Large collections - XBMC vs. MB - AVS Forum

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Nebiroth's Avatar Nebiroth
03:24 AM Liked: 30
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10-21-2013 | Posts: 183
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I've been tinkering with the idea of HTPC for ages. Since I have a background in IT the hardware and most of the software phase is actually the easy bit for me.

The main sticking point, odd as it may sound, is really thr front end - but ultimately, it's really one of the most important aspects since the hardware is just a pile of expensive furniture if it doesn;t do what you want, in the way you want.

So my big question is:

I have an almost embarassingly large collection of movies and TV series. Not just hundreds but thousands. And it;s getting bigger.

Now, obviously this presents a problem when it comes to browsing them.

Which would people recommend - XBMC or MB?

When I tinkered with things some while back I actually found that Media Browser did more of what I wanted, largely thanks to the way it makes it easy to nest things into categories and collections.

With a library this large, I would want from the outset to set up folder structures that break down the collection into manageable groups (espescially for movies). I realise that XBMC and Mb can both do this "virtually" by working off one big folder that has everything in it and setting up things like Collections/Genres and the like. But I don;t want to work that way - and I think it could cause performance issues as well. Also, XBMC's genre system strikes me as odd and unfriendly.

I'd be interested to hear thoughts on this. Also, can anyone point to a comprehensive guide for MediaBrowser - espescially MB3 - the information seems ot be there on the official site but I find it disjointed and inaccessible, whereas XBMC's Wiki is much better laid out.
Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
07:36 AM Liked: 1017
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10-21-2013 | Posts: 24,223
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MB3 does very well with my 30TB of media in multiple folders- but refresh or reset cache and do a full scan takes a while (hours)

Once you get it up and running set the MB3 server program to scan and update often. The program can handle big volume of media and retain the speed and snap thanks to the new dual program approach. It's faster than mb2 or XBMC that only use the one install front end program and must scan over LAN
steelman1991's Avatar steelman1991
08:16 AM Liked: 75
post #3 of 31
10-21-2013 | Posts: 981
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

MB3 does very well with my 30TB of media in multiple folders- but refresh or reset cache and do a full scan takes a while (hours)

Once you get it up and running set the MB3 server program to scan and update often. The program can handle big volume of media and retain the speed and snap thanks to the new dual program approach. It's faster than mb2 or XBMC that only use the one install front end program and must scan over LAN

XBMC is equally as snappy, if not more so - but don't let your petty predjudice of XBMC get in the way of reason.

Try both, they are free and both have their strengths and weaknesses. In fact I'm happy to throw a third - Media Portal - into the mix, again free so easy to try.
Nebiroth's Avatar Nebiroth
08:44 AM Liked: 30
post #4 of 31
10-21-2013 | Posts: 183
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It's no so much performance then but construction of the folders and having "nests".

When I played with both, admittedly a while back, it seemed to me that MedaBrowser coped much more happily with nested folder structures and would just present a collection in the way you constructed the folders. For example, if you had a structure like

Movies/Horror/Hammer/movie1, movie2, movie3

Then that's how you browsed through them on the screen, and you could assign an image for the Horror and Hammer subsets; this seemed much more difficult to set up in XBMC.

Media Browser just seemed more intuitive and easier for my particular needs. But that was quite a while ago, so things may well have moved on a lot since then.

MB not only allows this but also has the [boxset] feature, whereas XBMC seems to just say - put everything into one big folder and then use the Collections and Genre functions; Collections are easy but Genre is a fiddle, AND it relies on using metadata.

Unless I've got it totally wrong.

You can appreciate the problem, with so many movies - I haven't counted but it's at least a thousand, probably more, and that Amazon wishlist is getting longer too.

TV series not so much, since by their nature, they "nest" into their seasons anyway.
lukemb's Avatar lukemb
09:01 AM Liked: 113
post #5 of 31
10-21-2013 | Posts: 311
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We (MB) have a brand new architecture and as a result, everything is pretty fast, and designed for performance.

