Google Chromecast and Plex are the big names in media streaming these days, but you can achieve some of that functionality with your basic operating system. A Windows 10 DLNA server lets you stream music and videos to other devices on the network.

With a Windows 10 DLNA server, you can stream local files to a DLNA client/player. You may be surprised at the variety of hardware that supports this functionality, from modern TVs to consoles, tablets, and Android phones.

The word ‘server’ automatically summons images of complexity, but setting up media streaming is far easier than you think. All you need is to flip a few settings in your Control Panel and you’re on your way.

What is DLNA?

Sony set up the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) in 2003. It comprises numerous organizations who have collaborated to create a standard for media streaming on a wide range of devices.

A Windows 10 DLNA server uses media player to manage and deliver content via a bespoke protocol, sending packets to DLNA clients or players such as TVs or speakers. DLNA certified devices use UPnP (Universal Plug and Play) to automatically find each other on the network, so no manual IP entry is required.

However, there are several caveats with DLNA which have caused media streaming in Windows 10 to be largely dominated by third-party tools. Its age means it doesn’t account for the rise in streaming services like Netflix, and it primarily targets those who have a large local library. As such, you can’t media stream your browser video or screen, just the files on your hard drive.

It can also struggle when it comes to file formats. Windows 10 DLNA servers primarily support common file MP3, WMA, and MP4 files, and even MP4 can fail the files are a certain resolution or bitrate. The standard also doesn’t support MKV, AVI, and FLAC extensions, despite their increasing popularity. With those limitations outlined, let’s jump into how to enable media streaming in Windows 10.

How to Enable the Windows 10 DLNA Server

Time needed: 3 minutes.

You can understand from the drawbacks while media streaming isn’t enabled by default in Windows 10 – it can be a headache at times. Still, Microsoft makes it quite easy to enable the feature if you wish to use it.

  1. Open Control Panel


    Press the Start button and type “Control Panel”. Click the first result to launch it.

    Windows 10 - Search - Control Panel

  2. Open Media streaming options


    In the Windows 10 control panel, search for “media streaming”. Click the “Media streaming options” subheading under “Network and Sharing Center”.

    Windows 10 - Control Panel - Search - Media Streaming Options

  3. Turn on Media Streaming


    Windows will now present you with the media streaming options page. Read the cautionary information within the yellow banner and click “Turn on media streaming” if you’re on a trusted network.

    Windows 10 - Media Streaming Options

  4. Adjust your Windows 10 media streaming options


    In the next window, enter a name for your Windows 10 DLNA server so you can find it on other devices. Press “OK” to make it available on your local network.

    Windows 10 - Media Streaming Options - Name your media library

  5. Find the server on your Windows 10 DLNA client


    To stream content, you have to be able to find the server on another device. On a Windows 10 PC you can do this via File Explorer. The Network section will return a list of devices, including the one you just named. Double-click the icon to access Windows Media player, where you can easily play any files.

    Windows 10 - File Explorer - Media Streaming Server

  6. Switch the media collection


    You can find your files in Media Player under the “Other Libraries” section. Click a relevant section to see all your files for playback.

    Windows 10 - Windows Media Player - Media Streaming Server - Music Tracks

  7. Manage your media via File Explorer


    If you’re not a fan of the Windows Media Player, you can head to “This PC > Network locations” in File Explorer and double-click the media server to access the file list. You can then play and manage at will.

    Windows 10 - File Explorer - Media Streaming Server - Media Files