How I made Plex work for me

As I’ve written before, I run a Plex Media Server at my home, and have run many different configurations of set ups for almost 4 years. We originally ran the client off of our XBox 360 until the App was obsoleted, and now we enjoy it on desktops, mobiles, and on our Samsung TV, delivering high-quality content to our family.

Our current Plex Media Server is run on a 4-core/4GB laptop with an external USB-attached 6TB hard drive complete with a library of 1708 Movies and 111 TV Shows. It’s not an expensive set up and has paid itself off time and time again.

For the longest time i’ve used to access my Plex Media Server remotely, and painfully have had to endure poor quality streaming because I wasn’t really aware about how Plex works behind the scenes. After some time I’ve learned the “why” and the “repairs” to be able to take my remote Plex Viewing up a notch.

First off, was the huge blame in my remote viewing quality mainly because as a plex user you should have access to all libraries you are permitted access to. I was only interested in viewing my remote server, so going through was the original problem. Upon accessing and viewing my remote content I was tied into the Plex Relay, a service that streams content from your remote host to and then streams it directly to you, bypassing any firewalls. Technically this is permissible as upon launching the plexmediaservice it connects to and sets up the relay ahead of time. What I did not know was that the Plex Relay Service was bandwidth capped at 1mb/sec, and 2mb/sec for Plex Pass subscribers.

This realization helped me move towards the next step. I had the choice of creating “Optimized” versions of all my content at 0.7mbps at Standard Definition, which saves on the transcoding, or figure out how to get my Plex streaming high quality content directly to me. The second option was my way to go.

So, it came down to actually allowing TCP/32400 through my router to my internal Plex Server, and putting my home’s IP address in DNS so I can always access it. This ALONE allowed me to directly connect to my Plex Media Server and begin to stream high quality content.

The next steps are to figure out how to engage https on my home Plex Media Server and use applications like nginx and letsencrypt to “host” a bare website and to be able to get a free SSL certificate, then to convert the PEMs from the letsencrypt CA to .p12’s and allow Plex to use those, which I’ve not been able to do at this time.

So, the comprehension of the Plex Relay and understanding that I had to be able to directly access the Plex at home helped to give me HQ remote content on my Desktops. My Samsung TV is pretty at home streaming HQ content as well, so I’m assuming that getting the SSL certificate and configurating that correctly (with Plex Media Server data directory and Advanced hidden settings) will fix remote Mobile connections 🙂

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