Need Make Your Own Monster Plex Server Set UP
With a Plex Media Server, it’s easy to stream or share your own movies and music, just like Netflix or Hulu. Put all your media on the server and stream it to any device. No muss, no fuss. But setting up a Plex server isn’t as easy as it sounds, build your own beast plex server especially since so many devices can act as Plex servers.
Make your own plex server. We’ll talk about everything you need to set up a Plex server, including a lot of things you don’t have to do. But this is just a guide to the product. If you need help installing the Plex software, check out the Plex support page or read the detailed Plex installation guide on our sister site, How-To Geek.
A computer on which Plex Media Server can run
The computer that manages your media files and runs the Plex software is the most important part of your Plex server. This computer needs a wired internet connection and needs to work all the time, so it needs to be small and use little energy. Converting a spare computer or laptop into a Plex server is a great way to save money, but the disadvantages are that such a system is bulky and may be difficult to conceal. uses a lot of power.
What should you use for an operating system?
Plex is compatible with Windows, Linux, macOS, and NAS systems like Synology Diskstation. So, don’t use Linux if you don’t know how to use it. But Linux is great because it doesn’t need much maintenance and uses very little power. If you know how to use Linux, try a non-GUI distribution to save resources and get the most out of your computer.
It’s not easy to find NAS solutions. Some people use a NAS drive in addition to their Plex server to store and manage media, while others do everything, server and all, on a single NAS drive. When you put everything on one NAS drive, your Plex server is smaller and easier to manage. However, NAS drives that are powerful enough to handle Plex’s needs aren’t cheap.
What kind of hardware does Plex need?
Plex’s hardware requirements, which include an i3 processor and 2GB of RAM, must be met by every computer made in the last few years. Sure, a more powerful system will give you better performance, and most Plex fans recommend an i5 processor and 4GB of RAM (or better). A more powerful system is best for streaming in 4K, streaming at the same time on multiple devices, or streaming outside from a distance.
When building a Plex server from a NAS drive, a Raspberry Pi, or some other non-traditional solution, these hardware requirements aren’t as clear. If you want to run your Plex server on a NAS drive, look at the detailed Plex NAS compatibility chart to find a drive with enough power for your needs. Both the Raspberry Pi 4 and the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro can stream Plex in 4K, so if you want a small, cheap Plex server without a PC, stick with those two products.
What should you use to watch Plex?
If you have never used Plex before, I suggest starting with a small, cheap device like the Raspberry Pi 4 or the NVIDIA Shield TV Pro. These devices work with 4K and are very popular, so you can find a lot of information to help you get started. Also, if you get bored with Plex, the Pi 4 and NVIDIA Shield TV Pro are easy to use again or sell.
A PC-based Plex server has more power and flexibility than a Raspberry Pi, NVIDIA Shield, or NAS device, especially if the computer has components that can be added to. Again, you can use any computer that meets Plex’s hardware requirements, but mini PCs like the Intel NUC are the best because they are small, save energy, and are cheap. Make your own plex server.
Most enthusiasts like that Intel NUCs don’t come with RAM or operating systems, since aftermarket RAM isn’t too expensive and Linux operating systems are free. But if you don’t use Linux or want to plug parts into a motherboard, prebuilt Windows 10 devices like Lenovo ThinkCentre or HP Prodesk are probably your best bet.
But what if you want to use a NAS drive for everything? Even though NAS drives don’t have the power or flexibility of PCs, they use a lot less power and can help you do a clean install. A NAS drive also makes it easy to back up multiple copies of your Plex library, which is what they were really made for.
If Plex lists a NAS device in its table of compatibility, it should be able to do everything you need. Just one quick piece of advice: don’t buy a NAS that only has one or two drive bays. A NAS with four or more bays, like the Synology DiskStation DS920+, can store multiple copies of your media library, making it safer and making the most of the storage space on your devices. Check out Synology’s RAID calculator to see how a few extra drive bays can make your NAS-based Plex server even more useful.
Your media library needs a place to be stored.
If the Plex server you choose doesn’t have a lot of storage built in, you’ll need an external drive to store your movies, TV shows, music, and other media files. You don’t need a pricey SSD for this job, which is good news. Make your own plex server. A cheaper hard drive will work fine for storing Plex media and won’t affect the quality of your streaming.
What kind of hard drive should you use for media?
I suggest that you use a NAS hard drive like the WD Red Plus for your Plex setup (or any other server setup). NAS hard drives run slower than regular hard drives, so they last longer. The device’s only job is to download media files to your Plex server, so the slower speed won’t affect the quality of streaming.
To connect this type of hard drive to your Plex server via USB, you also need an external drive enclosure (unless your server is a PC with open drive bays or a NAS drive).
