How My Media Server System Works

First posted Feb 15, 2007
Last update Mar 15, 2015
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The website you are currently viewing is hosted professionally on servers located in Provo, Utah. There are limits on my storage space and monthly bandwidth associated with my account. KWBY, my 24/7 cowboy music station, occupies over 15 gigs of hard drive space, and currently consumes between 25 to 30 gigs of bandwidth a month. That's way more space and bandwidth than my entire website has available, so my music and videos are served from a machine in my basement.

My cable Internet upstream bandwidth is around 2 mega bits per second which can support from 30 to 90 simultaneous music listeners, depending on the streams people are using.

I use Microsoft Media Services to deliver my cowboy music and streaming webcam. Media Services is a component of Windows 3003 Server. Only the Standard Edition version and higher, offer Media Services. Microsoft Server 2003 Web Edition does not include Media Services.

My server is a Dell Poweredge, 6300 server, which I bought used for $600. When it was new, in 2000, it sold for about $40,000 equipped the way I received it.

Machine specs

  • Quad processor, 550 mhz Pentium 3, Xeon (32 bit)
  • 2 gigs ram
  • Two - 19 gig SCSSI drives in a nifty little two slot, hot swapable bay, located where the second and third CD drives would sit, these hold the operating system and affiliated programs
  • I removed the system backplane, which the original SCSSI hard drive bank plugged into, and installed an 8 channel SATA RAID controller card which supports 8, SATA drives: 4-500g, 2-360g and 2-180g drives.
  • The SATA dives hold all my music, development websites, all the digital images which I have ever shot, and much more. Current capacity is slightly above 3 terabytes.

Each audio track is encoded as a separate file using Windows Media Encoder 9.

Each music file contains 6 individual streams. 11, 13, 15, 19, 24, and 37 kbits, configured for streaming from Windows Media Server. Configuring the files for streaming allows the server to interact with the visitor's player to negotiate the best quality stream for their available bandwidth, and to dynamically switch streams, if the bandwidth changes during the song.

Using Media Server also prevents a listener from downloading and saving the file to their computer, maintaining a certain amount of copyright protection for the song.

KWBY, my 24/7 cowboy music station, runs from a server side playlist. Media Services makes it easy to create server side playlists, via drag and drop, using a fairly intuitive wizard.

This is what a portion of the server side playlist looks like in raw form.

<?wsx version="1.0" encoding="utf-8"?>

<media src="E:\KWBY\Dave_Stamey\Buckaroo_Man\01 BUCKAROO MAN.wma"/>
<media src="E:\KWBY\Dave_Stamey\Buckaroo_Man\02 desert blues.wma"/>

The playlist is part of a publishing point configured to run the playlist in a random order. Once the playlist has run through in its entirety, the publishing point randomizes the list and then repeats the playlist indefinitely.

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