How do -you- stream?

Marc_G

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@heada beat me to it. What he said!

I definitely wouldn't get a laptop to use as the server because bang for the buck sucks for laptops, many laptops have -U or -T variant processors (throttled/low power), and when you are transcoding it can generate heat. A standalone system for the server is what you want, accessing the NAS. Heada had good options though I keep looking at prices point of eBay business refurbs as the sweet spot.

As to justifying the NAS, I will paraphrase the Ferengi here: the justification for storage, is storage.

More capacity is better, and that NAS will let you scale up as drive costs come down. Go for it!
 

Mushtang

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Thank you both, good things to think about.

The biggest key to running Plex and being able to transcode is CPU speed. Other things are definitely important (such as on board memory) but the CPU is the primary thing to go for in a Plex Server.

The current laptop has a Intel Pentium N3710 / 1.6 GHz CPU.
The Synology NAS I'm looking at has a Intel Cleron J3355 Dual-core 2.0 GHz, so that tells me that even though it's a NAS it's still going to do better than my laptop (I think).
The LattePanda Alpha has a Intel 8th generation Core m3 3.4 GHz - definitely better than either one!
The Jetson Nano has a 64-bit Quad-core ARM A57 @ 1.43GHz - not an improvement over what I have, unless I'm finding the wrong specs on that.

So I could keep my current storage drives for now, swap out the laptop for a LattePanda Alpha (about $450), and be okay until I run out of storage space. Hmmm, that's an idea. I'll keep looking into this.

It's just frustrating because of all the mixed reviews on nearly everything. For every post I read about the Synology NAS saying it's great for a plex server, there's another one that says not to use it for that. There's several YouTube videos saying how it's a great way to go. Not being as familiar with all the options I don't know what to believe.
 

heada

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The key to the Jeston Nano is the GPU as most of the transcoding systems now can offload to the GPU. I know HandBrake looks for and uses any nVidia GPUs in the system and the Nano has a 128 core Maxwell GPU. That said, I'd go with the LattePanda Alpha running Ubuntu if it were me.
 

Mushtang

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The key to the Jeston Nano is the GPU as most of the transcoding systems now can offload to the GPU. I know HandBrake looks for and uses any nVidia GPUs in the system and the Nano has a 128 core Maxwell GPU. That said, I'd go with the LattePanda Alpha running Ubuntu if it were me.
Why Ubuntu vs Windows?
 

heada

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Linux in general has less overhead than Windows but beyond that, the automation that you can do in Linux makes a huge difference. In my setup, I use my desktop to rip my disc to my NAS using MakeMKV. That is nice because it will rip as fast as your disc drive can spin and as fast as you can write to your NAS. A DVD in 20 minutes, a BD in 45 minutes and a UHD BD in just under an hour. Once on my NAS, I want to re-encode the MKV into M4V container, strip all the non-english audio streams, remove all the non-english subtitles, etc. I use HandBrakeCLI on my Ubuntu based Plex server for that via a script that I wrote. It searches for the file, fires up HandBrakeCLI, re-encodes and based on the success, removes the original file. In essence, Ubuntu is free, faster, can be automated and doesn't have forced updates that you can't control.
 

heada

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It's just frustrating because of all the mixed reviews on nearly everything. For every post I read about the Synology NAS saying it's great for a plex server, there's another one that says not to use it for that. There's several YouTube videos saying how it's a great way to go. Not being as familiar with all the options I don't know what to believe.
I missed this part.

Using a beefy Synology NAS as your Plex server is probably fine *if* you don't need to transcode between resolutions or do any really heavy workloads. If you have a 1080p source and it needs to transcode from h.264 into VP9 for example, it can probably do that fine for 1 stream. It may not be able to do that for 4 concurrent streams though. If you have a 4K source and it needs to transcode down to 1080p to play, it will stop and buffer several times throughout the movie.

How many concurrent users will you have?
Will all your sources be streamed at the same resolution?
Will all your devices support the native encoding of your sources? (h.264, h.265, MPEG2, MPEG4, VP8, VP9, etc.)

If your requirements are small, the Synology can do it just fine. If you ask alot of your Plex server, you better have something that can do it or you'll be very frustrated.
 

Marc_G

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I still say, look into something like these. i5-7500, RAM and HD, cheap and up and running in 30 minutes, problem solved without having to learn a new platform:




 

Mushtang

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I missed this part.

