Plex Buffering/Disconnecting Issues, Seemingly Network Related, After ISP Change

server-freebsd

#1

Hello,

I recently changed my ISP to AT&T from Comcast, and it has caused some stability issues with my FreeNAS Server and subsequently, Plex Media Server. The only reason I bring this up is that AT&T forces use of their Gateway (combined modem/router), which has caused some hiccups on my end, due to my wanting to continue to use my own router. The issues appear to manifest in a number of scenarios, and are not limited to Direct or Remote Play, nor are they limited to one client (Xbox, iOS, Web Player), though they are much more frequent during Remote Play:
* Streams cutting out with error: "Couldn't create the playback session for this item."
* Streams buffering when they shouldn't be, i.e. 1 session running with low stress transcodes and solid connection to internet
* Streams buffering when I am hardwired to the network and have direct play/stream enabled. Before ISP swap, I don't think I had ever seen it buffer when hardwired and in the same network.
* Logs are littered with Networking related entries.
* I receive the error "Your connection to the server is not fast enough to stream this video. Check your network or try a lower quality." Of note is that I receive this error even on 2Mbps HD when my available speeds are significantly adequate. Usually if I get this error, my Plex session locks up on status "Buffering for a few minutes".

A little bit of information about my network configuration. I setup the AT&T Gateway in Passthrough mode, where it passes the IP from the ISP directly to my router. From there, I was able to leave the router largely alone, setup the way it had been before I switched providers. Essentially, The Gateway passes my public IP to my router, acting like a modem, and my router is able to handle DHCP.

I have attached two logs. One is from an Xbox Direct Play/Stream Session that began buffering at 20:40 and 20:41. "Plex Media Server 1.log".

The other two logs are from a session I had running on remote play on iOS. At 18:42, my stream errored out with the "Couldn't create the playback session for this item for Edward's Phone".

I'd be glad to provide any other information, or some better logs if there is something better/more appropriate out there. I'm not sure if it's important, but I do have PlexPy (Now Tautulli) running on my FreeNAS Server as well, though it was running before ISP change and was not causing any issues. Does anyone have any ideas based on the provided Logs and Times of what I should be looking for? My Server's specs are in my signature.

Thank you in advance, I'm hoping we can figure out the issue, before my wife kills me for "breaking the Plex"!


#2

Reading through the Plex Advised Troubleshooting, I tried getting some fresh (hopefully more informative) logs. I restarted my PMS. I also enabled the "Send Logs to Plex" on iOS as advised. This is running on remote play on settings for 2Mbps 720p. My results were as follows:
* 9:25 - Began Session (Remote Play) on iOS
* 9:31 - Your connection to the the server is not fast enough to stream this video. Check your network or try a lower quality."
* 9:32 - Backed out of that session (no other options), attempted to play again. It just spun on the Phone. One the Server, I could still see my session active and the status was "Buffering".
* 9:38 - Was never able to play again. My session cleared from the Plex Media Server around this time. I force closed the Plex app and re-opened.
* 9:42 - Began logging again (Set up send logs to plex as well)
* 9:50 - Buffering, continued playing.
* 9:54 - Buffering. The buffering circle stayed spinning on my app despite the video continuing to play after the initial stuttering from buffer.
* 9:55 - Video closed and the app displayed spinning circle and message "Connecting to Titan". Titan is the name of my PMS.


#3

I've never trusted UPnP to keep ports open. I've seen in my limited time here in Plex land, and even more/longer career and general IT geek experience, linksys seems more "flaky" about UPnP configurations than some other vendors. Even if it's "gotten worse" since you changed ISPs, let's rule out UPnP cutting off Remote Play connections first.

Start by going into your Linksys router, and setting a 192.168.1.x static IP address, where x is any you want that's available, including what it may currently be assigned to, for your Titan machine.
If there is a setting for how long a lease will be granted, set it for at least 24 hours. (1440 minutes)
Then go into the Linksys routers port forwarding configuration and set the external TCP IP/port ANY/32400 to point to internal IP 192.168.1.(Titan IP # you just set)/32400
Then, go into Plex - Remote - Manually specify port - 32400

Test some more.

