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How-To Geek

Ask the Readers: Do You Stream Your Media?

Streaming media from your personal collection is a great way to enjoy your music, movies, and more while you’re away from home. Do you stream your media?

Media streaming is all over the news lately as Congress grapples with what it means to stream content and how streaming affects copyright holders. While the current debate doesn’t directly concern people who stream from private collections for personal use we hardly have to tell you how quickly the movie and recording industries like to bend new laws to their benefit.

All of this made us curious. How many of our readers are actively streaming content for personal use? Do you stream music to your phone? Video to your laptop? Sound off in the comments with the how and why of your streaming arrangement. What kinks did you have to iron out? What’s the best part about your streaming setup?

Make sure to check back on Friday for our What You Said roundup to see how your fellow readers have their streaming systems configured.

Jason Fitzpatrick is warranty-voiding DIYer and all around geek. When he's not documenting mods and hacks he's doing his best to make sure a generation of college students graduate knowing they should put their pants on one leg at a time and go on to greatness, just like Bruce Dickinson. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/12/11

Comments (75)

  1. Kalle

    I use Spotify Premium all the time :)

  2. Hatryst

    No :)

  3. Antje

    I actually copy the files to another device for personal use, because that would mean no interruption should I fall out of my wi-fi range.

  4. Brian

    I’ve never encountered a video stream in which there wasn’t some level of lag, which bothers me to no end. Given the choice, I’ll always download a video locally before playing it.

  5. Brandon

    We stream content, mostly movies, to several TVs and portable devices in the house…beats going to the basement to grab a DVD anytime we watch a movie. Sure there is lag on occasion but I can live with that to avoid exercise. :-)

  6. Devin

    I assume local streaming counts not just using one of those tv streaming sites correct? If that is the case then yep that’s all I do, as soon as I buy a bluray I rip it to my 20TB server and stream it to my boxee box.

  7. ryan_bigl

    I use Zumocast to stream video to my Ipod Touch and Audiogalaxy to stream audio. Way more hassle-free then downloading to my ipod when I’m almost out of space and also more hassle-free then uploading to the cloud and then streaming from that service (I mostly use my dropbox/google/whatever account for a specific backup or certain documents)

  8. Dre

    I stream all local content through a wired Ethernet cable to a Boxee Box. I have never run into any problems playing anything. I’ve tried a few other media players back in the day, but this is by far the best I have used for the price. I try to avoid streaming anything of significant size or quality over the internet or WiFi, even with a 40 megabit connection. There always seems to be problems.

    If I play anything through my iPhone, I re-encode it with free handbrake. Plays perfectly and doesn’t take too long.

    Only kink was a bad switch in the wall for my home network. Once I switched that out with a new $25 TrendNet switch, I’ve never had a problem again. Local HD plays perfectly, even without a gigabit connection, so I will stick with my Boxee.

  9. bemymonkey

    I stream nearly everything. Video comes off the NAS, and music is streamed from Subsonic directly to my Android phone when I’m out and about… streaming rocks.

  10. Dre

    As a followup, I finally figured out I had a bad switch by testing the speed using the free LAN Speed Test software (http://www.totusoft.com/index.html). Found I was only getting 15 Megabits to a thumb drive plugged into my Boxee Box on a 100 Megabit connection. As soon as I put in the new switch, it jumped to over 75 Megabits and all my problems went away.

  11. Grant

    Yes, excessively. I stream movies via Netflix, I stream music to mu phone via Pandora, and I stream my own music (just on the local network in the house) via MPD and Icecast2. I do have a small PMP for when I am out of network range, but that is pretty rare, since I have a good cell provider.

  12. badfiddler

    I stream everything. For regular TV, I record off the air with a SageTV server, then stream it to a mix of HD200 and HD300 clients. I watch Netflix and/or Amazon prime streams via Roku, Xbox 360, or GoogleTV, depending on my whim. I have a blu ray player connected to my main TV, but I watch less than one disc per month. Literally everything else is streamed either locally or over the internet.

  13. RobJules

    Have a windows xp media center, use it as a boxee box along with hulu and netflix. Pull stuff from my main windows 7 system, that I use for all torrents. I’m always surprised how little lag I get, if any.

