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Best Media Server for Home

It can be hard to determine which media server is best for your home. What type of streaming service are you interested in, what type of storage are you looking for, and how do you want to arrange things? In this article, we’ll take a look at the Best Media Server for Home and how they work, so that you can make an informed decision.

The Following are the Best Media Server for Home, with their popular features and website links. The list contains both open source (free) and commercial (paid) software.

Best Media Server for Home

What are the Different Types of Media Servers.

When it comes to media servers, there are a variety of different options on the market. There are players that allow you to play digital media such as videos and music, while also having the ability to stream media from online sources like Netflix or Hulu. Additionally, some players come with built-in microphones and speakers that allow you to listen to audio and video content in your home.

What are the Different Types of Media Centers

One of the most popular types of media centers is the multimedia center. This device allows you to combine various types of digital media into one place, making it perfect for watching TV or playing games. In addition, many multimedia centers come with built-in speakers and microphones so that you can easily listen to audio and video content in your home.

What are the Different Types of Media Streaming Devices

While Kodi is a well-known Kodi media player that allows users to stream a wide range of digital media, some devices offer support for streaming live events or traditional cable channels like CNN or TNT without having to install any software on their computer or device. Additionally, many models offer built-in DVRs so that you can store and replay frequently streamed content without ever having to worry about space constraints or storage limitations.

How to Choose the Right Media Server for Your Home.

The first step in choosing a media player is to choose the right media player. If you have any HDTVs or other Ultra HD devices, it’s important to make sure that the media server can handle those high-definition videos and audio. Other factors to consider include: the type of media player (such as an amplifier or speaker), the number of players that it can support, and how many channels the player can output.

Choose the Right Media Server

When making your decision, it’s important to consider which media center you want to use for your home. There are a variety of different types of media centers available, from small homespun units that play only DVDs and CDs to high-end models with all-encompassing features like 4K resolution and HDR support. Make sure you compare prices, features, and reviews before making a purchase.

Choose the Right Media Server

Next, decide which type of media streaming device you want to buy. Some people prefer desktop or laptop computers as their streaming devices because they’re easy to set up and use, while others prefer phone or console devices because they have more ports and are easier to use overall. Make sure you compare prices and reviews before making a purchase so that you know what’s best for your needs.

Choose the Right Media Streaming Device

Last but not least, consider whether you want digital or physical copies of your video content. If you plan on sharing your videos online or exporting them into other formats (like YouTube), then it’s important that yourmedia server supports both types of playback (digital or physical).

Best Media Server & Streaming Software

1. Plex

Plex is a media server software that enables you to take care of the large size of media collections. The application allows you to play TV shows, movies, personal videos, and many more. This software helps you to share videos with your family.


  • You can use it on Smart TVs, Android, Apple, and more.
  • It has various movies and shows to choose from.
  • This video server software streams your videos.
  • This Android media server provides a live DVR and TV.
  • The tool automatically syncs your media to mobile phones.
  • You can upload media files from your camera.

2. Emby



  • Hardware accelerated transcoding
  • Provide cover art, music videos, trailers, and more
  • Easy setup


  • Most features require a subscription or lifetime pass
  • Limited plugins (for now)
  • Free version is basically useless

Emby is a newer media server software that combines the polished interface of Plex with the open-source foundation of Kodi to deliver a highly customizable media experience that has a premium feel. But how exactly does this software combine an open-source platform with commercially licensed features? It evolved with the times.

Emby started out as an open-source project but in 2018 it moved towards Plex’s business model by developing some highly desired plugins and putting them behind a paywall. That said, Emby still offers a considerable set of features even if you just stick with the free version of the software. Let’s dig in.

Like Plex, Emby uses a client/server setup, where you install the server onto a host device and then install a playback client onto a Roku, Apple TV, or Samsung/LG Smart TV. Alternatively, you can use the web app on another PC. If you are using the free version, these must be on the same local network as your server. Emby automatically scrapes metadata from your choice of sources so that you can organize your library by genre, date, cast, etc. It also allows you to create user profiles and apply parental controls to specific users.

3. PlayOn

PlayOn is a computer application that helps you to watch TV. It arranges streaming websites and media servers for easily store photos, music, and video.


  • You can stream shows from desktop, phone, or tablet.
  • It allows you to record and download videos as MP4.
  • Record episodes with just one mouse click.
  • The app can automatically skip the advertisement when playback video.
  • You can transfer the recording to your iPad, iPhone, and Android device.

4. Kodi



  • Massive add-on library
  • Open source and free
  • Can provide cover art, music videos, trailers, and more


  • Users must beware of malicious add-ons
  • Tricky setup setup for streaming boxes
  • Awkward mouse and keyboard controls

Kodi is an open-source media center that has been around almost as long as HTPCs (home theater PCs) have been a thing. It is not the most user-friendly home media software out there but it supports an absolutely insane amount of add-ons, making it one of the best options for those who want to host downloaded content alongside their favorite paid streaming services.

