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I have a home network consisting of the following devices:

  • Windows 2000 Server - for file sharing
  • Asus RT-N56U Router - supports USB external HDD
  • Synology DiskStation DS212j - NAS - ordered but hasn't arrived yet
  • iPhone
  • XBox 360
  • 40" Sony Bravia TV - network capable, but not currently connected
  • Windows 7 - desktop, joined to a domain
  • Windows Vista - laptop, not joined to the domain

In the future, I may get an iPad and a PS3.

As you can see, it's a mix of devices with lots of different protocols supported between them. To date, I've usually used the Windows 7 machine as my primary device for playback of video and music using Windows Media Player. Sometimes I use the iPhone for listening to a subset of the music put on to the device using iTunes and for podcasts downloaded via iTunes.

In the future I'd like to be able to play downloaded movies and TV shows on the Sony TV, either directly or via the XBox. I'd also like full access to my music from the iPhone as sometimes I connect it to a good sound system in another room of the house. Currently it only has access to whatever I synched via iTunes.

I want to be able to have a central location to store all my media and allow it to be shared across the multiple devices. I'd like it to be simple to manage and simple to share/stream the content to the different devices.

I've heard about things like an iTunes server, media center sharing, UPnP, DLNA, etc and am at a loss as how best to go about setting up a single repository that will support the different devices on my home network.

What is the best approach for sharing media amongst multiple devices?

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Your new NAS would be the best central store. The great thing about these types of NAS device is that you can expose the content on them in a myriad ways.

Once your media is on there, you can use DLNA/uPNP to expose the content to the XBOX 360 and the TV (assuming that the TV supports DLNA, which is almost certain). This is easy to access, once DLNA is enabled on the NAS, it will automatically appear as a media source on the TV complete with navigation.

This will also make the content available to anything that understands uPNP, which includes your Windows boxes. However, you may choose to share the media store using CIFS as well for these devices, so you can map a drive letter to the nas (you can do this as a login script on the domain attached machines). You can also join the NAS to the domain to simplify access management.

Synology NAS is Airplay compliant also, so any idevices on the network will be able to see the media store automatically. There is also an app from Synology that allows access to the media store from an idevice while outside of the network.

If you can get one of the Windows devices close enough to the TV, you can install XBMC on it have the full media center experience. If your Windows 2000 box is only used for filesharing and domain control, you could have the NAS take over its entire function, and use it as a media center serving content from the NAS.

Consider backups in all of this. You can put an external USB off the NAS to do backups to, but also the NAS can do backups to the cloud directly.

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Cool, good point about the Windows 2000 machine. I'll probably decommission it once the NAS is in place, since it is only 230GB. So with the media being on the NAS, how would the Windows machines access the media. Would this be done via file shares, or through DLNA/UPnP? I'm currently using WMP with file share from the W2k box. Also, any idea about how the iPhone would see the media? – GiddyUpHorsey Apr 5 '12 at 13:37
The answer already discussed Windows, but I have added details about idevices. – Paul Apr 5 '12 at 14:48

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