Plex is an extremely useful platform, which allows you to host media and stream movies, music and TV shows. Use Plex MediaServer is the best way to manage and play media to any device.
What is Plex?
Plex is totally free media server software that can run on PC, Mac, or a NAS drive in our home. It is also a wide set of free client applications that gives us the possibility to access the contents of the media server from devices such as; Smart TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, game consoles, mobile devices, etc. Additionally, it is a platform that can be used to access, add and search for all subscribed streaming services. In this way, we have a powerful tool to manage and access all our multimedia and entertainment files.
How to install and use Plex Media Server
The first thing we will do is download the appropriate installer and follow the instructions that will appear on the screen. After the media server is installed, a browser window will open that will have the Plex web app.
This web app is a way to configure your Plex server. Although we can also use it to view our library and play files from the computer. It will ask us to create a Plex account and then the wizard will guide us through the configuration that will help the server to track the media files.
It is possible to store movies, music and other kinds of files, wherever we want, in as many different folders and hard drives (locally or as network shares); Plex will take care of keeping everything organized.
There is a slight downside though, Plex has a preference for how file types are named. For each type of file, for example; movies, movies in different parts, multi-season shows, episodes, etc. There is a preferred naming style for Plex. If we have too many files, we don’t need to change the names manually. Both MacOS and Windows have a very useful function to make the change.
Also, this step is not strictly necessary, Plex can access and play the files, even if they are not named using Plex conventions.
Plex Media Server will automatically scan all the directories that we configure during the configuration process, it is possible to choose the frequency with which it will scan the locations in search of possible changes. If you’re a frequent downloader, you might want to tell Plex to automatically update the library every time you add a new file.
In order to verify that everything is as it really should be, we will click on the start button in the web app interface. We would have to watch movies, music, series and any other media that we had added during the configuration. Little by little I know it will be completed along with its poster or cover.
In case at first it does not look good or it is not complete. We simply recommend waiting a bit, it can take Plex to get all the relevant information, especially if it is a large amount.
To play any kind of media, we’ll hover over the one we want and click the play button.
How to play Plex on my TV and other devices
There is a Plex client for almost every device available on the market. It’s usually easy to find one for your device in the app store.
The first thing we will do is start the Plex client, it will ask us for the same account that we used when installing the server. The playback device and the Plex server should be on the same Wi-Fi network, it will take no more than a few seconds to present us with the catalog of available media files (the ones we saw from the web app).
On the left side of the screen, we can see all the categories and our files will be categorized depending on their type. When we click on the file we want to play, relevant information about it and the “Play now” button will appear.
Plex also has a search feature that does an excellent job. In this way we can save a lot of time if we have a large number of files available.