Technology

Vista Media Center and Videos on Network Drives

Windows Vista LogoWell I succumbed and picked up Microsoft Vista Home Premium for my Media Center PC.It’s actually running extremely well and is more stable than XP Media Center 2005. It does have it’s little quirks, and one of them is getting my home movies that are stored on a network drive to show up under Vista Media Center’s Videos in a nice way** . This also more seriously effects Xbox 360’s running as an extender as Vista Home Premium no longer lets you set the extender up with a login script for it to see the network drives.

What to do:
1. Make some shortcuts (right click, create shortcut) of the folders on your network share containing your Videos – this is important – DON’T make shortcuts of mapped drives in Vista – make them of the folders on the Network Shares (ie under Start/Network) otherwise they won’t work.

2. Place the shortcuts of these folders into the “C:UsersPublicPublic Videos” folder, then reboot.

Each shortcut properties (right-click, properties, shortcut tab) should look something like this (the inverted commas are needed only if your folder contains words with spaces like my example below):

Target: "//server-name/share-name/folder"
Mine says: Target: "//GIGLANDISK/video_files/Kids Films"

The result?

Without Adding Folders (I have no watched folders according to Media Center or the Xbox), these have now shown up on my Media Center PC and my Xbox 360 just how I want them to. It seems anything in the Public Videos folder shows up, whether you want them to or not.

It works for me, and I hope it works for you too.

** This could be another computer too – this applies if the movie you want isn’t physically on the computer you want to play it.

Extra Steps:
1. To get rid of the Sample Videos that show up in Media Center’s “Library”, delete them (and the Sample Videos folder they are in) from the Vista machine for them to disappear in Media Center (they reside in C:UsersPublicPublic Videos).

2. If you are having a problem getting rid of folders you don’t want in the Library of Media Center, the best way to clean it out so far I have found is to delete all of the files in the “C:Users[username]AppDataLocalMicrosoftMedia Player” folder, replacing [username] with the account showing the extra folders (Xbox 360’s and extenders come up as MCX1, MCX2 etc.) and then reboot. This only removes the Library Database – not the files so this is safe to do.

Regards,
Shane.

42 thoughts on “Vista Media Center and Videos on Network Drives”

  1. Hi Shane,Thanks a million for this post! It’s solving two issues Ive been driving myself crazy with at the same time:1. I finally get to see the video’s I have on my 2nd harddrive! (note: not even a network drive)Strange enough, since my 3rd clean install in which almost everything works perfectly now, this was the only issue: my video’s wouldnt show, even though pictures/music on the same drive *did* show….Why it worked before in the previous installs beats me too. But this fixed it!2. I could finally get rid of my complete extender library…this was messed up and your instructions helped to clean it. For some curious reason Music showed up in the Videos section while there is certainly no video in my music folder….So again thanks for the great help. Now I can work on my transoder360 issues 🙂 Always something else to fix still with Vista it seems (granted doing complex stuff like transcoder is asking for trouble :)I must say I had expected my migration to a new box with Vista to go a little smoother. However much I like many features of Vista, my old PC with WinMCE is more stable as central media hub right now…Thanks again,Thijs

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  2. I have been avoiding Media Center in Vista like the plague ever since it decided it wouldn’t add any videos from my SATA drive, but this fix has sorted that out. I can now use my library from across the room without my eyes bleeding. You sir are a god.

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  3. Shane, great tip!!How amazing if I could get this to work for me.I tried what you suggested. I created two shortcuts and put them into a public folder. One points to a Windows XP Professional share, and one to my NAS unit. Neither one worked. 😕 Both shares are totally open and have full access to anyone/everyone.Also, when I run Vist Media Center locally I see all my network files, but the Extender does not. Any help would be appreciated.Thanks!!!!

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  4. I have to say this is not working for me either, shares are there and set up ok on my server, all other networkable devices can see and access them, but my Xbox 360 booted as an extender will only show content local to the vista box.

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  5. KP & Mark,Are you trying to access shares on computers or on NAS boxes over SMB? If from a computer (XP or Vista) the client may be being asked for a username password, even if it doesn’t need it.I’ve just got it working from my XP Machine following the steps to share here (simple sharing): http://www.practicallynetworked.com/sharing/xp/filesharing.htm and I chose to “Just enable file sharing” instead of running the Wizard. I also ensured that XP machine was in the same Workgroup as my Media Center PC.Let me know if this helps.Regards,Shane.

