How To: Play DVD’s in Windows Media Center Stored On Your Windows Home Server

Recently, I began ripping my DVD collection to my WHS Videos folder.  My plan was to be able to view them from Vista Media Center.

So I ripped/copied several of them over to my WHS, fired up VMC and became frustrated quickly because I could not find a way to point VMC over to my WHS folder.  Grrrr!

So, remembering the phrase: “Google is your friend”, I fired up Internet Explorer and did a quick search.  I honestly cannot remember if Google was really my friend or if I went directly to Microsoft’s WindowsHomeServer forum.

Anyway, I soon found a thread explaining just how to do this.  The complete thread, for your viewing pleasure, is located here.

Putting it all in one place, this is what I did.

  1. I ripped my DVD’s using DVDFab HD Decrypter 4.  DVDFAb is actually up to version 5, but I find that version 4 works just fine for me.  Just do a Google to find the program.  In my case, I do a direct _TS rip.  I am not sure if MC will recognize other formats.  Experiment and let us know!  From the aforementioned thread, Xbox 360’s do not play _TS files.  .iso files work, however.
  2. Move the folder that is created to your WHS under the Video shared folder.
  3. Open regedit and search for: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media.
    This is the complete registry entry and required change:
    HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Settings\DvdSettings
    Look for the Registry value – ShowGallery Registry value data type – REG_SZ  -Play
    Change the Registry value data from Play to Gallery.
    Close regedit.
  4. Open Media Center.
  5. Go to Settings – Library Setup – Add Folder to Watch – Add shared folders from another computer.  Add the folders containing media and go to Next – Finish.




You’re all done!  Enjoy all your media stored on your WHS in Media Center.

Of course, you will have one more question.  How do I get all the DVD case pictures to show up?  You will need an .xml file in each movie folder to provide this information to Media Center.  I use  You have to register, which costs you nothing.  Once you are thru the registration process, simply search for your DVD, download the associated .xml file and move over to your DVD subfolder.  Instant cover graphic and movie details!



  1. This is great, but how do we get this content to play on our XBOX 360 extenders? Show me how to do this and then I’ll be impressed! 🙂

    I’ve been struggling now for awhile trying to get it to work! I’ve even tried MyMovies to no avail.


  2. Just to clarify, VMC or MCE2k5 on an XBOX 360 will not play .VOB files even though they work fine on a pc. I was using MyMovies also to try and do this and it is not supported. I have not tried .ISO files, but from the forum link it looks like you have to setup Daemon Tools on Vista first to get ISOs to play and then configure MyMovies to use it. I’ll have to try this when I get home from work.

  3. I use MyMovies as well. My Movies uses a SQL server/client approach along with IMDB (internet movie data base) to get its content. By default all movie files are in _TS format and should be placed in a folder containing the movie name. However, if you use DVDFab and ISO files like I do, then a simple edit on the database entry will allow MyMovies to playback the ISO files just like there was a DVD in the VMC (Vista Media Center) computer’s drive by using a “mounting” program for the ISO file, either Daemon Tools or Virtual Clonedrive.

    The nice part about MyMovies is that you can install the server side software to run directly on your WHS. Very clear instructions on how to do this are on the MyMovies website. I am running a WMC 2005 client on one computer and another VMC client on a second. They both connect to the WHS server for their content.

    MyMovies is supposed to play .VOB file as long as they are in the file and folder structure that MyMovies requires. I have not tried this personally because I am using ISO files, but maybe JR might want to try this again.

    All this being said, I like the approach you have shared and will give it a try as well.

  4. The current release version of DVDFab will create the dvdid.xml file so the at VMC display the cover art and info.

  5. I can recommend an easier way to get the cover pictures to show up.
    (also I move all the files to the root of the movie, out of the VIDEO_TS and other folders that DVD Decrypter or whatever you are using creates).
    Go to, find your movie, click on the picture to get it ‘larger’
    right click on it and save the image to the movies root folder with the name of folder.jpg

    easy peasey

  6. I agree with the above poster that mymovies is so much simpler then the dvd library. Also there is a post in regards to creating symbolic links so that your extender can play the dvd.

