Do you have a collection of photos, videos, and music sitting on your computer at home? Why not enjoy them from anywhere? The answer is to set up a media server. But wait, before you start paying Google to access your files remotely, there’s a better and cheaper way: Plex.
Plex is an easy-to-use media server that offers a range of features and works on almost any device. With Plex, you can access your media collection from your computer, phone, game console, or smart TV. It automatically sorts your files into folders with titles, descriptions, and even cast members. Plex can handle various file formats, including video, audio, and subtitles.
Setting up a media server with Plex is simple. You have three options: using a Windows PC, an NVIDIA SHIELD, or a network-attached storage (NAS) server. If you have an old PC sitting around, you can repurpose it as your server. Plex’s basic features are light enough to run on older hardware, but be mindful of the server’s performance if you have multiple clients connected or if you need to transcode videos.
The NVIDIA SHIELD is an affordable alternative to using your PC. By using the SHIELD, you can offload the processing load from your main rig and expand your storage. However, the SHIELD has limited upgrade options.
If you’re willing to put in a bit more effort, you can set up a NAS server using Unraid. Although this requires more technical know-how, it offers greater flexibility and expandability.
Depending on the platform you choose, the setup process can vary. If you’re using a Windows PC, you can download the Plex Media Server from plex.tv and follow the setup wizard. For the NVIDIA SHIELD, download the Plex app and Plex Media Server app, configure the server, and move your media folders to the SHIELD. If you’re setting up a NAS server, follow the instructions provided by Plex, download the Plex Media Server app, and configure your library folders.
Plex isn’t just a media server; it also offers additional features. When you sign up for a Plex account, you gain access to free live TV channels, on-demand movies, and TV shows. Plex Pass, a paid tier, provides even more features such as hardware transcoding, DVR capabilities, and the ability to download media for offline viewing. Plex Pass members also enjoy early access to new features and support for multiple editions of movies.
To ensure a smooth streaming experience, Plex allows you to optimize your media ahead of time. This feature converts your media to a format that is ideal for specific scenarios, such as streaming to your TV or mobile phone.
In conclusion, setting up a media server with Plex is a great way to access your media collection from anywhere. Whether you choose a Windows PC, an NVIDIA SHIELD, or a NAS server, Plex provides an intuitive and feature-rich solution. Explore the various options and enjoy your media on any device.