How to choose a DLNA Media Server for Windows, Mac OS X or Linux

With so many new DLNA media receivers emerging on the market, including the PS3 and X-Box 360, there are many options for media server software to run. Each server application has its own set of pros and cons. I researched all of the known products and listed out prices, supported operating systems and features. I also took the time to make a few notes and award best-in-class to a few select products that are the easiest to use, have the best features overall and provide the best end-user experience. Read on to find out how to choose your media server software.

Comparison Chart

The products are listed in alphabetical order. All servers are UPnP compliant. The Server column is the name of the server and a link to the vendor's product page. The Price column is how much the server costs. The Windows, Mac and Linux columns show support for those operating systems. The Music column indicates that the software can stream at least 1 type of music. The Photo column indicates that the software can serve at least 1 type of image. The Video column indicates that the software can stream at least 1 type of AV. The Transcoding column indicates that the software can transcode from one format to another.


Server Price Windows Mac Linux Music Photo Video Transcoding
Allegro Media
Server
39.95 X X
X


Cidero Internet Radio Station
Server (Java)
Free X X X X X X
Cyber Media Gate (Java) Free X X X X X X
Cyberlink Digital Home Enabler Kit 79.95 X

X X X
Elgato Eyeconnect 49.95
X
X X X
Fuppes Free X
X X X X X
Geexbox Free


X X X
GMediaServer Free

X X X X
JRiver Media Center
39.95 X

X X X
MediaTomb Free
X X X X X X
Mezzmo 24.95 X

X X X X
MiniDLNA Free

X X X X ?
MythTV Free

X X X X X
Nero
MediaHome
79.99 X

X X X X
Nullriver Medialink 20.00
X
X X X X
On2Share 19.95 X

X X X
PS3 Media Server Free X
X X
X X X X
Rhapsody 12.99/month X X X X


SimpleCenter Premium 19.99 X

X X X X
Tversity Free X

X X X X
TwonkyMedia 39.95 X X X X X X X
uShare Free

X X X X
Wild Media Server $15 X X X X X X X
Winamp Remote Free X

X ? X ?
Windows Media Connect Free X

X X X X
Yahoo Music Jukebox Free X

X


What is transcoding?

The average consumer doesn't care about what technology is used to encode their media. They just want it to play. The problem is that many devices only support certain types of encoding and much media circulating around is in other formats. The solution? Transcoding. Transcoding means to convert a potentially unsupported encoding into a supported one for the receiving device on the fly. Wikipedia has more details on transcoding.

Analysis

While basic functionality is indicated on this chart, there is no way of knowing how many types of music, photo or video formats are supported. It is also difficult to tell what formats can be transcoded. Most of the informational pages for these products don't give enough details, so without setting up every single product and testing all formats against a variety of devices, it's very difficult to know for sure what the level of support is.

Four products support every operating system: Cidero, Cyber Media Gate, Rhapsody and TwonkyMedia. Both Cidero and Cyber Media Gate are Java-based ports of their original C++ open-source counterparts. They appear to run on any Java 1.5 platform.

TwonkyMedia not only supports every operating system but has every main feature covered as well. Their transcoding support is new, as last time I looked into their tech specs I didn't see support for it, so time will tell how good it is.

Geexbox has no OS listed because despite being Linux-based, it runs its own distribution to work. To get similar DLNA server functionality in Linux, uShare can be compiled and installed, which is what Geexbox uses for its own server.

SimpleCenter has a free version without transcoding support.

The 2007 Winners

After reading user feedback all over AVS Forum and Sony's Playstation Boards, researching the product specifications and performing some basic tests of the products, I can say definitively that for Windows, Nero Mediahome and Simpecenter Premium offer the best ease-of-use, transcoding and overall functionality. Neither product is free, but as of right now they are currently the best in class. I have not been able to test enough products for Linux or OS X yet to give a good recommendation for those, but the chart provided should give you at least an idea of what may or may not suit your needs best.

Into the future and beyond...

New server are showing up every few months and existing ones are always adding new features. I will do my best to try to keep this list up-to-date, but I count on you to post your reviews and especially the corrections for prices, features and products for this list. Things have changes since I compiled the first list in 2007 so please read through the comments and discuss on the forums to make sure you have the latest information.

This list was last updated 10/9/2011 but some entries may not be current.

226 Comments

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dlna server drive test

Drive test done on Mezzmo, Twonky an Wild media servers on SONY Bravia : warmly recommend wild Media Server : good quality, lot of features, highly customisable and an perfect integration with Bravia navigation.

you'll not end up just by

you'll not end up just by buying licence for every connection method, you'll also end up with buying for every replaced hardware as author says that licences cannot be transferred to replaced hardware. His answer to what to do when you sell some player and buy new one is: "sell WMF licence with the old one and buy a new licence for new one". One of the worse licencing models ever, I suggest staying away from this unless you have money to waste.

