I'm a huge Plex user and advocate. For those unfamiliar, Plex is a service that lets users build, organize, and access their own personal media library. I've used Plex since the early days when it was a simple XBMC fork called OSXMBC, and it's steadily grown into an amazingly powerful solution.
Throughout the development of Plex, I've pieced together a server and playback setup. I often get asked how this is all configured, so I decided to document it here. If you have any questions or need clarification, please feel free to contact me using the form linked at the top of the page.
Plex Media Server Hardware
Up until about a year ago, I was running Plex Media Server (PMS) on my primary iMac, which wasn't ideal as I wanted to ensure an adequate separation of system resources. A benefit of running a technology website is that you end up with lots of spare parts like solid state drives, CPU coolers, and system memory, and I realized that I had just about everything I needed to build a dedicated PMS box. After buying a case and dedicated network card, I ended up with the following configuration.
- Case: Silverstone Tek GD07B
- Motherboard: Gigabyte G1.Sniper M3
- CPU: Intel Core i7-2600K
- Memory: Kingston HyperX 8GB (2 x 4GB)
- System Drive: 128GB Samsung 840 Pro SSD
- Backup Drive: 3TB Seagate ST3000DM001 HDD
- Network Card: Intel Pro/1000 EXPI9402PTBLK Dual NIC
- Operating System: Windows Server 2012 R2
The above system runs the Plex Media Server software, stores all the metadata, and transcodes outgoing media if necessary. The actual media itself is stored on a Synology DiskStation DS2413+ loaded up with twelve 4TB Western Digital Se hard drives. I elected to use Synology's Drobo-like "Hybrid RAID" configuration with two-disk redundancy, leaving me with about 37TB of usable space.
The DS2413+ has two network connections, so I have one of those ports directly wired to one of the two ports on the server. This lets me point PMS directly to the Synology's internal IP, ensuring a direct and unobstructed connection between the NAS and server. I therefore know that, regardless of any other congestion on my network, the media files will get from the DS2413+ to the server unobstructed. The Synology's second port is connected to my broader network, allowing me to access it directly when adding new media or performing updates and maintenance. Similarly, the second network port on the server connects to my local network and the Internet -- obviously important so that I can access Plex.