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Old 11-13-2017, 06:21 AM   #1
Bobo Fett
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Plex Media Server, or...?

I love the idea of having a media server in my house that would allow me to watch movies on different devices throughout our home, as well as stream music to wireless speaker in different areas.

Just came across this Wired article:

https://www.wired.com/story/how-to-b...etlab_list1_p4

Is this generally good advice? Does anyone have a server like this, or something different that does the same thing?

For me, the driving force behind this is music more than movies - most of my movie content would be from my Blu-Ray collection, which I can already play on 2 of my 3 TVs, and I will likely pick up a 3rd player soon. However, I'd really like to set up some outdoor speakers, and have an older stereo downstairs I'd like to stream music to, and may do something similar upstairs (3 floor house). I also like the idea of having all my media backed up to a separate server like this.

Edit to add: Thinking about this further, maybe it would be helpful to elaborate on exactly what I'd like to do. My desktop is in my office on the main floor, where it is directly connected to my router/Internet. I'd like to have some wireless speakers on the front porch as well as the deck out back, a couple in the main living room/kitchen area, I have a stereo system downstairs (thinking I could plug a Chromecast into the receiver), and down the road it would be cool to have a couple of speakers upstairs. Is a Plex server a good way to tie everything together, or is there a better way to do this? And while I expect this is getting outside the scope of this forum, I'm not sure where else to ask it, so speaker advice would be welcome. I'm not really up for paying a few hundred for each speaker like a Sonos. I'm no audiophile that needs every high and low note hit perfectly, but I still want it to sound good LDO.

Hmm...maybe multiple Chromecasts with "regular" wired speakers and mini-amps:

https://www.howtogeek.com/257959/how...le-chromecast/
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Old 11-13-2017, 10:55 AM   #2
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Re: Plex Media Server, or...?

I’ve built a few media plex servers for similar situations, freenas with the plex jail plugin across raid 1 drives between 4-10tb each. Freenas is so you get zfs (which is available on other platforms now) and there are also plex guides ready if your are a diy’er.

Didn’t read your link but I’m guessing it’s a box based on one of the popular nas platforms. I typically use supermicro boards with i3 so it has the instruction sets for encoding/decoding without being a power hog and ecc ram. Last 6tb (mirrored) server with caviar blacks was around $1200 after labor iirc so if you are diy I’m thinking it’d be closer to $900 for ideal equipment. It can be far cheaper with used equipment, freenas has an active forum for questions and guides.
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Old 11-13-2017, 09:53 PM   #3
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Re: Plex Media Server, or...?

I'll just paste a small portion here:

Quote:
If you don't have Windows and a spare hard drive lying around, you could opt for the following similar components for around $350 total:

Intel NUC6CAYS computer
2 GB DDR3L RAM
Western Digital 4TB MyPassport Hard Drive

With these parts, you get a computer already running Windows, and a RAM upgrade to a total of 4 GB will help it perform much more reliably as a server. The external Western Digital hard drive is cheaper than most internal drives you'll find without skimping on massive storage capacity. The super cute Intel NUCs also come with a three-year warranty, which is longer than most other PCs include at any price.
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Old 11-13-2017, 11:32 PM   #4
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Re: Plex Media Server, or...?

You can definitely make something work inexpensively but the question is how long you want it to last, how comfortable you are losing everything and having to redo everything, what kind of performance you want, for example is it just you? Or will multiple 1080p streams be running at once for family members while audio is streaming?

The purpose of the i3 (haswell+) is for the instruction set, ecc ram is so your dataset doesn’t corrupt which is more likely than a normal PC workflow, the enterprise drives to last where you need it most (you’d be surprised how many failed externals come in monthly to my offices and you’d probably think twice if you did). I would personally never trust a usb mechanical hard drive to maintain any data as a permanent solution (and they are typically 5400 rpm not 7200). I’ve looked at the performance of many of those solutions including pretty beefy routers with dual core procs that have the usb 3.0 ports and you get what you pay for imo.

Zfs is a self healing file system which is suited specifically for large datasets to stay good without forms of bitrot eating away at your media, freenas works reliably across a wide variety of hardware and is extremely power efficient for an always on system. It will spin up the drives when accessed and spin them down when not, you’ll see a huge difference in performance when surfing through your directories and the speed at which you can transfer data.

The only drawback is the learning curve which is not that nice if you are just starting out with freenas. That being said, every nas I’ve built including the ones not for media is still in operation today, 1 drive failure but zero data loss over 6 years. Recovery was super easy as well.

