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dlna serverUPnP stands for “universal plug and play” and provides a set of standards for the hassle-free sharing of media Top Free Ways to Stream Video from Your Computer to Your Mobile or Tablet Top Free Ways to Stream Video from Your Computer to Your Mobile or Tablet Have a bunch of video files on your computer but want to watch them on your tablet? Not a problem. Read More without the need for manual setup. In essence, UPnP devices are able to see and communicate with one another, and one of the best uses for this technology to stream media around the house.

DLNA is an acronym for “Digital Network Living Alliance” and was established by Sony in 2003 to further define (some might say restrict) the sharing of such media. In order to make use of UPnP and DLNA-compliant devices you will need a client (known as a renderer) such as a PlayStation 3 or Smart TV and a server which can be hardware-based like a NAS drive How To Build & Use Your Own Network Attached Storage Using A Ubuntu Netbook How To Build & Use Your Own Network Attached Storage Using A Ubuntu Netbook Read More or software-based as a service that runs on a PC.

In order to stream to your console or other UPnP renderer you will want a free DLNA server which controls playback. Here is the MakeUseOf list of free UPnP servers for this purpose.

A Quick Note

Not all DLNA/UPnP devices work with all servers, and this is often down to the client (i.e. Smart TV, games console) than it is the server. Some servers include workarounds to extend support for devices such as this. The rule of thumb is to test servers with your devices – if you find one that fulfills the needs of your household then you should probably stick with it.

If a particular DLNA server doesn’t seem to like one of your devices then you should probably try another until you find one that does. You might also want to look into a server that transcodes media for compatibility, but ensure your hardware can handle the task.

1. Serviio (Windows, Mac, Linux)

dlna server

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Serviio is a premium UPnP DNLA-compliant media server with a generous free option. The pro version of the DLNA server requires a one-off fee of $25 for access to the MediaBrowser web-based player, API for online access to your media and the ability to control access to shared content. For home users looking to stream their personal connections over a local network, Serviio is a great choice.

Android users can download ServiiDroid, which provides access to the Serviio console on Android devices (and more importantly does not require Pro). Users who do decide to drop $25 can access their media from anywhere via the ServiiGo Android application for the viewing of media away from your local network.

2. TVMOBiLi (Windows, Mac, Linux)

free dlna media servers

TVMOBiLi is another premium streamer with decent free option, though it takes a different approach to Serviio. For TVMOBiLi, there are no restrictions over the use of features, and the whole media server is open for use until a user streams over 10GB of data. At this point you must purchase (either at $1.50 monthly fee or a one-off payment of $30) in order to continue use.

Users automatically get a free trial of the premium “unlimited” mode upon installing TVMOBiLi, which gives you a month to decide whether it fits the bill and works with your clients or not. The service claims to support a vast array of media clients and has decent support documentation for a server up and running and resolving any issues.

3. XBMC (Windows, Mac, Linux)

free dlna media servers

One of the most powerful media centres out there with a huge range of add-ons and open source grunt behind it, XBMC can function both as a DLNA-compliant UPnP server and a client for receiving streams. If you’re a regular reader then you’ll surely know that we’re rather fond of XBMC Entertainment On The Cheap: The Most Affordable Ways To Set Up A Home Theater Entertainment On The Cheap: The Most Affordable Ways To Set Up A Home Theater While plenty of pricey pre-built solutions exist, there are a few ways to bring a streaming box of entertainment to your living room on the cheap. With the right some open source media software, a... Read More at MakeUseOf, with the latest release being faster and prettier than ever XBMC 11 "Eden" Officially Released: Faster & Prettier Than Ever [Updates] XBMC 11 "Eden" Officially Released: Faster & Prettier Than Ever [Updates] Read More .

Setup of this DLNA server is as easy as enabling “Share video and music libraries via UPnP” in Network under System in XBMC’s main menu. From then on, your libraries will be easily discoverable on the local network. It’s really that easy!

4. PS3MediaServer (Windows, Mac, Linux)

free dlna media servers

Designed to make the most of the PS3’s abilities as a media streamer, PS3MediaServer isn’t strictly limited to Sony’s console in terms of compatibility and has some compatibility with other clients. This is a mature project, with a number of plugins available for streaming from sources such as Grooveshark and SoundCloud as well as some on-demand TV providers.

