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58. Use obsolete computer as music server

By Mark Alberstat

With computer technology advancing so quickly, the PC you bought a few years ago is sadly out of date already. It has been banished to the basement for months gathering dust.

But instead of putting it out on the curb a few years from now, after it's been sitting unused for half a decade, why not convert it into a music server for your home Windows-based network?

To create this network-wide jukebox for your home, you will first, of course, need a home network. If you don't have one yet but are thinking of creating one, now is the time. Setting one up has never been easier, and with the price of wireless routers and cards dropping each day, there is no reason not to jump in. You can also connect your high-speed Internet account to other computers in your house this way, thus spreading the usefulness of your network.

Once you have a network set up, or even before that stage, check that the machine you want to use as a music server has the capacity to do so. You will want a machine that has at least a 10-gig drive and that, for the most part, means a Pentium II or better. You could do it with a smaller drive, but once you have downloaded and burned all the music you want on this machine, a smaller drive could be quickly running out of space. If you want your entire collection of 500 CDs on the machine, you may have to go to a larger drive or slave in a second one.

Since, in this example, the machine will only be used for serving music to the rest of your network, call it something like MusicMachine or MusicServer for its network identification.

Once your music is on the computer, put all the tunes in a folder on the root of the C drive or even on the desktop. Cluttering up the desktop with this folder isn't a concern since the machine will, for the most part, simply sit there serving the music without anyone actively on the machine.

The next step is to share the music folder, and thus the files it contains, to other computers on the network. To do this, simply right-click on the folder and click on Sharing. Give the folder a network name; something obvious such as SharedMusic is probably best.

It is now time to note down what IP address your music server has and the exact name of the shared folder. There are a few ways to get the IP number, and the instruction manual that comes with your networking equipment should tell you how.

It is almost time to face the music. Go to your main computer and start Windows Explorer. You will have to assign the music server machine a virtual drive. Choose one of the last letters of the alphabet for this drive letter because if you slave in another hard drive sometime, or a second CD-ROM or DVD drive, you will want to keep it up in the higher letters. It is in this drive mapping tool that you type in the IP number for your music server followed by a \ (backslash) and the name of the shared folder. Click finish and you are ready to groove to tunes without taking up space on your main computer.

The Mousepad runs every two weeks. It's a service of Chebucto Community Net, a community-owned Internet provider. If you have a question about computing, email If we use your question in a column, we'll send you a free mousepad.


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Originally published 24 April 2005


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