Plex Media Server - How to?

Soldato
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Hey guys,

I'm wanting to set up a plex media server to load all my ripped DVDs and Blu Rays onto, which will then allow me to watch films on any device from anywhere.

Would also be interested in having as file/photo backup just in case I were to lose a HDD in my main pc.

I have no real clue when it comes to proper networks/servers but am more than comfortable building pcs and doing some advanced stuff in the normal gaming desktop realm.

From my initial reading it seems to stream to any device (iOs etc.) i'll need the server to have enough grunt to transcode the files?

I have a little HTPC at the moment with an i5 750 and and GT760, is this something I can use as a base?

Total noob with this sort of stuff and can't get my head around the best way to do things so some gentle hand holding would be seriously appreciated! Cheers :D
 
Soldato
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Many ways to skin this cat, and you'll get a multitude of responses in terms of what to use to accomplish this from a raspberry pi, to a NAS, to an old PC sat in a cupboard, to a load of hard disks connected to an nvidia shield.

I personally opted to get one of these: https://www.overclockers.co.uk/asus...bay-personal-cloud-storage-nas-hd-048-as.html

I stuck a 10tb seagate ironwolf in it, and set up an external hard disk on top of it for backup, and it's been great. It's got a UI you can use to administer things like Plex Server, you can back up to it, and all sorts.

Depends on your budget and your willingness to get your hands figuratively dirty in terms of hardware and software setup. Mine didn't take long to set up at all (was working in an evening), but you can dig deeper in to it if you want to and use docker to create application images and all sorts.

I've heard great things about Synology NAS boxes too.
 
Soldato
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Depends on budgets and willingness to mess about with stuff.

If you want less hassle then NAS is a good option, but the main negatives of a NAS are the initial cost of them, and the raw performance for the cost not being as good.

I like my NAS because it just works and I don't need to spend a lot of time messing about with it.

I have the Synology DS1815+ but the equivalent to that Asustor one above is probably something like the DS920+ with 4 bays.

The + models all support Docker containers, and spinning those up is usually fairly straightforward. Unsure on Docker support for Asustor ones or QNAP but presume they can also run them.

Your other option would be a small PC running something like Unraid for software raid on drives. I am not sure how this works exactly but a couple of my friends do this. The main benefit of this is that the hardware for the same money is probably a bit better spec wise, but it will probably take a bit more work to make it go.
 
Soldato
OP
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5 Jun 2007
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Many ways to skin this cat, and you'll get a multitude of responses in terms of what to use to accomplish this from a raspberry pi, to a NAS, to an old PC sat in a cupboard, to a load of hard disks connected to an nvidia shield.

I personally opted to get one of these: https://www.overclockers.co.uk/asus...bay-personal-cloud-storage-nas-hd-048-as.html

I stuck a 10tb seagate ironwolf in it, and set up an external hard disk on top of it for backup, and it's been great. It's got a UI you can use to administer things like Plex Server, you can back up to it, and all sorts.

Depends on your budget and your willingness to get your hands figuratively dirty in terms of hardware and software setup. Mine didn't take long to set up at all (was working in an evening), but you can dig deeper in to it if you want to and use docker to create application images and all sorts.

I've heard great things about Synology NAS boxes too.

Depends on budgets and willingness to mess about with stuff.

If you want less hassle then NAS is a good option, but the main negatives of a NAS are the initial cost of them, and the raw performance for the cost not being as good.

I like my NAS because it just works and I don't need to spend a lot of time messing about with it.

I have the Synology DS1815+ but the equivalent to that Asustor one above is probably something like the DS920+ with 4 bays.

The + models all support Docker containers, and spinning those up is usually fairly straightforward. Unsure on Docker support for Asustor ones or QNAP but presume they can also run them.

Your other option would be a small PC running something like Unraid for software raid on drives. I am not sure how this works exactly but a couple of my friends do this. The main benefit of this is that the hardware for the same money is probably a bit better spec wise, but it will probably take a bit more work to make it go.

