So over the years I have collected an amazing number of DVDs and Blu-rays, music CDs and MP3s and various television show ‘sets”. Of course, keeping all of these tracked and in order, alphabetized and neat and clean is no small task. I have often found that I own more than one (and sometimes more than two) copies of the same movie! Nothing like spending money on something you don’t really need, especially since you already have one! My frustration boiled over when I found that I had somehow purchased a third copy of a movie I love. Enough was enough!

As a result, I decided that I needed to come up with a more ’21st Century’ approach to my movie/music/TV collection and started looking for the best tool for the job. Anyone familiar with Plex will have no-doubt heard of MythTV, XBMC (now Kodi), EMBY, and Windows Media Server just to name a few. ┬áJumping into the swamp of digital media servers and platforms is not for the faint-of-heart, or for someone that does not have a bunch of time to do some research and try different things out before committing. ┬áSure you can go out, buy a little NAS, hit a button or two and have any number of systems up and running, but really getting it where you like it and enjoy using it, plus getting your media all online so you can use it with you new platform takes quite a bit to make happen.

So to get started, I poked around and started reading up on the various forums, trying to see if any of my friends were running any specific type of platform, trying to figure out the best way to convert my DVDs and Blu-rays to digital format and then deciding how and where to park all of that data once I had done all of the media preparation. In the end, I chose Plex, not because it was the absolute best at all things, but because it did what ‘I’ needed and wanted it to do. Not wanting to get into a religious war over the various platforms like you see on some forums, I made a list of the things I wanted it to do and went from there. Some of those items included:

  • Had to run on Linux (Ubuntu or Gentoo preferred)
  • Good Forums for when I make stupid mistakes
  • Had to have clients for the following
    • Roku 2 & 3
    • XBox
    • Playstation
    • Visio TV
    • Web
    • iPhones
    • Android Phones
  • Be able to support multiple file formats natively
  • Support transcoding on the fly for all supported platforms
  • Support HD (1080p) material
  • Support family controls
  • And almost the most important – it had to support syncing of movies.

Because there are nine of us (including seven kids ranging from 9 to 24) having family control was very important, but for the exact same reason, having sync capability was just as important. We spend a lot of time flying around from place-to-place and having the ability for the kids to grab a movie or three was important to our peace of mind as the pilots doing the flying!

Another thing that lead me to the direction of Plex was that I had other ‘like minded’ techie friends that were using Plex. This means the ability to share information, ideas and solutions within a group of core friends. While not the ‘nail in the coffin’ it went a long way towards helping with the final decision. So Plex it was.

So over the next few weeks (ok, maybe months) I will attempt a good run down on my media server configuration including the front end systems, a little bit about the network side of the house, the backend storage and wat a story that is) including a 12TB QNap 670 and a 40TB Freenas system and how I put it all together to store thousands of my movies and TV programs and keep everyone happy in the process.

Stay Tuned!