In preparation for linux and user's desire to run it on low power devices, we've actually intentionally slowed the library scan a little in recent builds. Now it takes very little longer, but uses very little resources. And it's not something you have to wait for either, as you're able to use your clients while the background processing occurs.

As for on the fly library browsing performance, just take a look at the web client and how fast it is to filter, sort, etc, as well as perform analytic for things like recommendations, next up, etc. It's a restful server and was designed to be as fast possible, and we run performance profiles relentlessly as new features are added in order to keep it that way. In other words, we're obsessed with speed.
Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
09:30 AM Liked: 1017
post #6 of 31
10-21-2013 | Posts: 24,223
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steelman1991 View Post

XBMC is equally as snappy, if not more so - but don't let your petty predjudice of XBMC get in the way of reason.

Try both, they are free and both have their strengths and weaknesses. In fact I'm happy to throw a third - Media Portal - into the mix, again free so easy to try.

I have both XBMC and MB3 installed on my desktop. I'd be happy to youtube a video from desktop launch to file navigation of the same 3 movies and a TV show all files located in different categories and folders.

MB3 is faster once you suffer the "scan/update" process of the MB3 server program (that takes a while).

You can add PLEX into the mix too- if you want to make it a 4 way dance.

I do not think speed is a major reason why people choose one or the other at all; My guess the reasons are:

#0.) Desire to be inside WMC or outside it (I made this zero because it's the first fork in the road)
#1.) Personal Bias/ Comfort Level / Tendency to like what you have (what you use now, or started on first)
#2.) Fear of "learning curve" and set up of another - it takes a while and some growing to really get the most out of a front end. Most stop short of this when they try something else second. As a result the current remains the #1.
#3.) Wanting transcoding or ability to stream/upload/watch when away from home and commonality across all platforms (PLEX and MB3)


The main reason why people choose MB3 Classic or MB2 has been to remain inside WMC and retain the TV DVR support, and WMC centric experience to HTPC. The main reason why people like XBMC was to remain outside WMC, or not be tied to it (and MS).

If you want to be in WMC the best option is to use MB2 or Classic, or set up integration to PLEX and XBMC so you can navigate back and forth.

MB3 Theater should change all that up because it should offer it all- The common MB3 platform that support ROKU, LINUX, MS, iOS, Android, WMC, and outside WMC. It should offer trans coding, streaming online when away- remote launch- and also support MADVR and advanced video rendering.

Currently I see it like this:

XBMC = Great for those that want to be outside WMC. Easy to use, looks and works great. Lacks transcoding, online streaming when away, and the general dual program advantage like MB3 or PLEX that use a "server" program that can feed multiple devices and OSes. Can take more advanced work around to get live TV and DVR perfect.

MB2 : Can stay inside WMC, looks and works great. Can't transcode, or stream. No server client either. (or required)

PLEX: Basically XBMC with the "server" added side so you can transcode, stream online when away and also has support for android, iOS, etc... Not inside WMC

MB3 Classic : MB2 basically with the "server" side added for a common solution across platforms and devices like PLEX. Adds the "server" functionality of advanced control, transcode, and online stream when away. Still stuck inside WMC

MB3 Theater: All the advantages of the dual server and client, and MB3 platform advantages but not inside WMC. Integrated player can support MADVR with advanced rendering for better PQ. Also has some new features (can't say all yet since not released, but live video backdrops is pretty cool in the beta biggrin.gif )

It's not as much as one solutions is better than another- but more about how they are different and which solutions are important to which users.

They all have the good and bad about them.

If you have a "media server" and an advanced set up where you have multiple devices you likely would enjoy a "server" and "front end client" dual approach as it's speedier and has some major advantages. You can install the "server" on your server and it can do some of the heavy lifting so your "front end" on your device has less to do and works smoother and better. This approach also allows for clever automation and remote control options- and transcoding on the fly or remote streaming. This is important to someone who has a large media server, a smart phone, a tablet, a laptop, and a dedicated HTPC I would guess as it really improved the experience.

