Windows Media Streaming with DrivePool
What is media streaming?
Media streaming is not available on the Small Business Server but only on the Windows Home Server 2011 and Windows Storage Server 2008 R2 Essentials.
In a nutshell, media streaming allows you to stream photos / music / videos to other devices or software.
That's kind of a broad description, so I'll give you a few concrete examples:
- You want to stream a video from your server to another PC in the house.
- You would like to stream some media to your xbox.
- You would like to watch an HD video on your network media player connected to your TV (such as a WD TV Live).
What kind of devices can you stream to?
DLNA compliant devices (and UPnP AV compliant devices).
What about codecs?
The media streaming system on WSS will re-encode the video on the fly if the target device doesn't support the required codec. It should work 100% of the time when you're pulling video from the server, as long as windows media player can read the format on the server.
There is another thing called the "Play To" feature, which is a little more complicated. This allows one device to play to another device. Using the "Play To" feature is a little more unreliable, and might not work all the time due to codecs, so I recommend you make believe that it's not there.
Does it work with DrivePool?
Yes. You can stream media directly from the pool. You simply enable media streaming on the pooled folder in server settings.
What can go wrong?
Media streaming as it's implemented on WSS is fairly complex and has a lot of moving pieces that have to all work in tandem. Sometimes, one of these pieces falls out of sync with the others and strange things start to happen such as not being able to access movies that you see in the list of available media, or seeing doubles of everything and only one copy actually working.
To resolve this and other media streaming related issues on the Windows Server Solutions family of Operating Systems I've just posted a new WSS Troubleshooter. This is a single EXE wizard that you place on the server and run. For now it has but a single task, Reset media streaming. Eventually it will have more repair tasks as we discover other things that can be fixed in an automated way.
This particular repair task is not only applicable to DrivePool but can be run on any WSS server, but it does have some special logic built-in for handling DrivePool folders.
Download on this page: StableBit_DrivePool#Windows_Server_Solutions_Troubleshooter
It's worth mentioning that even though Microsoft's implementation of media streaming will transcode the video on the fly if the destination device doesn't support the codec natively, it will only do so if it can read the actual media file in the first place.
One common format that the server can't read is MKV. So any MKV files that you might have will NOT stream with the built in media streaming, out of the box. There is a solution to this, I'll talk about it in the next post.