The blog side of things hasn’t been updated for a few years but the forum community is still very much alive, offering help and tips on getting the server up and running with your devices. There’s a little more tinkering involved here, but if you’ve got a PS3 and would like to use the same streamer for multiple clients then it’s a good option.

5. MediaTomb (Mac, Linux, FreeBSD)

best free dlna media servers

Another completely free DLNA server with transcoding ability, MediaTomb is a highly extensible UPnP solution with binaries for OS X, FreeBSD and a large range of Linux distributions. One of the best things about MediaTomb is the documentation, with detailed instructions about getting devices such as the PS3 and DLNA-enabled TVs working.

The server is configured via a web interface, which provides a straightforward way to manage your media. If you run into problems that the Wiki or FAQ can’t solve then there’s an active forum on which to ask for help.

6. LXiMediaCenter (Windows, Mac, Linux)

dlna server

LXiMediaCenter is a UPnP server that always transcodes video, regardless of whether it is in a compatible format or not. This means the requirements for running it are relatively high compared to some of the other servers on this list – so it’s not ideal for older machines. It also uses high quality encoding, so a wired Ethernet or 802.11n connection comes highly recommended.

There are binaries available for Windows, OS X and a number of Linux distributions, making setup easy when coupled with the quick setup guide. The project is still in beta, and thus has not been tested as extensively as some others but it might suit those of you who value high quality streaming with the hardware to support it.

Conclusion

There are more UPnP compliant DLNA servers for the job, but these are some of the easiest to setup and most effective servers available. Don’t forget that much of the troubles encountered by DLNA clients is down to the clients themselves – much of the time due to not supporting the filetype attempting to be streamed (in which case transcoding is required).

Let us know what you use, which you’ve found works best and whether premium options like TVersity are really worth it in the comments, below.

  1. Vytautas
    June 14, 2016 at 11:01 am

    using Servio for couple of years and liked it more than XBMC or several other nonames. easy to use and does the work

  2. xpd777
    June 12, 2016 at 11:42 am

    Question:

    Is there a method where I can stream a STB(cable Set-top-box) hdmi/AV, to a DLNA renderer?

  3. Lina
    May 25, 2016 at 5:24 pm

    Speaking on media sharing without manual setup, I triedPS3MediaServe. Can't say anything bad about, in general I am satisfied. However, for sharing media files for my ipad and iphone I also use ArkMC by arkuda. After they fixed the bugs with DLNA/UPNP i prefer this app.

  4. Scottfree
    December 23, 2014 at 4:55 am

    No mention of Media Browser? Unfortunately the "holy trinity" of media servers does not seem to exist. Combining a top notch local library, fully functioning "play to" support with ff/rr/next/prev. ideally available from the both caster and your remote control. Add a wide selection of WORKING "channels".

    Plex has the best selection of channels, but who cares if you have lots of channels that don't work. The claimed "compatibility check" is meaningless with major channels like CBS frustratingly incompatible, using flash or silverlight with no transcoding so no dlna. Add that even working channels are painfully slow and almost never populate smoothly, making them more a frustration than a function.

    So far Media Browser is the closest, a better web gui than Plex. "play to" support (needs ff/rr though) if MB had more than just the bare minimum of channels then they would be the run away winner.

    And ALL these servers should be modular broken into bite size pieces, ideally light enough to be run on a router or nas, I can't tell you how many times I've absent mindedly rebooted only to go dough.. I was streaming from my local machine..

  5. justwally
    December 15, 2014 at 1:30 am

    I tend to use older, slower hardware (Core2 Duo), and have tried MediaTomb and XBMC and PS3MediaServer. Been using PS3MediaServer solidly for 3-years across Samsung smart TV's, Android devices (with BubbleUPnP Player), iPhones, Amazon TV, and Chromecast. Last year I added BubbleUPnP Media Server to the PS3MediaServer mix and things only got better. More control, more options, more awesome. I only use Linux, FWIW.

  6. Junior Yong
    February 25, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    I like Serviio.
    It is simpe and works perfectly good with
    ArkMC DLNA appication
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.arkudadigital.arkmc.gm
    on my Galaxy Tab.
    Serviio is easy to manage and it works fast.