Was looking at NAS' but they're just a bit too out of budget, this will be more of a fun little project which I don't mind spending a bit of money on but would rather have the enjoyment of tinkering and getting it all set up :)
 
Soldato
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Cheapest best way surely has to be an Nvidia shield pro with some attached storage.

I use a decent Asustor NAS and it plays everything and doesn't break a sweat.
 
Soldato
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I think it might be a good idea if you said what your budget was, I wouldn't recommend a NAS smaller than 4 bays easily, although 2 bay ones exist they are often not much cheaper. The good NAS devices are never going to be cheap really.

There are people running things like Unraid that may be better placed to answer your queries. I like tinkering with my main PC but for my NAS I just wanted something that worked.

You basically have 3 options:

1. NAS but cost is higher/performance is lower. Less hassle.
2. Self-build but more effort, probably slightly cheaper/more powerful. Won't be loads less than a good NAS unless you land some 2nd hand kit cheap. Unraid is meant to be decent for the storage side.
3. Something like Disk plugged into Nvidia Shield TV PRO.

None of them are super cheap though, even Nvidia Shield TV PRO is £180-£200 new, and disks will have a static cost. If raid protection matters then option 3. won't be much good I don't think.
 
Soldato
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I think it might be a good idea if you said what your budget was, I wouldn't recommend a NAS smaller than 4 bays easily, although 2 bay ones exist they are often not much cheaper. The good NAS devices are never going to be cheap really.

There are people running things like Unraid that may be better placed to answer your queries. I like tinkering with my main PC but for my NAS I just wanted something that worked.

You basically have 3 options:

1. NAS but cost is higher/performance is lower. Less hassle.
2. Self-build but more effort, probably slightly cheaper/more powerful. Won't be loads less than a good NAS unless you land some 2nd hand kit cheap. Unraid is meant to be decent for the storage side.
3. Something like Disk plugged into Nvidia Shield TV PRO.

None of them are super cheap though, even Nvidia Shield TV PRO is £180-£200 new, and disks will have a static cost. If raid protection matters then option 3. won't be much good I don't think.

I think option 2 with some gear from MM would be the best, as I want something to tinker with and learn more about the networking & server side of things as something to do :)
 
Soldato
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I think option 2 with some gear from MM would be the best, as I want something to tinker with and learn more about the networking & server side of things as something to do :)

I have an Unraid server. If you don't want to spend much money and enjoy tinkering then this is a brilliant way. I have used mine for 13 years now and have no complaints. My first one was built out of old bits of hardware I had lying around. If you need more advice about this I can help you out.

Just what sort of files will you be playing? Any 4K stuff?
 
Soldato
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Cheapest best way surely has to be an Nvidia shield pro with some attached storage.

I use a decent Asustor NAS and it plays everything and doesn't break a sweat.

This. I use my old launch day shield hooked up to a Synology NAS all sat in my office cupboard. Works a treat.
 
Soldato
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I have an Unraid server. If you don't want to spend much money and enjoy tinkering then this is a brilliant way. I have used mine for 13 years now and have no complaints. My first one was built out of old bits of hardware I had lying around. If you need more advice about this I can help you out.

Just what sort of files will you be playing? Any 4K stuff?

No 4K, don't have any 4K displays and am not a huge cinephile, but just would like the convenience of a library of films to watch while I'm working away or the girlfriends :)
 
Soldato
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No 4K, don't have any 4K displays and am not a huge cinephile, but just would like the convenience of a library of films to watch while I'm working away or the girlfriends :)

Well if you have a USB key, a couple of hard disks lying around and space to install them in your HTPC, then you are good to go with Unraid. The HTPC you have as a base should be good enough to start off with. What devices are you intending to play your media on? On your Smart TV app? console? Laptop?

A small SSD for a cache drive really helps things out with unraid.

