, movies or different media, and begin streaming away. There are limitations to putting in Plex on a desktop PC or a laptop computer—particularly, you’ll have to hold it working everytime you wish to stream media—however it’s a terrific, low-effort technique to see what all of the fuss is about.

It doesn’t need to be costly

It’s definitely potential to spend hundreds of greenbacks on NAS drives, “endpoints” and different {hardware} to your residence media server. Being the newbie that I’m, I opted for a rock-bottom finances, spending simply $25 for an exterior DVD drive (after realizing that I’d way back shed my outdated PCs with optical drives) and $30 for a brand new 256GB USB reminiscence stick (which holds my whole 200-CD music assortment, in lossless FLAC format, with tons of room to spare). Oh, and I later sprung for a $40 powered USB 3.0 hub and a $15 energy strip (for causes I’ll clarify in a second).

Now, being low-cost with your own home media server has its downsides. Putting in media server software program on underpowered {hardware} can result in sluggish efficiency, whereas skimping on high-quality endpoints means sacrificing some audio high quality when the bit stream is transformed to analog. However there’s one thing to be mentioned for beginning small if you’re a newbie, and you’ll all the time improve your media server piece by piece in the event you get the urge.

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