When it comes to a device like raspberry pi, I will tell you one thing.
It is hard to top the versatility that a Raspberry Pi offers.
And with the upgraded Raspberry Pi 4 that we have in our hands, the extent to which you can deploy a raspberry pi keeps on expanding.
A raspberry pi’s tiny form factor and low power draw make it ideal for server-grade deployments.
In this article, let me cover one very cool use that one can think of with a raspberry pi.
Creating a plex media server to store and stream your favorite media on your favorite media consumption devices.
I have already written an article on the hardware demands of a plex server.
It is when I was writing that article did it hit me to write an article on can raspberry pi run plex. That and other questions like raspberry pi 4 plex server performance, raspberry pi 4 plex server transcoding, why use plex for raspberry pi, and how to create a plex server using raspberry pi.
So that is how this article is going to progress.
Let’s get started by answering the most pertinent question.
Can Raspberry Pi Run Plex?
The answer is yes, you can actually create a modest plex media server using raspberry pi. However, be aware of the fact that it won’t match the performance of a dedicated server or even some old PC that you can potentially use. That being said looking at the price the performance that you can get is fantastic.
In addition to the price to performance ratio being fantastic, a raspberry pi server has a low power draw.
Contrast that with a dedicated server or even an old PC which will consume a lot more power relatively should you choose to keep it on for a major part of the day.
In this article, let’s revolve our discussion around raspberry pi and plex servers.
I will try and cover most major points about the topic under discussion and should you have any further queries you can of course ask me in the comments section below.
Also, before we begin, let me just relay a few more articles that I think deserve your attention.
If you are interested in this article on can raspberry pi run plex, here are some more articles that I think you will cherish.
- Do Plex Servers Need GPUs?
- Can raspberry pi be used for gaming?
- How to stream video from raspberry pi to your phone?
- Can raspberry pi be used as a general purpose computer?
- Best way to learn raspberry pi for beginners?
What Is A Plex Media Server?
A person like you who knows what raspberry pi is and has willingly clicked on this article I know already knows what a plex server is.
However, I am also sure there are going to be a lot of beginners with raspberry pi who will be reading this article.
Therefore, allow me to quickly explain what a plex media server actually is.
If you are already well versed with it you can jump to the next section, however, I recommend reading it anyway as it will brush up your knowledge and also prepare you for the next sections.
So, what exactly is a plex media server?
A plex media server is a digital media player and organization software with the help of which you can let other devices on the network access media like pictures, music, video, etc.
A plex media server is a very good way to share and organize media that you own with different devices on your network.
Plex media server comes in really handy when you have a lot of media and you are having a hard time storing and organizing it.
If you successfully develop a plex media server, you can keep all your media devices in one place and conveniently share it across different media consumption devices on your network.
But you won’t be limited to your local network with plex.
You can even allow remote access to your media meaning you can access media files over the internet.
In the context of the article, we are discussing how you can deploy a plex server using raspberry pi.
However, you can easily install a plex media server on most machines with major OSes like Windows 10, Linux, and macOS.
Once you have successfully created a plex media server using raspberry pi or otherwise all devices that you choose to keep in your network will be able to seamlessly browse and consume any media that rest on the server.
Why Use Plex With Raspberry Pi?
Now that we have a good idea regarding what a plex server is and what are the cool things that you can do with it, let me answer a pertinent question.
Why should you create a plex server using raspberry pi?
I mean when you can use a much more potent system with hopefully powerful transcoding does creating a raspberry pi plex server even make sense.
Well, acknowledging the fundamental fact that you can potentially create a much more powerful server when using better configuration using a raspberry pi plex server holds its own in many situations.
- First off, a raspberry pi is a very cost-effective solution for a plex server.
At just 35$ you get a full computing system that is capable of running plex and provide seamless streaming of your media content.
Of course, you can use an old PC for doing the same but not everyone will have an old PC just lying around doing nothing in their home.
It’s hard to beat the versatility that a raspberry pi offers.
- Secondly, it has a small form factor.
