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post #1 of 29 Old 08-11-2014, 08:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Multiple Plex Servers

Hello again! I've been going along great with my HTPC/Server combo rebuild. Everything is good on my end, but I'm running into a problem... Plex...
My in-laws and my parents each have been granted access to my Plex library which is great, but they are both starting to get really into it which is starting to take a toll on my resources at home.

Can I put a plex server/client PC at their homes with a duplicate of all of my library, but still have it look at my library for anything new I add? Basically, will Plex look at a local and a shared remote library, filter duplicate content, and select local content over remote if it has a choice?

Would media browser be a better or more capable choice for this? I run Media Browser at home, but currently don't have it shared to the internet since the Roku app isn't stable for me right now.
Thanks!
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post #2 of 29 Old 08-11-2014, 10:51 AM
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When I used it, the Plex iOS and Android clients just treated each server separately. No idea about other clients or MediaBrowser.

What resource is getting hammered, exactly? Because most local resources, you can fix by upgrading hardware. It's just the internet upload speed that might get very pricey in case you have to get a business line.

If you do decide to set-up local servers for them, how about creating a "New Releases" library and share only that library with them? Then when you get the time, you can copy the new content to their local servers and remove it from the "New Releases" library.
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post #3 of 29 Old 08-11-2014, 12:26 PM - Thread Starter
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What's getting hammered most is bandwidth. I just upgraded from TWC road runner 10/1 internet to Fioptics from Cincinnati Bell that is 30/5. I really do get those numbers peak, but not sustained. And if both remote users are using Plex, the wife can't at home. Now, it should be as simple as teach the wife to not use the Roku and use a PC, but she won't learn, and even though it's her idea to give our parents Plex, she isn't happy. We'll see how long she will put up with might not being able to watch what she wants before I have to (get to?) upgrade hardware
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post #4 of 29 Old 08-11-2014, 12:43 PM
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Seriously, just gift your parents 1-year Netflix subscription or something.

Do you have an Intel CPU with QuickSync? If so, have you given a thought to pre-encoding the files to a smaller, more bandwidth- and Roku-friendly format? If your wife only watches on the Roku anyway, I doubt it'll matter much if the quality isn't extremely high. A 2-3Mbps 720p version wouldn't take too much space, should be easier for your bandwidth and takes practically 0% CPU to serve.

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post #5 of 29 Old 08-11-2014, 12:48 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm also having issues with both sets of parents being impatient and complaining of poor resolution which is most certainly tied to poor internet on one or both ends. I'm thinking I'd love to be able to have them access most media from their house (for snappiness) and still be able to pull from mine (for new stuff and home movies/pictures of grand kids they don't get to see too often).
Except for the fact that it's a 2-3 hour trip to either, I would take ilovejedd's advice on load new stuff to their servers frequently. And unfortunately my library has gotten large enough that I don't want to store another copy of a lower bit-rate version of what I already have.

I did try netflix with them on their Rokus when everyone first got them. My parents never touched it, my wife couldn't find what she wanted on it, and my inlaws were annoyed with paying monthly to watch something they already owned on top of being annoyed with the interface, so Netflix has been abandoned...

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post #6 of 29 Old 08-11-2014, 01:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by preludeman92 View Post
What's getting hammered most is bandwidth. I just upgraded from TWC road runner 10/1 internet to Fioptics from Cincinnati Bell that is 30/5. I really do get those numbers peak, but not sustained. And if both remote users are using Plex, the wife can't at home. Now, it should be as simple as teach the wife to not use the Roku and use a PC, but she won't learn, and even though it's her idea to give our parents Plex, she isn't happy. We'll see how long she will put up with might not being able to watch what she wants before I have to (get to?) upgrade hardware
Your TWC internet would have a hard time with only 1 Mbps available for Plex. The 5 Mbps upgraded speed should help a lot. With your wife using the Roku I don't see how it would be much of an issue since she would be using your downstream bandwidth (which 30 Mbps is plenty for a single Roku).

I'm not sure what your rebuilt server specs are, but maybe it just can't transcode quick enough for two simultaneous feeds.

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post #7 of 29 Old 08-11-2014, 01:49 PM
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Originally Posted by preludeman92 View Post
Except for the fact that it's a 2-3 hour trip to either, I would take ilovejedd's advice on load new stuff to their servers frequently. And unfortunately my library has gotten large enough that I don't want to store another copy of a lower bit-rate version of what I already have.
Never said it had to be frequently. Just whenever you find the time. You don't even have to physically go there for updates, either. You can always schedule an FTP upload or something to their server during off-peak hours. How many TB of content do you have anyway that makes encoding prohibitive? If you've got a ton, consider that you're planning on giving each set of parents a full quality copy of your library (2 copies total) so that's quite a bit of funds sunk on HDD costs alone.