My own nas is getting used less and less, if you think of the up front cost to get something reliable, it’s not a stretch to use Sonos for audio and amazon to purchase movies/seasons and not rely on maintaining hardware at all. Pretty much every device has the ability to stream your amazon library these days.
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Old 11-14-2017, 01:14 AM   #5
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Re: Plex Media Server, or...?

Got to admit I'm a little lost with some of your terminology, so I have some reading to do - any suggestions would be welcome, but otherwise Google will be my friend.

Quote:
I would personally never trust a usb mechanical hard drive to maintain any data as a permanent solution (and they are typically 5400 rpm not 7200). I’ve looked at the performance of many of those solutions including pretty beefy routers with dual core procs that have the usb 3.0 ports and you get what you pay for imo.
So are you talking about an internal HDD instead of the USB drive they suggest? If so, yeah, I can see going that route - I was a little surprised to see the suggestion that the WD would be cheaper than an internal.

As for my performance needs, I think audio is going to be the biggest use, and even when using video, I doubt it would be multiple streams all that often, if ever. And while I'm sure future purchases may tend towards digital, I am sitting on a library of 4-500 Blu-Ray/DVDs now, and find that I purchase less and less movies as my library of the "classics" becomes more complete.
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Old 11-14-2017, 05:14 AM   #6
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Re: Plex Media Server, or...?

I’ll have some time tomorrow to hopefully post something useful, this is one of those things that looks easy on the surface when reading that article but when you actually go to deploy it you find much to be desired. I find articles like this are usually made after the eureaka for the author the day after they finally get it working and you don’t see the follow up a month later when it blows up in their face. It’s like when i7 Kaby lakes were reported to be able to play overwatch or FPS games without any gpu... did people get it to work? Sure, but the results were debatable on whether it was acceptable and lasting. Similarly, I’m pretty sure if you google people asking advice using externals for nas or plex you’ll find a lot of advice not to do that.

I’d try to estimate your initial storage need since your library won’t be growing as much down the line. 4-500 mixed dvd and Blu-ray plus music seems like a very large storage need but they are making 10tb drives these days.

You could get a Intel NUC in a case so you can have internal drives I think, and you could run windows and that would be a pretty easy diy project. However if you want every dvd to be 100% what you ripped after 7 years with no degradation and email alerts if your drive reports a smart issue, that’s where zfs/freenas shines.
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Old 11-14-2017, 07:44 PM   #7
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Re: Plex Media Server, or...?

3-5g per dvd and 25-50gb per Blu-ray. Worst case for 500 Blu-rays is 25tb, 50% regular DVD’s is near 14tb and minimum is around 2.5tb if we are just counting the movies.

First thing you’ll want to know is what the proper technique is for ripping these, I know people have had trouble with audio getting out of sync gradually throughout a film on handbreak and this part is not my forte. There is also stripping out dvd menus and lowering the quality to save space but im against that, if you are doing this project might as well have all the bonus features and no quality loss.

At these capacity levels you’re definitely going to want a nice hardware setup and if most of your collection is Blu-ray you’re looking at a more complicated storage pool since you’re going to far exceed even a 10tb drive. We can go further into this if your intent is to digitize all of it beyond just the music needs and although it’s far more reliable than the externals it still isn’t foolproof.

If you get your feet wet by searching for plex/freenas install guides at freenas.org that’s a good start. You are likely to get some conflicting or outdated information but I can fill in some of the gaps as you get an overview. Basically once the nas is installed to the bootable usb (supermicro has a USB port on the mainboard inside) you access it through a web page using the IP address like a router. From there you can setup your storage pool, create a share for PCs of any os, click the plugins to get the plex jail plugin and start copying to the share you created. Plex auto detects the media in the folders called music and video and displays it on any device capable of running the plex app. It can sort by genre that is auto created or custom created.

The details are the creation of your storage pools, getting the permissions right for plex, and learning your way around the freenas web interface.
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Old 11-22-2017, 07:36 AM   #8
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Re: Plex Media Server, or...?

The more I read and think about this, I don't think digitizing my Blu-Ray/DVD collection to stream from this makes a lot of sense for me - I expect you're right about the NUC I posted not being suitable, but I don't think I can justify ~$1,000 or more for something I can do well enough with Blu-Ray players. Really, the focus for this device for me should be to centralize my music and be able to stream it throughout the house. Maybe a backup of my photos as well, which I could then display on TVs/other devices. Now we're talking <1 TB, although at today's storage prices I'd probably go larger for future needs.

But then if this is all I'm going to do with it, do I instead just use get a simple NAS and install Plex?
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