Turn your old Mac into a video streaming service with Plex

With the power of current Apple Silicon-based Macs and the next generation of Apple Silicon PCs that could arrive later this year, many Intel-based computers will be left aimless. So why not turn your old PC into a Netflix-like streaming service using Plex?

While creating your own streaming service may seem like a difficult process, it is easy with Plex. There are two types of software for Plex, server and client. Server software is installed on a device that stores copies of any movies, music, or TV shows you want to share. You can then access it from any device connected to the Internet.

Why use Plex?

Plex was launched in 2007 based on the popular XBMC (now known as Kodi). It facilitates streaming media files from the server machine to a variety of client devices. If you have a large collection of Blu-ray discs or DVDs, you can burn them using a tool like HandBrake. You can then stream the files, using Plex, to your smart TV, phones, computers, or game consoles. This way, you don’t have to worry about physical discs or buy back movies you’ve already paid for.

Plex is also a cost effective solution. Since you depend on your own hardware, the basic version of the software is completely free. A paid upgrade to ‘Plex Pass’ unlocks features like support for lyrics, mobile apps, and live TV recording. Currently, Plex Pass costs $4.99 per month or $119.99 for life.

In addition to watching your content, Plex also hosts free ad-supported content. Several TV shows and movies are available to watch, and they plan to grow. Earlier this year, Plex raised $50 million to expand and invest in development.

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Personally, I used Plex for over a year before deciding to upgrade to Plex Pass. When I did, I chose the pass of a lifetime. The only time I contacted Plex for assistance, I found that they were very quick to help me with my problem and did their best to fix it.

Plex Media Server can run on a variety of devices; Including macOS, Windows and Linux. It can even be played directly on network attached storage devices. If you are using a Mac Pro or Windows desktop computer for your server, I highly recommend getting a separate internal hard drive specifically for your Plex media. While laptops aren’t a perfect server, I’ve never had a problem running Plex from my laptop using an external hard drive. While you can use the built-in storage device, I find separate drives that make it easy to keep everything in one place.

Whatever device you’re using, you’ll want to make sure the server is connected to your router via Ethernet. Wifi has not yet reached the speed or reliability of a wired connection.

Plex makes it easy to organize your movies and TV shows. He searches the internet for descriptions, additional features, and ratings, but needs a helping hand in figuring out what the movie is all about.

Start by creating a folder for each of your movies, TV shows, and music.

When you add a movie to the Movies folder, just name the file “Movie Title (Release Year)”. You can also adjust the title for more complex situations such as external subtitles or multiple files of a movie.

For TV shows, you can create a subfolder for each TV show and then a subfolder for each season. For an episode, use the format “S01E05” to designate the season and episode number.

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Music is really easy to organize. Create a subfolder under Music for each artist and a subfolder under it for each album. Make sure that each track starts with the track number and then the name, separated by a hyphen.

Setting up Plex is simple. On the Downloads page, download and run the Plex Media Server app for your device. You will see a Plex icon appear in the menu bar. Select the icon and click Open Plex.

After you sign in or create a Plex account, the app will walk you through setup. Under Media, you’ll want to point it to each of the separate folders for Movies, TV Shows, and Music you’ve previously created.

Once this setup is complete, Plex will automatically perform an online search to find the label, description, actor, and more information for each of the files. As long as this server computer is up and running Plex, you can access your files on Plex.tv. It should work automatically from anywhere in the world.

If you want to dig a little deeper, to improve speed and reliability outside of your home network, two changes to the network are worth making.

Adjust network parameters

For the best experience, you will need your server to have a static IP address. This can be done on your server or router. Exactly how you specify this depends on your router, but it can be as simple as setting a reserved address in the DHCP settings. Make a note of the IP address you assigned to your server.

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While staying on your router, you need to forward network port 32400 to the server’s IP address.

In the Plex server settings, look under “Remote access”. Check the “Manually specified public port” box, make sure 32400 is the port, and save the changes. After that, your media should be available outside of your network.

If you’re having trouble with this, Plex has a step-by-step guide to remote access issues and some great support articles and guides.

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Frank Mccarthy

<p class="sign">"Certified gamer. Problem solver. Internet enthusiast. Twitter scholar. Infuriatingly humble alcohol geek. Tv guru."</p>

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