  14. Nohaybanda

    I stream every videos i watch on TV from my computer to an old Xbox (1st gen) with XBMC using smb shares in windows and rj45 cables. works great, no HD though

  15. Kodess

    My HTPC is hooked up to my TV, thats the only place I watch movies and tv shows.
    And I only listen to music streamed by Spotify.
    So, no I don’t stream personally, although I am streaming music via Spotify.

  16. Grega

    I don’t use streaming, network shares work best (and easiest) for me, using WD TV Live.

  17. jim

    boxee box

  18. Brad Hoschar

    Yes. I have a 1Tb ran to my Xbox 360…I have movies, tv shows and some great concerts….For whatever Xbox can’t stream, I have TVersity for everything else.

  19. Sanchit Goyal

    Never done that!

  20. debsawyer

    Yes I stream all movies, pictures, music, etc using my LG Blue ray and my LG SmartTV upgrader. I love not having to burn everything on disk and just delete it when you’re done.

  21. debsawyer

    I also use my PogoPlug to watch movies, etc on my HTC Evo 3D, iPad, iPod and other devices.

  22. StarsLikeDust

    I often stream content (Pandora, Netflix, Hulu). For my personal files on the go I’ve been using Libox on an old laptop I use as a home “server” Though when I’m home I tend to fall back on network shares.

  23. Rick

    Of course! I have a 20TB WHS setup to stream both DVD & BluRay quality onto several home theatre PCs around the house. I also have the HD HomeRun turner setup on one machine and use it to record TV shows and stream as well. Music yes indeed. Lag absolutely NOT. I have a gigabit switch and all devices are Ethernet connected with CAT5e. This allows to stream HD content without any hiccups. At one point I had the server setup to stream audio, video and TV’s shows but that is no longer the case.

  24. Tim

    I stream from my small server to my modded original xbox.Usually videos not music.I have a one Terra byte drive hopefully I can add a new two Terra byte to my system.

  25. Niko

    Subsonic.. Ever since I installed it I haven’t looked back. I use it to stream my music at work, to my phone, at home, everywhere. As far as video is concerned, I usually stick to Netflix if I am streaming, other than that, I’m usually watching straight from the HTPC.

  26. Andrew James

    I have been using Google+ to stream things to friends, I think it might just be a new “hangout” for people to collectively share their streaming content.

  27. mando

    ps3 media server for windows, mediatomb for linux, simply the best

  28. trinity343

    i stream music via my phone where ever i have connection using Audiogalaxy and i have music on the Amazon music cloud that i also use on my phone and of course pandora. i also use netflix through the xbox and Wii.

  29. nt0xik8ed

    i find streaming pointless when every device i have has enough space for my media. (that i can live without.) i never really need to constantly be listening to or looking at anything. and if i get bored, which i rarely do, i know i won’t be slothfully listening to or looking at anything i’ve put on my devices. unless i’ve completely missed the point of streaming media.

  30. playforkepz

    I STEAM EVERYTHING!!! Especially from outside my network. First of I am a total newgrouper (lifehacker.com/5601586/how-to-get-started-with-usenet-in-three-simple-steps). Mynzb for my phone allows me to tap into my sab server at home (www.sabnzbd.org) which will start downloading whatever movie/tv show/music that I want. Then after it’s done downloading, I have my Mac to move it automagicly to my external Drobo that has 4 TB of storage. Next on the same Mac as my sab server I also have plex running (www.plexapp.com) which will stream ANY media i.e iTunes library which includes playlists, any media from internal or external sources. Plex has scrappers built in it which will find fan art, plots of movies or tv shows, and other content. I can tap into my plex at home with plex app running on my phone from anywhere in the world. What is so great about sabnzb and plex for the mac is that they are open source, which is awesome!! Plex for the phone is about 5 bucks. If you know how to configure your router to open ports, setting up these apps will be a breeze.
    P.S Getting a free dns name from (www.dyndns.org) will save you a lot of trouble and headache in trying to remember your ISP address.
    Happy streaming!!!

  31. Cryptic

    I use a program called Serviio to stream all my music and movies to my Xbox 360 in my living room so I can watch them with the family instead of just watching it on my PC in my room.

  32. Scott

    I use Subsonic to stream to all my devices.