As for internal network playback issues, I've little clue currently as to why you'd be affected.
Are the devices right next to each other? (RF/WiFi Interference)
Can you turn off the gateway(AT&T) WiFi?
Even if it's 'better/faster', it could be causing conflict with your connections to server, and could be at least a temporary test.
(Imagine you connect fine to old router, start playing, then mid-stream a DHCP renew or other wifi issue tries to switch you to the new device, that would cause Plex panic)
Potentially, other idea:
If you're on DSL, most modems disconnect and only re-connect when needed. That delay could cause issues internally when Plex tries to 'call home' to verify your status as a member of the Plex Pass community (comcast is 'always on').
If you're on AT&T fiber/fios, I'm unsure how that works, but it wouldn't surprise me if it too treats your access like DSL.


#4

@JamminR said:
I've never trusted UPnP to keep ports open. I've seen in my limited time here in Plex land, and even more/longer career and general IT geek experience, linksys seems more "flaky" about UPnP configurations than some other vendors. Even if it's "gotten worse" since you changed ISPs, let's rule out UPnP cutting off Remote Play connections first.

Start by going into your Linksys router, and setting a 192.168.1.x static IP address, where x is any you want that's available, including what it may currently be assigned to, for your Titan machine.
If there is a setting for how long a lease will be granted, set it for at least 24 hours. (1440 minutes)
Then go into the Linksys routers port forwarding configuration and set the external TCP IP/port ANY/32400 to point to internal IP 192.168.1.(Titan IP # you just set)/32400
Then, go into Plex - Remote - Manually specify port - 32400

Test some more.

As for internal network playback issues, I've little clue currently as to why you'd be affected.
Are the devices right next to each other? (RF/WiFi Interference)
Can you turn off the gateway(AT&T) WiFi?
Even if it's 'better/faster', it could be causing conflict with your connections to server, and could be at least a temporary test.
(Imagine you connect fine to old router, start playing, then mid-stream a DHCP renew or other wifi issue tries to switch you to the new device, that would cause Plex panic)
Potentially, other idea:
If you're on DSL, most modems disconnect and only re-connect when needed. That delay could cause issues internally when Plex tries to 'call home' to verify your status as a member of the Plex Pass community (comcast is 'always on').
If you're on AT&T fiber/fios, I'm unsure how that works, but it wouldn't surprise me if it too treats your access like DSL.

Thank you for the reply JamminR. I have my Plex Media Server Static IP'd in FreeNAS to 192.168.1.250, and also have the IP Address reserved for PMS in the Netgear LAN Config. I have also manually specified the port 32400 (internal and external) on my Netgear Router (Which is handling DHCP) to forward said port to 192.168.1.250. Lastly, I've specified in PMS under server settings that I want to manually specify a port, and entered 32400. As a test, Ive gone to http://canyouseeme.org/ and entered my public IP Address (sent to my Gateway from AT&T) and entered port 32400 and I have a success. Also, in my PMS, under Server settings, I can see the results of that forwarding, in that Plex reports "Fully accessible outside your network".

That's an interesting theory about the modem possibly causing a delay if it thinks that it can sleep on the connection. Though I imagine it would have to detect zero network activity for the modem portion of the AT&T gateway to decide it was a good time to sleep/cause delays, and I've got several devices on the network that are always on and communicating. In the couple of weeks I've had AT&T Fiber, I've seen my Desktop available on TeamViewer all day without interruption, and even though the streams are cutting in/out, I've been able to connect to and see my Server remotely just as often.

Lastly, I hadn't considered testing my local play after killing the internet temporarily. Technically, Plex should be able to work in a closed off network flawlessly. I'll try a test by removing the WAN connection from my Netgear router and letting it only have the local network up and running, then see if the Plex session on the Xbox One (Also connected to Netgear, hardwired over Cat6) cuts out at all.

And just so that it helps, I drew up a little diagram of my current network setup in case I've explained it poorly. But I'm essentially worried about the pitfalls of double routers on a network. Double NAT, DNS issues, things like that.


#5

@donEddie7 said:
Lastly, I hadn't considered testing my local play after killing the internet temporarily.

Sorry, I meant disable/turn off the Gateway WiFi if possible, at least temporarily, to ensure it wasn't conflicting with any other wifi connected device or the actual router for the local instability you were having.

