I’m one of those people that rip the DVDs and BluRays I bought. This helps me to store them better, organize it the way I want, and watch them when I want on the device of my choice. But as good as it sounds, this method has its own problems. One of those is that each time, I have to manually copy the media to the devices I want to watch.
As you can guess, this is not possible in all situations, especially when you are using smaller devices like smartphones. There are many reasons for this like the lack of the storage space, playback quality, etc. And, it will also defeat the purpose of better organizing your media like music, movies, and photos.
So, to make things easier, it is better to have a central location to all your media, including your TV and make your devices talk to each other. This will help you to better organize and stream the media to whatever device and whenever you want.
In case you are wondering, you can do all this by simply installing and configuring the Plex Media Server application on your system. Here is how to do it.
What is Plex Media Server?
As you can tell from the name itself, Plex Media Server makes it so that you can store all your media on a single device and access that media from any device you want. Traditionally, the manual procedure is quite tiresome even for pro users. The good thing about Plex is that you can install it on almost any modern device like Windows, Linux, MacOS, Android, iOS, PlayStation, Xbox, etc. Since Plex works in Server and Client model, you can stream your media to all your devices without the need for copying the files back and forth.
Moreover, Plex is also capable of automatically adding metadata like the trailers for movies, album art, artist names, etc. to organize your media better.
Is Plex Free?
Plex is offered both in free and paid versions. The Plex media server is free, and all the non-mobile and public apps are free, including the apps for gaming consoles, Android TV, Apple TV, Chromecast, etc. Even though the mobile apps are free to use, they are limited in functionality. I.e., the playback time for music and movies is limited to one minute, and the photos are watermarked.
That being said, you can unlock this by simply paying a one-time fee (paid around five US dollars for my Android device). Which is well worth the price.
Setup Plex Media Server
Installation and Usage
Installing and using Plex is pretty simple.
The first thing you need to do is decide what device you want to use as the server. Obviously, the device should be fairly powerful as the Plex server will transcode the media on the fly. So, the more devices you connect to the Plex server, the more powerful it should be. For this instance, I’m making my main Windows 10 machine as the server. All my other devices will connect to it to access the media.
To start off, download the Plex Media Server from the official website and install it like any other Windows software.
After installing, restart your system and launch the application. You need to sign up for the Plex account to get started. So, click on the option “Sign Up” to continue.
Now, fill all the fields as instructed by the application and click on the button “Sign Up.”
After signing up, you will be taken to the welcome screen. Click on the button “Got It” to continue.
Now, you need to add your media folders like movies and music to the Plex library. To do that, click on the button “Add Library.”
Here, select the library type, name the library, select the language and then click on the button “Next.” Since I want to create a movies library, I’ve selected the movies type library and named it as movies.
Now, if you watch movies in different languages or if you want to differentiate your personal videos from other videos then store them in separate folders and create separate libraries. For instance, since I watch movies in four different languages (Telugu, Hindi, Tamil, and English), I’ve already organized my movies in four different folders and created four different libraries.
Here in this window, click on the button “Browse for Media Folder.”
Now, browse through your file system and select your movies folder.
Once you are done selecting, click on the button “Add Library” on the main window.
With the above action, you will be taken back to the “Server Setup” window. Just follow the same procedure to add your other media libraries like music and photos. Once everything is done, click on the “Next” button.
Now, you will be prompted to download the Plex apps to your other devices. Click on the button “Get Plex Apps” to download the appropriate apps for all your devices. To close the wizard, click on the “Done” button.
The above action will take you to the main screen where you will see all your media. Since this is your first use, Plex will automatically download the album art and other metadata automatically from the internet. It can take some time depending on your internet speed.
You are done setting up the Plex server. To watch your media on other devices, all you have to do is download the Plex apps and install them. For instance, I’ve downloaded the Plex Android app from the Android device.
To stream your media, all you have to do is, sign into your Plex account by tapping on the “Sign in” option.
As soon as you sign in, you will see all your media, and you are ready to stream. However, as I’ve said before, to stream media through Plex mobile apps, you either have to be a premium member or should pay a one-time fee for that specific app.
Of course, this is the most basic usage of Plex, and you can do a lot more. So once you got comfortable, just play around with settings to get most out of the application.
Hope this post helped you to setup Plex media server. Do comment below sharing your thoughts and experiences about using Plex to stream your media on all your devices.