PS3 Media Server works on both my PS3 and Samsung LA46A750

I have just installed the PS3 Media server on a Fedora 12 box and found it works great on both my PS3 and Samsung TV. The fedora 12 install took a little time to configure networking and permissions etc. This server also hosts my RAID so its a very handy 1 stop media-shop.

Meezio and Samsung TV

After struggling for several days with Samsung's PC Sharemanger software I've finally given up on it. I have a rather large collection of media that I wish to share among several different generations of DLNA complaint devices including the most difficult of all the hardware I've yet tried to stream to, a Samsung LCD TV. Samsung's media sharing software is a piece of garbage. For sharing a large library of media it's useless. I couldn't even get it to compile and display all of my shared folders without it becoming completely unresponsive, consuming CPU time and memory and never finishing an update of the database.

Searching for an alternative to PC Sharemanager I came across Meezio (www.mezzmo.com) and after trying it along with several other solutions Meezzmo was by far the best solution for my needs. If you have a rather large library your wishing to maintain and share...painlessly I might add; this is the software you want especially if your struggling with Samsung's lack luster deployment of DLNA. Meezio is quick and responsive in adding media to it's database and extremely intuitive to use. Even the Samsung TV is working wonderfully. I have yet to try and play a file that Meezzo couldn't transcode and stream.

You should add Wild Media

You should add Wild Media Server to the list, and indicate the purchase price(s).

Pay Attention to License Model

Wild Media Server isn't free, and you could potentially need to purchase multiple licenses for the same set. I have a Sony KDL-46NX700 set, and it has built in wireless and an Ethernet port. The license is purchased for a "Device ID", and the device ID for the set is different for wireless versus wired. Don't know if other software has this same model, but it's a bit odd to me. How I choose to have my device connect to the network shouldn't matter. The license should be for the set itself, but it isn't.

Just be aware. If you're going to buy a license, make sure you connect it in the mode you prefer (wired versus wireless). Mine was in wireless mode and I found the problem when I decided to connect it to the router via wired. Fortunately, I haven't had an issue with using wireless in terms of speed.

The software is functionally great -- not much comes close to it. However, for $40, it could be a bit more polished. You'll encounter Russian tooltips and other odd text, which isn't anywhere near English. Support is through Eugene himself and the language barrier is a big issue as is evident on wild media's forums.

Not free mate, it does look

Not free mate, it does look good though.

also check out 'majestic',

also check out 'majestic', only free software that i could get to work "http://majesticdotapp.com/"

No it isnt - Free for 15 days

No it isnt - Free for 15 days only

another media server you could mention

Hi,

I didn't checked all the pages here if it was already mentioned, but serviio seems to be a very nice platform independent media server too.
Check it out: www.serviio.org

Add PlayOn by MediaMall to List

Check out:

PlayOn by MediaMall
http://www.playon.tv/playon

I think its Windows Only :* (and requires fast machine for transcoding), but even allows Internet video streams/flash videos (YouTube, Hulu, ComedyCentral, sports networks, etc.) and has third party plugin and script abilities for adding more.

no dlna media server that supports file sizes above 2gb?

Hello,

I've already tried so many different media server software like twonky, tversity, simplecenter and so on, but NONE of them is capable of streaming files bigger than 2gb.

My TV card records TV streams as mpg files (MPEG2) in sd quality.

i can view these recordings with several old pinnacle show center 200/250 in my house, even files that are bigger than 2gb. the pinnacle show center uses an old streaming software called oxyl box.

i also tried several dlna servers, but none worked with files bigger than 2gb. it just doesn't start playing!
even a buffalo tera station wasn't able to stream bigger files. what can i do against that?

Devices: Popcorn Hour A-110, Sony Bravia 52Z5800 and several others.

WildMediaServer & MiniDLNA

This is a great site that google landed me in ... well done Robert and good work from people who have posted their views!

My setup is Sony PS3 on WiFi, Intel Pentium Core i5 i-661 processor, 2.5GB RAM running dual OS WinXP SP3 and ubuntu 9.10. I have tested WildMediaServer (WinXP SP3) and MiniDLNA (ubuntu 9.10) and they both work quite well.

While using WildMediaServer, high bit rate video struggles and there are quite a lot of pauses and restarts of the video. This happens whether the video is transcoded on-the-fly or not. There's a network transfer size setting that I need to experiment with; it is currently at default 512MB. No issues with MP3 music and pictures.

I tried mpeg2 and AVI/DivX on MiniDLNA (ubuntu) and did not notice any video pauses/restarts. Music and Picture work fine too. I'll try other video formats and different bit rates and post my results here later (week end work!)

