What Is a Multimedia Server?

D. Nelson

A media server is any computer that an individual uses to access media such as music, television shows, movies, or pictures. A person might use a multimedia server when he or she desires a computer that can allow him or her access to different kinds of media on the same station. Individuals who share entertainment files with other computer users also may use multimedia servers. Common components of a multimedia server include media playing software, Internet access, and home entertainment technology, such as stereos, televisions, and speakers.

Televisions are common components of a multimedia server.
Televisions are common components of a multimedia server.

In most cases, a multimedia server includes software that allows a user to play media such as music and video. Personal Computers (PCs) and laptops often are sold with this software already installed. This software usually is basic and allows users to play and sometimes rip or copy media.

Multimedia servers may require networking together several computers to keep things running smoothly.
Multimedia servers may require networking together several computers to keep things running smoothly.

Consumers who prefer software with more specialized features, such as video editing capabilities, may choose to download new software. These programs range from free open source software to privately produced software that users can purchase. Many media server users choose to download MP3 organizers and other programs they can use to store, access, and edit media files.

Internet access can be an important component of a multimedia server. Users can stream media directly from websites that host music and video broadcasts. Other websites sell media files that consumers can download directly onto their computers.

Many multimedia server users share media files with other users. These individuals utilize websites that allow them to upload their own files so that other users may download them. In turn, users can download files belonging to other individuals. The legality of using these sites can vary depending on factors such as copyright law and the nature of media that users share.

In organizations such as schools and businesses, a multimedia server can include shared storage in a network. For example, a school network may include a drive for storage of education films and audio recordings. Administrators can access these files from a PC or laptop and share them with students or colleagues.

Individuals often purchase accessories for their multimedia servers. A consumer who uses a laptop as a media server may choose to purchase speakers that are compatible with a computer to improve sound quality. An individual who uses a multimedia server to view films may purchase a large monitor or connect a computer to a conventional television. It is common for a multimedia server to act as part of a home entertainment system that also includes a DVD player and stereo. In some cases, individuals use may use multimedia servers in the place of home entertainment systems.

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