I'll warn you now, Plex doesn't like not having internet.
We won't go into that discussion of how I, you, and likely many others, don't like the fact Plex doesn't handle not having WAN access very well. There's tons of other discussions through out the forum for that.
If you do decide to try that, make sure you set PMS settings / Network / authorize local ip set. (I think you lose Home user profiles that way though, be careful if you have kids with restrictions)

Oh, and 192.168.1.250 is why I thought you had a Linksys. Many Linksys routers default to 192.168.1.250 as base address.
You're saying you run your FreeNas/PMS on .250?
Do you have a docker/other VM running Tautulli on .251? Reason I ask is this log gem...
Request: [192.168.1.251:60380 (Subnet)] GET /status/sessions


#6

@JamminR said:

@donEddie7 said:
Lastly, I hadn't considered testing my local play after killing the internet temporarily.

Sorry, I meant disable/turn off the Gateway WiFi if possible, at least temporarily, to ensure it wasn't conflicting with any other wifi connected device or the actual router for the local instability you were having.

I'll warn you now, Plex doesn't like not having internet.
We won't go into that discussion of how I, you, and likely many others, don't like the fact Plex doesn't handle not having WAN access very well. There's tons of other discussions through out the forum for that.
If you do decide to try that, make sure you set PMS settings / Network / authorize local ip set. (I think you lose Home user profiles that way though, be careful if you have kids with restrictions)

Oh, and 192.168.1.250 is why I thought you had a Linksys. Many Linksys routers default to 192.168.1.250 as base address.
You're saying you run your FreeNas/PMS on .250?
Do you have a docker/other VM running Tautulli on .251? Reason I ask is this log gem...
Request: [192.168.1.251:60380 (Subnet)] GET /status/sessions

Yes, I have my FreeNAS Server Static IP'd at 192.168.1.16, and the PMS Jail Static IP'd at 1.250. And yes, I do have Tautulli running on .251. I'm assuming that line item in the logs is just Tautilli grabbing session information? Or am I missing something obvious?


#7

Ok, here's a confusing point for me. I just verified my own server, and the line matches the port I'd expect and set in my values..
Scanning your logs for "PubSub", will show a line where by Plex goes out to it's server, and asks "hey, can we be accessed remotely?"
Plex answers, yes, here's the public IP and port.
Now, I know you used canyouseeme. Heck, I can go to your public.ip:32400 and get redirected to plex login (as I should, it should prompt me to verify you share with me)
But what gets me is what I see in your logs.
Mar 23, 2018 22:04:13.002 [0x811d6e800] DEBUG - PubSub: Got notified of reachability: 1 for your.pub.lic.ip:10923
Notice that port? It's odd. Though the linux based OS may be logging the transient session outbound port from the server itself, 10923 confuses me.

Other than any of the above in this post and previous, I've really other little idea as to why you're having issues.
Especially locally.
Remotely, sure, could chalk up to ISP issues. But, I don't know.
Try NOT using 32400 externally, perhaps AT&T blocks some traffic, or does traffic shaping, knowing that port is Plex. Try 32499 externally or something. I don't use 32400 manually, I changed my external number to a non-standard. I've no issues (but I'm on Comcast)


#8

@JamminR said:
Mar 23, 2018 22:04:13.002 [0x811d6e800] DEBUG - PubSub: Got notified of reachability: 1 for your.pub.lic.ip:10923
Notice that port? It's odd. Though the linux based OS may be logging the transient session outbound port from the server itself, 10923 confuses me.

Other than any of the above in this post and previous, I've really other little idea as to why you're having issues.
Especially locally.
Remotely, sure, could chalk up to ISP issues. But, I don't know.
Try NOT using 32400 externally, perhaps AT&T blocks some traffic, or does traffic shaping, knowing that port is Plex. Try 32499 externally or something. I don't use 32400 manually, I changed my external number to a non-standard. I've no issues (but I'm on Comcast)

When I was troubleshooting (day I made these logs), I had UPnP turned on, and had the "Manually specify port" unchecked on PMS. Chances are, that's why it was a different external port than 32400. I recall looking through my Router that evening and seeing 10-12 different entries for ports requested at 192.168.1.250 (PMS) so I assumed it was changing the external port.