  7. Kristof
    February 4, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    OK, I've been using PS3MediaServer for few months now and I found few issues. In general it works OK with my Sony BR player but doesn't like my Samsung TV. I cannot make the subs working on my TV and it takes me back to the menu in the middle of movie without touching any buttons. I mostly watch mkv videos which are supported by Samsung TV and play fine straight from HDD.
    Still searching for a good server - Dennis, please don't suggest anything :)

  8. Andy H
    January 21, 2013 at 8:25 am

    For any Windows users out there, give Mezzmo a try. I've been using it for several years and it is rock solid with all my devices in my home (Samsung TV, Samsung Blu-ray player, Android tablet and iPhone).

    • Dennis Volodomanov
      January 22, 2013 at 5:36 am

      And if you like Mezzmo, give KooRaRoo a try as well :) It's got more features, it's faster to deliver folders and files to your devices and more actively developed.

      • Tim Brookes
        January 22, 2013 at 8:02 am

        Judging by the number of posts you have made about this I think it now counts as aggressively promoting your own product. You've posted a good number of times trying to get people to buy your streamer and I think that's enough now.

        Simply adding "try this lol it's great!" to every other comment we get on this article is a bit cheap and... spammy you know?

        Your product also does not really meet the "decent free option" we try to feature here at MakeUseOf - all of the products on this page are free indefinitely, some with certain restrictions. Yours has a 30-day free trial, and then costs $40 which is quite different.

        • Dennis Volodomanov
          January 22, 2013 at 9:05 pm

          Ok, point taken - thanks :) I certainly don't want to give my product a bad image because of this, so I'm sorry and I won't do this again. Basically just wanted to get it going.

        • Claudio Camino
          February 6, 2013 at 5:04 am

          DLNA is a messy spec, it's an awful thing (non-programmers cannot imagine how this is a mess). All is about tweaking for particular renderers, this is awful and this encourage to bad programming. So, every renderers manufacturer only implements partial support, while providing their own unique features beyond the spec

          There are a lot of available free media servers not mentionned here. Most of these projects are handled by one developper only, so we are dependant of their spare time & their will. As a result, a lot of them has not been updated since many months or years.

          As an example, i'm using minidlna under FreeBSD, which is a lightweight and lightning fast solution without transcoding capabilities (which fit my needs). This is the fastest server among tons i've tested, it's open source and written in C, has great features for Samsung renderers, but it is not designed for the average user and it is deeply written for *nix systems (it can be compiled for windows using cygwin).

          Kooraroo is a good product with many good ideas, well designed but far to be perfect (too expensive, unstable GUI, bad GUI translations, windows only, not open source).

          As a result of years of testing such products at home (while developping mine for my own usage only), an "ideal" DLNA server would probably be a product combining the best of that : lightweight and written in C, multiplatform, open source, as compliant as possible with existing renderers (with tunables), with an enhanced WebGUI only, and providing tuning on each file & each renderer (like Kooraroo does). For me, this would be a mix between minidlna (fast, light, open source, written in C), Plex (great WebGUI), serviio (multiplatform), and kooraroo (deeply tunable).

          LXiMedia is also a good idea because even incredibly small computer boxes getting more and more powerful every day, but there is yet a lot of work to do on the project. But IMHO, transcoding all content in real time to fit each particular renderer capabilities is really a good idea to get rid of the DLNA mess (and this allows to handle for many unsupported features like embedded's subtitles selection & audio track selection)

  9. jaco
    January 17, 2013 at 11:19 am

    PLEX Media Server great for LG Smart TV...

  10. jaco
    January 17, 2013 at 11:18 am

    Plex Media Server great for new LG Smart TV...

  11. TomCat78
    January 15, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Nice overview. Thanks.

    A small note regarding XBMC: It is not able to share pictures in library mode.

    I have a Samsung Smart TV and it connects to XBMC but shows up only two folders: Music Library and Video Library. A Picture Library is not present in XBMC, at least not out of the box. Even installing the Add-On "My Pictures Database" did not change this.

    Has any other managed to provide pictures to a DLNA client?

