How to transform your old PC into a home media server

Image of old desktop computerAs an office technology company, we specialize in setting up technology like copiers, servers, networks, mailing equipment, video surveillence and such in our clients' businesses. But for many here who work to implement such technology in others' businesses, innovative use of technology is not just for the workplace, but for the comfort of home as well.

Take for example Robert Taylor who works in our IT department and, among other things, routinely sets up businesses with managed network and cloud-based services, back-up and disaster recovery systems and so on. But go to his house and you'll find him reclined in a chair on his back patio, watching movies or a favorite show on his iPad or maybe just chilling to some tunes. When those fall breezes turn too brisk, he'll wander into his room and watch the remainder of the movie on his HD flat screen.

How does he do that? No, not through Netflix, AmazonPrime, Hulu or whatever, but rather through a media server. He has a computer which hosts his movies, music library and all of his other media, and that he streams it to his device, be that laptop, desktop PC, tablet or phone. That connectivity is not limited to inside the walls of his house, but is also available from the comfort of a hotel room when he is back East on holiday. All he needs is web-access.

Though he is a techy, he says you don't have to be one to set up a similar system at your home.

Here are his instructions on how to do how to turn a computer into a home media-sharing machine:

o you have an old computer sitting around and don’t know what to do with it? How about building your   own media-streaming server for your house (or wherever you are, with a little extra setup)?

Here is all you need: 

  • An old computer (Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4 Ghz or better, 2 GB of RAM)
  • A network connection
  • Some version of Windows (for this guide)
  • Something on which to play your media after connecting to the server. Plex supports mobile devices, tablets, TVs, Mac’s and computers, but there is a small $5 fee for the mobile apps (But remember, you are supporting development with these purchases).

Let’s get our Plex Media Server set up.

Step 1 — Download and install. Let's download the Plex Media Server installer, which can be found at Just click the link under Plex Media Server that says "Computer."  You will get a pop up screen. Make sure you have the Windows tabs selected then click download English. Once the download completes (It’s around 60MB and should take only a few minutes on most connections), go ahead and start the installer, then click install on the first menu (Hint: If you hit "Options," it asks you where you want to install. The default location is C:\Program Files (x86)\Plex\Plex Media Server) and hit "Launch" when it finishes.

Step 2 — Add Libraries. After you hit “Launch,“ a web browser will pop up to the media management page (which can be accessed by opening any browser on the machine that is running Plex. Navigate to and click “Agree” on the Plex Terms of Service. You will then receive a page to name your Plex server. Let’s just call it Home-MediaServer (the Friendly name field) and click “Next.” After that, it will want you to add libraries which will be where our media (movies, music, TV shows) will reside. Just click “Add Library” then choose the type of media that will be in the library (I’m going to choose movies for this example), then click “Next,” select “Add folder,” and select the folder where you store your movies. Then rinse and repeat for your other media types. Once you have added all your libraries, hit “Next” to continue. On the next page you can install channels that stream from online sources. Then hit “Next” and “Done.”

Step 3 — Connect your TV, tablet or computer. Link your Plex Media Server to your mobile, tablet, TV or computer by installing the Plex mobile app, Plex for TV or Plex Home Theater. Once this is installed, it should automatically detect, connect to and be able to stream media from your Plex Media server. If you sign up for a MyPlex account via and sign into it on your Plex media server and Plex playback devices, while making sure uPnP is enabled on your router (enabled by default on most home routers), your Plex playback devices should be able to find your Plex media server and stream from it even when you are not home, wherever you are.

Step 4 — Enjoy! Relax on your back porch on those pallet-turned-benches, a warm, buttered slice of pumpkin-bread in hand, and your favorite sci-fi playing on your tablet in the other.

Remember, Plex has lots of other features like using your Plex mobile app as a remote for your Plex app on your TV.

To learn more about this and other capabilities, be sure to browse the site at and the user forums at


Reference article – Trouble Shooting Server connections

Plex Quick Start Guide -

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