  7. i have no problem playing vob files on my Vista Media Center, and the files are based on the VMC, my WHS, my other PC’s.

  8. All I can say is that this post has sparked a nice amount of discussion and alternatives methods!

    In most things in life (and in the computer world), there is always more than one way to get from Point A to Point B. In the end, use whatever method makes it easiest for you.

    MyMovies does look quite attractive, I must admit…

  9. I have recently completed the changes to the registry and so on, so media centre will play my dvd files, but I have another question. When I play the files in media centre the controls in the bottom right hand corner and the ‘windows’ button and arrow in the top left hand corner do not disappear. So all the way through the movie I have them on the screen which is really annoying. I know it’s probably smoething basic, but how do I get rid of them while playing a movie?

  10. I think it is a bug. I get it with live TV, ripped movies, recorded TV, etc. It appears when you hoover the mouse at the top or bottom, and normally goes away after a slight delay. Perhaps one of MS’s updates fubared something? It does not for me either, now.

    Or it could be your mouse driver? My old mouse recently died. New mouse, and now I get your “feature”, also. If I pause, FF, etc. on the remote, it goes away. What kind of mouse? Mine is a Logitech.

    BTW, this is worthy of a post in the forums. Good for confirmation from other users, and perhaps a solution there?

  11. I too use MyMovies and have often wondered why it has never been profiled on WGS. There needs to be a full write-up of this great add-in.

  12. Can this DVD Library method also be used to play movies in AVI file format ?

    All my movies are ripped into AVI file format, which My Movies seems perfectly happy with, but i have tried the windows registry change suggested above but my Vista WMC PC still doesn’t show anything under the DVD Library display/tab.

    The AVI files show up perfectly in the VIDEOS display/tab, but i want to get the full cover art to be shown – frustratingly you do not get this in the VIDEO display !!

    Any help/advice appreciated.

  13. The DVD Library on your main Media Center can play DVDs and recorded TV movies (it has to be a movie for it to show up the DVD Library) it will not play AVIs .

    My movies app will play AVIs

  14. Hi,

    How about, using DVD Gallery of Vista MCE and Using Mymovies to catalouge your collection and keep it all organised and get all the XML data and Covers.

    This is what I do and it works perfectly. I prefer the slickness of the DVD Gallery to the mymovies MCE interface. But the ease of my movies for being a database is great.

    So there you have it Same result just another way of doing it.


  15. Freaky
    Your setup sounds great! Is there much setup to achieve this same thing with using both DVD Gallery and Mymovies?


  16. I installed MyMovies to see how it worked. I let it do its automatic association. About an 70% hit rate of DVD to cover art and or correct title.

    Every time I start VMC, it wants to re-add the same title each time. I was not impressed.

    I prefer more control over the process and less utilities installed.

  17. Hi,

    I have The my movies server on my home server and I run the client on 2 Vista MCE PC’s, (you’ll need this to bring in the XML data to the Vista DVD Library.

    What Jim says Is true you can end up with duplicates if you let my movies do it’s own thing.(doesn’t always duplicate though.) I don’t I’m doing about 3 DVD’s a night and just manually adding as I want the collections to be perfect and once done I need not do it again.

    I does work exceptionally well, Been using Media centre for years dunno why I’ve never used this feature before now…!

    To answer TC no not alot of set up once My movies has added the data which is very quick, all you do is point the DVD Gallery of Vista to the folder with the DVD rips in and thats it.

  18. Hi,

    Made good progress however…

    My problem is this: I can plaback ripped movies when I map the network drive and open the files from within Windows Media Player but if I use Vista Media Centre to pull up the DVD library and start the movies the pictures are scrambled (very blocky with sound issues and freezes VMC).