  33. Annie B.

    Using Google Music Beta

  34. Reyn

    I have ripped dozens of my DVDs & hundreds of CD’s, and have “discovered” many TV shows not available in Australia. It’s tidier and simpler to rip, stream and file the disks away in the cupboard, than have a wall covered in plastic disks cluttering my shelves.
    Currently using Serviio to stream from the windows home server (ver 1 with 4Tb redundant storage) to xbox360, 3 pc’s, original xbox with xbmc, a visiting tablet and a Galaxy S phone.
    Problems: Serviio disconnects regularly from the xbox & needs to be reloaded. Almost, but not all avi codecs supported.
    Previously had TVersity but that doesn’t run MKV files.
    Will try playforkepz solution WRT the DNS & see if that works for the Serviio dropouts

  35. Atomsk

    I use XBMC on my apple tv2 to stream from my computer, also use WiiMC to stream to my wii using SMB. Also use PS3 media Server to stream to my PS3

  36. Wenceslaus

    I use windows media server to share media on my android, and ps3. Allshare from android to comp and ps3. I also use PS3 Media Server on linux….

  37. bassmadrigal

    I hardly ever stream anything to my phone. It just takes up too much battery. I will just keep my music stored on my sdcard. But at home, streaming is the only way I watch things (sometimes it really sucks living in a foreign country). Currently, all my files are stored on my desktop and I stream them over to my xbox 360 using Serviio. But that is getting ready to get phased out for a Netbox running Slackware64 and XBMC. It will still be streaming off my desktop, but the samba shares will be mounted locally on the netbox.

  38. Paraffin

    In terms of streaming media internally in the house I use Server 2008 R2 in an old desktop (Core2Duo, 4GB RAM) as my media server with RAID1 over 2 x 1 TB disks with SMB shares. This streams media to my HTPC running Windows 7 and XBMC on an Acer Revo 3700 via a wired Gigabit network.

    In terms of streaming from the web I use BBC iPlayer, ITV Player and YouTube with a little bit of Ice Films thrown in. I would use LoveFilm (UK) but the new content just isn’t there, you still have to use the postal system which imo is a lottery. If there were better streaming sites that didn’t with hold new Blu-Ray and DVD releases I would be signed up in a second and probably ditch usenet.

  39. Geoff

    I use Squeezeboxserver for music at home and work. I have Squeezebox connected to my home stereo. At work I use Winamp as a streaming client.
    Video content I stream with PS3MediaServer -> TV.
    I have Ubuntu Linux server as a media store. It runs all the software needed for streaming to clients.

    Very happy with the setup :-)

  40. Bobro

    I use the BBC iPlayer, E4 and ITV Player on my Virgin box, as well as PC and wii etc…
    Spotify (but i do have a big music collection of my own)
    Films that i can on my package from LoveFilm.com (netflix for UK)

  41. Nick

    I download everything to my 10TB Windows Home Server, then stream (via XBMC and iTunes) to my media players. Does that count as streaming by the law? I don’t use Netflix or Hulu or anything like that. Only Pandora.

  42. Snicholls

    i have a HTPC using combination of MediaBrowser fro the Main stuff Boxee for the odd Internet Channels, with 3TB Storage soon to be Discarded and Rebuilt with around 6TB holding locally Stored Music/Movies (Bluray and DVD) and TV Shows which i can then stream to my Xbox 360(My Room) PS3 (Downstairs) or Bros Xbox 360

  43. KoRe

    VUZE, works perfectly to send files and media from my computer to other computers, xbox, ps3 and droids!

  44. mridchak

    I usually prefer to stream movies online rather than downloading them .. solarmovie.com, videosurf.net, megavideomovies.net are realy good sites to stream movies ..

    I HAVE 3 QUESTIONS . CAN ANYBODY HELP ?

    1.Can anybody let me know where I can watch the latest movie free by streaming with a good quality and print .. I am located in India(Bangalore) .

    2. Also if you could let me know how to put subtitles in streaming video

    3. At a connection speed of 1 mbps which are best sites to buffer movies without “loading pauses” in between ..

  45. chris

    I stream from home NAS (Netgear ReadyNas Duo) been great (since I updated the firmware!!!)
    Stream to ipad and xbox and TV.

    biggest hangup?

    the fact xbox does not play blueray rips (downloaded) hurrya for PS3 on that front, the one use I have for it!!

