[WHS] Getting the Most from XBMC and Windows Home Server Step-by-Step Guide

I have found Windows Home Server (WHS) to be an excellent OS/platform for storing media and streaming it to one or multiple XBMC clients on a network.

Because there is so much you can do, I wanted to write a guide for maximizing your XBMC experience with WHS and here it is. Many components of this guide are optional and you can do differently; these are merely my suggestions. A lot of the information here has been pieced together from multiple sources, so that this acts as a 1-stop shop for a MySQL/XBMC setup.

First I would like to talk a bit about my personal setup so you guys can try and relate. I have a HP MediaSmart EX490 server. On that server, I store my bluray rips that I created with MakeMKV. I have XBMC running on 3 PCs in my household. My MacBook Pro running OS X, Jetway Nettop, running OpenELEC.tv, and my desktop PC running Windows 7 x64. On WHS, I run PlayOn, MySQL Server with phpMyAdmin, and uTorrent (as a startup service controlled through a WebUI). All this software allows for a great media experience. I’ll get into the details of each later.

Anyway, getting down to setting everything up.

You will naturally want to store your videos in the video share, and your music in the music share. Since I have roommates, I leave my movies and TV shows in the public subfolder so they can have access to it, but there is nothing wrong w/ putting all your media in your user name subfolder.

For videos, you will likely want to disable folder duplication. This is purely optional, but people have reported file transfer issues when folder duplication is enabled. Also in my case, I just don't have the hard drive space.


You will want to create two folders within the video folder.


Within the movies folder, you want each movie to be inside its own unique folder.
...\movies\The Usual Suspects\The Usual Suspects.mkv
...\movies\The Hunt for Red October\The Hunt for Red October.mkv

Within the tvShows folder, you want each show to be in it’s own folder, and each season of that show to be within it’s own folder

...\tvShows\Breaking Bad\Season 1\Breaking Bad – S01E01.mkv
...\tvShows\Breaking Bad\Season 2\Breaking Bad - S02E01.mkv

Minimizing spelling mistakes will save you from future hassle down the road, but don’t go crazy if you have a ton of movies, we will be using Media Companion or other NFO software of your choosing that will make your mistakes stand out like a sore thumb.

At this point, we will be using Media Companion and TVRename. We want to download and install this software on the WHS PC, not on the PC you are using. The reason for this is speed combined with permission issues that you may run into. Scanning folders locally from the WHS is much much faster than trying to scan folders of a network share.

First we start with TV Rename. The instructions they provide are fairly self-explanatory, but let’s walk through it step by step in case any of you have trouble. What TV Rename needs from you is for TV episode files to be inside the appropriate directories, and for them to include S##E## or ##x## someplace in the file name. The pound signs are for Season number and Episode number.

So after we install TV rename, we open it up, go to tools and then folder monitor. We add the folder that contains all our television shows.

<screen shot>

At this point, we look at everything it scans, and click on “auto ID all”. You may have a few shows that are not identified, and if this is the case, click on edit, and select which show it is. Keep in mind, some shows have the same name. For example, Battlestar Galactica aired in 1973, and again in 2003. The way scrappers’ handle this is that for the first time the show aired, it maintains only the name for its directory. Any series with the same name that follows it, must contain the year inside parenthesis in the folder name.

For example with the two Battlestar Galactica TV Shows:

Original Show: …\tvShows\Battlestar Galactica\
Recent Show: …\tvShows\Battlestar Galactica (2003)\

For more info, check out the XBMC wiki page that is here:
Ok, so now we have all our shows added and IDed, you should be on the main window, and all your shows should be in the left hand column with some information displaying when you click on each one.

At this point, go to the scan TAB and press Options. For our purposes we aren’t interested in the missing check, we just want the rename check. Make any changes you want here (but I wouldn’t go crazy unless you know what you’re doing). Hit OK, and then Scan.

Give it a glance to make sure everything is as expected and click “Do Checked”. It will take a minute, but then all your files should be renamed appropriately.

A few issues I’ve had w/ this software is with the Star Trek series and doing stuff for the DVD show order vs. TV Aired order. Just something to keep an eye out for.

Ok, next stop is Media Companion. We will basically be following this guide:

I should note that Media Companion is at the time of this writing being in a transition to open source. There haven’t been any updates for a while since version 3.4, however developers are working on it… but it may take a while for an update to come out. Also I am not sure if this software is capable of downloading both poster.jpg files AND banner.jpg for tvShows. There are alternates out there like Emer Media Manager, but I have no experience with them.

Anyway, open up media companion, Select the “movies” button, and then click on the folders icon. In the Movie Folders section, add the folder that stores all your movies. The offline movie section is not applicable to us here, so disregard it.

Select save and quick rebuild. Go back to the main browser and select “Search for New Movies” (either from the Movies Menu, or by pressing the button). Now the program should go to work, and the process can take quite some time. This is the part where any spelling errors should start to stand out. Make sure all the movie information displayed corresponds to each movie you have. A slight spelling mistake can make the scrapper think you have something else… Anyway when it’s all said and done, this is what it should look like

<screen shot>

Go through each movie selecting the poster and fan art image you want. I suggest you stick to images from TMdB (themovieDB).

Repeat the same process with Television shows, adding folders here can be a little tricky, as I’ve found the program Media Companion here to be a little buggy (especially when this program is not run on the WHS but from one of the other PCs on the network).

So this next step is what I’ve found through experimentation to cause the least amount of buginess.

Step1) add …\tvShows to your root TV show folder.
Step2) click Add TV Shows From Roots
Step3) Remove …\tvShows from root directory

Save changes, and go back to the main browser. Here, once again, assign the posters/fanart images that you want associated with each show.

Got all that? Great!
Now we do the similar process with our Music Files, skip this section if your music is already appropriately tagged and such…

Here, I use software called Jaikoz (link) (download link). I should note the software does have a trial, however if you have a library of decent size, you will want to purchase the full version. I’m not suggesting there aren’t free alternatives out there, but merely that this is what I’ve been using.

Anyway Jaikoz isn’t too complicated, however fine tuning it can take some trial and error. As with TV Rename, and Media Companion, we want to install Jaikoz on the WHS itself. Once installed, fire it up.

Once you have Jaikoz running, you want want to be careful with how you add the folders to the program. You DO NOT want to just open up D:\Shares\Music …this will give us problems later on. You DO want to open up all the folders within D:\Shares\Music\Folders … at a glance, it may look like you are doing the same thing, but when it comes to fixing any kind of folder structure, doing the latter saves us some trouble.

Once you have your music opened up, make sure you have all your music selected (or at least all the music that you want to be tagged with Jaikoz) and select Auto-Correct. Depending on the size of the library this may take a while.

<screen shot>

Depending on the size of your library, this could take a very very long time. Once done (and do yourself a favor and glance through to make sure it worked all right), click the floppy disk icon to save it.

Ok, now this is the part we repair our folder structure.

With all songs selected go to:
Action -> File and Folder Correct -> Correct Filenames from Metadata


Click the save icon again…

With all songs selected then go to:
Action -> File and Folder Correct -> Correct Sub Folders from Metadata


Now you should have a correct directory structure with properly tagged and named music files.
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Hi Ogi010,

Thanks for the info. There is no shortage of people asking about Home server, so the article is well worth it. However why not write it as an article for the Wiki at wiki.xbmc.org?

any update on this topic?
wrong thread sorry
Great posts Ogi,

I realize it's been a while since you posted this but,

Are you running these programs each time you add a new movie or tv show? Episodes are coming in daily on my WHS box so doing so would be cumbersome. Or, are they setup to watch those folders?

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