How to use Plex Media Server to watch all of your media
Do you have a lot of movies, photos, and audio files on your computer? Do you subscribe to multiple streaming services? Do you want to watch everything at once in one beautiful scroll, with an experience like Netflix? If so, Plex Media Server may be just what you need.
Plex is an easy-to-use software that brings all of your different types of media together in one place, and it’s also easy to install. We’ll take a closer look at Plex’s many great features and provide a set of step-by-step instructions to help you. Here’s everything you need to know about how to use it.
What is Plex?
It is software that you can use to store, locate and access all your media in one place. You can organize your own personal media files, such as pictures, music and videos, as well as watch movies, TV shows, podcasts and other online content on streaming services. There is no cost for basic Plex.
Plex has two options for setup. If you just want to stream third-party content, you can open an account, download the app on the device of your choice, and you’re ready to go. If you want to set up a personal media server to host all your files, there are a few more steps to take.
What is a Plex Media Server? Once installed and set up, Plex Media Server can automatically organize all the files on your computer. It can also add to your movie, TV show and music collection with a large amount of relevant content on the web, such as movie posters and album art, cast and crew details, episode descriptions, original air dates and more. In minutes, your media collection goes from a series of files and folders to a Netflix-like experience controlled by you.
Unlike iTunes, It can read almost any media file format you can think of. So if you’re already in the habit of running your media through a converter like HandBrake (Windows, Mac) to make it compatible with your software, you can skip this step.
Best of all, your Plex library can also be shared with other Plex users, making it an ideal way to give friends and family access to your media without having to upload all your media to a third-party cloud service such as Google Drive or iCloud. while there are some limitations to consider, such as the power of your Plex server and the bandwidth of your Internet plan, it can be a great way to include others. There’s also an interesting “watch together” feature, which we’ll detail below, that allows you to watch your favorite movies and shows with friends.
If that’s not enough, It also operates its own ad-supported free streaming video service called Plex Free Movies and TV, which can be accessed along with your personal media, as well as live TV and DVR capabilities that you can access through a Plex Pass subscription.
Note: Recently, Plex had a data breach. If you have an existing account but haven’t logged in recently, when you next log in, you will be required to update your password.
What are the Plex requirements?
For Plex Media Server you will need to select a device to install and run it. Plex Media Server can run on all computers running major operating systems as well as NAS devices.
- PC, Mac, Linux, or FreeBSD computers
- 2015 Shield TV, 2015 Shield TV Pro, and 2019 Shield TV Pro – but not 2019 Shield TV.
- Netgear Nighthawk X10 router
- Many popular NAS devices such as QNAP, Synology, Netgear, Drobo, and a few others are available.
Whichever one you choose, it is recommended that both the server machine and the client device use a wired network connection. A fairly fast Wi-Fi network (routers and devices that support 802.11ac are best) may also work, but you will need excellent signal strength to support 4K/HDR streaming.
How do I install and use Plex?
Your journey with Plex begins with the installation of the Plex Media Server software on the computer of your choice.
Step 1: Simply download the appropriate installer and follow the instructions. Once the Media Server is fully installed, a new browser window containing the Plex web application will open.
Step 2: The web application is primarily used to configure the Plex server, but also to browse the library and play files on your computer. It asks you to create a new Plex account and then guides you through a setup wizard to help the server primarily monitor your media files.
Step 3: You can store movies, music, and other files wherever you want, in many different folders or on your hard drive (including local or network shares), and it will keep everything in order. There’s one small problem, though. It has a preferred way of naming different types of files.
For each file type (movies, multiple movies, TV shows with multiple seasons and episodes, etc.) there is a preferred Plex naming style. If you have a lot of files, renaming them doesn’t have to be a manual process: macOS has a great built-in file renaming feature, as does Windows 10. You can always skip this step-even if your files aren’t named according to Plex’s conventions, it will still let you access and play the files, but it can be difficult to determine what the file is, so you may not get all the rich web data that makes using Plex so enjoyable.
Step 4: The Plex Media Server will automatically scan all of the directories that you specified during the setup process, and you can choose how often it searches those locations for changes. If you frequently download new media, you can set it to automatically update its library when it detects that new files have been added.
Step 5: To quickly check that everything is in order, click the Home button on the web app screen. You should see your movies, music, and other media you added during the setup process begin to appear, along with the corresponding posters or album artwork.
Step 6: If they don’t look quite right at first, wait a few minutes as it may take a few minutes for Plex to find all the relevant information. To play the file, simply hover your mouse over the thumbnail and click the play button.
Keep in mind that playing a movie this way won’t necessarily show how it looks on a device like Apple TV or Roku. In fact, it only serves as a way to check if the file can actually be played.