  46. Jeremy

    I’m streaming music on my phone right now. Always do. I find it akin to listening to a radio station: you’re not limited to your own library. And with streaming there are so many more choices than local radio.

    We stream tv shows and movies every day at home, using our Xbox 360 to watch Netflix. One commenter mentioned lag. That’s pretty much a thing of the past with modern streaming like Netflix, hulu, Amazon VOD, etc. If there’s a drop in bandwidth, they’ll automatically adjust. For the most part, though, I get a better-than-dvd picture on Netflix, no lag, no video and audio always in sync, and starting it up is faster than finding a dvd in my collection. No-brainer.

  47. mharrsch

    We began streaming Netflix through a Roku player several years ago and streamed movies rapidly took over as the option of choice in our household. Even though at present we only have 1.3 Mps DSL, we have hardly ever experienced any lag with Netflix. (My son discovered that sometimes it is the web-enabled Blu-Ray device that causes the lag not the speed of your internet connection. He bought a Sony Blu-Ray player and had a terrible time with lag so he took it back and got an LG player instead and never had a bit of trouble since)

    Now we have smart TVs, a Wii and the Roku so streaming video can be watched in any of our entertainment locations. I also use MP3Tunes on the Roku to stream music and a Flickr application to stream images from the web to various TVs. I’ve streamed video from Amazon a couple of times when I’ve purchased a DVD and received a complimentary PPV for it to watch until the DVD arrives and it too worked fine.

    Now that we have a 3D TV, I plan to start watching streamed 3D video content from VuDu as soon as Qwest upgrades our DSL to 12 Mps later this month.

  48. deaf one

    Yes its a must for hard of hearing folks like me so they can match a (easily downloaded free) subtitle file to it so they can read what folks say in the movie or show, rather than be forced to “make up” what they think happened because they cannot hear it.

  49. horizonguy

    A big NO for me on this topic. As far as video, I have not seen any streaming solution that doesn’t have lag and supports the video experience I want (HD video quality and surround sound). For audio, since there are so many portable devices, it doesn’t seem necessary – plus I also have Sirius/XM in my car and via browser, so streaming my own audio seems like a step backwards.

  50. Dafoo

    I use MyMedia for Windows Phone 7 to stream video and music to my phone via TVersity, and I use PS3Media Server to stream Blu-Ray-quality mkv’s to my PS3. In all other cases, I just stream over the network via Homegroups for Windows 7.

  51. Thane

    I love my CinemaTube Mini for streaming. Wirelessly handles 720p with no noticeable lag. Also handles any and all video formats, including .iso and VIDEO_TS. Full 1080p seems to require an attached external drive.

    Also use Roku extensively for TV. Cancelled cable last year and haven’t missed it yet. Amazon VOD and Hulu Plus picture quality is great. Netflix streaming is not as good.

  52. J Glenn

    I stream movies from Crackle all the time and love it. There are a few very short commercials but that is OK, that’s what pays for their system. I also stream music or radio programs for background while working n my PC.

  53. RABO

    I stream music to my phone with pandora, but I download it as well as i have no 3g plan. I torrent my media for large sets of video(legally of course) and stream the odds and ends I want via grooveshark and hulu, but use groovfedown before i go somewhere.

  54. Lizzie

    I love streaming! My entire video and music collection (250 movies and 2000 albums) have been digitized and reside on a WD My Book Live network drive. I use WDTV Live to stream to my TV. I don’t really like the interface though and am thinking of getting Apple TV, but would have to hack it to play AVIs, or convert everything to MP4. I use iTunes home sharing to stream music to my iPad around the house, which is nice because I don’t have to use up space on the iPad to store music. I have a no TV in the bedroom rule, but I cheat and use my iPad as a TV at night with the Jensen Rocker iPad dock (external speakers + remote – Love it! Get one!), and use the Air Video app to stream movies and TV shows to the iPad. I also have the ZumoCast server running on my PC so my son can stream my movies and music via the web in his college dorm room across state.