A couple of things I changed this evening was turning off all Firewall rules and Packet Filtering on the AT&T Gateway (screenshot). That ways the signal coming to the WAN port on the Router is as untouched as possible. The other thing I did was manually set my DNS Servers on my router to Google's DNS. Previously, I had the AT&T Gateway set as the DNS Server. But then my router was handing its own IP out as DNS. So my clients were going through the Netgear to the Gateway, which was then using the ISP set (can't change) AT&T DNS Servers. Something curious I saw in the Gateway Logs related to DNS was several entries like this:

2018-03-24T22:41:24.000000-04:00 L3 dnsmasq[6591]: nameserver '68.94.157.11' is now responding
2018-03-24T22:43:56.000000-04:00 L3 dnsmasq[6591]: no responses from nameserver '68.94.157.11'
2018-03-24T22:43:56.000000-04:00 L3 dnsmasq[6591]: nameserver '68.94.157.11' is now responding
2018-03-24T22:47:49.000000-04:00 L3 dnsmasq[6591]: no responses from nameserver '68.94.157.11'
2018-03-24T22:47:49.000000-04:00 L3 dnsmasq[6591]: nameserver '68.94.157.11' is now responding
2018-03-24T22:52:22.000000-04:00 L3 dnsmasq[6591]: no responses from nameserver '68.94.157.11'
2018-03-24T22:52:22.000000-04:00 L3 dnsmasq[6591]: nameserver '68.94.157.11' is now responding
2018-03-24T23:00:36.000000-04:00 L3 dnsmasq[6591]: no responses from nameserver '68.94.156.11'

Not sure if it's related, though I didn't like the looks of it. So I just decided to bypass AT&T's DNS altogether. I'll continue to do some more stress testing after some sleep, but I was just able to play a 1.5hr video remote play without any interruption or error. But that was also after a fresh restart of the FreeNAS server. So I'm curious if it was luck or not. I'll report back and let you and anyone else who has visited this thread of my results.


#9

Yeah, if you're not going to use the gateway as a router, I'd turn every 'router/firewall' feature I could find in the gateway off if you can't really turn it into a plain dumb bridge/modem.

That being said, what can your router do that the gateway can't?
Have you installed custom firmware on your Netgear? I understand it's DNS blacklist, QOS, IP monitoring and other features are much better than most default gateway firmware, but, if you've not gone custom, wouldn't the gateway be just as good, perhaps (if that Netgear is R7000) even better?
Just a thought on a future step.


#10

Unfortunately, there's no easy way to turn into a a plain old modem. I think I'm about as close as I can get right now. The main reasons I wanted to use my own router was that the network management features of the gateway are severely limited. No UPnP. Port Forwarding is cumbersome. The Wifi range is poor and the speeds coming off them are poor. And AT&T has firmware-locked and hidden many of the other features the router has. I just wasn't happy with it after having had beefier networking equipment the last few years. To be fair, I did try running off the gateway by itself for about a week and kept finding myself trying to work around it. I understand that what I'm doing now is still trying to work around a different problem, but in the least, I feel like I take my router's integrity out of the equation, since it was and has been working perfectly for years.

I'll be doing some more remote streaming today to test the connection. I know in particular, over cellular data. My wife is my biggest user and she is almost always watching on her data connection, so I'll spend some good time doing that, and report back.


#11

I understand keeping the old router. I myself would have difficulty parting ways with my own equipment if/when newer connection tech was available/affordable.
I run Advanced Tomato (based heavily on Shibby Tomato) on mine, and with the advanced controls and monitoring it allows for, i can keep the household devices sharing nicely no mater what activity the devices may be doing.

Good luck with the testing. I hope the changes you made sort it out, even if I had little to do with them.


#12

Hey DonEddie7,

I think i know exactly what you're talking about.. I got ATT fiber earlier this year and even if you have passthrough mode you still have to do NAT forwarding on the ports from the modem to the router. You actually have a limited time after you reboot the modem where it detects the router as a device, during that time you would port foward those to your router's MACID then your modem will passthrough the IPs. I'll see if i can get some SS of what i have setup..



This is currently how i have my modem setup.. the IP does pass through to my router which does get the public IP which i still apply port fowarding... Its basically double NAT... so you have to foward port 32400 from the modem to the router and then 32400 from the router to plex and visa versa. its a pain but its worked so far for me.. as long as the client has enough bandwidth i can stream 20mbps files no problem.