You will find (unofficial) add-ons to support streaming services like YouTube, Spotify, Disney Plus, Netflix, and more. Kodi can even be used to side-load any of the other media streaming services we recommended. Plex’s channel count pales in comparison so when it comes to variety of sources, Kodi really takes the cake.

Kodi is easy to install on any Windows, Linux, MacOS, Android, or iOS device. You can also install Kodi on pretty much any other playback device but this typically requires the use of unofficial methods. This may sound intimidating but you can find step-by-step instructions for pretty much any device on the Kodi Wiki. It is somewhat ironic that you have to take these extra steps, though, as the Kodi UI is definitely optimized for a streaming box.

5. Stremio

Stremio is a modern media server software that provides a solution for your video entertainment. It helps you to enjoy movies, live TV, and TV shows. This application can be easily used from any device.


  • It is one of the best DLNA server that allows you to organize your media content with ease.
  • You can use Stremio to watch content from addons.
  • It is open-source hence the code written using this tool can be edited.
  • The software allows you to watch video content easily.
  • Stremio can be used for smartphones, desktop PC, and tablets.

6. Universal Media Server



  • Open source and free
  • Fast browsing
  • Highly customizable


  • Tricky setup
  • Limited plugins
  • Lacks remote access options

Universal Media Server is an open-source and fully free media solution, that though quite a bit more complicated than Plex, is just as stable and reliable. This software can be set up on a PC or NAS open-source software, with about the same setup burden, but if any steps of the process get you hung up, a fairly robust support community will be able to help you out.

Installing UMS is a fairly hands-on process. The software walks you through configuring each setting before you can get your server up and running. To make things trickier, some of your devices might not find your stream if you set it up incorrectly. On the other hand, if set it up correctly, UMS will work with just about any streaming device.

UMS automatically scans defined locations for new media content, but if you don’t personally manage your files, UMS will look like a mess. Odds are that if you’ve got a serious collection going, you’ve taken enough care to tag everything properly, and even if you don’t the app is still plenty usable.

Once it’s set up, UMS offers fast browsing and built-in transcoding to play media on devices that may not support a particular format. You do have some access to plugins like SoundCloud,, and XBMC but the selection is ultimately limited. You might find some nice new streaming services from it, but odds are they won’t be the ones you already use.

7. Emby Server

Emby Server is a media server tool that enables you to manage, video, music, and photo from one place. It automatically converts and streams any media so that you can play on any device.


  • You can quickly sign in to play the videos.
  • This media server for PC enables you to watch live TV.
  • The application enables you to manage content access for your children.
  • It automatically organizes personal media into rich displays.
  • Emby provides notification for any server activity.
  • You can manage the media access time limit without any hassle.

8. Subsonic



  • Fantastic support for large music libraries
  • Supports podcasts and lossless audio
  • Moderately easy setup


  • Small monthly fee for video support
  • Lacks subtitle support and stream quality settings
  • Limited streaming device support

Subsonic is a longstanding contender in the media library game, albeit one that was originally designed for networking a large music library from a network. As such, video streaming, as well as mobile and browser app streaming, are among certain premium features that require a simple $1/month subscription. That means you won’t get full media server capabilities without a small fee.

Despite being a secondary feature, video streaming works fairly well on Subsonic, and thanks to the huge quantity of transcoding plugins available, you can play just about every codec. Subsonic Premium also allows you to watch videos from devices like a Chromecast, Sonos system, or an Android/iOS/Windows smartphone like the Pixel 4 (which you can find some great cases for in our best Pixel 4 case roundup).

Best Home Media Server Hardware

1. QNAP Turbo NAS TS-453Be

QNAP is another major player in the NAS business with several capable models and software support as good as Synology’s. QNAP’s offerings can be overwhelming. They have numerous models. In addition, they also released the high-performance TVS series that pack very powerful but efficient Intel Core i3, i5 or i7 processor with up to 32 GB of RAM.

Some of the models even include 10 Gbps networking interface, which is 10 times the bandwidth available in most commonly available consumer NASes at this point.

The QNAP Turbo NAS TS-453Be Mini Tower NAS Server makes a robust Plex server hardware sporting many great features running on quality hardware. With an Intel Celeron J3455 Quad-Core 1.5GHz 2MB and up to 2.3GHz Turbo it runs smoothly. It comes with 8GB DDR3L Memory and a fast 16TB 3.5-inch HDD capable of 6Gb/s SATA data transfer speeds.

The QNAP Turbo NAS TS-453Be also supports multiple RAID levels.

  • JBOD
  • RAID 0
  • RAID 1
  • RAID 10
  • RAID 5
  • RAID 6

The TS-453Be uses the QNAP QTS 4.3.4 operating system. If the TS-453Be is too expensive, then there are other affordable models (e.g. QNAP TS-253D) to consider.

One benefit of QNAP (over Synology) is the availability of HDMI port for video out. Synology NAS is only available through the web interface.

We still prefer the Synology NASes for Plex, and with excellent support for Docker Compose on Synology, the possibilities are endless.

