Running Plex Media Server on a remote dedicated server has it’s pros and cons. It can be expensive, but it’s great fun and can take the burden off of your home internet connection if you share your library with multiple people. Below is a guide on how to setup a remote server and have it stream media to you, your friends, and your families cell phones, XBMC HTPCs, desktops, rokus, etc.. Anything you or they currently watch Plex on.
Now, I just want to say that I’ve been doing this before Plex came out with their online syncing feature (Cloud Sync) that allows you to upload your media to Dropbox, Copy, etc etc. Having full control over your media server and where your content is, in my opinion very important. Plus, with this setup you have much more space to store media files.
I share my Plex library with a couple friends and family members. Passing USB sticks back and forth with media, or trying to upload it to some site so they could download it became annoying and unreliable. I knew Plex worked great over local networks (in the home) but I wasn’t sure it would work if I setup a remote server and shared it with friends and family. Let me tell you – it works amazingly well.
You need to take into consideration a few things before you attempt this though.
- Do you share your media/library with multiple people?
- Is your upload speed on your home internet not fast enough to deal with multiple streams? or even one?
- Do you mind spending a couple bucks in order to do this for fun?
These questions aren’t all that great, but they are things you should consider. If you don’t share your library with anyone then you don’t REALLY need to do this – unless you want to start! If your home internet connection has a nice upload speed, something like 5-10Mbps+ then you don’t REALLY need to do this. And lastly if you’re a cheap-ass then you DEFINITELY don’t need to do this. This is fun though – and you can use the dedicated server for other things, like I am.
Why do I do this? Well the server has a 100Mbps symmetrical connection. At my house, I don’t have anywhere near that. I don’t pay for the electricity for this server, it’s always on – 24×7. I use it to transcode media so the PCs in my house don’t have to. The main thing though, is the speed. This can pump out media to probably 10s of people at a time. Something my PMS (Plex Media Center) will never see, but who cares.
So lets get started.
You’ll want to pick a dedicated host somewhere geographically close to you. I chose one that’s only a couple hundred miles from my city. You don’t necessarily have to do this, but it’ll help because we’re streaming media and you want to have the best connection.
I’ve chosen the host ‘OVH’ and I’m currently using a ‘Limited Edition’ PE 1 model. It’s $29.00 a month (FOR A DEDICATED SERVER, YES!) and I’m using my own Windows Server 2008 license, so I’m not paying monthly for one. It has an Intel i3 processor, with 8GB of RAM, and 1x 2TB SATA2 HDD. The next model up, for $10 more per month has 2x 2TB SATA2 HDDs, so you can run them in RAID for some redundancy. That’s probably a good idea, but this is just a hobby.
Once that server is up and running you’ll want to install Plex Media Server. It’s essentially like installing it on your own server/NAS at home. It’s very easy to setup and the process will guide you through till the end.
How do I get media on to my dedicated server?
Well there are a couple ways, some of which are legal, others not so much.
If you have a Dropbox account, you can install that on the server and use that as a tool to shuffle data between your PC and the server. You would upload it to dropbox from your home PC, then once that’s finished, log into the server and copy it over. This can be tedious and consume a lot of bandwidth.
Alternatively you could use not so legal methods like just downloading media to the box from torrent sites. Whatever way you choose is up to you.
Sharing your PMS with other people is also very easy. Make sure whoever wants to access your library has a my.plexapp.com account. Once they sign up, log into your plexapp account and share your server with them. They will now be able to access your server through the web interface, or their other internet connected devices like a Roku or Smart TV.
One thing to note though, actually it’s a huge note. Make sure your files are in .MP4 format. I learned this the hard way. I had everything in MKV format, and Plex would have to transcode everything in order to stream it. This caused a huge amount of CPU usage, which would bring the server to a crawl, which means the stream suffered. This was annoying for people watching because it would freeze and buffer constantly.
In the next part of this we will be throwing BitCasa into the mix. Stay tuned.