How to Disable Video Transcoding in Plex

Knowing how to disable transcoding in Plex can be beneficial if your Plex Media server is constantly running at a high CPU usage. Having your server running with almost all of the CPU being used to transcode a movie can drastically reduce the streaming capability of your server.

How to Disable Video Transcoding in Plex

Of course, once you disable transcoding, any clients that rely on movies being transcoded into a specific format may either have a bad streaming experience, such as buffering, or refuse to play the movie altogether.

For such clients, however, it would be more beneficial to avoid transcoding by providing compatible movie files to stream.

In addition, on the Plex server, there are many client profiles that contain specifications for both direct play profiles and transcode targets. These profiles are used by the Plex server to determine if a file can be direct played, or if a transcode is needed. When transcoding, the Plex server will use the transcode target specifications to determine the file format and codecs to use.

Disable video transcoding

A few years ago, the Plex team added a setting on the server that allows you to disable transcoding for all clients. To disable transcoding on your Plex server, you can use the following steps:

  1. Open a Web browser and navigate to your Plex server.
  2. Log into your Plex server with an administrator account.
  3. Click the Settings icon - the wrench - in the upper-right corner of the Plex server page.
  4. On the left menu, click the Transcoder option under the Settings section.
  5. Check the Disable video stream transcoding option.
  6. Click the Save Changes button at the bottom of the page to save your changes.
    Disable video stream transcoding option in Plex.
    The 'Disable video stream transcoding' option in Plex

Once that setting is active, Plex should no longer transcode your movies. With the setting activated, Plex will still transcode audio and remux (direct stream) your movies as those two options use very little CPU compared to transcoding a video.