The PLEX alternative thread generated a lot of discussion that is off topic from the OP’s question. It appears there is interest in discussing our PLEX setups and strategies so I thought I would start a thread.
@roraniel Good call. I’ve been running Plex a couple of years.
I set up our PLEX server on an old P4 (yes its underpowered for a PLEX system) Gateway computer I got at a computer show for $50 … I have a 2TB usb drive (NTFS formatted) and a 1TB USB (NTFS) on it … The computer runs a Linux NAS distribution called OMV (OpenMediaVault – based off of DEBIAN LINUX – I had to use omv as it was the only NAS linux distro that actually worked on my old system) … Once I built the OMV NAS I then manually installed PLEX on top of that (Now PLEX is a plugin for OMV so its easier to install) … I wanted an easy way to copy new content to the PLEX server without having to unplug the USB drives … so building it on top of a pre-rolled linux NAS foundation made the most sense … (the PLEX machine also does double duty as my home NAS and personal Cloud server too via Barracuda Drive on a Raspberry Pi and OMV)… The content for my PLEX server was done over the course of 2 1/2 - 3 years of ripping my very large DVD/BR collection with Slysoft AnyDVD (when I use windows) (then MDRP when i moved to Mac/OSX) …Like jbanks25 I then encoded the rips to an AppleTV2 format … I also took the painstaking time to also make sure all the mp4 movie files had proper tags internally with either Subler or MetaZ/MetaX for meta data tags – iTunes requires mp4 movies to have tags if you want it to show up correctly on the AppleTV - which we used for a while before moving to Plex/Roku) (Plex on the other hand does more of a filename match so now I make sure I use FileBot to keep all the names clean and standardized). I will probably upgrade the PLEX machine to something more capable and convert the USB drives to internal linux formatted drives (not sure if I want to use zfs (and the added bother/expense) or just keep them ext and do manual backups)
Lenovo Q190 USD $200 now,
2 x USB 3
2 x USB 2
Celeron Ivy Bridge (more than capable of transcoding)
That’s my base 24x7 PMS, plus we added 3 x 1TB drives via USB.
My master workstation/server (true 16 cores with 32G) houses over 8TB of RAID protected storage which is where I do the transcode/rips and then that pushes to the Q190. It’s only on when I need to rip new media to the Plex. I also do my Tablo pulls there and push those to the Q190 as well. The master workstation/server is only up when I need to do work.
Roku is our primary frontend, they have all been upgraded to Roku 3, but I do keep an old WiFI only XD around for testing.
I am a PlexPass lifetime member (back when it was cheap, sorry folks!). I use Plex from Roku, desktop and Android app.
Occasionally I receive devices for testing … I have a CuBox, and some more popular items as well.
My DVD rips are either to single file mpeg2 (essentially a decrypted exact representation of the main DVD content) or direct transcodes to mp4. My transcodes are mostly done using Handbrake (all done with Linux… any testing I do with Windows comes off that large 16 core monster with Windows running as a VM under KVM.
Occasionally I’ll have full encrypted saves of DVDs (in cases where there was a bad “pressing” of the DVD). Those aren’t use for Plex, but for burning to writable DVD for DVD devices… which if course isn’t as interesting as it once was.
I’m heavily into plex, as well. I originally started with it running on my Synology DS412+, but was having a hard time getting a reliable experience because of the lack of transcoding capabilities. I then purchased an HP business desktop with an I5-3570S processor. Now the synology is storage-only (for plex, anyways)…with the I5 actually being the Plex server. Works like a champ. I’ve stress-tested it to 3x simultaneous 1080p streams being transcoded.
We’ve got an iPad as well …forgot to mention that. But like @DaFury, we mostly use the Roku frontends.
I’m too cheap (OK, my wife won’t let me . . . .) to replace my 13 year old HDTV (1080i, rear CRT projection, about 400 pounds) with component input. Tried every box known to man to convert HDMI to component, and none worked. So I had to get an old Roku N 1101, which works fine, but the Roku firmware is old and likely will never update. It will not run the Roku channel, so I have to use Plex (which works just fine) to the Plex Tablo channel. It works OK, but some recorded show thumbnails will not delete, navigation is a bit odd, etc, but it is workable. But to get this old Roku to fill the 16:9 screen I had to downgrade to 480 resolution, so I might be better off with a Roku 2 with an S-video output. Probably same resolution, but at least run native Tablo channel.