    • Tim Brookes
      January 17, 2013 at 10:22 am

      I've not had any success with this either, but then again I have literally no use for it. Thanks for pointing it out, though I think we can probably agree that it's one of the less important features from a streamer. Pictures are easy to share using SMB or even the Internet if all else fails, but for many videos (and even music) are not.

      • Dennis Volodomanov
        January 17, 2013 at 10:56 pm

        Not in all cases sharing works - for example, personally, we shoot most of our stuff in Canon's raw format, which obviously cannot be played straight away. Thus one of the first things I did with KRR was to make sure it would support most raw camera formats. Plus it's a lot easier to organize photos in virtual folders to show them off to your friends/family rather than showing all photos in a disk folder or making duplicate copies in another folder. But I agree that streaming videos and music is more complex :)

  12. Mike
    January 8, 2013 at 9:48 am

    You can remove XBMC from this list as it's not designed as a server, just a client and is not compatible with all DLNA devices (mainly sony has problems). There are literally hundreds of posts on its forums regarding this issue. Ironically the development team seems to blame the hardware manufacturers, which is funny because every other program on this list has no such problems, I would therefore conclude the problem is indeed with XBMC.
    XBMC is primarily designed to work as a media center, and that task it does very well.
    It is incapable of running in the background as a server for media files, something which the vast majority of people reading this page will want.
    I myself have my computer connected to my tv via HDMI, so if I wanted to play movies in this fashion I would simply use a media player and drag the window to the TV.
    After downloading both versions 11 and 12 of XBMC, I have concluded that it doesn't deliver on any of it's promises, which is a shame because it had such potential.

    • Tim Brookes
      January 9, 2013 at 9:13 am

      Well yes and no. If you're running a HTPC that is connected to your storage (say you've got a couple of TB in that machine and you use it exclusively for video), then there's a good chance XBMC never stops running. You can then stream video through the house to other devices from your main HTPC. I've had success streaming from XBMC, I tested it for this article, so it does work in a server capacity albeit not in the background.

      I've also read the hardware argument in a lot more places than just the XBMC forums. Projects like MiniDLNA make no promises to work with UPnP/DLNA devices, and the fact is that manufacturers like Sony have imposed a lot of restrictions on what can be streamed to their devices which can negatively affect connectivity. Like it or not, a lot of the time the faults lie with the clients (TVs, BluRay players etc...) not the software. XBMC streams just fine to my LG TV, for example.

      Not an ideal background server, but a server nonetheless, and a capable one that I think warrants being mentioned as it might be perfect for someone with a small HTPC/XBMC PVR setup.

      • ehem
        January 16, 2013 at 11:15 am

        Tim is seems you are ignoring some of the other comment posters, is this not so?T

        • Tim Brookes
          January 17, 2013 at 10:19 am

          Am I? I reply to everything I think warrants a reply - that's not to say other people don't warrant replies, but suggestions and "thanks" comments don't necessarily need my input. Other products mentioned here by commenters are fine but most of them cost more than the ones I've featured in the article.

          I'm curious as to who should I be replying to that I have ignored ?

  13. Kristof
    November 17, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Serviio didn't work properly with my Sony Blu-ray player.
    XBMC is a media centre and cannot run in the background so is useless as a DLNA server for me.
    PS2 Media Server is the answer. It supports transcoding, AC3, DTS, subtitles, and works excellent.

    • Dennis Volodomanov
      January 9, 2013 at 6:08 am

      I just wanted to make a note that KooRaRoo also has transcoding, supports AC3, DTS (and all other audio and video and image formats, including 3D MPO and such), subtitles (external and burned-in - burned-in are being beta-tested right now and will available with the next update) and provides a fully customizable media library layout and an easy to use interface.

  14. Matt
    November 14, 2012 at 4:02 am

    Hi Tim,
    Please excuse my ignorance on this I am new to it. I have a Hjmax DVR, iMAC and home wifi. I have managed to connect all 3 and with the free trial of TVMobile I can watch the files on my Mac on my TV no problems. My ? is - Can I watch what is stored on my PVR on a MAC or windows laptop via wifi?