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  6. Shane!!Wow. I was on the phone with MSFT tech support for over 3 hours and they didnt even bother to suggest trying Simple File Sharing. I’ve been trying everything I could think of with it off and nothing worked. Changing my XP to Simple File Sharing mode did the trick.Now what I’d love to get working is my NAS(Intel SS4000-e). That’s where I’d like to store all my content. According to the specs its CIFS/SMB compliant. Any thoughts on how to make this work? I appreciate everything. Thanks again!!

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  7. My share is on a SBS2003 server, called \ServerMoviesits shared out for “Everyone” to be able to read it, and it maps fine to PCs, and PPCs wirelessly and hard wired on my network. Just medicentre wont let the 360 see the folder.

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  8. Mark,This is one area where my expertise wains, as I haven’t used Windows Server or Small Business Server in a Media Center environment.All I can think of is to try changing the access for the share to a Guest account – according to a W2K document I read this may allow it to work, as the “Everyone” setting for some reason still causes some clients to think they need a username & password.Regards,Shane.

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  9. KP,As for you Intel NAS, I haven’t seen one of these but I’ve played with an Infrant box and a Buffalo Linkstation (and now own a Maxtor SSII) and they all work fine. I’ve read the specs on yours and they state “with user name, password protection, and managed access in local workgroups” – so I’m thinking first step for you is to ensure the share you have with your content is setup in the same workgroup as your Media Center PC, and has no username or password protection (ie just a public share).You’ll then need to follow the instructions I have above, making sure you match the share on the Intel box in this format “//server-name/share-name/folder”Last but not least – ensure there are files there to see – sometimes Media Center won’t show the share if there is nothing on it.Regards,Shane.

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  10. Unfortunatly, my NAS requires a login. BUT, what I did was that I created a logon script for the Mcx1 user that uses a known user account from the NAS and maps a share to it via “net use”. Then the Xbox was able to see my NAS content like you described via the shortcut method.Now, I can see my pictures and videos from the NAS!!! However, my music does not show up, even though I created the appropriate shortcut to a folder with music files. Does the shortcut method not work on music? Thanks again.

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  11. KP,Glad you got it going. Yes the good old batch file should never go away 🙂 As for Music – this is the one thing that these shortcuts won’t solve, and the only remaining thing that you need to use the Library for in Media Center.Regards,Shane.

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  12. As soon as my new High def samsung gets here ill try some bits out (including a batch file)I have created a SBS user called MCX1 and given it access, then ive set up a batch file to map the drive and dropped it into vistas MCX1 account.Im running Vista Ultimate connected to my home domain, wonder if that is whats makes a difference?

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  13. KP,Glad you got it going. Yes the good old batch file should never go away 🙂 As for Music – this is the one thing that these shortcuts won’t solve, and the only remaining thing that you need to use the Library for in Media Center.Regards,Shane.

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  14. As soon as my new High def samsung gets here ill try some bits out (including a batch file)I have created a SBS user called MCX1 and given it access, then ive set up a batch file to map the drive and dropped it into vistas MCX1 account.Im running Vista Ultimate connected to my home domain, wonder if that is whats makes a difference?

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  15. Gah, “Obviously” im either forgetting to do something, or not doing something right (Or its just not going to work with SBS2003)Share has been made, the folder \servernameMovies has been shared.Everyone has access to read it.Shortcuts have been created in the C:UsersPublicPublic Videos direcrtory.The account MCX1 has been set up to use a login batch file which has been set up to map the network share to M: (just in case) and second set of shares copied for M: to C:UsersPublicPublic Videos just in casewhat i get on the xbox is 4 lots of Transcoded files folders (from transcode 360) instead of one, and my normal local content.im stumped, and may just go out and drop a terrabyte sata drive into my vista box and free up the space on the server for other things, but this whole network connectivity missing from the extenders kind of sucks, im assuming there will be something special in place to allow people running the Home Meda Server (or whatever) to connect to shares on that ok, is this a ploy by MS to make me build yet another windows box and pay for yet another OS so i can enjoy my content whenever and where ever i want?im off to rant about how my Zune wont let me copy Xbox market place video content to it… 🙂

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  16. Mark,I just re-read your comment. Can you clarify please – your shortcuts; do they actually say as follows?:\servernameMoviesIf so – you have your slashes the wrong way around. You need to have them like so://servername/MoviesI hope it’s that simple, even if it means you have to kick yourself… otherwise I’m not sure what to do other than try and source a copy of SBS2003 and test it myself… and I’ve used up most of my favours with Microsoft at the moment 🙂 Regards,Shane.