If you have a single machine HTPC with all storage located inside (no media server) and you only care about that machine you likely don't need or like the dual approach and prefer either MB2 or XBMC traditionally depending on if you are inside or outside WMC.

For someone that has a single machine, mostly just download movies and wants to browse them stored locally on the machine XBMC has long had the main adoption for this purpose traditionally. While MB has long had the main adoption among WMC users.

Today the landscape is all cloudy- with all sorts of new devices popping up. Some people are looking for solutions to just more than a local HTPC single machine. Choosing a front end today now accounts for more than just your HTPC. Some people have many HTPC's, or have devices like ROKU and tablets or Jailbroken AppleTV's, Google TV's... really all sorts of stuff.

It's not as easy as XBMC vs MB like before.

back to the OP point,

In terms of speed I would imagine a server client program approach is going to remain the fastest over a larger library for a variety reasons, but it's really going to come down to your hardware and set up. For me- my server runs the "server" programs great- and I have generally fast HDD's in my server so the local performance is greater than the performance over LAN- so I notice that the MB3 runs better than MB2 or XBMC did once I got the set up right. I attribute this to the server side doing a little more of the lifting on that side - and if you have a limited power streamer box or a limited LAN connection you would appreciate that approach on a large collection.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lukemb View Post

We (MB) have a brand new architecture and as a result, everything is pretty fast, and designed for performance.
In other words, we're obsessed with speed.

I can second this. +1. Having been on the MB3 DEV area I can attest that this is a significant aspect of conversation and goals. Sometimes it's easier said than done, but certainly speed is a major area of concentration and importance.

Sometimes it's just hard to make something rip quickly through many TB's of information very fast without using much power tongue.gif
steelman1991's Avatar steelman1991
10:03 AM Liked: 75
post #7 of 31
10-21-2013 | Posts: 981
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See you are capable of reasoned debate - a much more balanced view than some of your recent comments about - in particular xbmc. Knock yourself out on the video front, I don't need to see the results - like you I have first hand knowledge of both systems (running both as well) and see little difference between them. You are correct though very much a "horses for courses" argument.
Dark_Slayer's Avatar Dark_Slayer
12:01 PM Liked: 316
post #8 of 31
10-21-2013 | Posts: 2,657
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nebiroth View Post

It's no so much performance then but construction of the folders and having "nests".

When I played with both, admittedly a while back, it seemed to me that MedaBrowser coped much more happily with nested folder structures and would just present a collection in the way you constructed the folders. For example, if you had a structure like

Movies/Horror/Hammer/movie1, movie2, movie3

Then that's how you browsed through them on the screen, and you could assign an image for the Horror and Hammer subsets; this seemed much more difficult to set up in XBMC.

Also being either a current or at one time a user of MB2, Plex, and XBMC (whilst being an XBMC fanboy) I'd say it's best for you to stick with mediabrowser for your specific needs

I literally don't understand the structure you mentioned, but I'm not a huge movie buff. Is hammer supposed to be Hammer Production Company?

You were correct that MB2 was the easiest way to fiddle with collections in this form, and it's probably still close. No idea how MB3 would let you handle the varying types of collections you wish to "sort by" or add

I really don't think it's a great idea to use explorer for that, but I'm not going to try to influence to change. In the past I'd have recommended you use mediacentermaster to keep all of those sorted (initial scan will be painful, just leave it alone for a couple hours) since it gives you the ability to change over to different front-ends quite easily (check different boxes in settings and then refetch your library). However, MB3 server seems like they are going to ensure this same functionality.