  55. vicsar

    Not over the word wide web, just at home. I use VLC for that purpose. Normally I carry my 1TB backup drive with me so I do not have the need to do so.

  56. dima

    No. I just share my movies folder on my home network

  57. xana452

    I stream it to my xbox 360 every time i play. My brother also streams the media library from our desktop to his laptop.

  58. Aether

    My home connection is only 1mbps, so I don’t have the bandwidth to stream.

  59. Kitty

    Spotify does it for me, in the UK and abroad.

  60. TomSr

    Audiogalaxy for streaming audio and TVersity for video.

  61. Wayne

    RECIPE FOR THE PERFECT SOLUTION

    3 years in the making for a perfect streaming home media solution…

    50M VirginMedia broadband service 5M upload (no cap)

    ZyXEL NSA210 NAS/DNLA Media Server connected via Gigabit ethernet with 9KB Jumbo Frame enabled. Pricing info http://goo.gl/AO8Ka

    TP-Link TL-WR1043ND Gigabit ethernet/Wireless N DD-Wrt installed with UPnP QoS enabled. Pricing info http://goo.gl/NIhbd

    Traxdata MultiMedia Station 1080P (Cyclone MKV). Pricing info http://goo.gl/7ZkPJ

    It works flawlessly I connect my PS3 (Thin), Traxdata and NAS direct via ethernet cable for excellent quality streaming purposes. Devices connected via WiFi @ 130Mbps are x1 laptop, 2 netbooks, x1 Workstation, x1 Samsung Galaxy S, x1 Archos 70 Internet tablet with a mix of connecting OS’s Linux, Mac, Windows. Other devices connected @ 54Mbs are x1 iPhone, x1 PS3 (Phat), x1 Wii and x3 Nintendo DSi’s. Phew… I think i need to get out more :)

    As you can see from the links this didn’t cost too much either cheapest and best products I could find.

    SSSUUUUSSSHHHH! DONT TELL ANYONE lol

  62. Walt

    I stream Grooveshark over my iPhone

  63. Joefresh

    TVersity works like a charm

  64. MythTVFan

    I have been using MythTV (mythtv.org) since 2003. Record TV using 2x HDHomeRun Tuners, all my movies, music, pictures, podcasts etc. and streamed directly to TV’s around the house using old Dell Dimension 9200C for 3x TV’s

  65. TheMuayThaiMan

    Nope. I don’t stream my media…unfortunately. I really just haven’t made that final push towards streaming, but I think that streaming services (Netflix!) are a great way to go in this day and age.

  66. McLean

    I use an iomega home media network drive to stream to my 360 as well as tversity on my windows system and ushare on my ubuntu system.

  67. lamsicle

    I love this site……but I rarely have any idea of what people are talking about!
    I can only just about figure how to switch the kettle on.

  68. Andy

    Why should I?

  69. Wayne

    Currently we stream media in the house via iTune’s Home Sharing. Unfortunately this limits media to 5 computers and iOS devices. Looking to add Plex or another service on top of this. I have been thinking of using a Mac Mini for the server but haven’t really settled on hardware yet.

  70. Emily Sullivan

    We don’t have a TV antenna/cable/satelite set up. We instead have lived with Hulu, AmazonPrime, Netflix and Pandora. Will drop the netflix after the 30 day free trial because there’s so much to see for free.

  71. schoolbully

    I have an in-house server(running Freenas), that streams all movies, tv shows, and music to those on the LAN.

  72. Crampon

    YES and v happy with the results.
    4TB RAID1 Netgear ReadyNAS Duo NAS server
    802.11n wireless network
    Sonos system (which is awesome btw) streams audio from NAS server + Spotify etc from t’internet.
    DLNA compliant LG 3D TV and PS3 stream video from NAS server and BBC, ITV and Channel 4 internet players.

  73. 1woodmonger

    I have a stream in my backyard.

  74. random

    Where’s the tutorial for doing this stuff? I’ll need a new project here soon that won’t kill all the brain cells……

  75. James

    Thanks for all the awesome suggestions, guys…but here’s mine:

    XBMC
    http://xbmc.org/

    Emit
    http://www.emitapp.com/index.html

    Video streaming, with subtitles/captions…flawless. Will never look back on this.

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