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  17. Gah, “Obviously” im either forgetting to do something, or not doing something right (Or its just not going to work with SBS2003)Share has been made, the folder servernameMovies has been shared.Everyone has access to read it.Shortcuts have been created in the C:UsersPublicPublic Videos direcrtory.The account MCX1 has been set up to use a login batch file which has been set up to map the network share to M: (just in case) and second set of shares copied for M: to C:UsersPublicPublic Videos just in casewhat i get on the xbox is 4 lots of Transcoded files folders (from transcode 360) instead of one, and my normal local content.im stumped, and may just go out and drop a terrabyte sata drive into my vista box and free up the space on the server for other things, but this whole network connectivity missing from the extenders kind of sucks, im assuming there will be something special in place to allow people running the Home Meda Server (or whatever) to connect to shares on that ok, is this a ploy by MS to make me build yet another windows box and pay for yet another OS so i can enjoy my content whenever and where ever i want?im off to rant about how my Zune wont let me copy Xbox market place video content to it… 🙂

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  18. Mark,I just re-read your comment. Can you clarify please – your shortcuts; do they actually say as follows?:servernameMoviesIf so – you have your slashes the wrong way around. You need to have them like so://servername/MoviesI hope it’s that simple, even if it means you have to kick yourself… otherwise I’m not sure what to do other than try and source a copy of SBS2003 and test it myself… and I’ve used up most of my favours with Microsoft at the moment 🙂 Regards,Shane.

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  19. THANK YOU… great info. I am not sure if this is the best place for these questions, but you seem to be more knowledgable about this exact subject than anyone I know. I am NOT a geek (maybe wannabe but no time!). I have reasonable experience with computers and networks but most of what I see posted is over my head. In my home, I have a hard wired neetwork (netopia rounter) and I have a 720p pani projector and 100″ screen in the living room. I want to be able to play pictures and video content (Mainly of my 4 month old!) over the projector but don’t want to put a PC in the living room. So I came upon the idea of using Xbox 360 as a media extender (not yet purchased) and just bought a dell running vista premium to serve. Here are my questions:1. If I want the speed of a gigabit connection, can I get a gigabit “switch” and tie the xbox and vista machine through the switch and have the gigabit connection between these machines, even though the switch is plugged also into the netopia (to connect to the rest of the network but only at the 100mb speed), or do I have to upgrade the entire router?2. I believe from the info above that with a little play I can actually run pics and vidios stored on other network machines (XP home) and play them using the Xbox wihtout having to first move them to the VIsta machine, is that right (though I will need to use your shortcut workaround)?3. Will the vista allow tagging and displaying of the pics/vds on the network computer as if they were on the vista machine, or will it be different and not as functional?4. THis may answer 2 and 3 above: is it better to just get a larger second hard drive for the VIsta machine and move all media to that machine to tag, catogorize, and serve it up and then use the XP machines just to access the media as needed (mainly the only reason is if someone is at another computer and wants to view or e-mail images without going to the Vista machine).5. Do you know anything about burning music to the vista? I have about 400 cd’s in a jukebox and want to jetison the carosel in favor of the xbox playing the musci through the vista – I don’t need 100% quality but don’t want to downgrade a lot and am willing to purchase extra hard drive space if needed (comes with a 250gb sata2). Does Vista allow me to rip the cd to the drive and then find the data over the net for cover art etc. (the way Itunes does for the pod)? Do you know what rate I need to rip at to get virtually CD quality? I am hoping to be able to setup “tags” to cd’s or ideally even songs so that I can setup “shuffleable lists” for instance DANCE or JAZZ or LATE NIGHT and have faster changing than my jukebox ideally that will shuffle between tracks “tagged” from cd’s (not the entire cds). ANy thoughts on these or where to turn for the answers if not you?THANK YOU – not sure what I Can offer in return, other than maybe some cook holograms for your friends or kids if you want. Hope to hear from you and again thanks for the great posts!

