• Craig Hunter

Home Media Server

This isn't the 90's anymore.

Remember back in the 90's, getting home from school, plopping down on the couch in the living room and watching your favourite shows.

That theme song comes on and you are locked in..."In West Philadelphia, born and raised..."

...well, this isn't the 90's anymore. I don't get home for the day at 4 pm. I don't have cable--and even if I did, the shows I want to watch are long gone. All of my favourite shows exist only on DVD now.

And at night, after the kids have gone to bed, I sit down on my couch with a green tea, pop in a DVD and watch them...or do I?

You know what the most annoying thing about DVDs is? Having to put them into the DVD player. 

Why can't I see my entire DVD collection in one glorious library on my TV and on my laptop. Why do I have to get up to change disks every four episodes of DS9?

Well, with WinX DVD Ripper, the Roku 2, and the Plex Media Server, now I can.

Here's how you do it:

Purchase and download a copy of WinX DVD Ripper

I tried a couple of DVD ripping software applications and I found WinX DVD Ripper to be the best one.  It's easy to use, you don't have to fiddle with settings, and it's not too expensive.  For the most part, you just add a DVD to your drive, check the files that you want to download, and start it up.

Ripping DVDs takes time so invest some time in the beginning to make sure that you understand how to use the software correctly, so that you don't have to re-rip your DVDs.

After having ripped a DVD, check it.  Watch the file on your computer for a minute or two.  Check the beginning and the end to make sure you got the whole movie or episode.  Check to make sure that the audio is in sync with the video.

Purchase a Western Digital External Storage Drive

Western Digital storage drives have worked well for me.  I have a 3TB My Passport and a 1TB Elements drive, both connect to my desktop by USB to micro-USB cable and there are no On/Off switches.  External drives with On/Off switches should be avoided in my opinion.  I've had two drives fail on me in the past and in both cases it was the on/off switch that stopped working.  My Western Digital drives have never given me issues.

The storage drives are obviously where you will be storing the ripped DVD files. Plex has very specific naming conventions for file names so you may want to review their support articles when you're ready to begin downloading.

Install Plex Media Server

Install Plex Media Server software on a desktop on your home network that can be used as a media centre. Create libraries for TV Shows, Movies, Music, Other Videos, and any other distinct media type that you need.  You may want to create Pictures or Podcasts and Audio Books.

After you have your libraries and media has been added, you can create esoteric playlists for your oddly specific preferences like "Sci-Fi Movies" or "Jack Black Movies" or  "Spike Lee Joints" or "Episodes with Adam Beach" or "Christmas Specials" or "Wedding Episodes".

Install Plex Media Server on other computers on your home network and those computers will be able to access any of the other Plex installations on your network. So you can fire up your laptop and access your full Plex library running on your dedicated media server.

Get Yourself a Roku

If you're still living in a world where you have cable it's time to cut the cable and get yourself a Roku.

Cable is expensive.  Cut the cable, then, if you still need access to a steady stream of new shows and movies, replace the cable subscription with a streaming service or two at a fraction of the cost of your bloated cable service.  Then you can watch your streaming services on the Roku.

Then install the Plex app on the Roku and get full access to you entire ripped media collection of movies, tv shows, random videos, pictures, music, audio books, downloaded podcasts, and whatever else.