Are you looking for a badass way to stream your music and movies over your network? Perhaps watch movies on your big flat screen TV? Take 5 minutes and read this quick guide and you can thank me later. It’s %100 free and easy to setup. Even a toddler can do it!
I was bored last Saturday and setting up my media server was on my mind. I began searching Google for ways to stream media across a network and that is when I found Plex. I thought there had to be a gimmick or a catch but it is indeed all free. There are upgrades and add-ons, but they are not a requirement for our needs today. I did however purchase the app for my iPad but that is completely optional. I just thought it was amazing that I could control Plex from my iPad.
Before we dive in, you will need a few things and I am assuming since you are here already that you have these necessities.
- A NAS, PC, Laptop or something you can dedicate as your media server. I’d recommend a cheap desktop PC because laptops overheat too easy when left on.
- An internet connection is not required unless you want to stream your media remotely. So that is nice to have, and yes… free.
- A Plex.tv account. Again it’s all free so this will be the last time I say the word “free”! This allows you to stream the media on other devices and computers.
Okay! Now that you have that set up, let’s get to the nuts and bolts.
1. Download Plex Media Server to your file server and install it
The software will create a nice web interface on your media server under a strange looking IP like this 127.0.0.1:32400. Don’t get excited, it is just your local machine IP address and cannot be accessed by other computers. If the window did not automatically open with that IP, simply browse for the Plex Media Server application and create a shortcut on your desktop. Now we need to add your media!
2. Click the plus icon on the interface and add a new library. Let’s hope your media is organized neatly in separate folders such as Movies, TV Shows, Music etc. You can read more about media preparation here on the Plex website. I circled the plus sign in red in the image so you can see where it is.
Go ahead and follow the steps and add a new library. You will have to browse for the specific folder but once you are done, it will show up on the left side panel as whatever you named it as.
Depending on how much music or movies you have, it may take a bit to populate the media within each section.
This pretty much concludes the server side setup. You may need to make some minor changes once you install the Plex Home Theater application to adjust permissions.
3. Now simply install the Plex Home Theater application on your HTPC. You will have to verify a pin number for each computer or device you install it on for security purposes.
The nice thing about Plex is it will notice your devices on the network. So no login will be needed unless you want to do more advanced tinkering. Don’t worry, if your wireless router is secure with a password you wont have issues with this.