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  20. THANK YOU… great info. I am not sure if this is the best place for these questions, but you seem to be more knowledgable about this exact subject than anyone I know. I am NOT a geek (maybe wannabe but no time!). I have reasonable experience with computers and networks but most of what I see posted is over my head. In my home, I have a hard wired neetwork (netopia rounter) and I have a 720p pani projector and 100″ screen in the living room. I want to be able to play pictures and video content (Mainly of my 4 month old!) over the projector but don’t want to put a PC in the living room. So I came upon the idea of using Xbox 360 as a media extender (not yet purchased) and just bought a dell running vista premium to serve. Here are my questions:1. If I want the speed of a gigabit connection, can I get a gigabit “switch” and tie the xbox and vista machine through the switch and have the gigabit connection between these machines, even though the switch is plugged also into the netopia (to connect to the rest of the network but only at the 100mb speed), or do I have to upgrade the entire router?2. I believe from the info above that with a little play I can actually run pics and vidios stored on other network machines (XP home) and play them using the Xbox wihtout having to first move them to the VIsta machine, is that right (though I will need to use your shortcut workaround)?3. Will the vista allow tagging and displaying of the pics/vds on the network computer as if they were on the vista machine, or will it be different and not as functional?4. THis may answer 2 and 3 above: is it better to just get a larger second hard drive for the VIsta machine and move all media to that machine to tag, catogorize, and serve it up and then use the XP machines just to access the media as needed (mainly the only reason is if someone is at another computer and wants to view or e-mail images without going to the Vista machine).5. Do you know anything about burning music to the vista? I have about 400 cd’s in a jukebox and want to jetison the carosel in favor of the xbox playing the musci through the vista – I don’t need 100% quality but don’t want to downgrade a lot and am willing to purchase extra hard drive space if needed (comes with a 250gb sata2). Does Vista allow me to rip the cd to the drive and then find the data over the net for cover art etc. (the way Itunes does for the pod)? Do you know what rate I need to rip at to get virtually CD quality? I am hoping to be able to setup “tags” to cd’s or ideally even songs so that I can setup “shuffleable lists” for instance DANCE or JAZZ or LATE NIGHT and have faster changing than my jukebox ideally that will shuffle between tracks “tagged” from cd’s (not the entire cds). ANy thoughts on these or where to turn for the answers if not you?THANK YOU – not sure what I Can offer in return, other than maybe some cook holograms for your friends or kids if you want. Hope to hear from you and again thanks for the great posts!

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  21. Thanks Mark – yes this should work also. For those that don’t know, here is the command to do it in Vista:MKLINK [[/D] | [/H] | [/J]] Link Target/D Creates a directory symbolic link. Default is a file symbolic link./H Creates a hard link instead of a symbolic link./J Creates a Directory Junction.Link specifies the new symbolic link name.Target specifies the path (relative or absolute) that the new link refers to.Regards,Shane.

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  22. Thanks Mark – yes this should work also. For those that don’t know, here is the command to do it in Vista:MKLINK [[/D] | [/H] | [/J]] Link Target/D Creates a directory symbolic link. Default is a file symbolic link./H Creates a hard link instead of a symbolic link./J Creates a Directory Junction.Link specifies the new symbolic link name.Target specifies the path (relative or absolute) that the new link refers to.Regards,Shane.

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  23. Hmm, which symbolic link type did you use ? I have it seeing the folder, but its showing empty on the Xbox 360

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  24. Shane, Great info. All worked for me except media portion. I have my music file on my Desktop PC (XP) and I am trying to link it my HTPC (Vista Ultimate). I added target network drive on my HTPC by going to “monitor folder” and I am able to see my PC library on my HTPC however when I launch media center and I go to vidoe or picture portion I see my CD thumbnails.This is annoying and I want to be able to get rid off this but I am not sure how. I want for thumbnails to remain and be visible under media portion but not under picture/video. Any suggestion how to tackle this ?

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  25. Shane, Great info. All worked for me except media portion. I have my music file on my Desktop PC (XP) and I am trying to link it my HTPC (Vista Ultimate). I added target network drive on my HTPC by going to “monitor folder” and I am able to see my PC library on my HTPC however when I launch media center and I go to vidoe or picture portion I see my CD thumbnails.This is annoying and I want to be able to get rid off this but I am not sure how. I want for thumbnails to remain and be visible under media portion but not under picture/video. Any suggestion how to tackle this ?