Using a beefy Synology NAS as your Plex server is probably fine *if* you don't need to transcode between resolutions or do any really heavy workloads. If you have a 1080p source and it needs to transcode from h.264 into VP9 for example, it can probably do that fine for 1 stream. It may not be able to do that for 4 concurrent streams though. If you have a 4K source and it needs to transcode down to 1080p to play, it will stop and buffer several times throughout the movie.

How many concurrent users will you have?
Will all your sources be streamed at the same resolution?
Will all your devices support the native encoding of your sources? (h.264, h.265, MPEG2, MPEG4, VP8, VP9, etc.)

If your requirements are small, the Synology can do it just fine. If you ask alot of your Plex server, you better have something that can do it or you'll be very frustrated.
But I DO want to transcode any 4K movies I happen to have when I'm watching on one of my non-4K screens, so that I can have the 4K movie available on my theater 4K screen and see a better image. Some reviews say the Synology NAS can do up to 2 transcodes of a 4K movie at a time, some say it can't even do one. Some say it's a great platform to run the Plex Server from, some say it's bad and can't handle it. Grrr.

Answers to your questions:
1) There's only 3 people in my family and we rarely ever all watch Plex at the same time. So 2 concurrent users sometimes, but more often than not just one.
2) I currently have a mix of 720p, 1080p, and 2160p (maybe only a dozen so far but will be getting many more).
3) I'm not sure but I'd guess not. The TVs in the house all have a Roku with Plex app on it, not sure what they can or cannot handle. Various tablets and iphones also. So I'm 100% sure transcoding will be necessary quite often.
 

heada

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But I DO want to transcode any 4K movies I happen to have when I'm watching on one of my non-4K screens, so that I can have the 4K movie available on my theater 4K screen and see a better image. Some reviews say the Synology NAS can do up to 2 transcodes of a 4K movie at a time, some say it can't even do one. Some say it's a great platform to run the Plex Server from, some say it's bad and can't handle it. Grrr.

Answers to your questions:
1) There's only 3 people in my family and we rarely ever all watch Plex at the same time. So 2 concurrent users sometimes, but more often than not just one.
2) I currently have a mix of 720p, 1080p, and 2160p (maybe only a dozen so far but will be getting many more).
3) I'm not sure but I'd guess not. The TVs in the house all have a Roku with Plex app on it, not sure what they can or cannot handle. Various tablets and iphones also. So I'm 100% sure transcoding will be necessary quite often.
My 7th gen I5-7400 can transcode 4k codecs (h.265 to h.264) for multiple streams no problem. That same system crawls to it's knees trying to transcode 4k h.265 to 1080p h.264 and buffers every 5 minutes. None of the Synology systems can transcode both resolution and codec at the same time, they're just not powerful enough. They could transcode in the background using the "Plex optimized" system and then it has multiple sources to use to match the client but now your space usage just went up. The limiting factor is 4K, it's just too much data for most systems to do live unless you have beefy hardware.
 

Mushtang

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Yeah, I think I may have to give up on the 4K dream for now and just continue with a 1080p system that works.

There's no reason to try and improve to 4K if it's going to cost that much. Not enough return on the investment.
 

Mushtang

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Giving up the dream lasted... less than a day.

Thursday night I ordered a Synology DS918+ and three 2 TB Seagate IronWolf Pro hard drives. It holds four drives but I only ordered three because (I thought) that's all I needed and would expand to a fourth later in the year as needed.

This is what I call The Plan: Knowing how a RAID works with redundancy I expected three 2 TB drives to give me 4 TB worth of storage space. I had 3 TB worth of movies which had taken me years to collect, so I knew it would be a long time before I used up that spare 1 TB. An additional hard drive could be added later super easy to give me more space, probably a year or so from now. Solid plan, right?

I'd found a few videos which explained how to set up the drives and use the Synology operating system to get Plex installed and all my files copied. Seemed simple enough. I was ready to go!

It all arrived on Saturday afternoon and I began the learning curve. I'd like to share what I found out for anyone else going this route who is trying to avoid spending too much. Or I should say, who thinks avoiding spending too much is better and is trying to save a little money by being conservative on the hardware. I'm not about to let you know how to save money.