In addition to costing less, raspberry pi is a credit card-sized computer. Think about how much unnecessary wastage of space will you reduce.
I don’t know about you but if I am going to develop a dedicated server I would want it to be as small as it can be so that it is not in my way and does what it needs to do with less intrusion to me.
- Thirdly, it has low power footprint.
With the latest iteration of raspberry pi 4, the device has overall gotten more powerful and extracts relatively less power than its former versions.
A Plex server will potentially be on for the most part of the day and possibly into the night.
You want a dedicated server to extract as little power as it possibly can.
A raspberry pi plex is perfect for such situations.
How To Create A Plex Server using Raspberry Pi?
Alright with the basics and the importance of a raspberry pi plex out of the way, let’s learn how you can create a plex server using raspberry pi.
Run System Update
Before doing anything of value on raspberry pi, it is always a good idea to update the essential packages.
Open the terminal and run the following commands.
sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get upgrade
Once the update process is complete, the next thing is to install the Plex Media Server on your raspberry pi.
Download Plex Media Server DEB File
Go to plex.tv and download the Linux version of the Plex media server.
You will also have to choose the distribution before you will be able to download the installer.
For raspberry pi choose ARMv8 or ARMv7 installer. Choose v8 for 64-bit OS and v7 for 32-bit OS.
Once you have selected the right version start your download. Once the download is complete you will observe that you have received a plex DEB file. Launch this file.
You will now be prompted to enter your password.
Note that you should also be able to access localhost:32400/web on your pi or [RASPBERRY PI IP]:32400/web on a device on the same network so that you can configure plex on a raspberry pi.
Setup A Static IP On Raspberry Pi
In ideal terms, you should be able to work with plex on the pi right about now.
However, it’s best to have a static IP for your raspberry pi.
The reasoning is two folds, a static IP is easier to remember plus you will find your raspberry pi always on the same address.
Here is how to do it.
Enter the following command
This is where you will get your current IP address.
Next, open the cmdline.txt file by entering the following command.
sudo nano /boot/cmdline.txt
In this file at the bottom write your IP next to where it says ‘ip=’ like so
ip=[YOUR CURRENT IP ADDRESS HERE]
Once that is done, press ‘ctrl + X‘ to exit and then ‘Y‘ to save your work.
Next, you need to restart your pi to make the changes to take place.
Enter the following command.
Add Media To Your Raspberry Pi Server
Okay now onto the good stuff.
This is where you now have to add all your media files to your plex library.
I know the question you are having right now in your mind.
What if the collective size of my files is greater than the size of my microSD card.
Well, adding an extra storage device is something that I recommend anyways for applications like these.
In one of my earlier posts on how important GPUs are for a plex server, I recommended using an SSD to store your OS and plex and an entirely different hard drive or storage solution like NAS for your media files.
If you want clarity to see where the drives are mounted, use this command.
sudo cat /proc/mounts
This will list out all connected USB drives in the form of strings.
You may also have to manually mount a USB drive to your raspberry pi.
Mounting a USB drive is easy enough but can be a tricky process for beginners.
Here is the step-by-step process to accomplish it.
Mounting USB Drives To Raspberry Pi For Media Access
If you are using NTFS (file system), you need to install the NTFS 3G package.
Use this command.
sudo apt-get install ntfs-3g
You will also need the drive UUID to complete the mounting process. If you don’t already have it, you can find the UUID by listing all connected drives using the command,
ls -l /dev/disk/by-uuid
Your drive UUID will be the string after the /sda address like /dev/sda1.
Next, you need to create a new directory to mount the USB drive into using
sudo mkdir /media/usb1
Find drive GUID and UID using the following commands.
id -g pi id -u pi
After you have collected all that info it’s time to edit the fstab file.
sudo nano /etc/fstab
In this file, we will be adding the information for our USB external drive.
Use this format and add the necessary data that you just collected.