    I have an HP MediaSmart server upgraded to 1GB RAM and 4TB HDD. I am using 2 Sony Windows Vista Ultimate PCs with Windows Experience Indices of 3.5 and 5 respectively. I am using DVDFab Platinum to rip my personal DVD collection. The machines are all currently wired with Cat6 cables to a fast ethernet powered switch.

    Any ideas gratefully received.

  19. I’m also having some intermittent lockup issues playing dvd movies from my WHS to my Vista media center. Often it locks such that you must ctrl alt del to kill the media center app. once it restarts you can find your way back to the spot where it locked and resume the movie until next time. Very difficult to debug this. I have moved a bunch of movies to a local drive and will watch several movies there to confirm that it is in fact network or WHS related. I have gigabit lan and wired connections throughout the house and the setup was working without this issue for many months before this started. I’ve added some drives to the WHS and of course installed windows and driver updates.
    Any suggestions appreciated.


  20. I can’t get my .vob files to play on my Vista MCE at all. I have used both DVD Decrypter and DVDfab and copied movies to the \\homeserver\videos folder. I have also edited my registry HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Media Center\Settings\DvdSettings to “Gallery”. In that video folder I have a folder for each movie. Each movie has both a VIDEO_TS and an AUDIO_TS folder and all of the .vob files are going in the VIDEO_TS folder (I’ve tried ripping the main movie and all of the movie files). I have also added this folder to my play list in MCE. What is happening is this, When I go to the videos folder in MCE and I select the video folder I want, I then see the VIDEO/AUDIO_TS folders but MCE is saying that there is nothing in eather folder when i know that there is.

    Can anyone HELP???

  21. I am having the same problem as tallgeek.

    I believe I have followed your directions but still cannot get a video to play.

    The only thing Jim Clark didn’t mention was which version of DVD Fab he was using: Platinum, Gold, or free Decrypter.

    I hope he is monitoring this forum and can shed some light on this.


  22. @rctaubert@Tallygeek – If you start a thread in the forums and attach a pix of your folder structure for a video, that might help. And it should not matter what program you use to rip the files. FWIW, I have used both free versions of DVDFab 4 and 5.

  23. Just finished doing this on my WHS, MCE, and XBOX 360. Using DVD Decrypter and DVDFab for ripping folders to WHS. Using My Movies for MCE integration. Finally, using Transcoder 360 to stream DVDs to the Xbox 360. This delivers an amazing level of integration in a very easy way. Worst part is ripping of all the DVDs in my collection.

  24. Can you explain in greater depth how you did it? I just bought a xbox 360 and have been working on streaming my dvd’s to the 360

  25. Originally Posted By TallygeekI can’t get my .vob files to play on my Vista MCE at all. I have used both DVD Decrypter and DVDfab and copied movies to the \homeserver ideos folder. I have also edited my registry HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindowsCurrentVersionMedia CenterSettingsDvdSettings to “Gallery”. In that video folder I have a folder for each movie. Each movie has both a VIDEO_TS and an AUDIO_TS folder and all of the .vob files are going in the VIDEO_TS folder (I’ve tried ripping the main movie and all of the movie files). I have also added this folder to my play list in MCE. What is happening is this, When I go to the videos folder in MCE and I select the video folder I want, I then see the VIDEO/AUDIO_TS folders but MCE is saying that there is nothing in eather folder when i know that there is.

    Can anyone HELP???

    I just did the same thing last week and ran into the same problem. You’re in the wrong spot on Media Center. The video library is for playing back AVIs and MKVs. Since you enabled the Gallery, you need to go to DVD Library instead. Then when it says “no movies found” hit your info button to bring up the menu, and Add Movies (or DVDs, something like that). Add the folder that will contain all your ripped DVD folders and bingo, you should start seeing them appear.

  26. I don’t use PC’s and laptops to watch movies… with all the LCD screens out there it makes more sense to watch in the living room or wherever else I have a TV.

    I just found a player that works with the WHS instantly, no fuss and plays every kind of file I have so far 🙂 called the BM3030 got it on amazon for $190 at christmas. I’ve bought a couple others but they just do NOT work, and I’m not willing to fork up several hundred for one that does.

