Remote HTPC Access from Second Home - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 18 Old 06-13-2012, 08:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Late last year I built a great HTPC with the help of Assassin HTPC. All my music, pictures, Blu-Rays are accessible through my ipad, WD TV box for other tv's in the home and it is great. Now I am asking for help for remote file access.

My wife and I have a vacation spot with high speed access. I would like to be able to access my movies, pictures, etc. from my vacation home over my high speed internet to home HTPC. I set up a VPN and I was able to see the files but I didn't know if that was the best way and I was accessing it only through my laptop.

So two questions:

1) If I have a TV at my second location, of course I could hook my computer to the TV and play movies - but what is the best way to access those files?

2) Is there a way to access my home media remotely with a media box like Boxee Box or WD Live?

3) What are your opions of Slingbox and can that work with a computer? The apps for slingbox are now on Boxee Box and WDTV Live.

Thanks for feedback. Bottom line, just trying to access my htpc from a second location.

Stephen
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post #2 of 18 Old 06-13-2012, 08:36 PM
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I think VPN is the best way to go about this, so props for setting that up!

Now, if you want to access your home network from your vacation network with a Boxee Box or a WDLive, you'd need to setup a VPN in the device - I have no idea if they support this.

However, if you were able to setup a VPN tunnel between your 2 networks using the routers, all devices connected to either of the routers (via wifi or ethernet) will think they're on the same network!
This way, you only need to setup VPN in 2 devices (one at home, one at vacation spot!)


Disclaimer: Never actually tried this.
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post #3 of 18 Old 06-13-2012, 08:55 PM
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Plex Server. No need to do anything else as its ideal for your situation.

I have guides on it if you still have access.

Glad you are enjoying your HTPC!
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post #4 of 18 Old 06-13-2012, 09:35 PM
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You will be limited by the speed of your upstream internet connection at your primary home no matter how you connect the two networks.

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post #5 of 18 Old 06-13-2012, 09:37 PM
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HI Assassin,

What is a Plex Server? How can you watch content remotely? Isn't there a major bandwidth problem?

By the way, thanks for the guides. Built my first HTPC in March. Replaced a cable box, blu-ray player, WDTV Live box and a component video switch box.

Brady
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post #6 of 18 Old 06-14-2012, 04:14 AM
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http://www.plexapp.com/download/win-download-new.php

Read the guides . It is a real easy to use remote access front end piece of software . It has two down load / installs . The media part and the server part. The server part gets installed on the pc that holds your content . For most folks that would be there htpc . For some it would be there server . The media part of the software gets installed on the device your using to view the content remotely . There is even a Plex Android app that you can buy for like $4 to view your content on your phone .
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post #7 of 18 Old 06-14-2012, 05:40 AM
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If you find that the connection isn't fast enough for streaming, you could always run an FTP server on the home machine and transfer the files that way.
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post #8 of 18 Old 06-14-2012, 06:15 AM
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I'm using Remote Potato, which works OK, sort of. Is this Plex better than that?
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post #9 of 18 Old 06-14-2012, 08:40 AM
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Since I assume few of us have static ip adresses at home, doesn't anyone using any one of these methods need a managed dynamic DNS service of some sort?

Or am I missing something here.

If that's correct, what service do most folks here use?
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post #10 of 18 Old 06-14-2012, 01:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Since I assume few of us have static ip adresses at home, doesn't anyone using any one of these methods need a managed dynamic DNS service of some sort?
Or am I missing something here.

Most of the commercial/free "Stream to your iPhone/Android" packages roll their own DNS management which has to be administratively run from your host computer. Windows Firewall typically blocks all of them, and in their FAQs you will see the "trick to punching a hole in your Windows Firewall" or "Turn Windows Firewall off" posts for getting things going.

So far I've heard of (might be incorrect on mymovies)
MyMovies
Plex
Zumocast (I think only picture/music support)
Orb

I've successfully used Orb without a DynDNS service, but they do offer you the option to use your own.

The "Server" installers for these types of programs usually attempt to go out of your firewall through port 80 and manage the remote app's link back to the house with the login information you create for their services.

So easy my friends could do it smile.gif
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post #11 of 18 Old 06-14-2012, 01:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

You will be limited by the speed of your upstream internet connection at your primary home no matter how you connect the two networks.