Other QNAP NAS Options for Plex

QNAP also offers a few “high-end” models (TVS models). The Quad-core Intel Core i5-8400T 1.7 GHz processor of the QNAP TVS-672X ships with 8GB DDR4 RAM, upgradable to 64GB. This makes QNAP TVS-672X one of the best 4K Plex server build, capable of high-quality 4K media playback, real-time transcoding and displaying multimedia content through HDMI 2.0 (4K @60Hz) output.

Here are a few other high-performance QNAP NASes to consider for a Plex server.

ModelDrive Bays4K SupportPrice
QNAP TVS-6756-BayYes$1,049.00
QNAP TVS-472XT4-BayYes$1,399.00
QNAP TVS-672X6-BayYes$1,699.00

Nvidia Shield TV Pro 2019

The Nvidia Shield TV is the best Plex media server for most users. It’s not necessarily the most powerful, but it’s certainly the easiest to set up and the most versatile. Whereas most Plex network-attached storage devices are traditional servers or NAS boxes, the Shield TV Pro 2019 is a streaming device. Running Android TV, it’s a fantastic for streaming from apps such as Netflix, Hulu, and Disney+, alongside a slew of free streaming apps. Moreover, the Shield TV Pro is an incredible gaming machine for emulation as well as native Android games.

Although the Shield TV is a stellar Plex client device, its ability to double as a Plex server means you can watch your media locally on the Shield using Plex or Kodi, plus access it from any other Plex streaming devices.

Setting up Plex on the Shield TV Pro 2019 is a breeze. Just plug in a high-capacity hard drive loaded up with media, point your Plex app to your media folders, and you’re ready to stream. When compared to most NAS and server devices on the market, the NVIDIA Shield TV is a versatile option that can stream content, play games, and provide Plex server functionality. While my main Plex server is a Lenovo TS140 ThinkServer, I have an 18TB external hard drive hooked up to my NVIDIA Shield TV 2019 for local file playback in Kodi and for a secondary Plex server.

Disappointingly, Nvidia dropped internal storage options on the 2019 Shield TV Pro. While the Shield Pro previously came with a 500GB harddrive, now the Shield only offers 16GB of onboard storage. But with its USB ports, you can expand its storage capacity with ease. And limited to a pair of USB ports, connecting a hard drive to the Shield TV Pro 2019 leaves you with only one free USB host. Although, a USB hub works just fine, either powered if you have devices like HDDs that require a larger power draw, or un-powered for more efficient peripherals such as gamepads and keyboards. Sadly, 4K transcoding is out of the picture. Nevertheless, the Nvidia Shield TV is the most versatile and user-friendly Plex server option on the planet.


  • Streaming box – doubles as a Plex server and client/HTPC
  • Excellent for video games (native Android gaming, retro gaming emulation)
  • Versatile
  • Affordable
  • 4K HDR (HDR10, Dolby Vision) output
  • Dolby Atmos output


  • Limited built-in storage
  • Can’t handle transcoding

3. Synology DiskStation DS920

When it comes to NAS one brand name is entirely in the game. Synology has all kinds of devices from routers to NAS. Everything is supported by their mobile apps. You can download the appropriate software version of Synology apps from the default app store on your phone. You can also view them in your browser on Google Play. [Read: 5 Most common NAS or Home Server uses]

Below is our pick for the best Synology NAS for Plex. However, we have also provided a few other recommended models for those that are tight on budget or have a little bit more to spare.

Synology DiskStation DS920+ NAS Server

The Synology DS920+ is a worthy successor to the famous DS918+ model, which we recommended as the best NAS for Plex server.

The first awesome thing about the Synology DiskStation DS920+ is it has two built-in M.2 2280 NVMe SSD slots with cache acceleration. With an upgraded Intel Celeron J4125 Intel quad-core processor with AES-NI hardware encryption engine.

It ships with Synology RAM DDR4-2666 Non-ECC that is expandable up to 8 GB with Synology RAM DDR4-2666 ECC UDIMM 8GB (or the cheaper option from Crucial, which has been confirmed to be compatible). Unofficially, it can even go up 16 GB of RAM.

How to Use the Right Media Server for Your Home.

The media player you choose for your home is important for controlling and streaming your local media. You can find a variety of different players, including those that are shaped like laptops, phones, or other devices. Choose one that’s convenient for you to control and manage your media.

Choose the Media Server

The second step in choosing a media server is to choose the right media center for your home. A good media center can stream all of your local content from a central location, as well as play digital audio and video files stored on your computer or mobile device. You can also find models with built-in cameras that let you take pictures and videos of your home while you watch TV or use the laptop or phone as a remote control.

Choose the Media Centers

Finally, it’s important to choose the right media streaming device to match up with your needs and budget. A computer or phone with an HDMI port can be used to stream full-HD content from a digital camera, while an Apple TV may be used to watch 1080p content from local networks like ABC News and CBS Evening News.


Choose the right media server for your home to stream your favorite content. By choosing the right player and server, you can ensure that your home is able to access all types of media including TV shows, movies, and music. Additionally, by using a media streaming device such as an HDTV or Playstation 4, you can enjoy high-definition streaming without having to upgrade your hardware.

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