Windows 10 is one of the most used operating systems and we can easily convert that into a Media server for free of cost to manage our media files such as music, videos and images.
Yes, indeed we can use the inbuilt Windows 10 Mediastreaming option to stream media files over the network but it has limitations and doesn’t offer Graphical web management interface as some open source and free Media servers programs are providing such as Plex and Kodi.
However, before installing anything to stream media files, you should first ask yourself what your software should be able to do. Do you only want to stream your stored content to mobile devices or should the application also manage your data, supplement it with information and at the same time offer access to live TV, media libraries and the like?
List of Windows 10 free Media server software
So, in this article, we are going to discuss some free including open-source media server software platforms to install and use on Windows 10 or older operating systems of Microsoft such as Windows 8 and Windows 7. All the listed below software don’t come with any pre-stored content or content providing services, all these are Personal Media Server platforms to manage and play users’ own media content or third party content using add-ons.
Plex Media Server for Windows
I know you already would be familiar with it and also we are not discussing it the first time in any article. Plex Media Server is free software that we can use to stream videos, music, or photos in common formats such as MP4, AVI, MOV, AAC, MP3, WAV, and JPEG via your home network or WLAN.
One of the main reasons, for Plex’s popularity, is its client apps availability for almost every available mainstream platform. Furthermore, the Server part of Plex can be installed on Windows, Linux, macOS, FreeBSD, NAS, and more.
After setting up the Plex, we can stream our media files from PC to mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad or Android tablets. Plex free app as an alternative to its web management interface can be used to play media files using a local or remote network on Android and iOS; even Smart TV can also receive the server content.
The media manager of Plex is quite intuitive and helps to manage videos and songs and automatically loads the appropriate metadata and covers from the Internet. You can access portals such as Vimeo or TV streams such as MTV and BBC via free plugins.
Furthermore, the installation of Plex on Windows 10 is easy as any other software, just double-click on the downloaded setup file of it, follow the wizard in the browser to set it up, and start using…
Additionally, the user can activate the Plex pass function which is a subscription service to integrate additional features such as downloading selected content to iPhone, iPad for offline access, streaming from clouds such as Dropbox and Google Drive, using Gracenote for track recognition, and more… Know more about Plex Pass.
Kodi is another cross-platform streaming software for your home network just like the Plex media server. Earlier it is known as XBMC and comes under free and open source (GPL) software, the server is available for Windows, Linux, macOS, Android, Raspberry Pi, iOS, and others.
Another reason which makes Kodi the best media server for Windows 10 is its huge repository of add-ons that helps the user to expand the features of KODI.
It can play videos, music, DVDs, unencrypted Blu-ray discs, and audio CDs or shows slideshows of your photos. Even 3D films can be played without any problems. The freeware supports all important formats and codecs such as MP4, ISO, WEBM, H.264, DivX, XviD, JPEG, animated GIFs as well as MP3, OGG, WMA or M4A, and AAC.
You can stream songs and films via WLAN to other computers, game consoles, smart TVs, iPads, Android tablets, and smartphones.
Furthermore, we can customize its interface, get information about the weather or display lyrics and subtitles with the help of add-ons.
The ARD and ZDF media libraries or video streams from Eurosport, DAZN, and Zattoo are just as easy to access after a few clicks as films on YouTube, Vimeo, DailyMotion, and Facebook.
Emby Media Server
The next open-source platform that can be used to convert Windows 10 into a Media server is Emby. Just like the above mentioned two servers for streaming media, this one is also available for multiple platforms to install such as Windows, Linux, macOS, NAS devices, Docker, FreeBSD, and Shield Android TV along with a wide range of supported devices for the client app.
The installation of available plugins for the Emby server is quite easy, we just need to visit its Web-based Management System to install plugins, edit metadata and subtitles, Sync and more… There is a wide range of add-ons available to extend “Emby Server” features, for example, access to the cloud services Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive or to platforms such as Vimeo, Last.fm and SoundCloud.
With the help of Emby apps, we can make it work with Android TV, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Roku, Xbox 360, Kodi, and Samsung Smart TVs for streaming.
If you want to have an alternative to Kodi and Plex media servers, then try the EMBY, although it is not popular as the rest of the two, enough interesting because of its functionality. One can easily use it on Windows 10 to stream films, series, photos, books, and music from its installed PC to the other PC using browser, TV, or smartphones.
Emby Server can play different media formats such as MP3s, AACs, WAVs, MP4, MOV, MPEG, and WMV formats as well as ISO images or tracks down photos and eBooks. The media center pulls the information from the databases such as TheMovieDb, TheTVDB, and The Open Movie Database.
Furthermore, apart from the browser to play the content from the Emby server, we use external players such as KODI or its own “Emby Theater” media player software. Whereas for Android and iOS Emby mobile app is available in the respective app store.
“Emby Server” also easily recognizes common DLNA-capable hardware and automatically adjusts the media data to the target device when streaming.
Just like Plex Pass, Emby also offers Premium features available at the cost of $4.99/per month, $54/1 Year, and $119/One-time.
Under this premium plan, the users will have features such as Emby DVR (Schedule individual recordings, series recordings, and more); Offline Media ( download media on smartphones or tablets for offline playback); Fully feature unlocked Emby Apps; Cloud Sync; Cinema Mode; Cover Art plugin; Automatically Convert Content; Emby Theater; Backup and Restore; Podcasts; Use your Amazon Echo or Google Home device to control your Emby apps by voice…
Universal media server
Universal Media Server is another free and open-source software in the list that can also be installed easily on Windows 10 just like any other executable file to stream music, photos, and videos with the standards DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) and UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) devices. If you want a straightforward, simple media server software for Windows 10 then try this.
Supported hardware includes Panasonic, Samsung, LG, Sharp, Sony, and Philips TVs, Xbox One and Xbox 360 from Microsoft, PlayStation 3 and 4, Blu-ray players from Sony, and devices with Google Chromecast and Roku 3.
We can stream media files from Universal Media server installed on Windows on smartphone devices such as iPad, iPhone, Android tablets, and Windows phones, that are DLNA or UPnP-capable; even popular player “VLC Media Player”, and any browser can be used to access this media server and play the content. Apart from Windows, it is also available for Linux and macOS.
OpenFLIXR Media Server
This open-source Windows 10 media server is for those who don’t want to install it on a physical Windows machine. Yes, OpenFLIXR is a virtualized media server, that we install and use on Windows 10 or any other operating using VirtualBox, VMWARE, Parallels Desktop, KVM / unRAID, or even the Windows inbuilt virtualization platform Hyper-V. Thus, if you already have Plex, Kodi, or any other media server installed on your Windows 10 or server and want to use any other then simply install it on VM. The best thing you don’t require any guest VM operating system to setup OpenFLIXR like others mentioned above.
OpenFLIXR is an automated downloading and serving media server. It comes with tools like CouchPotato, SickChill, Headphones, Mopidy, Ubooquity, HTPC Manager, and SABnzbd to download and can integrate Plex Media Server to bring everything to your screens. It can fetch subtitles automatically from AutoSub, Sub-Zero, Sickrage, and CouchPotato.
Furthermore, Web-Based Container Management with Automatic Updating; Network-wide ad and metrics blocking, Let’s Encrypt support; Home-Assistant devices support such Alexa and Google Assitant to automate home theatre
Recommended virtual hardware specifications are 2vCPU, 3GB RAM, and a 100GB disk.