I started with Plex Media Server using my regular Windows 7 desktop as the server. This was easy for me to have a look at Plex, test it out, see what was required for configuration without having to invest in a second system.
Seeing the potential of hosting my own library of movies, shows, and photos, I decided to buy a used system off eBay to use as my Plex server.
My requirements for a server weren't demanding, so I didn't want to setup a complex system, but wanted a small computer that had enough processing power to transcode at least two streams, if needed. Since it will be located in my office and always powered on, I also wanted one that was quiet and didn't use a lot of power.
I managed to find a used small form factor Lenovo workstation that met my requirements.
My Plex Media Server Specifications
As mentioned, my Plex server is a used small form factor workstation. The workstation is a Lenovo ThinkCentre M82. Below are the specifications of my Plex server.
|Processor||i5-3470 3.20 GHz||PassMark: 6567. This is enough to transcode 3 1080p movies.|
|RAM||12 GB||Originally had 4 GB, but I upgraded to 12 GB.|
|OS Hard Drive||120 GB Samsung EVO||Came with a 1 TB Seagate Barracuda, but wanted faster drive with less power consumption.|
|Operating System||Windows 10|
|Graphics Card||Intel HD Graphics 2500||Won't do much transcoding movies with this card as I prefer CPU transcodes for better quality.|
|USB 3.0 Ports||4 in rear||Great for connecting my USB 3.0 external hard drives.|
|Media Storage||Western Digital Duo 8 TB||Two 4 TB WD Reds that are mirror using DrivePool and connected via USB 3.0.|
My Plex Media Server Setup
I try to keep my Plex installation as simple as possible. To help with that, I have the following setup of my Plex server on Windows:
- Plex runs as a service
- My Plex instance runs as a Windows service on my server. This means that my Plex server is up and running as much as possible. When the server restarts, such as with Windows updates, the Plex application automatically restarts.
- Run Plex as a standard user
- By default, Plex runs as an administrator under Windows. This is because an administrator installs the Plex application. This causes Plex to use that ID to run under, instead of another ID on the system. To run Plex as a standard user, I first move Plex to a standard user account, and then change the service to run with the new standard user.
- Automatically updating Plex
- For me, I prefer to have Plex update automatically. When running a service, it isn't as easy, since I would need to stop the service, run the install, and then start the service. To make it easier, I run a scheduled job that runs a Plex updater application each morning.