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  26. This works on Windows Media Center running on XP and XBOX 360 too for videos, music and pictures :)What to do (repeat for music and pictures with My Music and My Pictures folders):1. Make shortcuts (right click, create shortcut) of the folders on your network shares containing your Videos – this is important – DON’T make shortcuts of mapped drives – make them of the folders on the Network Shares otherwise they won’t work.2. Place the shortcuts of these folders into the “C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersDocumentsMy Videos” folder. Each shortcut properties (right-click, properties, shortcut tab) should look something like this (the inverted commas are needed only if your folder contains words with spaces like my example below): Target: “\server-nameshare-namefolder” Mine says: Target: “\192.168.1.4shared filesMy Videos”The result?Without Adding Folders (I have no watched folders according to Media Center or the Xbox), these have now shown up on my Media Center PC and my Xbox 360 just how I want them to. It seems anything in the Public Videos folder shows up, whether you want them to or not.It works for me, and I hope it works for you too.

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  27. This works on Windows Media Center running on XP and XBOX 360 too for videos, music and pictures :)What to do (repeat for music and pictures with My Music and My Pictures folders):1. Make shortcuts (right click, create shortcut) of the folders on your network shares containing your Videos – this is important – DON’T make shortcuts of mapped drives – make them of the folders on the Network Shares otherwise they won’t work.2. Place the shortcuts of these folders into the “C:Documents and SettingsAll UsersDocumentsMy Videos” folder. Each shortcut properties (right-click, properties, shortcut tab) should look something like this (the inverted commas are needed only if your folder contains words with spaces like my example below): Target: “server-nameshare-namefolder” Mine says: Target: “192.168.1.4shared filesMy Videos”The result?Without Adding Folders (I have no watched folders according to Media Center or the Xbox), these have now shown up on my Media Center PC and my Xbox 360 just how I want them to. It seems anything in the Public Videos folder shows up, whether you want them to or not.It works for me, and I hope it works for you too.

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  28. WORKING: Network shares now displayed on Vista Media Center Extender!!For all of you guys who haven’t been able to get your vista network shares to show up on your vista MC and your Extender (i have spent so long trying to find a solution to this problem by trawling the net – with no joy…..) – i finally found a solution to the problem myself!!This works with either the MKLINK symlink or PUBLIC shortcut “solutions” mentioned on this thread – with these additional steps on the REMOTE PC hosting the network shares:Click Start, Run, then type secpol.mscEdit this value – “Network access: Shares that can be accessed anonymously” and add your share names (e.g. SharedMovies)Edit this value – “Network access: Sharing and security model for local accounts” and select the “Guest Only – local users authenticate as Guest”Restart your Vista Media Center – Your done!!I hope this works for you guys!!N. :mrgreen:

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  29. WORKING: Network shares now displayed on Vista Media Center Extender!!For all of you guys who haven’t been able to get your vista network shares to show up on your vista MC and your Extender (i have spent so long trying to find a solution to this problem by trawling the net – with no joy…..) – i finally found a solution to the problem myself!!This works with either the MKLINK symlink or PUBLIC shortcut “solutions” mentioned on this thread – with these additional steps on the REMOTE PC hosting the network shares:Click Start, Run, then type secpol.mscEdit this value – “Network access: Shares that can be accessed anonymously” and add your share names (e.g. SharedMovies)Edit this value – “Network access: Sharing and security model for local accounts” and select the “Guest Only – local users authenticate as Guest”Restart your Vista Media Center – Your done!!I hope this works for you guys!!N. :mrgreen:

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  30. Making the shortcut directly from the mapped drive worked for me in Vista Home Premium. So glad I found this post! I was going crazy trying to get my vista mce box to see my shared usb drive on my Airport Extreme. Media Center kept crashing when I tried to add the library (super annoying cause it looked like it was about to work but then it just brought the whole box down). Seriously hope other people find this post.

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  31. Making the shortcut directly from the mapped drive worked for me in Vista Home Premium. So glad I found this post! I was going crazy trying to get my vista mce box to see my shared usb drive on my Airport Extreme. Media Center kept crashing when I tried to add the library (super annoying cause it looked like it was about to work but then it just brought the whole box down). Seriously hope other people find this post.

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  32. I have set this up but have found a side effect, my Vista PC now wont go to sleep after playing a movie on a share. Also the computer the file is on also wont go to sleep.Anyone had this problem and know of a solution?

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  33. I have set this up but have found a side effect, my Vista PC now wont go to sleep after playing a movie on a share. Also the computer the file is on also wont go to sleep.Anyone had this problem and know of a solution?

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  34. Thanks for guide, but when I copy the shortcut to the C:UsersPublicPublic Videos and I start VMC, I see the same folder Icon two time 😦

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  35. Thanks for guide, but when I copy the shortcut to the C:UsersPublicPublic Videos and I start VMC, I see the same folder Icon two time 😦

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