UUID=NAME OF DRIVE /media/usb1 auto nofail,uid=your_uid_here,gid=your_gid_here,noatime 0 0
Save and exit using ‘Ctrl + X‘ and then ‘Y‘. Use the following command to unmount the drive.
sudo umount /dev/sda1
and then use this command to mount the drive.
sudo mount -a
Once all of this is done you need to restart your raspberry pi for the changes to take effect.
Once you restart your USB external drives will auto-mount.
Configuring plex On The Raspberry Pi
At this point, we have our plex media server setup.
We also have our external hard drive or your NAS fully loaded with your favorite media.
The only thing that is left to do is configure Plex on the raspberry pi and point it towards our media library.
So, let’s do that and have our server ready.
To do this head over to localhost:32400/web/ and you will see a plex login screen.
The first thing that you will be prompted to do is to name your server. I think PiPlex is a great name 😛 because it sounds perplexed but hey you can name it whatever you want.
Click on Next and point your Plex server towards your media libraries.
A quick tip before we move on to the next section.
- Create folders for different media types.
For example, in my case, a core entertainment folder has subfolders like music, movies, TV, and pictures.
Now click Add Library and select the library type like movies, TV shows, music, photos, and other videos.
Once that is done navigate to the folder where respective media files are located and your library will be ready.
Raspberry Pi 4 Plex Server Performance
Alright, if you have followed all the above steps to the dot you should have your raspberry pi plex server up and running.
Let’s talk about the performance that you can expect out of a plex server created on a raspberry pi.
To a great degree, your raspberry pi plex server’s performance will depend upon what kind of files are you streaming and what are the clients you are streaming upon.
Similarly, it will also depend on what version of raspberry pi you are using and what kind of hardware is it sporting.
With the latest iteration and the hardware that comes packed with it raspberry pi 4 is the one that will offer the best plex server performance.
The question that arises is that of transcoding.
Can raspberry pi transcode in plex?
The answer is yes, however, the transcode process won’t be effective or all that smooth. You shouldn’t be surprised if you experience buffering while transcoding on a Pi Plex server.
The performance of raspberry pi is surprisingly good for 1080p direct play files.
What I have observed is that raspberry pi 4 can manage 5-6 simultaneous streams of direct play files.
If all that you want to do is stream on a home network, I think raspberry pi 4 offers the perfect computing hardware to base your plex server on.
Because the new raspberry pi supports dual 4K resolution, you can even try 4K direct play. Transcoding is out of the question but it’s so good to see to what extent can you push your pi.
How Good Is Raspberry Pi For A Plex Server?
Now that we have answers to the questions like can raspberry pi run plex and how can you install a plex media server on raspberry pi let me conclude this article by answering the most pertinent question.
How good is raspberry pi as a plex server or is it worth it to create a plex server using raspberry pi?
The answer is yes absolutely. Creating a plex server using raspberry pi is worthwhile for reasons like it is the most economical option, it has less power draw, small form factor, and the fact that it can handle most requirements for in-home streaming.
A plex server that is created using raspberry pi is of course not going to match the performance of a dedicated server.
However, as long as your home network has clients that allow direct play, you don’t have massive remote streaming requirements and you don’t push your pi past 5-6 direct play streams I can’t think of a better economical solution.
Now the equation will be different if you were to tell me that you have an old PC lying around.
Because if you can hook up a basic GPU with it, you can deploy the system to have transcoding and push its performance to a place that will beat raspberry pi by a huge margin.
- Check this article out to know how much performance improvement you can have for your plex server if you hook up a GPU with it.
The only downside to a dedicated server like this is the power draw it will demand which obviously will be reflected on your bill.
Therefore, it is you who has to make the judgment call as to what do you demand out of a plex server.
If your demand is that of in-home streaming where you are streaming to clients in your house, I can’t see a better option than building a low-power plex server using raspberry pi.
I hope you enjoyed the article as much as I enjoyed writing it. If you have any other comment queries or feedback regarding anything that you have read here don’t shy away from commenting the same in the comments section below.
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Take care of yourselves and I will see you around 😊.