How to Set Up a DLNA Media Home

The DLNA Standard

DLNA is a certification for media players and media players that ensures that different manufacturers’ products will all work together. The DLNA standard applies to media servers, media players, media controllers and the file formats for audio, images, and video that they must support. DLNA is often reffered to as DLNA/UPnP since the two standards work together.

DLNA stands for Digital Living Network Alliance, the organization that maintains the standard and certifies DLNA media devices for compliance. Other designations like UPnP-AV will usually be compatible with DLNA but may not support all features since these products are not certified.


DLNA Media Devices

1 DLNA Media Server

The DLNA Media Server stores the content library and provides streaming media services. The media server needs a lot of storage because some media -especially video- files can be pretty large. DLNA certified media servers are often sold as Network Attached Storage devices. NAS are disk drive enclosures attached directly to your network through an Ethernet connection. You can buy just the enclosure and get drives separately or NAS and drives as a bundle. Typically you would see 1 TB drives or more in NAS devices. NAS can be used to store PC files, and backups.

The DLNA Media Server can be Windows 8 media server. To learn how to set up the server built-in media in Windows 8 see How to Set Up a DLNA Media Server with Windows 8.


Free media servers for Windows

The built-in media server is limited in what it can do, so you might want to look into third party software media servers. Some are free open source media servers others are commercial.If you want to For a complete list of free media servers for windows see Free DLNA Media Server Downloads for Windows.

2 DLNA Media Renderer Hardware

The DLNA certified digital media renderer is the media player. It is the output device. The renderer can be:

  • a PC with screen and speakers, such as the DLNA media player in Windows 7 (Windows Media Player is usable as a DLNA media player software
  • a PC attached to a stereo system and a big screen TV, or
  • an appliance on its own (like a set-top box) that has outputs for audio and video, or
  • it can be a DLNA TV with an Ethernet connection.

3 DLNA Media Controller

The DLNA Media Controller is the device you use to make media selections. The controller is usually part of the player but it can be a separate unit altogether. In that case the controller is like a remote control. For example, it is possible to select a song using a PC to play media from the server output it on a renderer in another room. See Android Media Controller for Media Streaming if you want to use an Android tablet as a remote for your media player.

4 DLNA Digital Media Players

The DLNA Media Player combines the functions of the controller and renderer. For example, gaming consoles can be used to select content from the media server and to play that content.

Universal Plug and Play

To make setup as simple as possible, the DLNA standard also specifies that DLNA devices must support Universal Plug and Play. That’s the same protocol that lets you see other PCs on your home network. This helps the DLNA Media Server and its clients discover each other. As a result, you need to do very little configuration unless you want to do some customization.

How to Set Up a DLNA Media Server

  • Connect the DLNA media server to the network and power it up.
  • From a PC, you can see it when it comes alive. In Windows 8, Start/Devices and Printers/Add a Device and the DLNA Media Player should just pop up. Typically, clicking its icon will open up a browser window that will bring you to its configuration screen.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to set it up.

How to Set Up a DLNA Media Player

  • Connect the DLNA media server to the network and power it up.
  • You will also need to connect it to some output devices such as your sound system and TV. From a PC, you will see it come alive.
  • In Windows 8, Start/Devices and Printers/Add a Device and the DLNA Media Server should just pop up.

If you don’t want to get too wrapped up in all this, you can use a Windows 8 PC as either the server, renderer, controller, or player. In fact, you can set all this up without purchasing any equipment if you have a bunch of PC’s lying around. But appliances are compact, discreet, boot quicker, and have much easier interfaces to use. If you want to keep it simple, especially if you want others to make use of it too, get the appliances.

DLNA Media Renderer Issues

  • Network speed and reliability: before running out and buying a DLNA media server, consider where you will put it and where the player will be. Then check the speed of your network between those two places. Check it the same way you will connect the devices; using Ethernet or Wireless. If you can’t get a solid 20Mbps you should consider upgrading your network first. Otherwise you will likely be disappointed by the experience.
  • A/V connector types: your player will probably need to connect to a sound system and a TV. Make sure that you get interfaces on the player that are the same as those on your existing A/V equipment. For audio: phono, S/PDIF (optical), coaxial, HDMI. For Video HDMI, S-video, component, composite. You might want to check out this link before you buy.

Free DLNA Media Server Downloads

For a complete list of free media server software for Windows and reviews see How to Use Windows Media Player as a DLNA Media Server andTop Free Windows DLNA Media Server Downloads.

To know if your home network is media ready read these posts: How to build a high-speed media network and How to test the speed of your home network.

For more information on DLNA media servers make sure you look at our reviews for ServioTVMobili or NAS. Also, to make sure that your home network is ready for a media server, you should read the following posts on How to build a high Speed Home Network, and How to test the speed of you home network.

Article Name
DLNA Media Devices and How to Set Them Up
What is the DLNA media architecture? What devices are needed to set up a DLNA home? How do you set DLNA media devices up? How to test and improve quality.
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  1. says

    Hi, my network speed is 4mbps its impossible to run it?
    Other ask: its only run in the PC and Android? How they tether and work together? Its necessary some security custimizations?

    • André Roberge says

      1) 4Mbps is will not give very good results. You should think about upgrading your WiFi.
      2) As long as the systems are DLNA compliant, they will work together on the same network, no tethering required. Generally, there is no security configuration required either.

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