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Why does PLEX require a drive letter mapping?

ttrenchj2ttrenchj2 Validating, Plex Pass Posts: 21 Plex Pass

Hi. Using Windows File Explorer I can see my WDMYCLOUD device under Network. The device is routed through an Ethernet switch to a DSL modem (my laptop is also connected to the same DSL Modem) ... not connected directly to my laptop.
Why does PLEX require a drive letter mapping?



  • OttoKernerOttoKerner Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Posts: 22,146 Plex Ninja

    @ttrenchj2 said:
    Why does PLEX require a drive letter mapping?

    It doesn't.


  • Elijah_BaleyElijah_Baley Members, Plex Pass Posts: 3,872 Plex Pass
    edited May 16

    Plex does not "require" drive letter mappings. In fact if you are using network shares you are generally much better off using UNC paths (format \\server\sharename) As an example I have a drive with a shared folder attached to a computer called JTSYS and there is a movie folder on that drive called "Movie" (I know no imagination) that is shared with the shared name "Movie"

    On my Plex server I have that drive mapped to "S:"

    I can add that folder to a Plex library as "S:\movies" or I can add the folder as "\\JTSYS\Movie"

    The advantage to UNC paths is that it makes moving the Plex database easily done if you ever need to do that and it seems to me to be a bit snappier although I have no empirical evidence of that. Another advantage is that Window's mappings (or any other operating system's) do not come into play so you are not at the mercy of the internal operation of whatever OS you are using.

    Of course the naming must follow exactly the naming that Plex recognizes for this to work and should you choose to use UNC paths you must enter them manually as Plex does not browse that way. It is possible to mix and match letter mapping and UNC paths.

    BTW: UNC paths work even if the drive is directly connected to the Plex server. You just need to use the Plex server's name as the \\server part of the path and the directory needs to be shared even if you are not really using it elsewhere.

  • phillid2phillid2 Members, Plex Pass Posts: 107 Plex Pass

    The main advantage of a mapped drive comes when you have to move your library. I had an old NAS die in February, bought a new one, restored my content from backup, and I was up and running without an issue since my Plex server was using mapped drives. I just had to change the mapping to the new network path to the new NAS.

  • dduke2104dduke2104 Members, Plex Pass Posts: 142 Plex Pass

    @Elijah_Baley is completely correct in all his points however I've found using drive letter mapping to have it's own advantages the rare times I swap out or upgrade disks. Shut down PMS, carry copy from old drive to new, swap drive letters between old and new, start PMS and I'm done. Never had to touch a thing in PMS.

  • drinehartdrinehart Members, Plex Pass Posts: 1,092 Plex Pass

    @dduke2104 - Which would be the same effort as changing a share name, right?

  • dduke2104dduke2104 Members, Plex Pass Posts: 142 Plex Pass
    edited May 17

    Swapping in a sharename on the same external file server would be comparable, yes, though I'm not sure when I'd need to do that.

    Pointing to a different server or somehow making a new server become the old server in name or adding/replacing disk on the PMS box itself (my own setup) being comparable effort? No, using drive letters in those situations wins on time and effort hands down.

  • drinehartdrinehart Members, Plex Pass Posts: 1,092 Plex Pass

    But then you are limited (in this case inconsequentially) to the rights and shares for the logged in user (or service account) and have to make sure the resources are in fact mapped. Using UNC, they do not have to be mapped or connected. Only permissions have to be managed.

  • dduke2104dduke2104 Members, Plex Pass Posts: 142 Plex Pass
    edited May 17

    Hmmm, I can't tell what points you were making that favor UNC versus drive letter mapping insofar as PMS is concerned.

    Yes, if you're specifying drive letters then the the drive letters do need to be mapped to the desired resources and both approaches require setting appropriate permissions of whatever user PMS is running under assuming you're using a file server external to PMS. Not really applicable to disks directly attached to the PMS box anyway.

  • drinehartdrinehart Members, Plex Pass Posts: 1,092 Plex Pass
    edited May 17

    Plex already requires a logged in user. You can run as a service if you want, but then you have to make sure if you are accessing via mapped drive that you in fact map the drive within the service configuration. You cannot map a drive as your user, then tell plex to run as a plex user and have it use your drive mapping. You have to log in as the plex user and map the drives or write a script to do it when the service executes. If you are using UNC paths, drive mappings don't matter. If you are using drives attached directly to the server...how else would you address them other than by drive letter and why would UNC matter? So yes, this applies more to people who are using a separate file server (as indicated by the OP by the way).

    This comes up more often with other programs that run as services with unique service accounts. UNC just avoids a lot of headaches and is preferable whenever possible.

  • cayarscayars Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Posts: 3,939 Plex Ninja

    I run Plex in a sandbox/dmz machine running windows with auto login.
    I also use stablebit pooling software to combine all local drives into one drive letter F: on my system.
    So it looks like this:
    F:\3D Movies (local)
    F:\4K Movies (local)
    F:\Books (NAS)
    F:\Educational (NAS)
    F:\Home Movies (NAS)
    F:\Movies (local)
    F:\Music (NAS)
    F:\MVC Movies (NAS)
    F:\NFL (NAS)
    F:\Screeners (local)
    F:\TV Shows\Ended (local)
    F:\TV Shows\Ongoing (local)

    Items marked as NAS could be on one of my 2 NAS boxes or a network share to another server. But what I do is create a symlink from the network path to the local F drive with the folder name.

    This way when I view my F: drive I have a folders which roughly translate into my libraries. Now I can move files from server to server to local or to NAS and as long as I update my pool with it's location it all appears to be off drive F: to Plex, Emby, FTP Server, MCM, etc

    Can't get much easier than that and it makes it much easier to configure various different apps that might want to access this data. :)

  • dduke2104dduke2104 Members, Plex Pass Posts: 142 Plex Pass
    edited May 17

    @drinehart, we're in agreement about the requirements around use of UNC versus drive mapping to external servers.

    As you noted, Plex nominally requires a logged-in user so saved drive mapping to external servers already comes along for the ride. Locally attached disks are similarly set to some particular drive letter which can be readily changed.

    With one command, I can quickly substitute any local disk on the PMS server or any external sharename as that library configured drive letter (no media saved on C: of course) making for a versatility that UNC can't match. UNC certainly works but I don't see how it avoids any headaches or saves time in this situation.

    But if I needed more than 24 different library locations for media then.... :)

  • sremicksremick Members, Plex Pass Posts: 1,149 Plex Pass

    Ah, drive letters... that archaic holdover from the 1980s that some boneheaded OSes just won't let go of, which perpetuates bad behavior.

    UNC all the way.

  • cayarscayars Members, Plex Pass, Plex Ninja Posts: 3,939 Plex Ninja
    edited May 19


    UNCs can be a pain in the ass with Plex as well.

    Example you scan in a large library with the UNC of \server1\movies but then later move this data to server2 or a nas and now need to use \server2\movies.

    You will drive Plex nuts re scanning everything, reindexing, deep analysis etc

    Us guys "smart enough" to use a drive letter such as Z: will just re-point it to the new location and Plex doesn't know the difference. So for us it's a alias to the actual location of our files. No need to change Plex, FTP server or any other app looking for data at a specific location. :)

  • ttrenchj2ttrenchj2 Validating, Plex Pass Posts: 21 Plex Pass

    Hmmm...lots to digest. Please give me a day and thank you so much for all of your advice!

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