What is Plex Media Server?

What is Plex and why should you use it?

Plex TV is best described as a DIY streaming service. It’s best suited to those who have purchased music, movies, TV shows, and more directly, instead of relying on Amazon Prime Video and other subscription platforms. If you prefer to own your media instead of relying on proprietary third-party companies, Plex Media Server is the way to go.

While an external drive can handle delivering media to your PC, using the best NAS for Plex and running Plex Media Server allows you to store media in a centralised location. You can then stream it all to recipient hardware like PCs, TVs, smartphones, and more using a local network or remote connection.

You can start streaming The Witcher during the morning commute to work on your smartphone and continue precisely where you left off in the evening on the living room big screen. Plex apps are available on most platforms and you don’t need the best streaming device to enjoy your media to its fullest.

Synology DiskStation DS1621+
A NAS server is perfect for running Plex Media Server.

Plex runs pretty much like a Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, but instead of using its own catalogue of media, it’ll stream everything you store on the device running Plex Media Server. I’d recommend either an old PC that you don’t need for anything else or a NAS enclosure to run Plex.

Once you’ve installed Plex Media Server and transferred a few movies, songs, or show episodes onto the server, it’ll be possible to stream everything to your large TV in the living room, video game console, PC, or smartphone. Plex is actually free to use but there is a premium subscription available if you want some more advanced features.

How to install Plex Media Server

The process of installing Plex Media Server depends on the device you plan on using as a server. If it’s a PC or NAS enclosure, you can download the server software and install it. That’s about it and it’s even easier on a NAS as Plex is often present in the preinstalled app stores.

When installing Plex Media Server, the software configures folders and locations for you to store media, depending on what types you want to stream. The tiring process will involve purchasing (or ripping) media from legitimate sources and moving it all to the server.

What is Plex Pass?

While it’s more than possible to use and enjoy Plex without spending a penny (aside from acquiring media from legitimate sources), the company offers Plex Pass as an optional upgrade for enthusiast users who want more. This optional account upgrade unlocks numerous benefits, including hardware transcoding.

By Richard Edmonds

Richard has been covering the technology industry for more than a decade. He has spent more time tinkering inside a PC chassis than anywhere else, for better or worse.

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