Media Server Novice


Hi all, i am seeking some really basic advice as i am a complete novice.
I would like to upload all my media onto my plex account so my son can just use the tv app to watch what he wants.

I managed to create the playlists ok, however it seems i must have my laptop on at all times in order for him to watch the media on the playlists.

So my question is this , is there a program or piece of kit i could buy to work as my plex media server so i dont have to leave my laptop on?

I have read alot of answers and questions but unfortunatly i just dont understand the jargon being used.

any help would be really apreciated but please dumb it down for me.

Many Thanks


Well.. hopefully this will make sense, but Plex needs three key parts to be active at all times to function properly.

Plex Media Server (PMS) - This is the backbone of Plex, and it needs to be running live in order for anything to be watched. It can run on a computer such as your laptop, or it can also run on what's called a Network Attached Storage Device (NAS; see below). There are a few other options that people are fond of which may get mentioned in additional comments.

Your Files - Once you have PMS up and running, it will need to be able to access your files. You can store these files on the same unit or computer that runs PMS, or you can buy a NAS device to house them. Some people prefer to purchase a NAS that can run Plex. Most can, but you'll need a higher end one if your files aren't compatible with your Plex Client. You really only need a NAS if you've got a LOT of files, otherwise you can probably get away just a PC with a decent sized hard drive.

Plex Client - This is the app or piece of software you're using to play back the files on your chosen device. Lots of Smart TVs or devices such as a Roku have Plex Clients available for them. There's even an app/program for the PC known as Plex Media Player (PMP).

In theory, you could run all of these pieces from a single computer and be fine, or you can spread them out across multiple devices and it can work well that way too. The key, is that all of them need to be available when you want to watch your files. If one of these components is off, or in an unwakable sleep state, then you're not going to get very far.


Thanks for a speedy reply and yes it makes sense thankyou.

Becasue i work away alot my laptop will not always be active so if i were to buy a NAS then this could remedy my problem and i wont have to have the laptop on at all times.
is that right?


That is correct. Most NAS devices are designed to run 24/7. Do some research before just running out and buying one. Depending on your files and compatibility, you might want one with a processor that can handle transcoding.

A little background... and the miracle of Plex... Transcoding happens when your file isn't compatible with the device that's trying to play it. This is where Plex runs some magic, and it converts the file on the fly to make it compatible. As you can imagine, this takes a bit of processing power to perform. Most modern laptops and PCs can perform this process without your ever knowing. An underpowered NAS could easily choke under pressure, as they're mostly designed to only handle files for the most part.

I know that some QNAP and Synology devices are considered on the better end for this purpose. Some of the more popular Western Digital devices may not be. The easy way to tell if they're higher end, is that they probably contain a processor normally associated with a PC... such as an Intel chip or the like.

I'm not an expert in NAS devices that can run Plex. I have three NAS that can, but I never run it on those as they're incredibly underpowered. I'm sure if I went through all of my files and converted them, I'd be ok... but I really don't have that kind of patience or time. I just let the PC do the work.


i cant thank you enough.

thankyou very much for taking the time to answer my questions.

(and for dumbing it down for me)

I'll be online most of the night now trying to source a NAS at a reasonable price.
thanks again


No worries at all. Don't limit yourself to a NAS if you're on a budget. You could just as easily pop a capable used PC off eBay and throw some USB drives on it and get by. There's a huge audience for running PMS on the NVidia Shield Pro as well.

Lots of options... but if your budget is semi-flexible, and you want to press the "Easy Button" then the all in one NAS solution may work best. Another advantage there... is expansion. =)


i am definitly going to be looking into a NAS but dont really want to spend a fortune .
i have no idea what im looking for tbh but ill do some internet research and hopefully pick one up reasonably priced.

ive been looking on ebay and they range from £120-£400


would this one be ok


Hit this area of the forum and read what people are saying about each:

That might help as well.


@standley said:
i am definitly going to be looking into a NAS but dont really want to spend a fortune .
i have no idea what im looking for tbh but ill do some internet research and hopefully pick one up reasonably priced.

ive been looking on ebay and they range from £120-£400

Most of the NAS devices in the price range you have stated will be incapable of transcoding so either look at more powerful machines (I have been running an I7 PC with USB drives for years) or get all your media in a format that direct plays on whatever client(s) you choose.

According to Plex the processor needs to have a Passmark of 2000 for each 1080p transcoded stream but you usually can get by with a bit less. (1000-1500 or so)

I have, many times, looked at various NAS devices and I have yet to find one that was as cost effective as a PC with external drives.

BTW: for redundancy and safety I run StableBit's DrivePool to pool all my drives and keep duplicate files in case of drive failure.

The only issue I have is the combo of computer and drives and UPS and all the wall wart power supplies for the drives becomes a bit messy and bulky but I solved that problem by getting a small footprint vertical shelf system for the entire server system.

My system has been running for several years with no major problems and only one USB drive failure that resulted in no data loss. I have 11 drives of various sizes totaling almost 54 TB. It is a good, solid and easy to manage system and will transcode up to (tested) 6 1080p streams. But I only usually use 1 most of the time and rarely 2.


Thanks for the advice Elijah, i would only be using about 1tb at the very most so storage isnt really the issue tbh.
I just thought that maybe if i had some sort of storage device up and running with maybe an external hdd attached that maybe i could just tuck them away in our spare room somewhere and just upload new movies etc when required.

Its all a bit daunting tbh, i have no idea what im looking to buy.

i'll get there .

thanks for the reply
much apreciated