This is what I call The Reality: Spoiler alert, it doesn't fit into The Plan easily. Grrrr. Because of the way drives work I didn't get 4.0 TB of space I only got 3.5. And as I started copying my files I saw that I actually had 3.2 TB worth of movies, tv shows, music, etc and not 3.0. Not only that, but I'd also need to copy over the Plex metadata for all those files which was another huge chunk of hard drive space. Reality showed me that before I'd even finished setting up Plex and haven't watched a single thing my server is nearly full and giving me error messages that I'm running out of storage. I'm at 91% capacity, and not 75% like I assumed I would be.

This morning I ordered a fourth hard drive which will arrive Tuesday. It's a 4 TB drive which for now, because of how the RAID works, will only give me an additional 2 TB for a total of 6 TB of storage. But that will be enough to keep me from being low on space for the foreseeable future.

So my advice to anyone getting a RAID system, decide how much storage you'll need and then get double that to start with. It's only a little more expensive up front but you won't regret it. Instead of starting with three 2 TB drives I should have started with three 4 TB drives.

By the way, know how long it takes to copy 3.2 TB worth of files over a "gig speed" network? I don't know either. I started it late yesterday afternoon and it finished up at some point early this morning while I was still asleep. I guess it makes sense but for some reason I was not expecting that.
 

vcp

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Just an update on how I PLEX.

It looks like my big DLP TV has finally given up the ghost. My last repair gave it another six months but this looks terminal. A new (relatively inexpensive) LED is due for delivery this week.

A few months ago I stopped Hulu and it was weeks before my wife even noticed. We mostly watch our collection on PLEX. A few weeks ago I let Netflix go too. It just seems that neither of them ever had anything good on anymore, and the few good things they do have are buried under tons of junk films. I got really tired of searching for a half hour and finding nothing. My 'keep watching' lists contain dozens of films I only watched for 10 minutes before I got sick of them. I still have Prime, but it's just as bad and has mostly turned into a shill service for rentals that aren't covered under Prime. Also still have Disney+ but rarely watch it. Well, I did have to turn Hulu on again just to watch college football, but it goes off again at the end of the season.

I'm nearly done ripping all of my DVD/BluRay collection. I'm still finding random disks, and a few weeks ago found a large forgotten box of BluRays. Just about everything is now nicely in sleeves and tucked away in 10 of these storage boxes (not counting most boxed sets, which still take up several shelves). The last disks I've been ripping have taken longer because I'm now also ripping the disk extra features. Takes awhile to organize those. I dread the thought, but I'll probably go back to the stored disks and start ripping extra's off of those too. TV series take the longest to rip and organize. I'm currently doing my complete box of X-Files and I'm hugely disappointed that many of the disks are completely unreadable or have unreadable episodes. This was a new, original box and most of the disks had never left their sleeves. I recall that DVD's were expected to have a limited shelf life and these are ~20 years old, so either that's it or it was a bad print to start. Looks like I can make up the bad spots from library checkouts (no, I'm not swapping the disks). Can't wait to see how my box of M.A.S.H. disks works out. (Yes, I could download most of the series I have, but most downloads don't have subtitles [that my wife needs], and/or they're not in the formats I want, so I still rip.)

I'm still just using Windows Storage Space for my disk array system, and it's been working fine. It was getting full so a couple of weeks ago I added a new disk. I was braced for trouble and having it off-line for days while it spread the files across the new disk, but no, it was really slick. Click, click, add the disk, and the disk system optimization was done while it stayed available.

And as far a PLEX goes, we use it constantly. At over 3k movies and hundreds of TV series, it's more than we could ever watch, and it always seems to have a movie we want to watch. I'm still organizing the system, placing movies into collections, and getting the TV series named right. The PLEX feature that I really like is the cast list for each movie, that links to all the other movies that that actor appears in (in your collection). I always check them out to see what they've been in, and trying to remember their parts in those movies. And that usually prompts me to watch that movie, and so on, and another day is gone. And it reveals fun facts! That's how I found out that the older waitress in 'Starman' was a hot nurse is 'South Pacific'; and that Bruce (Army of Darkness) Cambell was in 'Fargo' (try and spot his part). Also, it turns out that one of the kids in 'E.T.' was the (extraordinarily well-endowed) stripper in 'Under Siege'.

Bonus movie question: We've recently had a new grandchild, who my son named Robert Westly Crowell. Anyone care to guess the movie reference?
 

heada

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With the new version of Plex they added a new matching database. Have you switched over to it and what are your impressions?

I switched, did the suggested full metadata refresh and then spent 2 days undoing the garbage that was done.
 
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