Jellyfin is an open source alternative for Plex, and here's how to setup a server on Windows

Aug 24, 2019
Updated • Aug 25, 2019
Music and Video

v and tech savvy users may be aware of what a media server is. Here is a brief explanation for those who are new to the concept.

When you install a media server program on your computer, it becomes your host server. You can connect to it from your phone and stream the media that's stored on your computer's hard drive. Think of it like YouTube or Spotify, but your computer is the server and the content that is available is based on the media files on the computer.

How to install Jellyfin on Windows 4

We're going to be taking a look at Jellyfin, a free and open source alternative for Plex. The Jellyfin server is available for Linux distros, macOS and Windows and we'll be using Windows for this guide.

Tip: check out our list of top Windows Media Center alternatives for other options.

The process is a bit long but it's fairly easy and you don't need any technical skills. I'll try to keep it as simple as possible.

You will need the following:

  • A computer connected to your router. Doesn't matter if it's wired/wireless, but you will need Wi-Fi to stream content to devices that connect to the network wireless.
  • A media server program (Jellyfin)
  • A phone or streaming device with a client app (Jellyfin mobile app or Plex app)

How to install Jellyfin on Windows

1. Download the latest Jellyfin server from the official website.

2. Extract the archive and run Jellyfin.exe

How to install Jellyfin on Windows

3.  A command prompt window should open and install the required services. Keep this window open, it is the server app.

4.  The program opens a new browser tab, and displays the Jellyfin quick start guide.

How to install Jellyfin on Windows 2

5. Follow the on-screen instructions to setup your local server's account name and password.

6.  Next, you'll be asked to add your media library. Select the folders on your computer (or a USB external HDD) which has the movies, tv shows, music, that you want to stream.

How to install Jellyfin on Windows 3

Note: Choose the appropriate category for each folder, i.e. TV shows category for your TV series folder, Movies for the movies folder. It may sound obvious, but there is a reason why you should select the corresponding category. The program pulls metadata/art from corresponding resources on the internet and displays them in the client device app.

How to install Jellyfin on Windows 3a

7. You will see some extra settings while selecting the folder, but apart from selecting the language and region, most of these settings are optional. We are half-way there.

How to connect to your Jellyfin server

1. Once you have set up the media library, you'll be taken to the server's homepage. (refer to the first screenshot).

How to install Jellyfin on Windows 5

2. Click the menu icon on the left and select the "Dashboard" option. (Admin section).

How to install Jellyfin on Windows 6

3. Here you will see your server's name, version number (of Jellyfin), port number (8096) and 2 URLs; LAN Address and WAN address.

The LAN address is the local host URL i.e., To be used when your server and the client device are in the same network. (For e.g. Your home network where your PC and phone are connected to the same Wi-Fi).

The WAN address is the URL that you can use to connect to the server from a remote network. (When you're away from home and want to stream media from your server).

4. Download the Jellyfin client app on the device that you want to use for streaming: Android phone (Google Playstore) or Android TV (Amazon FireStick, Google Chromecast) or Kodi.

How to connect to Jellyfin server

5. Open the client app and you'll be prompted to enter the URL of the server to connect to. Refer to step 3 to get the URL. Type it without adding the port number at the end. For e.g. I had to type

How to connect to Jellyfin server 2

6. Enter the password you set while configuring the server to authenticate your connection.

That's all there is to it. I use the Jellyfin app on my Android phone to connect to my Jellyfin server hosted on my laptop. The mobile app syncs to the library, and I can watch the videos on my PC, on the phone.

Closing Words

I don't use media servers often, but when I did I used Plex. I stumbled upon Emby when looking for an alternative and then discovered it was violating the GPL. They stopped releasing the source code and then went proprietary.

You can find premium options on the official website and the same site says the program is licensed under GPL v2. The GitHub page shows the last commit was made on Sep 20, 2018. The developers confirmed at one point that only part of the app was using closed source. That definitely breaches the license.

I kept looking for alternatives and that's how I learnt about Jellyfin which is a free fork of Emby and an open source application. The development of it took a hit temporarily when Emby claimed "licensing issues" in Jellyfin's code (oh, the irony).

That made the choice easy for me, and I went with Jellyfin. I will be trying the new Plex desktop app to keep an eye on any potential improvements. ICYMI, Plex has announced the end of life for the Plex Media Player (January 30th, 2020), and is now focusing on standalone programs for macOS, Windows 7 SP1 and above.

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  1. Anonymous said on August 1, 2010 at 12:43 pm

    Why not make use of the mplayer.conf?

  2. Mike J said on August 1, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    Huh, I have never even seen this “font cache” pane; videos play at once for me, using VLC & XP SP3.

    1. Martin said on August 1, 2010 at 3:39 pm

      Mike, in theory this should have only been displayed once to you, at the very first video that you played with VLC. The time this window is displayed depends largely on the number of fonts in your font directory.

      1. Mike J said on August 2, 2010 at 2:30 pm

        huh, I lucked out for a change?? Amazing!!
        Apparently VLC keeps this info through version updates, but I didn’t see this message after a fresh OS install about 8 weeks ago, & a new VLC.

  3. myo said on August 1, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    yes, yes, i have the same problem. sometimes, VLC crashes when it is playing .mov file.

  4. Kishore said on August 13, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    Buidling font Cache pop-up


    Open VLC player.

    On Menu Bar:


    (at bottom – left side)
    Show settings — ALL

    Open: Video
    Click: Subtitles/OSD (This is now highlited, not opened)
    Text rendering module – change this to “Dummy font renderer function”


    Re-open – done.
    Progam will no longer look outside self for fonts

    Source –

    1. Martin said on August 13, 2010 at 3:10 pm

      Great tip, thanks a lot Kishore.

  5. javier said on August 14, 2010 at 1:50 pm

    @Kishore, I’ll try your tips, but does this mean it will no longer show subtitles either?
    I do use subtitles, but the fontcache dialog box pops up (almost) everytime I play a file.

    Could this be related to the fonts I have installed? Or if I add/remove fonts to my system?

    I’ll try to do a fresh install also, if your tips does no work. I’ll post back here later…


  6. Kishore said on August 15, 2010 at 12:38 pm

    @ Javier, The trick i posted will show up subtitles too. If not,

  7. Kishore said on August 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm

    @ Javier, The trick i posted will show up subtitles too. If not,Dont worry, VLC is currently sorting out this issue and the next version will be out soon.

    No probs @ Martin !! Its my pleasure

  8. Ted said on October 22, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Try running LC with administrator privileges. That seemed to fix it for me

  9. Evan said on December 8, 2013 at 1:48 am

    I am using SMplayer 0.8.6 (64-bit) (Portable Edition) on Windows 7 x64. Even with the -nofontconfig parameter in place SMplayer still scans the fonts. Also, I have enabled normal subtitles and it is still scanning fonts before playing a video. Also, it does this every time the player opens a video after a system restart (only the fist video played).

  10. Mike Williams said on September 6, 2023 at 1:26 pm

    Does that mean that only instrumental versions of songs will be available for non-paying users?

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