Plex Media Server is fantastic
So for the past few months I have been running a Plex Media Server (@plexapp) in various locations. Firstly I built one using my liquid cooled desktop tower that worked great, but due to it needing a new motherboard I had to move it somewhere else. So taking the “Microsoft” mantra, of “Cloud First” I provisioned a server in my Amazon Cloud, copied about 100GB of movies etc. to it and ran it for about a month, obviously not leaving it on the whole time (not made of money). I used the mobile app to turn it on and off as needed. I loved this approach albeit the conversion time to get a movie enabled offline on my iPad took a long time depending on file size. So I decided that it was not fast enough for what I needed, so I thought I would stick with the “Cloud First” approach and spin one up on the Azure Cloud and run the same process. This worked well, also helped that I could use my MSDN Azure hours benefit to cut the cost down. The same applied I would use a 3rd Party iPhone app to turn it on and off when needed. The performance was pretty much the same as the AWS Server I ran before and slowly came to realize that I needed to go back to physical and something with power.
So right now I have a HP DL580 Server running quad processors and 64 GB RAM, with 4TB data and that works really well. Another benefit is it keeps the house warm too, apart from the noise (in it’s the basement so don’t notice it).
The advantage to doing it this way is that I am able to run it 24 hours a day, the kids use the Roku to watch when they want, when the Xbox 360 app comes out then I can use that, yes I don’t have an Xbox One.
The interface is great to use, and can be accessed from anywhere using the Plex.tv website or various apps.
You Plex server is connected and accessed through a port mapping, it can be different depending on the firewall options. For me it is using port “29569“, which is then tied to my Plex account so only I can access it.
Once you get access you get the following type of view, yes my kids like “Jurassic Park” J
What I like is that I “rip” my DVD collection, upload the files which I choose to use “MKV” files, and then the Plex platform takes the metadata and grabs other details such as the cover images, as well as access trailers of other associated videos about the movies.
Everything is stored in mapped libraries which are directly connected to file system locations. For me I have various containers, from kid’s movies, family movies, PG 13 and UP movies, TV Shows, Fitness and then Training movies. I could store any number of types of media.
I don’t have enough space for all my photos at home, think I will stick with my “Flickr” account for that.
The platform is great and is available to run on multiple operating systems.
There are even implementations for some NAS solutions.
All in all I love Plex, sync movies to my iPad right before I travel anywhere, so I don’t need internet to watch them. I also have my entire selection synchronized (for now) to Dropbox, as there is a connector for cloud syncing. As I have a 1TB Dropbox account it means that if I have internet access on a device, but my physical server is not working for some reason, I can still stream the movies directly from the cloud sync source. Mine is Dropbox, but I could use Box, Copy or Google Drive, no “OneDrive” though L
If you are looking for a media server platform, I would suggest you take a look at Plex, has been a great addition to the house, and can highly recommend it, visit their site to check it out.
Follow the blog for great new announcements from them too as they grow to other devices and new features.