Yea most of our viewing as well is on the ROKU boxes on HDTV’s but when those are occupied by … oh I don’t know… endless kids shows I use my iPad and I know my wife will sometimes use hers with headphones while our son naps…
@oldmike, an old Roku XS (has wired) or XD (just WiFi) have component out. Before I had an HDMI framegrabber, it’s how I used to make demo vids from the Roku (using a component frame grabber that is). Now… don’t expect any updates for those Rokus either, but at least they will run the Tablo channel. Just an option and since you can get those for USD $20 or less… maybe a reasonable option (?).
PMS running on a Quad core 2.4 GHz with 4 GB of RAM, 60 GB SSD for OS, and then one 3 TB and five 500 GB HDDs for storage drives (all internal). It also doubles as my personal desktop. Front-end devices are Roku 3 and Fire TV Stick, occasionally iPad Air and iPhone 6. Almost all videos are DirectPlay’d so no transcoding of video. Any audio transcoding say from 5.1 to Stereo uses minimal CPU usage, less than 1%.
I forgot to mention in my setup that the server is a true server in a sense that all the rips get pushed there like cjcox. It runs headless and I remote in/rip everything with an old AMD Phenom 9850BE gaming machine I custom built years ago. Runs well enough though (Just a ridiculous power hog, so it’s not on very often). If I happen to be using the itunes store I also have Noteburner on my Macbook Pro if the need arises.
I forgot to mention my TV. I have a 2011 Samsung PN64D8000. We don’t use the 3D much although I have to say it surprised me how well it works. The grandkids love it.
I dont have things automatically push stuff over to the PLEX server … that part I still do by hand … on purpose… I just don’t want it automatically shovel “everything” over … just selective stuff …
Plex Lifetime Member (another back-in-the-day-when-it-was-cheap guy)
Run PMS on a 4Gb, AMD Athalon X4 840 based headless box running WHS2011 (although probably going to move to Win 8.1 this weekend). Running DriveBender for disk pools, providing roughly 12Tb of storage for movies, TV Shows and so on. I also have about 2Tb of duplicated storage that all the home-movies, photos, important documents, emails and so on get saved to by all the family. I run Tonido as a cloud-provider to enable auto-photo upload into those folders, which are then indexable and viewable via Plex.
I also back all my home desktops, some remote family and friends PCs desktops, and my wifes work desktop to my server onto the duplicated space, which then is backed up to the cloud using Crashplan.
@sjp Sounds like we have some of the same things going on. Curious why are you going from WHS11 to 8.1?
@sjp I looked at DriveBender and it looks like something I would like to try. It says you can pool your drives without loosing data. What happens to the folder structure on each drive when you pool them? For instance I have folders for “Movies” “3D Movies” and “TV Shows” on each of 8 drives. What folder structure will the pooled drive have in Windows Explorer?
@roraniel - Essentially it’s transparent. Lets say you have that folder structure on the drive, and add it and another drive to a pool. The two drives will get a new folder installed, and the content from the original drive is moved under that ‘volume’ folder. Duplicated content will then be copied to the second drive under the same Volume folder, using the same folder structure. DB then presents that Volume folder as a Mount Point, with a drive letter - looks to Windows just like a normal drive. The nice thing is you can set it to balance across all the drives in the pool, or favor a specific drive (say one is a 7200RPM, so quicker to write) and then balance when things are quiet and so on.
Windows Storage Spaces is very similar I am told.
You can set DB to hide the ‘real’ drives, and just present the pool - but the original volumes never go away, they are still standard format, you can access them via Windows if you have to, so no proprietary Raid controller or anything like that.
I run plex on a Dell R815 Server w/ 4x16 Core Opteron and 128GB RAM, connected to a 74TB external array (I was able to get an amazing deal on Ebay) running Plex (lifetime member as well) under Linux. Drives are pooled together via aufs, and protected with 4 levels of parity with snapraid. Plex database is located on the machine’s internal drives (6x raided SSD). I would happily recommend the aufs/snapraid solution to other Linux users - snapraid has saved my data on multiple occasions.
Thanks @jskenney ill check out aufs … right now since I just have a single 2TB drive I just periodically dupe it to a second drive I keep in the closet (its not connected except when I do backups). I know I need to improve on this.
@ericgus , aufs is a great way of pooling drives in linux (built into the kernel), and snapraid allows for up to 6 parity drives depending on how large you grow your system (1 parity drive for every 4-6 data drives). I have had multiple drives fail at the same time, and with a snapshot parity system like this, you do not loose the entire array if you loose a certain number of drives. I can recover up to 4 drives (because of the 4 parity drives), any more than that and I will just lose the data on those drives - to me that is a significant advantage over traditional raid. - I have 24 3TB drives in my array now.