Sharing media on a network using Windows Media Player

Using Windows Media Player and a private network, you can stream your favorite music, videos, and pictures to any room in your home-even to rooms that don’t have a computer.

Why would I want to share my media?

Like many people, you probably have a lot of music, video, and picture files in your Player library. There may be times, however, when you want to do one of the following:

Play files from another computer in your home
Play files from an Xbox 360 or other networked digital media player that is attached to your private network
Let someone else who logs on to your computer with their own user account play the files in your Player library

By sharing your media, you can do all of these things.

What equipment do I need?

To share your media, you need the following hardware and software:

A wired or wireless private network. For details, see the question about network and firewall requirements in this topic.
Either a device known as a networked digital media player (sometimes called a digital media receiver) or another computer running this version of Windows Vista. Networked digital media players are hardware devices that connect to your wired or wireless network and allow you to browse and play content from your Windows Media Player library-even if your computer is in another room.

What can I share?

You can share nearly any digital media file in your Player library, including protected Windows Media files that you have downloaded from online stores. To share a file in your library, the original file must be stored in one of your monitored folders (by default the Player automatically monitors the folders where most people typically store their digital media files, including the Music, Pictures, and Videos folders).

In addition, the file must be of one of the following types:

Music files, such as Windows Media Audio (.wma), MP3 (.mp3), and WAV (.wav) files. Note that audio CDs inserted into your computer can’t be shared.
Video files, such as Windows Media Video (.wmv), AVI (.avi), MPEG-1 (.mpeg, .mpg), and MPEG-2 (.mpeg, .mpg) files. Note that DVD-Video discs inserted into your computer can’t be shared.
Picture files, such as JPEG (.jpeg, .jpg) and PNG (.png) files.
Playlists, such as Windows Media playlist (.wpl) and MP3 playlist (.m3u) files.

Depending upon how your computer is configured, the Player might be able to share other music, video, and picture file types in addition to those listed above.

Note that your networked digital media player might not support playback of all of the file types that the Player can share. For example, your device might support playback of audio files, but not video files or picture files. In addition, your device might be capable of playing songs that you purchased from an online store, but not songs that you’ve rented through a subscription service.

If you want to share files in a monitored folder that is located on another computer (for example, a folder on a network share), the remote folder must have the appropriate Windows access permissions assigned to it.

Can I prevent certain items in my Player library from being shared?

Yes. The Player lets you customize what you want to share. For example, you can choose not to share music with explicit lyrics or any picture rated 3 stars or less. You can even create different rules for each computer or device that you stream to. For more information, see the procedure about customizing what you share in Change settings for sharing media.

What are the network and firewall requirements?

Media sharing is supported on wired and wireless private networks (such as those typically available in homes) but it is not supported on public networks (such as those available to the public in coffee shops, airports, and libraries). If your computer is on a domain network (the type of network available in some workplaces), your network administrator can control whether or not you can use the media sharing feature.

Your devices must be on the same subnet as your computer. Most home networks consist of a single subnet. However, if you have multiple routers attached to your home network, you probably have multiple subnets. If you have multiple routers in your home and you have trouble sharing your media to certain devices, try connecting those devices to the same router that your computer is connected to.

To share media to other devices or to play media in other libraries, several firewall ports on your computer must be open. If you are using Windows Firewall, the required Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and User Datagram Protocol (UDP) ports are automatically opened when you turn on media sharing. If you are using a different software or hardware firewall, you might need to open these ports manually.

The following table shows the firewall ports that must be opened if you want to share media to other devices.

Port Protocol Scope 554 TCP local subnet only
1900 UDP local subnet only
2177 TCP, UDP local subnet only
2869 TCP local subnet only
5004-5005 UDP local subnet only
10243 TCP local subnet only
10280-10284 UDP local subnet only

If port 554 is already in use (for example, by Media Center Extender), ports 8554-8558 will be used instead. If ports 5004 or 5005 are already in use, ports 50004-50013 will be used instead.

The following table shows the firewall ports that must be opened if you want to play media in other libraries.

Port Protocol Scope 7000-7007 UDP all subnets

Note that you won’t be able to use the media sharing feature if Internet Protocol security (IPsec) is enabled on your computer. Typically, IPsec is automatically started if your computer is joined to a domain-based network (the type of network typically used in large businesses or organizations).

If you want to use the media sharing feature and your computer is configured to start IPsec automatically, open the Administrative Tools folder in Control Panel (Open Administrative Tools by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, and then clicking Administrative Tools.Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.). Next, open the Services tool, configure IPsec Policy Agent to start IPsec manually (instead of automatically), and then restart your computer.

Because setting IPsec to start manually might prevent your computer from connecting to other computers on your network, after you are done using the media sharing feature, you should reset IPsec to start automatically, and then restart your computer.

Why am I prompted to set up sharing?

When media sharing is turned on and the Player detects a new device on your network, you will be prompted to set up sharing with that device. Click the message, and then do one of the following in the dialog box that appears:

To allow the device to access the default media types in your Player library, click Allow.
To deny the device access to any media in your Player library, click Deny.
To choose which media types to share with this particular device, click Customize Sharing.

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Microsoft Knowledge Base Article

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