While it's easy to add different collections by folder to your XBMC main menus (kids, horror, hd, documentaries, etc) it isn't ideal to add collections sorted varying different ways with their own collection art. You are correct that it's not built that way. I like MCMs genre tagging enough, and I only use that "horror" sort infrequently but I don't think XBMC is the best route for what you are trying to accomplish
Nebiroth's Avatar Nebiroth
12:21 PM Liked: 30
post #9 of 31
10-21-2013 | Posts: 183
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It was just a random example really. Hammer Film was a British film company that made a broad variety of stuff, but is by far best known for it's horror movies; most notably those with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee in lead roles, sometimes both actors starring in the same film. Lee is best known as Hammer's Dracula, whilst Cushing as Frankenstein (the doctor, not the monster!)
Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
02:39 PM Liked: 1017
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10-21-2013 | Posts: 24,223
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Your best bet in organizing would be to place all the "hammer" in a folder called "hammer collection"

Create a nested folder structure with MCM - and make it a collection or box set.

Then inside use MCM to tag each movie individually inside it's own movie folder, album art, meta data etc.

Then you would just add the main folder called "hammer" to your normal movies folder and it would show up, clicking on it would bring you into the collection. That is how I would do it.

Adding in MB3 is simple enough, you do it on the server program. Just click on the folders you want to add and name them. Best to use UNC paths.
Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
02:41 PM Liked: 1017
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammer_Film_Productions

http://www.hammerfilms.com/

http://www.imdb.com/company/co0103101/

Ok-- I just educated myself.


I will give it a try (without any movie files)
Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
02:59 PM Liked: 1017
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http://www.horror-movies.ca/best-hammer-horror-films/

I just used the movies in this link above.

First I created a folder on my desktop called "HAMMER COLLECTION"




Then inside I created a few folders and named them some of the names of movies I saw on that site.




Now- I don't actually have the movies or anything inside these folders. I am just playing and "pretend" I do.

I found this on google:




Seems like a good cover (good enough for example)

I downloaded it named it "folder"



Next,

I point my MCM to that folder "HAMMER COLLECTION" to scan:




note: I put a quick cell shot video of my dog in each folder because I don't own the movies or have them. But the results should be the same.


I let it autoscan first:




Once it was done I got this:




ok..

Wife yelling at me...

I will finish when I get back home soon.

hang tight
Defcon's Avatar Defcon
03:03 PM Liked: 39
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10-21-2013 | Posts: 919
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Organizing movies by folder is inherently flawed, because a single item belongs in multiple categories/genres etc. So e.g you can't really have movies\HD, movies\Drama etc. Same goes for any other classification. This is why smartlists/categories come into play. I am a big believer in metadata.

 

Mfusick, do you use MySQL (or better still, MariaDB) in your XBMC setup? What I've found is its better to organize media as follows -

 

media\static - this contains bulk of movies/tv. These are scanned once and metadata is stored. Never needs to be updated again

media\dynamic - all new content goes here. This gets scanned/updated by your fav scraper as needed. Since it contains a lot less items, this is a fast process.

 

MB3 seems like the future of HTPC needs, and since its much newer is bound to have better architecture/speed. XBMC has long suffered from not having a truly generic category system, which is why it depends on smart playlists unlike something like Plex/MediaPortal/MB3.


Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
03:50 PM Liked: 1017
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OK RDP into server and set up new media library:







Note: I copied to my D drive because I don't share my C drive.
Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
04:18 PM Liked: 1017
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That is how you would do it as it's own category

(Own folder for only Hammer collection on your server)

If you wanted to add it to your existing collection of movies as a sub folder and subcategory you would do this




Convert to nested folder or box set.

Then place the "hammer folder" inside your normal collection of movies

Example:



Note: I just made the movie folders as example. There is nothing in them. I am just trying to simulate your "hammer collection" being inside your normal movie collection as a sub folder or subsection

So you get this now:





And if you enter the main folder you would get the collection as a subfolder or subsection



Note: You can ignore the 4:3 and 1.0 sound - I just placed the smallest video file I could find to copy and paste something in the folder.


