I have a Friends subscription and I used to have a FireTV and a Roku, but no more. I’m also out of HDMI ports on my TV and receiver with all the video game consoles (Xbox Series X, Wii U, Switch, Analogue Pocket dock) and disc players (high end BluRay and cromulent 4K) plugged in. I can already stream all the common services six ways from Sunday.
Alright Plexers, do you have it set up on your day-to-day PC or do you have a standalone system just for the task?
Oh, it’s a stand-alone system. A RAID system (I have over 5 terabytes of TV content alone) to store the files and then a separate computer to act as the server.
The most time-consuming part of the process is ripping the discs. When we originally set ours up, I had hundreds of discs to rip so it took months. (These days with faster computers, it probably wouldn’t be nearly that long, but it still takes a couple of hours to rip a disc. (depending on the size of the files))
I believe you can also buy some stand-alone NAS boxes - Network Attached Storage - that manage your RAID and can run the Plex server. However, you’re looking at a few hundred bucks plus hard drives. That’s way more costly than many of the Roku models. Probably even more than a Roku soundbar.
If I had the money, I’d buy a TrueNAS Mini X+ in a heartbeat – I’ve wanted one since they were called FreeNAS, a decade or more ago, but the real wold keeps eating all my cash.
Cost isn’t even the issue with not buying a Roku. I just don’t want any more streaming-only devices. A NAS is something I want for various purposes.
I remember in college, I worked at the CS department help desk (in the server room), and my senior year we got a 2TB storage array for the whole department. It was like two refrigerators large.
Then at work last month (for research IT at a hospital) we just got a 4PB array, also about 2 fridges large, I believe, but I’ve not personally seen it.
I’m still very primitive and have it all set up through my regular computer. I have the external hard drives connected to it that it pulls from. It is not shared outside of the home, so with only one device using it at a time, it does not bog down the machine. I’m not using the computer for much else lately. If you are only looking into using it for stuff like Rifftrax or even your MST3K content, you can probably fit all of that on a small hard drive you may already have and use it. It would just need to be attached to the computer. I’ll probably look into a stand alone system sometime, but this has worked so far for my needs.
I store my video files on an external (non-networked HDD), with the Plex server running on my laptop and sending to a Fire TV Stick.
One extra step for me is that I use Foobar2000 to edit metadata, apply Replaygain and embed cover art before moving the file to my hard drive.
You guys are all a lot less lazy than I am.
Actually, this allows me to be extra lazy! Now I can watch shows without having to get up and change the discs. LOL!
One thing with PLEX, it uses an API to organise itself (for TV shows, that TVDb) So you have to follow their naming conventions if you want your files to parse correctly.
I’m not, but my husband/tech support might be
It’s like I’m back in Junior High, sitting in French class and having no idea what anyone is saying.
I have my laptop and my TV and BD player and stream or watch discs through those. I have some downloads on flashdrives, but I hardly rewatch anything on them, so, I’m even more primitive.
(I don’t do games, just movies and music.)
Definitely a main goal was not having to change discs, but what started it for me was getting the Ultimate MST3K digital collection (and the rest). I had a hard drive with my Rifftrax in it hanging off the TV and put all the MST3K in it too. Trying to maneuver the lists with the TV’s remote and USB screen was ridiculous. This is much improved.
The convenience is nice (and that I can watch my stuff from anywhere is an extra bonus). Also the fact the discs can deteriorate over time was a factor. I wanted to make sure I had that content even if the discs ever started to go.
You do have to learn how to name files for Plex to play nice.
But it works so much smoother than when I first started using it, when it could be pretty frustrating.
My problem is, I had everything named and then something happened with their database or API that none of that naming works now. As long as I don’t have to change anything, the older shows still work, but if I ever have to rebuild that system, it will hurt. I have over 200 TV shows on my PLEX, so that’s thousands of episodes I’d have to fix.
And some of them have never worked right. Usually specials. I have everything named to match exactly with their database and the episode still doesn’t work right. (Rifftrax shorts I am sooooo looking at you right now)
My main goal as well. It was almost 15 years ago that I played a disc for the last time; waited through the loading time and piracy warnings and title screens and trailers/ads and said, “This is bullsh*t.” I tried a few options at the time, including a PS3 as a media server and PLEX, but wasn’t happy with little details about both, and eventually decided to just write my own from scratch.
As with pretty much everything, the interfaces for streaming services today are a race to the bottom. Anyone else notice Netflix’s change 1-2 years ago, where basic data for each movie/show was removed from the title card? Runtime, top-billed cast, etc.? Literally the only thing each card includes now is the graphic (with the movie title embedded) and the genre, about as close to useless as you can get.
And it’s absolutely not an accident. If Netflix gives us a grid of movies with all the useful information right there, they can’t track what our eyeballs are looking at. So: remove everything useful so I have to click or hover over anything that even remotely might interest me, so they can capture that click/hover.
Same reason movies/shows are spoon-fed to us in groups of five and we have to scroll further to see more. They could just give us a big grid, but then they can’t track what we’re looking at.
Building my own system gave me the opportunity to create an interface meant to be used by a human instead of one meant to capture analytical data.
We’re not worthy!
You bring up some good points. It’s a whole thing I have noticed and could get into, but I don’t want to derail this thread too much.
We did sort of take over. There, move the discussion into its own thread. Explain away if so inclined (I really am curious as to why this stuff isn’t working the way it should and if there is anything I can actually do about it)
I loved the Drobo NAS when it first came out, but they went downhill fast. Looks like they’re no longer in business. I used it for small file server backups circa 2010 I think.
I have a dedicated PC as my Plex server. Nothing as fancy as a RAID, just backups of the external drives that are attached to the server.
It’s not shared outside the home, so it’s a pretty simple setup. I haven’t had any issues with file or folder names being a problem.
I get increasingly frustrated with Plex’s constant attempts to make it more difficult to use a folder structure to find content, so I think every now and then about changing to another program, but I haven’t done it yet.
My MST3K recordings go all the way back to my old VHS recordings of MST off the air, later digitized, on up to Season 13 downloads.
Other content ranges from digitized old VHS to ripped DVD to new content I’ve screen-recorded that I don’t want to have to keep streaming over the web.