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.

Advantages of sharing media

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

  • Play files on another computer in your home

  • Play files on an Xbox 360 or a networked digital media player that is attached to your private network

  • Let people who log on to your computer with their own user accounts play the files in your Player library

By sharing your media, you can do all of these things on your private network. (Media sharing does not allow you to share files outside of your network, however. For example, you cannot use media sharing to download music from the Internet or to stream video on a website.)

Media sharing requirements

Picture of a wireless network
A wireless home network

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

  • A wired or wireless private network. For details, see the section about network and firewall requirements later 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. For a list of compatible devices, see Windows 7 Compatibility Center.

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 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 with 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 with other devices.

Port Protocol Scope
Port

554

Protocol

TCP

Scope

local subnet only

Port

1900

Protocol

UDP

Scope

local subnet only

Port

2177

Protocol

TCP, UDP

Scope

local subnet only

Port

2869

Protocol

TCP

Scope

local subnet only

Port

5004-5005

Protocol

UDP

Scope

local subnet only

Port

10243

Protocol

TCP

Scope

local subnet only

Port

10280-10284

Protocol

UDP

Scope

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
Port

7000-7007

Protocol

UDP

Scope

all subnets

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.

Note

  • 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.

Turn on sharing

For instructions about how to turn on sharing, see Share your media with other people or devices.

Start sharing with other devices

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.

Files you can 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.) For information about monitored folders, see Add items to the library.

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. (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. (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 on how your computer is configured, the Player might be able to share additional music, video, and picture file types.

Your networked digital media player might not support playback of some 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.

For more information about the difference between purchased and subscription content, see DRM: frequently asked questions. For more information about the capabilities of your device, check the documentation that came with your device.

If you want to share files in a monitored folder 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. For more information, go to the Sharing your media FAQ article online.

Control what you share

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.

Privacy and security implications of sharing

For information about maintaining your privacy and security when sharing your media, see Privacy and security considerations when sharing media.