Whether or not it is music or films, my content material is far and wide. From uncommon movies I’ve on DVD to music that is been trapped in iTunes for the higher a part of a decade, it is a nightmare. Nothing lives in a single central location. As a substitute, my recordsdata are unfold out throughout a number of computer systems, optical media, and exterior exhausting drives.
With a purpose to consolidate my stuff, I made a decision to construct a Plex server.
Plex is a service that makes establishing a media server stupidly simple. A decade in the past, you’d need to be an IT skilled to determine all of the disk permissions, community settings, and different bugbears that constructing any sort of server entails. However with Plex, you possibly can flip any pc right into a media share you possibly can entry wherever.
What you find yourself with is a Netflix or Spotify-like streaming service—however, as an alternative of worrying about films or music leaving a service, it is your personal private assortment of media, all the time on-tap. Companion apps can be found for every little thing from iOS units to a PlayStation, so you possibly can entry your media wherever.
Better of all? Plex is free, not less than when you simply wish to apply it to your own home community. If you wish to entry your media remotely through the web, you possibly can subscribe to Plex Move, and stream the stuff from your own home server wherever you’re.
Plex can run on every little thing from a easy Raspberry Pi three to a wicked-fast Alienware gaming rig so there’s actually an possibility for everybody. You might even run Plex in your present PC or Mac when you do not wish to put money into new —simply needless to say your pc must be on and working so that you can entry your whole stuff.
I opted for a compact, quiet, power-sipping pc that I might carry on more often than not: Intel’s NUC. These tremendous compact PCs aren’t the quickest, however they’re environment friendly and unobtrusive. Considering some parts I had already (a tough drive and a legit Home windows 10 license), I purchased the Intel NUC6CAYH. This barebones PC equipment wants an working system, RAM, and a tough drive to get going. I ordered the pc, a stick of RAM, and an exterior 4TB exhausting drive for media storage.
If you do not have Home windows and a spare exhausting drive mendacity round, you could possibly go for the next comparable parts for round $350 whole:
With these components, you get a pc already working Home windows, and a RAM improve to a complete of four GB will assist it carry out way more reliably as a server. The exterior Western Digital exhausting drive is cheaper than most inside drives you may discover with out skimping on large storage capability. The tremendous cute Intel NUCs additionally include a three-year guarantee, which is longer than most different PCs embrace at any value.
Let It Rip
To set my server up, I merely fired up Home windows 10, downloaded the easy-peasy Plex Media Server installer, and moved my media to the four TB exterior drive. You present Plex the place to search out your music, films, and different media. From there, Plex mechanically grabs metadata and art work for every little thing.
Now that I’ve it up and working, I have been utilizing MakeMKV and Handbrake to tear and compress my DVDs and Blu-rays to construct my library. Plex does not mechanically add your latest media to its pool of recordsdata, so there shall be some upkeep concerned whenever you get new music or rip a film you simply purchased.
If you happen to simply wish to experiment, be at liberty to obtain Plex and run it on the pc you already personal. Merely arrange a Plex account, set up the server software program, and inform Plex the place your media is in your exhausting disk.
For me, this Intel NUC-based setup is working even higher than I anticipated. I’ve greater than sufficient efficiency to stream HD video to my Xbox, pill, and computer systems on my native community, and with a Plex Move, I may also get pleasure from my whole music library after I’m away from dwelling.