Community Connected Storage (NAS) models present distant entry to all of your recordsdata and are a preferred Plex Media Server resolution. Whereas they could appear intimidating and costly, NAS gadgets are literally one of many best home-streaming options and are nicely well worth the cash. Right here’s why a NAS unit could fit your wants higher than the options.
Devoted NAS gadgets join a number of arduous drives to your house web, permitting you to remotely entry their contents from any gadget. In different phrases, they’re like cloud servers for your home. You should use your NAS unit to wirelessly again up recordsdata out of your pc, telephone, or pill, and even obtain the recordsdata out of your NAS with out plugging a tough drive into your gadget. And very like the Dropbox and OneDrive cloud companies, you’ll be able to even entry your NAS unit whenever you’re away from house.
As a result of NAS gadgets are supposed for on a regular basis shoppers, they make the server setup course of as easy as potential and have a number of easy-to-access drive bays. In addition they use RAID to “mix” arduous drives for elevated efficiency and file redundancy, a type of real-time knowledge backup. Including new drives to your NAS gadget is extremely simple, and relying on the way you arrange your raid array RAID, you would possibly by no means want to fret about dropping knowledge if a drive must be changed. (File redundancy is all the time a tradeoff for usable cupboard space, and a few individuals could go for much less redundancy to keep away from spending a ton of cash on arduous drives.)
All of those options make NAS gadgets a great candidate for Plex, particularly in the event you’re inexperienced with drive arrays, servers, and residential streaming. That’s to not say that devoted NAS models are the one resolution for network-attached storage and residential streaming—there are a number of options, and we’ll get to them in a minute. The factor that’s vital to grasp proper now’s that, not like the options, devoted NAS gadgets are literally supposed for server purposes. They’re energy environment friendly, they don’t take up any extra room than they need to, they usually aid you breeze by way of issues like Plex set up and the RAID setup course of.
Selecting a NAS unit for house streaming is pretty simple because of the bustling Plex group. Usually talking, any widespread NAS unit just like the Synology DS220+ or the TerraMaster F2-221 will be capable to stream 4K video or transcode a number of video streams concurrently (transcoding occurs when your server wants to vary a video’s file kind or decision, or add subtitles to the stream). That mentioned, NAS models that are powerful enough to transcode a number of high-res recordsdata are a bit costly. You’ll be able to keep away from a whole lot of transcoding by changing movies to the “common” MP4 format and solely streaming inside your personal house, however in the event you hope to beam 4K video to a ton of gadgets directly, you need to determine whether or not to purchase an costly NAS unit just like the QNAP TVS-872N-i3-8G or go together with a cheaper alternative. (You can too pair your NAS unit with one other gadget.)
Whereas a two-bay NAS unit will work for most individuals, you must significantly contemplate shopping for a NAS gadget with three or extra drive bays to maximise usable cupboard space and guarantee proper file redundancy with RAID (particularly in the event you plan to retailer over 8TB of information). Everybody has completely different wants, however Synology’s useful RAID Calculator may help you visualize how completely different NAS and storage configurations will work with your house streaming server.
A Highly effective 4-Bay NAS Unit
In the event you’re intimidated by the almighty NAS gadget or don’t wish to lay our a fortune on a NAS unit that may transcode 4K video, you’ll be able to nonetheless put collectively a great home-streaming setup with a PC, a Mac, a Raspberry Pi, or an NVIDIA Protect streaming stick.
These options include some drawbacks, however they provide extra energy than a NAS unit at a lower cost, and in some cases, they’re simpler to arrange than a NAS gadget. Understand that you’ll be able to mix these options with an affordable NAS unit, permitting the PC, NVIDIA Protect, or Raspberry Pi to deal with all of the transcoding and processing whereas the NAS unit optimizes and manages the arduous drives.
Technically talking, any desktop or laptop pc can work as a house media server with community hooked up storage and RAID capabilities. When you have an outdated pc mendacity round and don’t thoughts leaving it on 24/7, you shouldn’t have a lot hassle utilizing it as a Plex server, although you’ll most likely discover an influence in your electrical invoice. Some individuals go for small, extra power-efficient computer systems just like the Intel NUC, although these small PCs price far more than a typical NAS gadget and don’t include RAM or a preinstalled OS.
