Build Your Own Home Media Server – Part 1

I am a geek and a gamer. As you can imagine, my home is very tech-heavy: 3 TVs, 3 Xbox consoles, 3 Roku streaming sticks, 2 projectors, 1 cell phone (I use Google Voice/Hangouts, so I don’t need an actual cell phone), 3 laptops, and a desktop computer named Synapse.

Synapse is a very special computer. Synapse is my Home Media Server. In this day and age of streaming video and audio from the web — Netflix, Hulu, Spotify, just to name a few – it is easy to become a cord cutter, which I am. The problem for a lot of cord cutters are the data limits the profiteering gluttons called Internet Service Providers (ISP) have in place. For example, my ISP charges $50 a month for a 100Mbps plan. This plan comes with 300 gigabytes (GB) of data per month. If you go over that three times in a year, they force you to upgrade to their next plan ($75 for 400GB data, $100 for 500GB and $135 for 750GB).

Now, if your family is anything like mine, streaming can become very expensive when you have multiple family members watching the latest episode of Game of Thrones, playing on their Xbox, or streaming Pandora while they sleep. Here’s a breakdown of data used while streaming from Netflix:

  • High-Definition (HD) Movies: About 3.6GB for a 2 hour HD movie.
  • Single-Definition (SD) Movies: Around 500-700MB each, depending on the length of the movie.
  • HD TV Shows: A 30-minute TV show will be about 1500MB.
  • SD TV Shows: A 30-minute TV show will be about 400MB.

If you do the math, you’re looking at about 3 seasons of Game of Thrones and 40 movies in HD. That doesn’t account for standard Internet usage like Facebook, YouTube, and anythingelse your family may use. Factor it all in and you’ll be hitting your data limit faster cutting your Netflix time in half!

And let’s be honest, you just bought that brand new 4K TV for your living room and the Seahawks beating the Broncos feels like you’re at The Clink and HOLY SHIT does The Force Awakens look real!! So why would you want to watch Game of Thrones in SD? I don’t know about you, but I want to see Emilia Clarke’s boobs like they’re really in front of me and that means HD.

But those HD boobs come at a price — $50 – $75 a month for Internet, $8-12 a month for Netflix, $15 a month for HBO Now, Showtime Anytime for $11 a month — the list goes on and on and soon, you might as well plug the cords back in and deal with the commercials.

The average cable TV bill in the United States is about $99 a month and NBC News ( says that cost will continue to go up. So how do you combat these costs? You build a home media server!

Believe it or not, building a home media server isn’t that hard. There are three things you need to setup your own home media server:

  1. A computer to stream and store your content;
  2. A fast home network;
  3. Devices to display your content.

Thus begins the “Build Your Own Home Media Server” series. Co-authored with my friend and fellow ‘hemophiliac nerd,’ Python Josh (say hi Josh). We will be walking you step-by-step through building the perfect home media server for streaming movies, TV shows, home movies, music, or photos throughout your home, your mobile devices, and even on your next family vacation!

  • Part 1: This article
  • Part 2: The Server – Picking The Best Server Components
  • Part 3: The Server – Which Operating System (OS) Do You Want?
  • Part 4A: The Server – OS: Installing & Configuring Linux
  • Part 4B: The Server – OS: Installing & Configuring Windows
  • Part 5: The Server – Choosing the Media Player: Plex vs Kodi
  • Part 5A: The Server – Media Player: Installing & Configuring Plex
  • Part 5B: The Server – Media Player: Installing & Configuring Kodi
  • Part 6A: The Server – Building Your Own or Using A NAS
  • Part 6B: The Server – Using A NAS
  • Part 7: Streaming Devices (Roku, Amazon Fire, Chromecast & Game Consoles)
  • Part 8: Accessing Your Media From Anywhere
  • Part 9: Sound Systems
  • Part 10: Organizing & Storing Your Media
  • Conclusion

And that’s our outline for the next few weeks. Be sure to let us know how you enjoy each segment, and don’t hesitate to leave your questions and/or comments below!

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The Cli3nt

   I am 43-years-old, a hemophiliac, the co-founder of, a blogger at, part-time YouTuber (Geek Out! videocast) and Twitch streamer.
   I'm an old-school gamer, having started playing video games back in 1977 on the Atari 2600 (even managed to place 6th in Jafco's Atari Pac-Man tournament in 1982). I first began abusing games shortly after my best friend introduced me to Quake. By the time Quake II was released, I was addicted.
   After being found, in May 2008, passed out in front of my computer with a mouse cord wrapped around my arm and over 100 flash drives scattered around my body, I sobered up. To help maintain my sobriety, I switched to single player console gaming.
   In my life outside of the Wasteland, yes, I do have one --- wait, that's a lie. I have my Xbox One, Plex media server, high-speed internet, and Dax the Magnificent (my furry four-legged child).

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