What is Plex and How does it work?
If you’ve been ripping your digital media and building a media library you should be asking yourself, What is plex? And, how does it work? It gives you a simple and easy way to catalogue your digital content for easy access and playback across a variety of smart devices. The developers make it quite simple:
“One window into all your personal media. No matter where you are”
Plex Media Server is a media player and tool used for organising and accessing your movies, music and other videos. The Media Server is hosted on a dedicated PC or NAS device on your local network. It is then accessed via a number of different clients including, Smart TV’s and mobile devices. Setting up your very own Server sounds overwhelming but it’s actually amazingly simple. Read below for an installation guide.
Before streaming your own media from your very own server you need to setup Plex. You can download various versions. It comes in a multitude of different ‘flavours’, Windows, Mac and Linux are all catered for. If you are running PLEX from a NAS device don’t worry, it comes in a release specially designed for NAS’s.
- Download and install it on the NAS or computer which will be used as the server.
- Install the app on your client devices. Clients are the devices that will consume your media. Eg. Smart Phone, Fire TV Stick etc.
Once you’ve downloaded the server make sure you keep a simple naming convention for your media to make it easier for PLEX to match the media with the metadata. For example, if you have a TV show called ‘Friends’. Friends has multiple seasons. So you should store your media in a parent folder called ‘Friends’ then under that folder, for each season there should be another folder. Then in that folder are your media files for that season.
Friends > Season 1 > Episode 1
Metadata is the video poster and information about the director, actors and plot that is displayed before you watch a movie or TV show.
The Plex Media Server comes with a really impressive dashboard built into it. The admin panel is great for keeping an eye on the health of your server. You can monitor how much data local and external users are using, you can also monitor the RAM and CPU stats. It’s handy because if your CPU is constantly hitting 100%, you’ll face transcoding problems. It’ll help you diagnose issues and help you find solutions to problems. Such as deciding how many simultaneous transcodes to allow, whether to allow external streams etc.
Do you have any tips for using Plex? I’d love to hear them. Please leave me a comment or get in touch!