Exactly, and most residential connections peak at 4 Mbps with sustained 1 Mbps
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post #12 of 18 Old 06-14-2012, 01:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dark_Slayer View Post

Exactly, and most residential connections peak at 4 Mbps with sustained 1 Mbps

Plex allows you to change the quality of the transcoded stream to accomodate for this.
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post #13 of 18 Old 06-14-2012, 01:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post

Since I assume few of us have static ip adresses at home, doesn't anyone using any one of these methods need a managed dynamic DNS service of some sort?

If that's correct, what service do most folks here use?

Using DynDNS (was still free when I signed up) and I've got Remote Potato HD and Tversity set-up. Alas, given the abysmal upload speeds at home (just about good enough for SD streaming) and bandwidth caps on mobile devices, I usually don't bother.

@smdavis1004
Just a thought, have you given any consideration to building a low-power HTPC for your second home? Something along the lines of the following:
  • H61 mATX (~$50)
  • Celeron G530 (~$50)
  • 4GB DDR3 (~$30)
  • midtower case (~$30)
  • good quality 300-400W PSU (~$40)
  • TOTAL: $200 (without storage)

You could FTP into it or set-up rsync on a weekly or monthly schedule to keep media in sync with your home HTPC. Should make for a good offsite back-up, too. If you turn off the electricity in your second home, you could always use an external hard drive for copying new files in-lieu of weekly/monthly online syncing. smile.gif
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post #14 of 18 Old 06-14-2012, 02:49 PM
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If you drive to your vacation home, and don't do it frequently, and your media is stored on your home HTPC itself (not on an external server), I would suggest simply disconnecting the HTPC and taking the thing with you. No other method can guarantee the same user experience, quality and range of media availability.
JRiver Media Center does what you need too, but the quality will be limited by your upload speed from home.Not to mention that you may run into issues exceeding your bandwidth as well. Personally, I use my iPad/iPhone and AirVideo from home, but my upload speed precludes quality viewing. It's perfect for kids' shows though, and the most mobile solution. For 'proper' media experiencing, I often load up stuff I'm likely to want to see onto an external drive, and take it with me to play on a local media player device/laptop when I leave home. I have a couple of Patriot Box Office devices and a WD Live too.
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post #15 of 18 Old 06-14-2012, 03:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smdavis1004 View Post

I would like to be able to access my movies, pictures, etc. from my vacation home over my high speed internet to home HTPC.
3) What are your opions of Slingbox and can that work with a computer? The apps for slingbox are now on Boxee Box and WDTV Live.

I didn't think to respond directly to your post before, but it helps to understand the limits of your intents.
  1. Why look at pictures at a vacation home? (don't mean to be sarcastic, I've done this a few times on family vacations)
  2. If it is a lot of pictures keep using the laptop, if it's just a few GB worth sync them up to Picasa (what I do for this purpose, free)
  3. Google Music also works great for music access, but you didn't ask that
  4. Most people consider a slingbox when they are diehard sports fanatics. One of my coworkers has it and loves that he can watch the NBA finals while at dinner with his family. I really don't do this, and we also don't take vacations during my favorite sporting events. I think that for the live-sports either this or some of the paid options from Verizon, ESPN, or Apple are your only choices.
  5. You have already used one of the best ways to connect, and others have mentioned good options including the minimalist approach of unplugging and taking your htpc with you
  6. For other remote access options with more "Device" flexibility definitely tryout Orb or Plex. Both will work with laptops, phones, and tablets. I'd give the edge to Plex
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post #16 of 18 Old 06-14-2012, 10:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks. I am really enjoying my HTPC so much that I want to access it from the other house!!!

Thanks for your help. I will take a look at it.

Stephen
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post #17 of 18 Old 06-14-2012, 10:11 PM - Thread Starter
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This is a great idea.

I may consider this as well. I guess I was just thinking originally about how I could access my content through a boxee box or such. But now, a second computer location would be good and having two backups would be awesome.

Thanks for the idea.
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post #18 of 18 Old 06-14-2012, 10:17 PM - Thread Starter
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Just wanted to thank everyone for their assistance. I think you are all right on the upload speed as it could be the limiting factor. I am also considering slingbox for my directv anyway, and I think I could maybe even hook the home computer to it. Bottom line is I am just going to build another HTPC for the vacation home.

With that said, ilovejedd stated that could just create a new lower quality htpc and ftp or rsync. I am not familiar with rsync but without looking at it yet, I assume it a way to keep two machines mirrored.

So, that is my question. If I have a primary home with my HTPC and a 2nd home with a HTPC, what is the best way to keep them sync'd? I assume my situation would be that I would be adding items to my HTPC and would need it to automatically sync to the 2nd home. also, I would want it secure.

thoughts?
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