Lets talk about Plex

“Lets talk about all the good things and the bad things that may be: Lets talk about Plex!”
Yes, I just murdered some Salt’N’Peppa lyrics. Don’t hate.

Plex is an amazing product. Once setup, you can watch videos, listen to music, and see your pictures from almost any device that’s in your home or pocket. Best of all? its FREE!

But what can you do? I don’t understand!

Plex is like mission control for
your personal media collections

Ok. I get it. You don’t understand. A few months ago I decided to setup Plex…

So my dilemma was having all these DVDs and BluRay discs laying around, getting lost, my youngest daughter breaking them, etc. Also was no easy way for anyone in the house to listen to the Terrabytes of digital music, watch the digitized home videos, or see the massive collection of digital photos.

I was on a mission.

I have a server at my house that doesn’t do much other than house files, and handle print jobs. It was perfect. I created a Plex account and downloaded the Plex Media Server. Setup was easy enough. Once that was setup, it was time to start populating it with media.

First was the music, all I had to do was create a new library in Plex and tell it where the music was. Plex scanned the folders and added the music with cover art and artist information. Some things needed to be fixed because the file names were a mess, but that’s easily matched.

Next up was the movies. This is taking the most time to digitize my library. Home movies were easy, I already them in digital format. But all the DVDs and BluRays are taking time.

I use 3 programs to process the discs. MDRP (Mac), MakeMKV (Win/Mac), and Handbrake (Win/Mac/Linux). I’m a complicated guy, but you could just use MakeMKV or MDRP, depending on what OS your computer runs.

Once I have the movie converted, I change the file name so Plex will match it without me having to do any extra work. i.e. “Red Dawn (1984).mkv”

I then move it to the folder on the server where I told Plex the Movie library lives and next time Plex does a scan, it’ll add it and there is nothing more to do.

You can even do it with TV Shows! Which is handy, because I was given the “How I met your Mother” DVD Boxed Set for Christmas. You create another Library in Plex for TV Shows and add media to the folder you setup.

Plex has made life easier. No more hunting a Disc, blaming the kid for loosing it, or only to find it and then it’s scratched beyond repair. Also, I don’t have to get up from the chair!

In my house, we use Plex on XBOXs, Android phones & tablets, and Rokus. My Dad installed the Plex app directly on the TV at his house. That’s right, my dad watches my Plex from the next city over. He can catch up on the videos and pictures of his granddaughter and we don’t have to worry about it being all over the internet!

Anywhere you are in the world,
you can connect to your Plex server

Think of this scenario: You go on vacation, but taking the kids favorite DVDs is a hassle right? You don’t need to. Put the Plex app on the device you can’t pry from their hands already, and let them watch away. Careful! It can eat your mobile data, but you have unlimited mobile data anyways right?

All in all, Plex is a time saver. There are more advanced things you can do with it, like watch shows from regular TV channels; My oldest daughter loves the show Younger that’s on TVLand, so I added the TVLand Channel to Plex and on Thursdays she can stream Younger when she has time to watch it.

Unfortunately, covering all the advanced stuff Plex can do is beyond a single Blog post. There are some really cool things you can do with Plex if you pay for the “premium version” they call Plex Pass. It’s not expensive, $40/yr or a Lifetime Pass for $120. Don’t worry, Plex has been around more than 10 years, they aren’t gonna close shop anytime soon.

Anyone can setup a Plex Media Server. PMS Runs on Windows/Mac/*Nix, Network Attached Storage, The Cloud, and maybe on the Netgear Wifi Router you already have. Once you have it setup, you just need to get the Plex App and start watching.

The only bad side to Plex is the time it takes to build out your library, and the cost associated with buying hardrives. So far, I have about 100 movies, 40 some TV shows, and all my music. I’m running it all on a 1TB drive and I’ll need to get a larger drive within the next 3 months, since I have many, many more movies to encode.

So now that you understand Plex better, what does this have to do with ATLASTA?

Glad you asked!

If you were to setup your own Plex, I would recommend that you use a dedicated machine; you don’t have to, but you should. It can run Windows 10 and doesn’t need a monitor or keyboard; it can hum away under your desk or in the Entertainment Center. That said, we can get you a great price on last-generation hardware to make this happen. If you need help with the Initial Setup, you can schedule a Remote Service Call.

 

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