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Your TWC internet would have a hard time with only 1 Mbps available for Plex. The 5 Mbps upgraded speed should help a lot. With your wife using the Roku I don't see how it would be much of an issue since she would be using your downstream bandwidth (which 30 Mbps is plenty for a single Roku).

I'm not sure what your rebuilt server specs are, but maybe it just can't transcode quick enough for two simultaneous feeds.
Actually, I think that's 3 clients that need transcoding: parents' Roku, in-laws' Roku and wife's Roku. I'm also of the same opinion that the CPU is likely too slow to handle transcoding multiple streams but alas, it seem the wife holds the purse strings so it's not like the OP can do anything about it.

That said, not much he can do about the quality complaint from the parents given the 5Mbps upload limit aside from encoding (with x264 on the slower presets) or building each set of parents their own Plex Server.

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post #8 of 29 Old 08-11-2014, 09:21 PM
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Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post
Never said it had to be frequently. Just whenever you find the time. You don't even have to physically go there for updates, either. You can always schedule an FTP upload or something to their server during off-peak hours. How many TB of content do you have anyway that makes this prohibitive? If you've got a ton, consider that you're planning on giving each set of parents a full quality copy of your library (2 copies total) so that's quite a bit of funds sunk on HDD costs alone.


Actually, I think that's 3 clients that need transcoding: parents' Roku, in-laws' Roku and wife's Roku. I'm also of the same opinion that the CPU is likely too slow to handle transcoding multiple streams but alas, it seem the wife holds the purse strings so it's not like the OP can do anything about it.

That said, not much he can do about the quality complaint from the parents given the 5Mbps upload limit aside from encoding (with x264 on the slower presets) or building each set of parents their own Plex Server.
The cost of new disc farms is exactly the part I was wondering about. However, if this is for the two sets of parents, maybe take the one time investment and call it a super-spiffy Christmas gift. Then you could set up a 1x month FTP update to their servers to give them new content. Though, I'm fairly certain that is going rather above and beyond the concept of copies for personal, in-home use. But I'm not one to judge. My collection is mammoth, and I access it from my best mate's rather regularly, so the access/login info is saved locally at his place. That means, if he actually ever felt like it, he could potentially start using my collection as his own personal Netflix. Thankfully, he doesn't take advantage.
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post #9 of 29 Old 08-11-2014, 09:42 PM
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redundant servers offsite is going to cost more than an i7 upgrade for your existing plex server assuming (or even if you aren't) running an intel setup

The three areas where you'd run into issues with this are disk i/o, cpu transcode speed, and internet upload. Given that you are only talking about 2 offsite and one local, I can't see how the problem would be disk related unless you are doing something silly like running your plex server off of usb2.0 hdd storage. You may also have an issue if you are recording a show, downloading random stuff, and pulling three plex streams from the same hdd. If that's the case separate your recordings and downloads to a separate drive. Which HDDs do you have the library on?

Also, you can't arbitrarily upgrade the quality at the parents house without the upstream speed to support it. For example, I only have 3Mbps quality afforded to my relative's plex clients at their house for playback stability and the quality is good enough that they don't complain. I would personally never live with that quality, but it's free for them and they don't even care. My parents nor her parents rarely even notice that they are watching local news in sd rather than hd. . . A true enthusiast may be willing to help support the cost of duplicating your storage for better PQ

What cpu are you running in your Plex server?
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post #10 of 29 Old 08-11-2014, 10:46 PM
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I'll chime in on this one. Some will be information will just repeat from above.

There's no limit to how many servers the plex clients can access. As for your problem, you have two potential major issues--CPU power, and bandwidth.

As mentioned, one thing you can do when converting your video digital, to them something more multiple client friendly such as MP4. Unfortunately, transcoding is a very CPU intense activity versus just transferring the file for a direct play. Although, the newer Roku boxes are able to play MKV, but I don't know what specs for MKV it can handle. So, if you're going to use format that needs transcoding, you may want to upgrade the PC you're using with the PMS, more CPU cores and ram. Then you'll have more headroom to handle multiple transcodes better.

