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Almost all of us geeks have at least one or two old computers hanging around the house, in a corner, in a basement, attic, etc. Most of the time these, possibly, useful computers go to waste and eventually sit in that same corner, basement, or attic for years until being wastefully thrown away out of necessity. Fortunately, this does not have to be the case for all past acquaintances.

Today, I will show you how to put your old otherwise junky desktop to great use as a Home Media Server. You don’t even have to build your own PC from scratch – you can use the parts from those old computers. Lets begin!

(For more cool articles on how to build home media servers, check out these articles by Damien on how to set up a Media Server Using Your Linux Computer As A Media Center (Part 1) Using Your Linux Computer As A Media Center (Part 1) Read More [Part 2 Using Your Linux Computer as a Media Server (Part 2) Using Your Linux Computer as a Media Server (Part 2) Read More ] using Linux. Or if you are ready to invest some cash check out our PDF guide on How To Build A Great Media Center For Your Home How To Build A Great Media Center For Your Home [PDF] How To Build A Great Media Center For Your Home [PDF] Read More .)

In this installation guide on how to build home media servers, I am using an old, reinstalled version of Windows XP SP3 with a 1TB Hitachi hard disk drive. (Note: This should work equally well on Windows Vista with User Account Control (UAC) off and an Administrator account set up on the server.)

Start by clicking “Start” and “Control Panel.” Select “Network Setup Wizard.” Press next twice and then select “This computer connects to the internet thorough a residential…” and then select “Next.”

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how to build home media servers

Enter a name and description for your server and then click “Next.” In the next window, leave “MSHOME” as the workgroup name and then click “Next.”

how to build home media servers

Now, select the “Tun on Windows File and Printer Sharing” option and click “Next.” Make sure the info is right and click “Next” again. On the following screen select “Just finished;” and then click “Next” and “Finished.”

Since we now have your home server connected to your home network we need to actually start allowing for the storing and sharing on files on the network. To do this, find a directory, for example, C:\ and then create a new folder called whatever you like. Now, right-click on the folder and click “Network Sharing and Security”. When the Security and Sharing window loads, select “Share this Folder on the Network” and “Allow Network User to Change My Files.”

build home media server

Now that you have a shared home server directory set up you need to be able to start sharing your files! To do so, simply go to your other computer(s) that you wish to access these files at and click on “Start” and then right-click on “My Computer” and select “Map Network Drive.” Now, click “Browse” and select the name of the home server and click the “+” beside it to expand the options and click the folder that we just created.

home media server

To access your newly established home media server, simply go to “My Computer” and double-click on the drive you created and your in! You should now be able to copy and paste files to your hearts desire! (If Windows asks you for a username and password, enter your username and password for your home server account.)

Do you use a Home Media Server? What do you use it for? Tell us in the comments!

  1. Brian
    January 18, 2010 at 9:19 am

    Thanks for the article. Sorry for all the hate getting thrown your way, but I didn't know that all tutorials had to be bigger, better and more comprehensive than those that came before it. Really, all you need for this is a dedicated PC and some remote desktop software, though. Nothing could be easier..

  2. Brian
    January 18, 2010 at 9:14 am

    Thanks for this article. Sorry for all the hate getting thrown your way, but I didn't know that all tutorials had to be bigger, better and more comprehensive than those that came before it. Really, all you need for this is a dedicated PC and some remote desktop software, though. Nothing could be easier..

  3. Joseph
    January 7, 2010 at 10:48 pm

    Sorry, above post wasn't finished accidentaly hit post...

    Personally, I would use an old PC with iTunes on it. Keep iTunes on, obviously. Most people have iTunes on their PCs, right? its a very powerful music tool. My server is an old generic PC with:

    80GB master with 30GB OS partition and 50GB setup partition. (stores setup files for many OSs, software, drivers, etc.)

    160GB backup drive, all PCs in our home backup to it at 3 a.m. ever sunday.

    250GB music server, currently holding over 6,000 songs, 20 movies, 50 audiobooks, 2000 apps (iPod apps), and 40 TV episodes.

    I just get this PC in the basement and administer/ add to it via Remote desktop connection. I also have remote access to it via hamachi, so i can listen to all of it via my netbook anywhere.

    P.S. all this done by a 13 year old.

  4. Joseph
    January 7, 2010 at 10:43 pm

    Personally, I would use an old PC with iTunes on it. Keep iTunes on, obviously. Most people have iTunes on their PCs, right? its a very powerful music tool. My server is an old generic PC with:

    80GB master

  5. frivile
    December 22, 2009 at 10:14 am

    yea...and? This is like when I built my first PC using instructions from a magazine article cause I was too lazy and impatient to go to school for PC repair....when I was finished I was like, "big deal!what's so hard about it?" Since then I feel like either I'm some sort of mega-genius or people are making computers/software sound REALLY complicated so they can keep their jobs.....I'm sure the latter is more likely the case.

  6. Rob
    December 15, 2009 at 9:40 am

    I, too, thought this might have something to do with an authentic Home Server. Microsoft has come out with an outstanding product that comes with 10 user licenses and makes it very cheap:
    Build a Home Server

  7. I-man
    November 11, 2009 at 11:35 pm

    There are better tutorials on how to build a media server on other sites. I built my first and so far only media server with instructions from http://hothardware.com/cs/blogs/ta/archive/2009/02/22/high-capacity-low-cost-300-budget-media-server.aspx

  8. DPS9682
    October 6, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    If you don't like the article, then don't post, Simple.

    Anyway, this post tells you how to build a home media server, which it did, and it works, so everyone with a problem just wants to act bigger and more important than they are.

    • BDBrun
      October 6, 2009 at 5:57 pm

      DPS9682, do you know what a "Home Media Server" is?
      This is actually a very basic "File Server" and it happens to store media files.
      We're posting our discontent because we have grown to look to MUO for advanced ideas and concepts. We want MUO to grow and prosper, this is what brought us here.
      If we are constantly mislead and spend the time reading the article, and then re-read it over again because we thought we missed something, this will make your followers look elswhere and not want to waste their time on your website.

  9. Andy
    October 6, 2009 at 4:11 am

    A very disappointing article for the reasons mentioned above. What's missing is the software list, twonky, tversity, orb etc, all great free media server software that allow an old pc to stream to a upnp device connected to a tv or web enabled such as archos, xbox, ps3, xtreamr etc. Pick up your game MUO
    OH! You're my new favorite blogger fyi

  10. Andy
    October 6, 2009 at 3:54 am

    A very disappointing article for the reasons mentioned above. What's missing is the software list, twonky, tversity, orb etc, all great free media server software that allow an old pc to stream to a upnp device connected to a tv or web enabled such as archos, xbox, ps3, xtreamr etc. Pick up your game MUO

  11. JBu92
    October 5, 2009 at 9:39 pm

    The real problem here is that MUO has no set standard across their authors, which leads to gems like showing newbies how to make their own cat5 cables, mirrors of other sites such as lifehacker.com, and stuff like this. STEP IT UP GUYS, you have the potential for a great blog here, but it's so inconsistent

  12. catester
    October 5, 2009 at 4:43 pm

    I'm guessing that if my network is already called something more creative than MSHOME I would not leave this new PC I'm adding to it set to MSHOME? Come on.

  13. eternalko
    October 5, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    2 BDBrun

    > You didnt build a home media server, you build a pc and shared folders with media

    Building servers these days became too easy (:

  14. BDBrun
    October 5, 2009 at 1:44 pm

    You didnt build a home media server, you build a pc and shared folders with media files in them.
    With this title, I guess I was expecting more than just a "how to share and map a drive".

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