Utilizing a desktop or laptop computer for house streaming has its advantages, particularly in relation to computing energy and upgradability. An honest PC or Mac is extra highly effective than a NAS gadget, which turns out to be useful whenever you stream or transcode 4K video for a number of gadgets concurrently. PCs with upgradable elements may also develop alongside you, saving you the difficulty of organising a brand new server each few years. Simply needless to say a strong and upgradable PC prices extra money and makes use of extra electrical energy than the typical NAS unit.
Turning an NVIDIA Shield TV Pro streaming stick right into a Plex server is easier than organising a NAS unit. You simply obtain the Plex Media Server app from the Google Play retailer, click on by way of the setup display, and add movies to your Protect with a SD card or USB drive. You’ll be able to nonetheless use your NVIDIA Protect as an Android TV stick as soon as it’s arrange with Plex, which saves you the difficulty of shopping for extra streaming sticks to your house.
Whereas the NVIDIA Protect TV Professional doesn’t have RAID or network-attached storage capabilities, you’ll be able to really pair it with an affordable NAS unit for the most effective of each worlds. Or, you’ll be able to simply benefit from the NVIDIA Protect by itself. It will possibly transcode 4K video and deal with simultaneous streams at a a lot lower cost than equally succesful NAS models.
That mentioned, NVIDIA Protect TV Professional gadgets aren’t that rather more costly than entry-level NAS models. In the event you don’t plan to stream 4K video everywhere, a clear and easy NAS unit would possibly fit your wants higher than an NVIDIA Protect. You can all the time purchase the NVIDIA Protect TV Professional later in the event you determine that you really want 4K video or that you simply wish to stream a whole lot of content material outdoors your house.
Raspberry Pi computer systems are by far the most cost effective Plex Media Server resolution, and like PCs, they help RAID and might act as community hooked up storage gadgets. They’re additionally power-efficient, simple to repurpose, and take up little or no area.
That mentioned, Raspberry Pi gadgets aren’t very highly effective and require some expertise (or endurance) to arrange. I don’t counsel taking place this route in the event you hope to stream high-resolution video to a number of gadgets on the identical time. However in the event you plan on streaming to only one gadget inside your house at 4K or just a few gadgets gadgets at customary decision, go forward and seize a Raspberry Pi 4 starter kit, which prices just below $100.
Straightforward and Handy
The Most cost-effective Various
Whether or not you construct your Plex server from a NAS unit or one of many many options, it’s good to purchase some storage devices to carry all of your video recordsdata. The storage gadgets you purchase could rely in your server setup, however usually, you want some good old school arduous drives.
NAS models have a number of drive bays match for any 2.5-inch or 3.5-inch drive. However I strongly counsel shopping for a “NAS” arduous drive just like the Seagate Ironwolf, which is designed for 24/7 operation and comes with a five-year guarantee. Plex servers are continuously working and have a excessive thermal demand, so that they chew by way of common desktop arduous drives like no one’s enterprise. SSDs are additionally a poor possibility, as they’re costly and received’t improve the streaming efficiency of your server, although they will barely enhance the velocity of your navigation menus.
Selecting a drive dimension is usually a bit complicated due to RAID. With a RAID array, usable storage will depend on the smallest drive, so pairing a 4TB and 8TB drive isn’t any completely different than utilizing two 4TB drives. Because of this, every drive in your NAS gadget needs to be the identical dimension (they don’t should be the identical model). Once more, I strongly counsel that you simply play with Synology’s RAID Calculator to visualise how completely different drive combos will present completely different quantities of usable storage.
PC and Raspberry Pi-based Plex servers with a RAID array comply with the identical guidelines as NAS gadgets. However in the event you select to construct a Plex server with out RAID, you’ll be able to combine and match different-sized drives to your coronary heart’s content material. You can too retailer your video recordsdata on SD playing cards or thumb drives, although a NAS drive in an external enclosure will final quite a bit longer, price much less, and maintain extra knowledge.
A NAS Drive With a Guarantee