9659009] For the Plex Media Server, you need:
an Internet-connected PC, Mac, Linux, or FreeBSD computer
or one of the supported networks Attached storage devices (NAS)
A wired network connection is recommended for both your server and your client device, or a sufficiently fast Wi-Fi network (routers and devices that support 802.11 AC are recommended)
Because you can run the plex client app on almost any device that is available Chances are, you already have a compatible one. However, if you want to buy one, we recommend the Roku Streaming Stick +, Apple TV 4K or Nvidia Shield TV.
Because the Plex Media Server provides the lion's share of the work required to organize and manage your computer, a high-performance computer or NAS is important for optimal media playback. Here is the support page from Plex explaining the minimum requirements. It's a good start. One thing we learned from experience is that if your media library contains videos in formats that your intended client device does not natively support, your Plex Media Server will have a lot of transcoding content. If you want to stream to two or more client devices at the same time, this will put a lot of strain on your computer. For this reason, you should use a PC or NAS that goes well beyond the minimum requirements. For some users, a NAS is simply never powerful enough, and you need to use a PC. If you are not sure what to get, you can ask questions and get advice in the Plex User Forums.
How do I install and use Plex?
Your Plex adventure begins with the installation of Plex Media Server software on the computer of your choice. Just download the appropriate installer and follow the instructions. Once the media server is fully installed, a new browser window will be opened containing the Plex web app. The web app is your main configuration method for the Plex server, but it also serves as a way to view your library and play your files on your computer. You will be prompted to create a new Plex account, and then you will be guided through a setup wizard that focuses on helping the server locate your media files.
What are the rules for naming files for Plex?
You can save your movies, music, and other files wherever you want, in any number of different folders or hard drives (both local and on network shares), and Plex can keep things organized. However, there is a small catch: Plex prefers how different file types are named. For each type of file, e.g. Movies, multi-part movies, multi-season TV shows and episodes, etc. all have a Plex preferred naming style. Of course, having a lot of files can be a chore, but it pays off in the long run. You can skip this step at any time. With Plex, you can still access and play back your files, even if they are not named according to the Plex conventions. However, it may be difficult to identify the file so that you may not receive all the content data from the web that makes the use of Plex so enjoyable.
Scanning and Playback
The Plex Media Server automatically scans all the directories that you identified during the installation process, and you can do so. Select how many times these locations are modified to be searched. If you frequently download new media, you can choose to let Plex automatically update the library when it detects that a new file has been added.
To quickly verify that everything is OK, click the Home button in the Web App interface. You should see that your movies, music, and any other media you've added during Setup will be filled with the appropriate posters or album art. If at first glance they do not look right, wait a few minutes, as it may take some time for Plex to find all relevant information. To play a file, simply move the mouse pointer over the thumbnail and click the Play button. When you play a movie this way, you do not necessarily see what it looks like on a device like Apple TV or Roku. This is actually just a way to check if the file can actually be played.
How can I play Plex files on my TV or other devices?
There is a plex client on the market for just about every device. In general, you will find the appropriate version for your device in the online download store for this platform. For example for Apple TV in the App Store. For Roku it is considered a downloadable "channel". Many devices, including smart TVs and Android TV boxes, are preinstalled with the Plex client, so nothing can be downloaded. The clients are usually free, but occasionally Plex charges a small fee for the download. A Plex Pass subscription includes free access to all clients (more on Plex Pass below).
When you start the plex client, you are prompted for the same plex account that you created when you installed the server. As long as your player and Plex server are on the same home network, it should only take a moment for the client to see the same catalog of media files that you saw in the web app.
Why are not some displayed? Play media files?
Each client device has different features, which means each Plex client has different features. When a Plex client connects to the Plex server, it tells the server these functions. For example, an Apple TV 4K only plays video files encoded in .m4v, .mp4, and .mov formats in H.264 or MPEG-4. If the file you want to play does not match any of these file types, the Plex server must transcode them into one of the formats Apple TV 4K understands. Depending on the type of file you are playing and the formats supported by your client, this can take a lot of energy on the server side. If your server is not powerful enough to perform this conversion process, you may be told that the movie can not be played.
The obvious way to resolve this problem is to make sure your Plex server is running on a truly robust server computer. But not everyone wants a powerful PC to run continuously. If you know that most of the time you want to play your files on a single TV at home, you can run the Plex server with a powerful client device that can handle many file types alone, without the need for a transcoding server less powerful machine. An Nvidia Shield TV can play virtually any media file type, so the Plex server does not need to transcode. We were able to play Dolby Atmos 4K HDR files on a Shield TV from a Plex server running on a WD My Cloud Mirror Gen 2 – a less-performing NAS than even the cheapest PC.
What are web shows and podcasts?
Plex lets you access two types of streaming media for free: web shows and podcasts. Web shows are video episodes of varying lengths created by publishers such as GQ, Popular Science, and others. Podcasts are the same idea, but only for audio. Many of these web shows and podcasts can be found on other services, such as YouTube. However, accessing them in Plex is a bit more convenient.
Can I play my media files when I'm not at home?
One of the most powerful features of Plex is the ability to configure the Plex server for remote access. It is a bit cumbersome to perform this setup correctly as you will need to adjust the firewall settings of your router. Once the configuration is complete, you can use the Plex client on your phone or tablet to stream your personal media library from anywhere in the world – including live TV and recorded shows, if you have enabled this.
What is Plex Pass and why should I get it?
Many of the best features of Plex are available for free, but there are some premium features that you can access with a Plex Pass subscription. The Plex Pass can be purchased monthly ($ 5), annual ($ 40) or lifelong ($ 120) and entitles you to the following features:
Live TV plus DVR: If You're Using an HD Antenna and a compatible OTA receiver allow you to watch and record live in Plex. Your recording capacity is limited only by the hard disk space of your Plex server. All recorded programs are played through the same user-friendly interface as the rest of your library.
Parental Controls: If you have teenagers in the house, there is probably only a portion of your media that is suitable for all ages. With Plex Parental Control (known as Plex Home), you can create additional accounts, protect your main account with a password, and select by rating or folder what material is available for each account.
Mobile Sync: A A must for commuters. With this feature, you can keep copies of your favorite media for offline playback wirelessly on your phone. You can automatically add and remove TV episodes as you watch them.
Premium Music and Photo Libraries: Add additional information to your music (such as song lyrics) or your photos (location data) for a more complete experience.
Camera Upload: Sync the photos you take on your mobile device wirelessly with Plex for immediate viewing on all Plex clients.
Hardware Accelerated Streaming: This is a big deal for those who want the best transcoding performance. Without Plex Pass, all server transcoding is done by the Plex software. However, this option allows you to use the extra hardware power of your PC to simplify this task. If this option is enabled, you may be able to get away with a less powerful PC.
Free Access to Plex Client Apps: Never pay again for another client app. What about Kodi? Could I use that instead?
Kodi is a powerful Media Center software interface that performs many of the same functions as Plex, but performs them in other ways. Kodi has no server software. All features are included in an app that you download and install on a compatible device. One caveat here is that there are only a few types of compatible devices. Kodi does not work with Roku, Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV, without much effort for installation and use.
Without a centralized server managing your media collection, each instance of Kodi is a separate world. There's no easy way to sync settings from one device to another, so you need to set up each Kodi device as if it were the first time.
Open source software includes many third-party extras for Kodi, including a large collection of unofficial add-ons that allow people to access copyrighted material illegally. For this reason, you should read our Kodi Explainer before installing and using it to understand the potential legal consequences. However, Kodi can be a good Plex alternative for those who want to optimize software settings without the convenience of having a centrally managed media library with multiple streaming clients.