We may be in the period of cloud streaming and membership services, but media ownership (both digital and physical) is still alive and well. That stated, having the ability to combine and stream your collection of movies, music, and other media from one location is even more practical than having a fragmented library throughout multiple disk drives, gadgets, and stacks of physical copies.
That’s where having a Plex media server comes in convenient. Plex has been around for a while, but if you’re unknown, the service can turn just about any device with sufficient power and storage into a network-connected media server that you can access remotely. You can even share access with loved ones to produce your own private media network.
That might sound like a complex project, but if you have the right tools, it’s really quite simple. We’ve created this guide to aid with significant steps and choices included. We’ll be focusing the three elements of your media server setup: the server device, your media files, and the numerous apps and add-ons readily available to personalize your experience.
Picking a server device
There are an unexpected number of devices that will work as a Plex media server, but picking the ideal one for your imagined setup will need more consideration than just plugging an external tough drive into your PC and calling it good.
Ideally, your server will be turned on and connected to your home network 24/ 7, so search for devices/components designed to be always-on (we information several listed below). Likewise, you’ll require to believe about horsepower. For those wanting to extend access to several users, you’ll require beefier devices since more people accessing the server requires more processing power and network bandwidth. This becomes especially crucial if you intend on streaming 4K UHD and HDR video content or Hi-Fi audio files. Nevertheless, more power will need both more expensive devices/parts, however also require more power attract order to run. On the other hand, you might not desire to have a super-powerful gadget as your server.
When it comes to network demands, we suggest you always link your server to your home network by means of Ethernet, when possible. If you’re linking over WiFi, you’ll require to utilize a minimum of an 802.11 n router, or ideally and 802.11 a/c router.
To find out more on Plex server requirements, describe Plex’s support page
Networked-attached storage ( NAS) is your easiest alternative hardware-wise, but likewise the weakest. The smaller sized horsepower has its benefits though, because NASs have low power usage requirements and can remain on 24/ 7. If you purchase a pre-made NAS, there will be very little setup involved, though you can develop your own if you want more control over the procedure. The tradeoff is that DIY NAS servers need more complex software setup considering that they do not have graphical user interfaces by default, while the off-the-shelf gadgets frequently have the software application pre-installed.
While more pricey than a NAS, buying or constructing a tiny PC is the next simplest alternative, and is probably the average “sweet area” between expense, power, and ease of usage for the majority of people. For pre-made alternatives, there are lots of Raspberry Pi
Whether you buy a pre-built PC or build a beefy high-end rig yourself, this is going to be the most expensive alternative and will require the biggest power draw. Nevertheless, this is going to be best for multi-user assistance and transcoding large files ( like 4K video or Hi-Fi audio).
You also do not have to construct a new PC. It is technically possible to utilize your existing PC, or perhaps an old one you have sitting around. Just keep in mind that the server needs to be on and connected to the network to be available, which system resources will be taken up by media playback. Since of this, we ‘d only suggest utilizing your everyday PC if you’re the only individual who will be accessing the files and can ensure the PC will be on when you wish to connect remotely.
Plex supports Windows, macOS, and Linux PCs.
Considering that Plex’s media server software can be operated on a plethora of gadgets and operating systems, there are a handful of other devices that can be configured to be a PMS despite that not being its main usage case.
For example, in our screening, we used an Nvidia Guard Pro as our server There are some constraints to using the Shield, but it was the most available choice for us considering that the Plex media server software comes pre-installed on the Guard Pro, and its500 GBs of internal storage can hold an appreciable portion of any media library on its own.
The Plex download pageconsists of a complete list of the supported os and devices.
Picking a hard disk
The second part of the server develop is selecting the difficult drive you’ll be storing your media on. A few of the choices above can utilize internal HDDs as the media drive, but we recommend using an external, NAS-certified HDD with USB 3.0 support, its own housing, and– if possible– its own power supply.
We used a500 GB external drive coupled with the Nvidia Shield Pro’s internal500 GB storage, for a 1TB server, and had sufficient space for a large music collection and a dozen or two Blu-ray quality films, however you could easily core a hard disk with 4 or 5 times as much storage.
Setting up the server
- Prepare your server device. If you’re developing your own, make sure to follow the guides connected above, which will take you through any hardware assembly or software setup needed, and help you link your server to your network. If you’re using a pre-built device, set it up like you would any other PC, turn it on, and follow the first-use guidelines.
- When you have actually connected your server to your house network, download and Set up plex media server for your gadget from Plex’s downloads page. If you’re using an Android/Android TELEVISION device as your media server, you can snag the Plex Media Server Android beta software application from Google.
- Make a Plex account if you haven’t currently( the Android version of Plex utilizes your Google account).
- Set up the Plex app on the gadget( s) you’ll be accessing the server from. This is a different application from the media server software application and is how you’ll link to your server and view your media. It’s readily available on numerous Smart Televisions, Roku and other streaming boxes, plus Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Android TV, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and numerous other gadgets.
With the server established, now it’s time to move your music, pictures, videos, and any other media onto the server. If you’re utilizing an external HDD as the media drive and the media you’re aiming to move is on a PC, just plug in the HDD and move the files by hand. You can likewise move the files wirelessly from one device to another by using an FTP customer.
If you’re wanting to back up your physical media collections, you can rip audio CDs utilizing essentially any desktop CD or DVD drive, and you can rip films as long as you have the appropriate software application and a DVD or Blu-ray drive on your PC. MakeMKV is an outstanding choice for ripping films.
Other guides might suggest utilizing applications like BitTorrent clients or similar software application to download media, but this can be a legal quagmire if you’re not mindful, so be clever, courteous, and legal here. Follow the copyright laws of your region and do not go pirating or distributing content illegally. In the next section, we’ll point out numerous legal( and sometimes totally free) ways to watch and tape content and strengthen your server’s library.
Apps, add-ons, and additional Plex features
All Plex users have open door to a number of cool functions that can pad out your library and consolidate other apps/services to make your server an all-in-one streaming service.
New and Web TV
Plex supplies users with complimentary live and curated news streams from different sources, consisting of ABC, AP, Reuters, and more. In addition to this free news content, Plex likewise includes a complimentary curated library of popular Web series from outlets like Pitchfork and the New Yorker.
Instead of utilizing your smart device’s storage to download podcasts, you can download, shop, and stream podcasts from your Plex server Users can look for and register for shows directly in the Plex app, and the software will auto-update and download the most recent episodes when they’re available.
If you have a suitable VR headset, you can watch or listen to all your media in VR mode.
Plex Pass and totally free OTA TV
Plex’s fundamental server functions are free, however the service uses a premium Plex Pass membership that adds lots of advantages like metrics tracking and bandwidth statistics, better metadata matching for your files, and perks like discounts towards Tidal music memberships. Thankfully, the Plex Pass subscription is quite cost effective compared to other media services and offers a flexible trio of prices alternatives: either $4.99 monthly, $3999 every year, or a one-time $11999 purchase for life time gain access to. ( Plex likewise offers a complimentary 30- day trial, if you’re curious).
Plex Pass users can likewise take complimentary HDTV signal right from the environment using an HD OTA antenna. You’ll even be able to record shows as they air. Plex’s interface will even auto-fill-in configuring information to develop a guide/schedule. We utilized a online tool