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 the server can direct play a file, 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. Log into your Plex server as an administrator, and then click the Settings - the wrench - link in the upper-right corner of the Plex server page.
    Plex Settings Icon.
    The 'Plex Settings' icon
  2. In the left menu, click the Transcoder option under the Settings section.
    The Plex Settings Transcoder Option.
    The 'Transcoder' option in the Plex settings
  3. Check the Disable video stream transcoding option. and then 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.

Instead of disabling transcoding, a better option would be to choose the best CPU for Plex and use the integrated graphics capability to transcode. This will greatly reduce the usage of the CPU.

Change Plex advanced settings

Using the Plex Web app as mentioned above is the preferred method of disabling transcoding in Plex. If you prefer, you can change the Plex advanced settings value directly.

You will first need to determine the location of the server settings, and once that is done you will set the transcoderCanOnlyRemuxVideo setting to False.

Once the value is changed, it is recommended to restart the Plex application to ensure the new value is updated. I found that the Plex settings reflected the changed value without a restart, but I would recommend a restart.