The other issue is how much upload bandwidth you have. If you parents have HD TVs, they're probably wanting something close to 720, which is usually 2mb bitrate. If both are trying to watch video, that's 4mb. There is a setting, I believe on the PMS, you can choose to have more bandwitdh versus quality, you may want to try it. I use on my mobile devices and I never noticed much difference between video quality, but helped with streaming.

You could setup some kind of FTP for new files to be transferred to a PMS on your parents' homes. Unfortunately, this may not be a good solution. Depending on the size of your digitize media files, this can be very time consuming. If you have a movie that's say, 5GB file, you may be looking at hours if not a good day to complete the transfers. Tack on more time if you're streaming anything to them anyway.

What may be better, although still CPU intense, maybe to try doing the sync feature of Plex. I don't recall if available on the roku, but if they have mobile devices like a Android tablet or Ipad, they can sync it there. Then, they can use mobile device as a server and watch on the Roku. This still does require CPU power and uploading, but the files will be smaller. Unfortunately, I don't remember if the mobile server option is a PlexPass member option only. I do know you can sync over the internet because I've done it over 3G/4G networks.

Unfortunately, there's no nice solution to your situation.
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post #11 of 29 Old 08-12-2014, 05:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks all.
To answer my own question, Plex HT and Plex Roku will easily look at multiple servers, but not all at once. That shot my plan out the window.
My HTPC runs an I3-4340 on a Z87MoBo, 5 3TB WD Red HDDs in FlexRaid, 8GB ram, and W8.1 on a Samsung 840 Pro. I know there is room for improvement on the processor department, but this is less than 3 months old and sold the wife on it as we won't have to upgrade for years. When my C2Q desktop needs an upgrade I'll toss the I3 in it and go for an i5/7 in the HTPC.

The only reason why I was considering putting servers at their houses was because I have a small collection of parts that will work great HTPC that don't have to transcode. My parents have been suggesting they want an actual computer on their 60" LED to be able to look at stuff online from the couch together. They would just use Plex HT on the PC instead of the Roku.
My inlaws are stuck with a Roku 2XS for the RCA out since they refuse to buy an HDTV. They do however have a powerful enough computer already being used as a server that it would stream to 1 Roku pretty easily. All I would be out in either case is 1 HDD that would be for Christmas presents.
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post #12 of 29 Old 08-12-2014, 07:40 AM
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As mentioned, one thing you can do when converting your video digital, to them something more multiple client friendly such as MP4. Unfortunately, transcoding is a very CPU intense activity versus just transferring the file for a direct play.
Not if he can leverage hardware encode acceleration (e.g. QuickSync). My measly Sandy Bridge Core i3-2100 can encode 300GB worth of Blu-ray rips to 720p (Handbrake, MP4, Intel QSV QP20, AAC 160kbps) in less than 3 hours and it's not like I have to babysit while it's encoding. Granted, keeping both full quality and a lower bitrate copy means using more storage (although the lower bitrate copies take about 1/10th of the space as the originals). Assuming he already has sufficient space on his server/HTPC, this solution wouldn't require any hardware purchase - just PC time. The encoded files can then be streamed to the Rokus for direct play.

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Unfortunately, there's no nice solution to your situation.
Alas, true. A simple CPU upgrade should solve things (particularly since he apparently only needs SD on one of the clients so he can get away with just 1Mbps on that). Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be in the cards.

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My HTPC runs an I3-4340 on a Z87MoBo, 5 3TB WD Red HDDs in FlexRaid, 8GB ram, and W8.1 on a Samsung 840 Pro. I know there is room for improvement on the processor department, but this is less than 3 months old and sold the wife on it as we won't have to upgrade for years.
To be honest, you should've downsized the Z87+840 Pro to H87+MX100/M500/840 EVO and put the money saved towards an i5-44x0/45x0/46x0. Hmm, did the streaming to the parents' house come before or after the HTPC build? If it's after, that might give you some room to negotiate with the wife. I think you might be able to sell the i3-4340 for at least $100 used so that's just $100 or less cash outlay to upgrade to quad.
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To be honest, you should've downsized the Z87+840 Pro to H87+MX100/M500/840 EVO and put the money saved towards an i5-44x0/45x0/46x0. Hmm, did the streaming to the parents' house come before or after the HTPC build? If it's after, that might give you some room to negotiate with the wife. I think you might be able to sell the i3-4340 for at least $100 used so that's just $100 or less cash outlay to upgrade to quad.
This is 100% my thinking, I don't really have to guess at where the mobo and ssd recommendations came from (but to be fair I'm sure he recommended an i5 as well)

The i3 may not enough for 3 transcodes whether you are running a z87 or z97maximusVII or a samsung evo, 840pro, 850pro, or PCIe revo drive, but that does depend on the target

If you have those kind of spare parts around, maybe a plexHT client is in order for the wife to use at home (which would direct stream rather than transcode) instead of the roku
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post #14 of 29 Old 08-12-2014, 11:14 AM
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If you have those kind of spare parts around, maybe a plexHT client is in order for the wife to use at home (which would direct stream rather than transcode) instead of the roku
They do have an HTPC. It appears the wife just prefers to use the Roku.