    Hooked it up to the TV using HDMI and optical audio, then into the network. in less than 2 minutes I was watching full 1080i from one of my ripped DVD’s. plus it records, and you can put a hard drive in it and take your movies to a friends or relatives and watch them there 🙂

    this thing rocks.

  27. @Bill

    The BM3030 sounds really good. I looked it up and have a question. Does it have a composite video output? Looks like it does but can’t be sure.

  28. @rctaubert

    Just checked mine and it has HDMI, Y/Pb/Pr (composite) and RCA video outputs.

    The thing that separates this from pretty much ALL media players is that it records…well. I just tried it for the first time a few days ago as I don’t normally record with it… and wow pretty cool. Has to be to USB or the internal drive though, but you can transfer files easily enough. They played on windows media player perfectly, and in HQ 🙂 couldn’t get them to play in winamp or itunes buts that’s most likely a settings/format issue.

    tested a recording by moving it to my WHS and using the bm3030 to play it back. worked like a charm, just like it does with all the other files.

    I will admit it doesn’t have flashy cover art but I’m not paying for that… I want something that plays with no fuss, and no setup issues I have to do, and no drama. oh yeah, and it actually has a power switch in back so it’s not wasting electricity when not in use! to me that’s cool if you don’t like to leave your components running 24/7.

  29. @Bill

    Got another question. It looks like if you want to use the record feature you would have to connect your cable to the BM3030 and the BM3030 to your TV. True???

    Incoming Cable Connection—>Set Top Box—->BM3030—->TV

  30. yes, that is true, like a VCR. that way it can record from the cable box. I have an old 50″ projection TV that was my grandma’s and I’ve got it hooked into all this new technology… considing it only has 1 RCA video jack and the coax this has been fun.

    you can get a y-splitter, and split the video and audio signals from the cable box into your TV and the BM3030– that way the recorder doesn’t have to be on just to watch TV (though I’m not sure if it is a pass-through device which would allow watching TV if you didn’t split the signal and went straight through the BM3030 all the time, and kept the bm3030 off).

    For the return feed, if you have a newer TV you most likely have many inputs and you could use one of them to view whatever the bmb3030 is playing. or if you only have 1 input like me, you’d have to buy an RCA selector box (20-30 bucks?) which would allow you to choose the TV input to be either the bm3030 or some other device like the cable box.

    or you can go with what you said and do the straight shot, but again I don’t know if that means you have to keep the unit on to watch anything 🙂 i’d try to set that up but that means tearing apart my existing connections and there are 8 devices feeding into my old tv so I’m kinda scared to pull things apart…

  31. @David
    your a star! have spent some time on this problem only to find out iv been trying to fix the wrong thing! even posted on a few forums.. what i mug!!
    thanks again

  32. I’m in the process of building a new machine to replace my XP MCE in the living room. The XP machine is less and less stable, and it’s time to upgrade.
    Tried Vista MCE on a different machine, and overall think it’s a good thing. BUT… I have one nagging problem, that I cannot solve. Maybe this forum has an answer…

    Situation: I have a lot of ripped DVDs, stored in folders and subfolders, for instance, I have
    Kids\Diskey\Cinderella (with video_ts, audio_ts and a folder.jpg)
    Kids\Disney\Sleeping Beauty (with…)
    \Series\Miami Vice\Series 1\Disc 1\…
    \Series\Miami Vice\Series 1\Disc 2\…

    it seems a folder hierarchy is possible within the ‘Videos’ section (but it won’t play ripped DVDs), but in the DVD library there’s no folder hierarchy (but plays DVDs).
    I want (and my wife and kids need) both…
    Is there a solution using Vista MCE, or should I stay at XP MCE (which does play ripped DVD from the video folder).

    Regards, Michiel

  33. I've installed MyMovies, added whs folders to watch "videos" using the format: videosMoviesMovieName and made the change so that the DVD Library shows up in VMC… but no movies show up… have done on two VMC clients, both say No Movies Found. Any ideas?

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