How to turn your old computer into a media streamer

Old computers can still be useful.

When your aging the laptop or desktop slows down at a breakneck pace to complete daily tasks, yoYou don’t necessarily need to recycle it or give it to someone else. Your old machine can to be turned into a retired media streaming device, making it easy as it serves videos, music, photos, and more to the rest of the gadgets you have in your home. Here is how it is done.

Choose your software

Plex is one of the best tools for the job.

Plex is one of the best tools for the job.
Screenshot: Plex

Perhaps the best tool for the job is Plex. It’s simple to use, the basics are all free and it works on just about any hardware. Along with the media streaming feature that we’ll cover here, Plex also includes options to watch live TV, watch free streaming video content, and even play retro games.

It’s smooth and simple, and many features are provided free of charge. There is a premium tier Plex Pass, which will cost you $ 5 per month or $ 40 per year and offers you extras such as offline sync with your mobile devices, more comprehensive sharing controls, additional settings for bandwidth usage, and some other practices bonus features.

There are two components to Plex: You need the server software on your old computer, which does the job of cataloging your media files and getting ready to serve them up over your home wifi. Then there are the apps you use on your other computers, your phones, your tablets, your set-top boxes and so on, which find the server you’ve set up and stream across whatever content you request.

And it’s not just computers that can be media servers for Plex. You can also use a NAS drive if you want, which is handy as it will already be plugged directly into your router, and most popular players have dedicated Plex server apps. Some Nvidia Shield TV models can also function as Plex servers.

There are several Plex to Plex type alternatives that you can try. The most used is open source and very versatile Coded, which offers much of the same functionality as Plex. There are also limited media server features built into Windows and macOS that you can look into, while VLC Media Player also offers simple network streaming options.

How to set up Plex

Plex walks you through the process of setting up a server.

Plex walks you through the process of setting up a server.
Screenshot: Plex

Once you’ve decided that you really want to turn your old computer into a media streamer, and you’ve chosen Plex as the best option., you need to download the server software for Windows or macOS. Head toward the Plex site, Click on Register now to create a free account, then follow the instructions to download the desktop software (you can also find the media server downloads here).

Much of the Plex media server experience takes place in a web browser tab – from there you can set up all of your different media libraries, update the basic Plex software, and more. Once the application is launched, you should see a Plex icon down in the notification area (in Windows) or up in the menu bar (in macOS).

Now is the right time to make sure that movies, music, and the photos on your old computer are well organized. You don’t need to have everything neatly tucked away in folders for Plex to use, but it certainly helps you and Plex keep track of what’s what. How do you arrange everything depends on you, as long as you have a logical system.

During the server software setup process, you will be asked to give the server a name (so you can identify it later). You will also see a box titled Allow me to access my media outside my home, which must be checked if you want to access your audio and video files from anywhere other than your local home wifi network (this just means that Plex will make some adjustments to your network settings so that it can happen).

The next step is to set up your media library, the files you want Plex to be able to serve to your other devices. You can add many folders to the list here, and everything in them is part of your library – all common file formats through video, audio, and pictures are supported, but if you meet problems with Plex ID files, check outside of supporting documentation.

How to configure your other devices

Your media files will appear sorted and organized on the devices you connect.

Your media files will appear sorted and organized on the devices you connect.
Screenshot: Android

Once your media server is operational, you need to do is install Plex on your other devices. Remember that the old computer you converted to a server will need to stay on and connected to the internet at all times, otherwise you won’t be able to see the media files it contains.

Plex apps are available in platforms, Android to the Apple tv. If you have a gadget with a screen, chances are there is a Plex app for it. You can stream your media files to game consoles, smart TVs, and even (in the case of audio) smart speakers. If you’re streaming on a laptop or desktop, all you need to do is open the Plex interface in your web browser and sign in.

Once you’re signed in to Plex on the device you’re streaming content to, you should be able to see the server you previously set up. Plex will be ccategorize and organize the media you added. Keep in mind that the initial library creation may take some time, and new content may be added later.

Like any good streaming service, Plex keeps track of what you’re currently watching and listening to, so you can pick up where you left off (even if it’s on another device). Edit buttons on the media files themselves allow you to edit inaccurate metadata and in some cases you will have the option to download the files as well as stream them (on mobile devices this requires a Plex Pass) .

Dive into the Plex settings on your device and you’ll find options to manage streaming quality, set notifications, sync media files between devices, and more. There are a lot of useful features and extras hidden everywhere, like the ability to watch videos in real time with other people in other places.

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