Both softwares are quite easy to install and configure.

I have tried FreeNAS standalone OS; upnp did not work at all with PS3. Tried FUPPES on ubuntu 9.10, but it was very choosy on video formats though no issues with music or pictures. Fuppes configuration, especially the transcoding section, is not easy (WildMediaServer is great in this dept).

Cheers

connecting mac desktop to my lgbdp570 blue ray player

I have a mac desktop and a lg dp570 blur ray player. How do i connect the two to get my computer's content on wirelessly? Nero disc that came with blu ray player does not work on mac computers.

Any media server with support

Any media server with support for subtitles, able to run on MAC and compatible with LG BD390?

Sony Bravia + DLNA + Windows 7 = Wild Media Server

The best DLNA server with a Sony Bravia television is the Wild Media Server.
You can see and hear television and radio online. Soon you will see videos from You Tube.

Best of all, it's free and really easy.

Media server

"Wild Media Server" is the best.
Also free

Please add Serviio to List of DNLA Server apps

Add More DNLA Server apps to your List

http://www.Serviio.org (Open Source / Mac Windows Linux / Java Based)

try www.serviio.org

The idea of DLNA is that your

The idea of DLNA is that your computer is a media server. Your TV has a built in DLNA-client, because the software sees your TV. You should be able to browse the media you share on your PC with the menu of your TV.

DLNA Problems

I'm having problems, I tried Eyetv and Twonkey, Eye tv sees my tv but i dont know how to play files. Do i need a piece of hardware, My Samsung is hooked up to the internet, receives firmware updates for tv and says connected. how do i file share, I dont see any option to play music.

May be this helps?

Had same problem with my PFL9664. Could initially neither see Windows (Vista) MediaServer nor PS3 Media Server running on Vista.

Cure 1 that worked for me:

- Start PFL9664 and getting it looking for servers first
- Then start Windows MediaServer or PS3 Media servers

Cure 2 that made it even better:

- Although the automatic Firmware update utility in TV itself told I had the latest FW, a newer was available on Philips homepage.
- Downloading the new FW on a USB stick and updating the TV through the USB port made the DLNA experience more agile, if not even impressive

Hope it helps

Video Streaming

try wild media server, www.wildmediaserver.com , so far it works on sony W series.

the USB works best on my

the USB works best on my samsung. To get it to work any better, you'll want to check out SammyGo on sourceforge and look at enabling CIFS/NFS/SMB and other file systems that you can then mount as a virtual USB and it plays close to as good as the local USB. It doesn't play MKV and other more complicated file formats, so finding something very configurable to use to stream to the box and transcode into the supported formats is probably more ideal, but more work. I'm still trying to get it to work, but look into mediatomb if you're geeky enough to install fink or darwinports then install/compile mediatomb 0.12 from SVN and then get the transcoding working. I have it installed, but haven't got the transcoding scripts to work properly. There's a lead for you if you're looking for a fun project.

how to use my mac to stream video to my samsung dlna tv

I have both a macbook and a iMac, I would like to be able to use them to stream film/dvd to my Samsung tv with DLNA. what to do and where to find userfriendly guides and also a simple mediaserver.
thanks

/Lars

I tried all freeware

I tried all freeware softwares on Windows with my new Sony Bravia 40W5800 and it works perfectly with Wild Media Server and Nero Media Home (trial version).
Fuppes is seen by the client TV but generates an error.
I'm trying now with Linux OS. If I'll be able to see something I'll post here ;-)

Video Streeming on Sony KDL52Z5100 TV

WildMediaServer works great with Sony KDL52Z5100. I am using it since 2 weeks and I have played avi, mpg, mkv, divx files using it.

It is not very easy to setup though. Check out their forums.

Wild Media Server (UPnP,

Wild Media Server (UPnP, DLNA, HTTP) can overlay subtitles (external and internal) when transcoding video:
External format subtitles: 890, aqt, asc, ass, dat, dks, idx, js, jss, lrc, mpl, ovr, pan, pjs, psb, rt, rtf, s2k, sami, sbt, scr, smi, son, srt, ssa, sst, ssts, stl, sub, tts, txt, vkt, vsf.
Internal format subtitles: ssa, txt, dvd, dvb, pgs.

try TVersity. it uses ffdshow

try TVersity. it uses ffdshow codec pack to transcode and u can set subtitles in ffdshow options to visible.

Sony Bravia KDL46W5150 w/ PlayOn

I've been using the PlayOn media server with my new Bravia W 5150, and it works very well. The media sharing is still beta, but it has been working seamlessly for me. PlayOn also has a variety of plugins available. www.playon.com