So your choice is do you want it to show up in your main movie collection as subfolder? Or be a dedicated collection unto it's own ? You can do both pretty easily.
Dark_Slayer's Avatar Dark_Slayer
04:25 PM Liked: 316
post #16 of 31
10-21-2013 | Posts: 2,657
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Defcon View Post

Mfusick, do you use MySQL (or better still, MariaDB) in your XBMC setup? What I've found is its better to organize media as follows -

media\static - this contains bulk of movies/tv. These are scanned once and metadata is stored. Never needs to be updated again
media\dynamic - all new content goes here. This gets scanned/updated by your fav scraper as needed. Since it contains a lot less items, this is a fast process.

Not to get hugely off topic, but I use MySQL for XBMC. I just re-installed openelec (in order to use the version from pulse-eight with their packages built in) and the setup was so stupidly simple. I'd say this is hugely undervalued, but all you have to do is install from the USB stick (5 minutes) then drop your advancedsettings.xml into the network shared userdata folder. No scraping, updating, etc. Everything is just there - movies, tv shows, music. All with watched status and resume points smile.gif

I use MCM for my entire collection, but everything that's finished gets locked after a while. Everything new gets scraped (ignores all the locked titles). I probably only lock new titles monthly, but it doesn't rescrape new titles that often unless they are missing something it can't locate
Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
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I'd show you MB3 Theater but I am not allowed to show too much yet tongue.gif

It's pretty cool. I never really used the "cast" feature before MB3T. For example: I never knew Christopher Lee well. I know him by face and having seen him but I did not realize he started and got famous in hammer horror films. I was also amazed to see he's in a ton of other videos I have.



and:



Click on movies (26) looks like I have 26 other movies that he was also in.






I know him from Lord of Rings and Hobbit recently- and I knew his face. Now I know lots more about him.

Just a cool feature I never really used before.
Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
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Now imagine if I actually had those hammer movies biggrin.gif

BRB: Deleting stupid folders, removing fake collection I just made and wishing they were real tongue.gif
Defcon's Avatar Defcon
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I played with the UI in MB3 server via its Web UI, and its pretty powerful. If the XBMC addon ever gets done, it will be the best of both worlds for now.


Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Defcon View Post

I played with the UI in MB3 server via its Web UI, and its pretty powerful. If the XBMC addon ever gets done, it will be the best of both worlds for now.

You mean the XBMC add on for MB3 ? Or vice versa ?

Or do you mean if XBMC gets updated to do some of the things MB3 can do ? I am confused ...
Dark_Slayer's Avatar Dark_Slayer
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10-21-2013 | Posts: 2,657
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mfusick View Post

You mean the XBMC add on for MB3 ? Or vice versa ?

Or do you mean if XBMC gets updated to do some of the things MB3 can do ? I am confused ...
I'd guess add-on to integrate with MB3 server. Or an update for MB3 server to read/update from nfos. It has to go one way or the other. If XBMC can scrape/edit watched status, date added, resume position, etc from MB3 server through an add-on or patch in the form of a sources modification then you could run MB3 central. If MB3 server can update based on an XBMC nfos play count, date added, resume position, then MB3 server would still be central with live-linking to XBMCs video database. Either way should be possible just need an interested dev
Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
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That is in the works ^ biggrin.gif (I think)

I read something about it somewhere around here recently.
Nebiroth's Avatar Nebiroth
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10-22-2013 | Posts: 183
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Yeah, I get the argument about using metadata rather than " hard placing" movie susing a folder structure (as it were). However for the way I want to operate I think it;d use a folder structure, and Mfusick's posts tell me that MediaBrowser works in exactly the way I thought it does from reading the user guides.

I;ve read the user guides for XBMC too, of course, and everything I;d read tells me that for what *I* want to do and the way *I* want to do it, XBNC's tools are lacking.

That's not to say XBMC isn;t a fine piece of software, just that for *me*, it's genre and collection systems are nowhere near as good as MB's.
Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nebiroth View Post

Yeah, I get the argument about using metadata rather than " hard placing" movie susing a folder structure (as it were). However for the way I want to operate I think it;d use a folder structure, and Mfusick's posts tell me that MediaBrowser works in exactly the way I thought it does from reading the user guides.