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Now, it should be as simple as teach the wife to not use the Roku and use a PC, but she won't learn, and even though it's her idea to give our parents Plex, she isn't happy. We'll see how long she will put up with might not being able to watch what she wants before I have to (get to?) upgrade hardware
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post #15 of 29 Old 08-18-2014, 09:50 PM
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Originally Posted by preludeman92 View Post
Thanks all.
To answer my own question, Plex HT and Plex Roku will easily look at multiple servers, but not all at once. That shot my plan out the window. ....
Given what you were suggesting, would you need to look at all three at the same time? You said you wanted to put the new content on their PMS's, so you would just be access the same content, but from different locations. I wouldn't say it shot your plan down, the plan may have been flawed.

I still think, based on what you're trying to do, just putting your media content in a format the mutliple client friendly as possible so you can just direct stream is probably your best solution. This is least CPU instense activity and hopefully upload bandwidth friendly.

I don't recall is the Roku Plex client allows direct play. I haven't checked it in a while since I either watch the PC client or Android, which both have direct play.
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post #16 of 29 Old 08-20-2014, 10:33 PM
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Unless you can get a significant bump in your outgoing bandwidth I don't think you are really going to be very happy with the results and not able to view your library on more than one maybe two clients at a time and certainly not in high-def.

That said you certainly don't have to recreate your set up at the other location(s) you could easily get something like an Intel NUC and a couple of USB Drives to store the content which wouldn't be that expensive and since you would be running plex every time you add another drive you would just have to add that location to the library.

I don't think that re-encoding your media to a lower resolution is the answer unless you would keep both copies as you will eventually want the higher resolution versions for viewing at home or even on the road as you do get more bandwidth from your ISP.

As for the legality of what you are talking about doing here depends on the source of your media since I assume you are talking about sharing your vast collections of home movies right? Giving ripped copyrighted movies is not legal in the US but I hear it is in other countries. Heck even ripping of you own legally bought movies is now questionable.
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post #17 of 29 Old 09-02-2014, 04:33 PM
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I'm also having issues with both sets of parents being impatient and complaining of poor resolution which is most certainly tied to poor internet on one or both ends.
Unless there's a transcoding feature of Plex that I'm not aware of (variable resolution/bit-rate based on available network bandwidth), then couldn't this just be a matter of your transcoding settings set to send out a really low rez image? So change it to a higher bandwidth?

When my server (or internet client) has trouble, it results in stuttering, not lower bandwidth/resolution. If there is an option for variable resolution, I'd love to know how to set that up.
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post #18 of 29 Old 09-02-2014, 05:08 PM
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Unless there's a transcoding feature of Plex that I'm not aware of (variable resolution/bit-rate based on available network bandwidth), then couldn't this just be a matter of your transcoding settings set to send out a really low rez image? So change it to a higher bandwidth?

When my server (or internet client) has trouble, it results in stuttering, not lower bandwidth/resolution. If there is an option for variable resolution, I'd love to know how to set that up.
You can set the bandwidth on your clients. Here is a snapshot of the settings on my iPhone Plex App. My iPad has the same. I also checked the Web Client and it also has settings. Check out the two attachments.
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You can set the bandwidth on your clients. Here is a snapshot of the settings on my iPhone Plex App. My iPad has the same. I also checked the Web Client and it also has settings. Check out the two attachments.
That's what I'm talking about--you can set an output resolution, not a variable resolution based on available bandwidth. The OP was talking about there being poor picture quality on the client side. If that's the case, it's probably because the set resolution/quality is too low. Now whether or not the system can handle a higher quality transcode is a different story, but the server isn't going to adjust the transcode based on available bandwidth... at least, if it does, I'd like to know how to set that up.
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post #20 of 29 Old 09-03-2014, 05:48 AM
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How do you translate this from the Plex website about the settings?
Automatically Select Resolution

When multiple resolutions are available for an item, enabling this will automatically use the best resolution available that's under your streaming quality setting.