Good thing about Unraid is that you don't have to have all the drives the same size. If you need some data security then you use one or two drives as parity drives. The only limitation is that if you have a parity drive, all other drives in the array have to be equal or smaller in size to the parity drive. Al the parity drive means is that if one drive fails in your array, you can replace it and it will rebuild all the data from the Parity drive.

The other good thing about Unraid is that it's simple to expand and it's no problem updating to new hardware.

And I am just after finding out that Unraid don't have a free version anymore :( They used to do a free version limited to 3 drives. The basic version is still pretty cheap. (about £45)
 
Soldato
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Well if you have a USB key, a couple of hard disks lying around and space to install them in your HTPC, then you are good to go with Unraid. The HTPC you have as a base should be good enough to start off with. What devices are you intending to play your media on? On your Smart TV app? console? Laptop?

A small SSD for a cache drive really helps things out with unraid.

Good thing about Unraid is that you don't have to have all the drives the same size. If you need some data security then you use one or two drives as parity drives. The only limitation is that if you have a parity drive, all other drives in the array have to be equal or smaller in size to the parity drive. Al the parity drive means is that if one drive fails in your array, you can replace it and it will rebuild all the data from the Parity drive.

The other good thing about Unraid is that it's simple to expand and it's no problem updating to new hardware.

And I am just after finding out that Unraid don't have a free version anymore :( They used to do a free version limited to 3 drives. The basic version is still pretty cheap. (about £45)

Thanks mate, just the advice I was after!

Big mix of devices really as might let me family have access to the sever from remotely.

I'll do some research tomorrow and give you a shout if you stuck! :D
 
Soldato
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Thanks mate, just the advice I was after!

Big mix of devices really as might let me family have access to the sever from remotely.

I'll do some research tomorrow and give you a shout if you stuck! :D

I would approach the "giving out to other people" angle with caution.

Sounds nice in theory, but in practice you will be moaned at if your server goes down, and you will get unexpected utilisation of your internet/processing power.

I'd avoid and not mention it to others if you can, save some headaches.
 
Soldato
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I would approach the "giving out to other people" angle with caution.

Sounds nice in theory, but in practice you will be moaned at if your server goes down, and you will get unexpected utilisation of your internet/processing power.

I'd avoid and not mention it to others if you can, save some headaches.

I agree with this. It's great in theory but a massive PITA in practice.
 
Caporegime
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Unraid server but they aren't cheap.

The license costs £80.

Then you need to pay for Plex plus I opted for emby again another £100 or so for the premium version.

So that's £200 or so just in software costs.

I then had to buy a 1650 super for 4k transcoding. Another £150 on top of the 3600 which is a beefy cpu as it couldn't cope with multiple 4k streams.

Then you have to have a case which can handle the hard drives. I ended up having to buy a hot swap cage for £75 or so to store 4 hard drives.

I then had to get a pcie to sata card for additional data slots again more money.

I have 3 SSD in mine one is an nvme for VM usage. The other 2 are cheap 240gb SanDisk for cache usage and I opted for two over one for redundancy so if one fails I don't lose anything.

I then spent about £600+ on hard drives. I think I have 2 * 16tb, a 4 tb, 3tb and a 1 or 2tb.

All in all my unraid server probably cost over £1k. However sky package it replaced was £60-70 a month plus no TV license now.

I have to pay for a VPN and that's it at £3 a month plus the electric bill. So the server will break even within 2 years. I even cancelled Netflix.

I looked at all the options and everything else was inferior.

You do need good streaming devices though I had to buy a Nvidia shield pro as the upstairs TV built in smart is just too weak even for a high end TV. Got the new Google TV for downstairs. So again another £300 to be able to stream it to 2 TV's.
 
Soldato
Joined
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10,668
Unraid server but they aren't cheap.

The license costs £80.

Then you need to pay for Plex plus I opted for emby again another £100 or so for the premium version.

