Convert your old Mac to a video streaming service using Plex
With the power of current Apple Silicon-based Macs and the next generation of Apple Silicon computers that could arrive later this year, many Intel-based computers will be left aimless. So why not convert your old computer into your own Netflix-like streaming service using Plex?
While creating your own streaming service may seem like a difficult process, it is made easy with the use of Plex. There are two types of software for Plex, the server and the client. The server software is installed on a machine that stores copies of any movies, music, or TV shows you want to share. You can then access it from almost 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 the streaming of media files from a server device to a wide variety of client devices. If you have a large collection of Blu-ray or DVD, you can rip them with 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 repurchasing movies you have already paid for.
Plex is also a very cost effective solution. Since you rely on your own hardware, the basic version of the software is completely free. The “Plex Pass” paid upgrade unlocks features like support for music lyrics, mobile apps, and live TV recording. Currently, the Plex Pass costs $ 4.99 per month or $ 119.99 for a lifetime pass.
In addition to watching your own content, Plex also hosts free ad-supported content. Various 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.
On a personal note, I used Plex for over a year before deciding to upgrade to the Plex Pass. When I did, I opted for the lifetime pass. The one time I contacted Plex for help I found that they were very quick to help me with my issue and went out of their way to fix it.
Plex Media Server can run on a wide variety of devices; including macOS, Windows, and Linux. It can even work directly on network attached storage devices. If you are using a Mac Pro or Windows desktop computer for your server, I highly recommend that you get a Internal hard drive specifically for your Plex media. While laptops aren’t an ideal server, I never had a problem running Plex from my laptop with a external hard drive. While you can use the built-in storage device, I find separate drives make it easier to keep everything in one place.
Whatever device you use, you want to make sure the server is connected to your router over Ethernet. Wifi has not yet reached the speed or reliability of a wired connection.
Plex makes it easy to organize movies and TV shows. He searches online for descriptions, additional features, and ratings, but needs a little help figuring out what the movie is about.
Start by creating a folder for each of the movies, TV shows, and music.
Whenever you add a movie to the movies folder, just name the file “movie title (year of release)”. You can also adjust the title for more complex situations such as external subtitles or multiple files for a movie.
For TV shows, you create a subfolder for each TV show, then a subfolder for each season. For the episode, use the format “S01E05” to designate the season and episode number.
The music is really easy to organize. Create a subfolder under music for each artist and a subfolder under it for each album. Make sure each track begins with the track number and then the name, separated by a hyphen.
Setting up Plex is straightforward. On the downloads page download and run the Plex Media Server app for your device. You will see the Plex icon appear in your menu bar. Select the icon and click Open Plex.
After signing in or creating a Plex account, the app will walk you through the setup. Under Media, you’ll want to point it to each of the separate folders for Movies, TV Shows, and Music that you created earlier.
Once this setup is complete, Plex will automatically perform an online search to find the poster, description, cast and more information for each of the files. As long as this server computer is on and Plex is running, you can access your files at Plex.tv. It should work automatically from anywhere in the world.
If you want to go a little deeper, to improve speed and reliability outside of your home network, two network changes are worth making.
Adjusting Network Parameters
For the best experience, you’ll want your server to have a constant IP address. This can be done on your server or your router. Exactly how you set this depends on your router, but can be as simple as setting a reserved address in DHCP settings. Take note of the IP address you have set for your server.
While staying on your router, you need to forward network port 32400 to your 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.
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