How-To Geek

What You Said: Do You Stream Your Media?


Earlier this week we asked you about your streaming habits  and now we’re back to highlight the trends, tips, and tricks from your responses.

Streaming to Mobile Devices

Streaming from the home network or cloud storage provides the oppurtunity to enjoy your media wherever you are. Niko runs a Subsonic server to stream his tunes wherever he is:

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.

Niko wasn’t the only one that enjoyed Subsonic; Bemymonkey writes:

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.

If you’re noticing a trend here it’s that the majority of readers that are streaming from home servers or cloud storage are doing so to access music. Brian highlights one of the reasons:

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.

When streaming from home to a distant mobile device a little chop and buffering is usually unavoidable—we don’t know about you but we think there should be a specific word for the anxiety one feels when the play marker is creeping towards the unbuffered section of the video.

Streaming Across the Home Network


Although we asked the question with an emphasis to streaming media from your home to remote devices (such as your smartphone) the majority of you indicated that you did most of your streaming in house and not out across the internet to your far flung devices. Dre writes:

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.

We had the same experience regarding the standard/gigabit dilemma; after testing everything out on our network we found that gigabit just wasn’t necessary for streaming even 1080p video. One trend that was prominent was that once a reader got into streaming media they went all out. Badfiddler’s response highlights this:

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 Bluray 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.

Even readers with physical media usually rip the media to their servers to avoid the hassle of looking for discs and changing them out. Rick writes:

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.

20TB you say? Be right back; upgrading! We kid (but not really, we’ll be at NewEgg if you need us).

For more streaming configurations and tips, hit up the original comment thread here. Have a setup you want to share? It’s not too late; sound off in the comments below.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 07/15/11

Comments (12)

  1. Rick

    …and i’ve been thinking about upgrading my 20TB using this case from newegg:

    It holds 24 hdd for a total of 48TB but now you’re talking serious $$$$$$$$$ my wife would not be too happy with me.

  2. fritzb

    I just signed on to Google Music (beta). Upload your favorite albums and listen to them anywhere. As far as movies go, it’s not convenient for me to stream them because I’m on the go so much. (Too much, really.)

  3. Steve

    I stream everything over my D-Link wireless rotor to my laptop hooked up to the TV via HDMI. Although I’m using DSL with a DL speed of 4.5 mbps I have no problems with buffering HD quality content. I get the odd studder but other wise I love being able to watch my Fave programs on my schedule and not the networks.

  4. audiophiler

    fritzb: Thanks for the suggestion of Music Beta by Google, I never heard of this before :-)

  5. skris88

    Hi Everyone,

    Is everyone really streaming? Or just playing the file across a LAN? There IS a difference!

    When you connect a client and a server there are 2 ways to obtain the file. One is to use the server as a remote shared drive and play the file locally. All the server is doing is giving you access to the media.

    The streaming way is when the server takes the file, and PLAYS it for the remote client. This usually involves some form of transcoding, ie. taking a DVD or SD TV quality MPEG2 1,500kbps file and transcoding the file into a new one-quarter-sized (MP4) 300kbps audio-visual stream and pushing it out that way. Note that a quarter-sized video resolution means your 800 x 600 video is not 400 x 300 pixels in quality.

    Methinks what most people do across their LANs is just file sharing, not video streaming??

    Sydney, Australia

  6. skris88

    Correction. That sentence should read, “….means your 800 x 600 video is NOW 400 x 300 pixels in quality”.

  7. rws8258

    Jason said, “20TB you say? Be right back; upgrading! We kid (but not really, we’ll be at NewEgg if you need us).”

    He, he… good one… :-)

  8. Canuck50

    I use the “Western Digital Media Player Plus”, it streams anything you wish it to.

  9. GreenSlices

    My lag over Wifi Fix:

    My TV has WiFi built in so I mostly stream TV shows and movies. I bought a second wireless router that doesn’t have an internet connection and keep my PC on that network whenever I want to stream. If I keep it on the network that has a internet connection it’s super laggy. I think this works because there is no other traffic interering on that connection. Could be wrong though.

  10. allan

    Nope I’m streaming, have a TVersity media server and also PS3 media server installed on my PC and can pick up these and play video directly on my TV through my PS3. Currently done over WiFi and do sometimes experience a lag, but on the whole works fine 95% of the time.

    Just trying to find the right combination of software that will allow me to stream vids from the PC to my Android devices (over wifi at home) and I’ll be more that happy, any ideas anyone


    Perth, Australia

  11. Daniel

    Allan, that might techincally be streaming but in the IT world. not really. Your home PC and your PS3 is on the same LAN which means it picks up at least a wireless 100MB connection give or take based on the quaility of your device.

    Side note: im not nocken your solution just stating a fact. BTW XMBC is a wonderful software for LAN based media.

    What the user above was asking about is anyone streaming from there LAN to the WAN over a standard DSL or cable connection meaning transcoded to be less than the standard under 1MB connection bottle neck.

    I to would be interested in a solid software transcode solution for LAN to WAN for my movies that can be secured with SSL.

    I perfer software as Hardware solutions are ok but when they die you got to go buy a replacement but software can just be reinstalled.

  12. angel

    u can use the app plex to play video on android

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