So that's £200 or so just in software costs.

I then had to buy a 1650 super for 4k transcoding. Another £150 on top of the 3600 which is a beefy cpu as it couldn't cope with multiple 4k streams.

Then you have to have a case which can handle the hard drives. I ended up having to buy a hot swap cage for £75 or so to store 4 hard drives.

I then had to get a pcie to sata card for additional data slots again more money.

I have 3 SSD in mine one is an nvme for VM usage. The other 2 are cheap 240gb SanDisk for cache usage and I opted for two over one for redundancy so if one fails I don't lose anything.

I then spent about £600+ on hard drives. I think I have 2 * 16tb, a 4 tb, 3tb and a 1 or 2tb.

All in all my unraid server probably cost over £1k. However sky package it replaced was £60-70 a month plus no TV license now.

I have to pay for a VPN and that's it at £3 a month plus the electric bill. So the server will break even within 2 years. I even cancelled Netflix.

I looked at all the options and everything else was inferior.

You do need good streaming devices though I had to buy a Nvidia shield pro as the upstairs TV built in smart is just too weak even for a high end TV. Got the new Google TV for downstairs. So again another £300 to be able to stream it to 2 TV's.

Yeah, You didn't read the thread did you?

He doesn't need the premium versions of Plex, he doesn't need the most expensive Unraid license either. He just wants to get something up and running as cheaply as possible and isn't going to be doing 4K .

It's the cheapest option available if he is going to be reusing old hardware.

You advising him to spend more than £1k when a NAS is out of his budget. Your whole post is just "oh look what a great setup I have."
 
Associate
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25 Nov 2020
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Your whole post is just "oh look what a great setup I have."

I think I will be able to rebalance this thread with my terrible setup.
I bought a Dell Poweredge T310. It has a 2.5" SSD boot drive and 4 x 300GB 15K SAS drives in PERC6 array configured to RAID 5.
I installed Windows 10 on it.
I copied my main PC folder structure to it and then logged it into my OneDrive which is pretty much where I keep everything. I can remote desktop to it for whatever reason but I really just use OneDrive.

It also makes an annoying noise, this constant surging drone.

It hasn't been used to its full potential....
 
Soldato
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M28
Unraid server but they aren't cheap.

The license costs £80.

Then you need to pay for Plex plus I opted for emby again another £100 or so for the premium version.

So that's £200 or so just in software costs.

I then had to buy a 1650 super for 4k transcoding. Another £150 on top of the 3600 which is a beefy cpu as it couldn't cope with multiple 4k streams.

Then you have to have a case which can handle the hard drives. I ended up having to buy a hot swap cage for £75 or so to store 4 hard drives.

I then had to get a pcie to sata card for additional data slots again more money.

I have 3 SSD in mine one is an nvme for VM usage. The other 2 are cheap 240gb SanDisk for cache usage and I opted for two over one for redundancy so if one fails I don't lose anything.

I then spent about £600+ on hard drives. I think I have 2 * 16tb, a 4 tb, 3tb and a 1 or 2tb.

All in all my unraid server probably cost over £1k. However sky package it replaced was £60-70 a month plus no TV license now.

I have to pay for a VPN and that's it at £3 a month plus the electric bill. So the server will break even within 2 years. I even cancelled Netflix.

I looked at all the options and everything else was inferior.

You do need good streaming devices though I had to buy a Nvidia shield pro as the upstairs TV built in smart is just too weak even for a high end TV. Got the new Google TV for downstairs. So again another £300 to be able to stream it to 2 TV's.

You forgot to add the cost of all the content you have filled you hard drives up with. You do have all original content and have ripped them? otherwise wouldn't that be illegal :confused:
 
Soldato
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Nottingham
My set up is a cheap Dell server running Ubuntu and Plex server. Streams to all my TVs (firestick for non-smart TVs) perfectly.

PS's comedy post though :rolleyes:
 
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