    • Tim Brookes
      November 14, 2012 at 10:24 pm

      Probably not, no. You might want to investigate, though I think you'll need to export the video stored on the PVR using cables and patience rather than streaming via DLNA/UPnP. Your PVR would have to explicitly support the streaming (outwards) of the content on its hard drive, and I may be mistaken but I've actually never seen any such PVR.

      Of course, if you can do this then do let me know because that would be awesome. The best way to do what you want to do would be to set up a media centre PC with TV capture card and a ton of space. Install XBMC with the XBMC-PVR extension and then set up XBMC to serve your media using DLNA/UPnP. It might take time and patience, but if you really want to watch what you record on TV using your Mac then this should offer you a way to do it.

      I'd check out the XBMC forums a little more closely if you're genuinely considering this, and of course you could always try MakeUseOf Answers.

      Hope this helps :)

  15. Rob
    October 29, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    I vote iSedora. I tried most of the above about 18 months back (some may have improved since then), but the only thing I could get to work seamlessly to all my devices (Panasonic TV, Sony Blue Ray player and Xbox) was iSedora. They don't seem to get much publicity, but just worked for me straight out of the box transcoding where required. Free demo available or buy from $25.

    • Anonymous
      October 30, 2012 at 10:10 pm

      Rob, give KooRaRoo a try as well - it wasn't around 18 months ago :) iSedora is not actively updated - the last update was 2 years ago.

  16. Dennis Volodomanov
    October 18, 2012 at 10:38 am

    There is also another DLNA server - KooRaRoo Media (http://www.kooraroo.com). I'm the author, just so you know :) The server itself is new, but I have lots of experience with DLNA and I plan to make KRR the best out there. Give it a try and let me know what you think.

    • Mike Rouse
      October 20, 2012 at 7:42 am

      http://www.kooraroo.com worked for me, I tried a few of the above. It had a demo, installed right on Windows 7, my LG TV saw it... and EVERYTHING I've tried to play so far has played. Big Thumbs Up Dennis.

      • Anonymous
        October 24, 2012 at 12:41 am

        Thanks Mike, I'm glad to hear that!

    • Petar
      December 7, 2012 at 7:54 am

      Hi Dennis, I just tried kooraroo , it really seems fine, but there are two problems
      when streaming to LG TV or LG BD, there are no subtitles, and You cannot change the audio of mkv. (this problem is present on xbmc, plex, but it is working fine in nero mediahome).

      If You manage to make it work, big thumbs up!

      • Dennis Volodomanov
        December 7, 2012 at 9:20 am

        Hi Petar! Thanks for the feedback!

        Actually yes, there was an issue in version 1.3.4 (current release) with subtitles for LG devices, but I already have a patch that fixes it. Please send an e-mail to support (at) kooraroo (dot) com (or visit http://support.kooraroo.com) and I'll send it to you.

        The audio in MKVs probably cannot be changed by the device (because it doesn't support multiple audio streams), but you can specify your preferred language (in device properties, available from the Devices pane) and KRR will fix it up for you.

  17. KC
    October 14, 2012 at 5:24 am

    Thank you so much for this fresh article. I got so tired of reading old and outdated articles on the subject. Glad to see XBMC is still one of the fan favs. I tried plex and wasn't a fan

    • Tim Brookes
      October 15, 2012 at 4:58 am

      One thing I did notice while researching this was that there are a lot of old projects that peaked in activity around 2007-2010 and have since stayed dormant. Probably due to the rise in popularity of AppleTV, cheap hard drives (built in media centre storage) and online streaming via Netflix, LoveFilm etc... - but yes, I agree there is a lot of outdated information around about this on the net.

  18. Siggi Bjarnason
    September 16, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    xmbc doesn't work on Windows server 2008 R2, gives some weird error about create failed then exists, even when run as an administrator. I guess I'll try something else.

  19. GrrGrrr
    September 13, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    Thanks Tim, interesting article.

  20. Elia Elias
    September 13, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Problem with most of these and that i tried is subtitles enabling, and google tv compatibility

  21. Joe
    September 13, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Uh, what about Plex? It's based on XMBC and has clients for iOS and Android (at least).

  22. Truefire_
    September 13, 2012 at 12:59 am

    XBMC and Tonido ftw!

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