Does this mean it will use the best it can based on your bandwidth?
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post #21 of 29 Old 09-03-2014, 07:07 AM
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How do you translate this from the Plex website about the settings?
Automatically Select Resolution

When multiple resolutions are available for an item, enabling this will automatically use the best resolution available that's under your streaming quality setting.

Does this mean it will use the best it can based on your bandwidth?
Basically, that only applies when you have multiple copies of a movie in different resolutions. For example:

Star Trek (2009) - 1080p.mkv
Star Trek (2009) - 720p.mp4
Star Trek (2009) - 480p.mp4

Also, it's not based so much on actual bandwidth. Rather, it's dependent on the type of connection (local wifi, remote wifi, 3g) and the streaming quality settings selected for each type.
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post #22 of 29 Old 09-04-2014, 04:58 PM
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Basically, that only applies when you have multiple copies of a movie in different resolutions. For example:

Star Trek (2009) - 1080p.mkv
Star Trek (2009) - 720p.mp4
Star Trek (2009) - 480p.mp4

Also, it's not based so much on actual bandwidth. Rather, it's dependent on the type of connection (local wifi, remote wifi, 3g) and the streaming quality settings selected for each type.
Are you sure about this? Plex Transcodes on the fly, why would / how would it make use of multiple files at different bit rates? I haven't seen anything in their naming info or anywhere else that plex can utilize multiple bit rates in the same folder?
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post #23 of 29 Old 09-04-2014, 07:35 PM
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Are you sure about this? Plex Transcodes on the fly, why would / how would it make use of multiple files at different bit rates? I haven't seen anything in their naming info or anywhere else that plex can utilize multiple bit rates in the same folder?
Yep, I'm sure. Besides, not all Plex Server hardware is capable of real-time transcoding.

https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/art...Version-Movies
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post #24 of 29 Old 09-04-2014, 07:50 PM
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Originally Posted by ilovejedd View Post
Yep, I'm sure. Besides, not all Plex Server hardware is capable of real-time transcoding.

https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/art...Version-Movies
Interesting I tried searching high and low for that and couldn't find anything.

I stand corrected! =)
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post #25 of 29 Old 11-05-2014, 10:28 PM
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Personally I like your original idea. I would stick to duplicatating the files on their side and using local servers to host the content. I would install BT Sync on all the computers, then set up shared folders for TV and Movies. Whenever you add files to one of the directories on your side, the files will be replicated on the other side. The program uses ********** protocol to send the files, meaning less bandwidth usage for you since you are syncing between 3 computers on 3 different connections. Just make sure the Plex servers are all set to Automatically Scan for Changes (or periodical scan every hour if that's better for you) and you are all done. It's a rather simple set up, and should free up your connection as long as you add new files at night before bed.
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post #26 of 29 Old 01-13-2015, 09:03 AM
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I have a similiar problem whereas I have inlaws all trying to connect at the same time.

My question may be a little different though

I have many older Dell Intel C2D computers in the house in storage.

Is there a way to allow my main plex server to off load the transcoding to other computers I have in the house

For example:

I have my main plex server running on a Macbook 2.4ghz 4gb with two WD 3TB external USB HD

I there a way I can put a few old Dell 2.0GHZ 2GB computers I have in storage on my network and allow plex to access them for transcoding the stream?

Thanks
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post #27 of 29 Old 01-13-2015, 10:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drromeo View Post
I have a similiar problem whereas I have inlaws all trying to connect at the same time.

My question may be a little different though

I have many older Dell Intel C2D computers in the house in storage.

Is there a way to allow my main plex server to off load the transcoding to other computers I have in the house

For example:

I have my main plex server running on a Macbook 2.4ghz 4gb with two WD 3TB external USB HD

I there a way I can put a few old Dell 2.0GHZ 2GB computers I have in storage on my network and allow plex to access them for transcoding the stream?

Thanks
You could just share the content from you Mac to the Dells and use them as Plex servers for only remote content. You'd be running Plex Server on each tower and have each tower on a separate Plex account for each set of inlaws. Just don't let those servers update the metadata. My experimentation indicates that more than 1 server pointed at the same share will work okay and the extra servers will be perfectly happy with the existing metadata.
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post #28 of 29 Old 01-20-2015, 09:40 AM
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That would work also, but is there a way to off load the transcoding to multiple computers on my network, almost within the concept of how the SETI project works
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post #29 of 29 Old 01-20-2015, 09:42 AM
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No. All the transcoding is handled by ffmpeg, which does not have this ability. It also cannot be offloaded to your GPU.
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