I;ve read the user guides for XBMC too, of course, and everything I;d read tells me that for what *I* want to do and the way *I* want to do it, XBNC's tools are lacking.

That's not to say XBMC isn;t a fine piece of software, just that for *me*, it's genre and collection systems are nowhere near as good as MB's.

Do you want the "nested folder / boxset " where the top level folder shows like a movie inside your normal movie collection and you click on the cover to go into the full collection on the second level?

or,

Do you want it to be it's own category ?
Nebiroth's Avatar Nebiroth
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10-23-2013 | Posts: 183
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What I want to implement is something like this:

I want for example to be able to have something like:

In my Movies screen, two entries that look like movies, one saying Horror, the other Sci-Fi

Click on Horror, and it will have (amongst movies that I have elected to not place into sub-categories) two entries that look like movies which say Hammer Films and Universal Classic Monsters

Click on say Hammer films and I get the normal list of films I have elected to place in that category

These are just rough examples, to give you an idea of the way I would want to work.

I realise there are several ways of achieving this within MB. However, from everything I have read (and tried) MB is simply better and easier to do this with than XBMC.

For me anyway, MB seemed both easy and intuitive, whereas XBMC was not for the particular way I wanted to set things up. I didn't like XBMC's Genres thing at all.
Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
07:48 AM Liked: 1017
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10-23-2013 | Posts: 24,223
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Yup. You want. "Nested" folders. Folders inside folders ...

I usually just copy and paste a favorite backdrop or 2 from a movie folder into the "nested" folder to give you that look.

I did that above ^

I just grabbed a Dracula backdrop from one of the movies and pasted it into the top level folder. Takes three seconds.

You can get really creative if you want.

There is many threads on the MB forums that have custom art, box set logos, fan art, collections etc....

You can go silly on box sets and collections if you want. It's just time and effort you are willing to do. I'm pretty good at it at this point so that's why I did the post above with pictures. It's actually probably easier for me to create a fake hammer collection than for me to post how to do it biggrin.gif

What you want is possible. You just need a little extra attention to your folder structure since you'll likely need nested folders and folders inside folders.
Nebiroth's Avatar Nebiroth
08:51 AM Liked: 30
post #27 of 31
10-23-2013 | Posts: 183
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You're confirming what I thought, so that's really helpful. Thanks.
Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
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post #28 of 31
11-14-2013 | Posts: 24,223
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MB could go 15 folders deep if you wanted to do it- that's just a lot of clicking and entering tongue.gif The folder structure is actually pretty intuitive IMO.

I like to have categories for things, so it's very helpful with such things.

What I do not like is that they all group together so sometimes I have two copies of something: EXAMPLE: Same movie as a 480p DVD and a 1080p BR. I don't need two copies to show up, it makes it confusing which I want to play. So with a category for BR RIPS I know everything in that folder is a BR rip so i don't need to worry about it being any different.

This actually is not an issue for me at all. But it is for my wife. I always find her playing something like a Disney cartoon in some crappy 480p resolution when we own the 1080p version- she just does not know better. (or seem to care) Not sure why that bugs me, but it does.

time for an update,


How did you make out OPPIE ?
Mfusick's Avatar Mfusick
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post #29 of 31
12-30-2013 | Posts: 24,223
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Does anyone know if PLEX can recognize folder structure ???
kevin g.'s Avatar kevin g.
07:17 PM Liked: 59
post #30 of 31
12-30-2013 | Posts: 1,449
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PLEX was FUBAR'ed when I added folders to allow MB to see my Library...Luckily, at this time, my library is small, and it was easy to re-arrange.
Still attempting to work around the bugs to play with MB. Right now, I have loaded MB on my other server, and am attempting to point to my collection on the Microserver, as MB playing on a client (tablet) maxxed out my CPU while transcoding. Now, all my shares are funky and the library is not loading.

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