If you don’t want to pay extra for a NAS hard drive and an external drive enclosure, you can use a consumer-grade external hard drive like the WD Passport instead.
Should you use an SSD to start up your computer?
Even though you don’t need to store your media on an SSD, there are benefits to using an SSD as the system drive for Plex Media Server. With an SSD system drive, your Plex server will start up faster, just like any other computer, and there should be less lag when you move around the library. Make your own plex server. If you’re running your Plex server on an old computer, you might want to replace the boot drive with a small, cheap SSD like the Kingston A400. (Don’t worry if you’re using a Raspberry Pi or NVIDIA Shield device; it will start up from flash memory.)
How about the fuses?
If you have some extra cash, you might want to think about getting a backup drive for all your media files. You can use rsync on Linux or the backup tool that comes with Windows to do the same thing.
NAS drives are made for RAID backup, and as I said earlier, a four-bay NAS drive is much safer and has more storage space that you can use than a two-bay drive. To find a setting that works for you, you’ll have to play around with the Synology RAID calculator.
video files to fill your collection
Without a media library, a Plex server doesn’t do much. In a perfect world, you could buy movies and TV shows through the Plex app and download them straight to your Plex media server. But we don’t live in a perfect world, so you have to get your video files from DVDs and Blu-ray discs that don’t use DRM. Make your own plex server.
People often use Plex servers to stream music, but since downloading and ripping music is so easy, we won’t talk about it here.
Digital copies of movies can’t be bought for Plex. These distributors lock their content behind DRM, which makes it impossible to play these files without permission from the network or the distributor’s playback software. Most media files have DRM on them, but it’s hard to get rid of it. Also, it’s frustrating to pay a company for DRM-protected files because it’s clear that the company doesn’t respect your right to own the things you’re paying for.
Vimeo on Demand, Drafthouse Films, and a few small VHX-powered sites are the only big sites that sell movies without DRM. But these distributors mostly sell independent movies, so you have to rip mainstream movies from DVDs and Blu-rays. If you are looking for something that is in the public domain, you can probably download it for free from the Internet Archive. It will be hard to find DRM-free movie downloads anywhere else.
DVDs and Blu-Rays can be ripped.
The best way to legally fill up your Plex library is to rip discs. It’s easy and cheap to find DVDs and Blu-rays, especially if you look for deals on Facebook Marketplace or dig through the dusty shelves at your local Goodwill. Make your own plex server. Sitting down to get the movie off the disc is an annoying extra step, but it’s better than nothing.
If your computer doesn’t have a built-in drive, you will need to buy an external DVD or Blu-ray drive that plugs into your computer’s USB port. Once you’re connected, you’ll need software to extract the movie from your CDs. I suggest that you use HandBrake to keep the quality of the files you’ve ripped. Ripping DVDs with Handbrake is pretty easy, but ripping Blu-ray can be more difficult, so check out our detailed guide on How-To Geek.
What does “transcode” mean?
Some of the devices in your home may not be able to play certain types of media files. Because of this, Plex can transcode media on the fly and convert video files to a format that works on the device they are meant for. As long as your server’s CPU meets Plex’s hardware requirements, you shouldn’t have to deal with lag or buffering when transcoding. But problems can happen when streaming to more than one device at the same time that needs video transcoding.
If your Plex server isn’t very powerful, you can avoid transcoding videos altogether by changing all of your media files to MP4, which is the “universal” file format that Plex recommends. Keep in mind that transcoding problems are rare with regular streaming, and if it helps, Plex fans suggest using the MKV file format to keep the quality of Blu-Ray movies that have been ripped.
I should mention that a Plex Pass subscription gives you access to a special hardware transcoding setup that uses your computer’s GPU instead of its CPU to convert videos. If you plan to do a lot of remote streaming that needs video transcoding to reduce the stream’s bandwidth, you might want to use this hardware encoding setting to free up your server’s CPU. This can be done with cheap graphics cards like the GTX 1030 or with the graphics cards that come with Intel chips.
Does Plex Pass cost money?
You can get Plex for free, but you have to pay to use it. You can pay a one-time fee for each device you register with Plex, or you can pay a monthly fee for the premium Plex Pass service. But the benefit of Plex Pass isn’t that you don’t have to pay the device registration fee. The benefit is that you get access to exclusive features like live TV and DVR, offline downloads for mobile devices, hardware transcoding, and optional content restrictions that stop your kids from watching R-rated content on their Plex account. Make your own plex server.
So, does Plex Pass cost money? Probably not, if you only want to stream to one or two devices. But Plex Pass is a must if you want to share your library with family and friends. Hardware transcoding can put a lot of stress on your server, and Plex Pass’s many features for families make it look like a serious platform for streaming.
The monthly fee for Plex Pass is $5, the same as that for registering a Plex device. I think it is important to learn more about the service even if you do not intend to use it often.