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Discussion Starter #1
After lots or research I decided to use unRAID and PLEX for my first real dedicated media server build. The server will also perform some backup functions. I have been messing around with the idea for a few years. Jon S helped me out a lot in the Ripping BluRays II thread, thank you (I went with the big hard-drives up front, with unlimited room to add more, LOL). I will use my media server with 1-3 users and plan to have it running 24/7. The server allows me to easily expand the storage in the future if needed. I am looking into a battery backup at this time. It worked out well because I upgraded my main computer and used most of the parts I replaced in my main computer and put them in the media server.

Uses:
Media Server (PLEX)
NAS
Weekly back up
-Main computer (Files and ISO)
-Laptop (Files and ISO)
-Phone x 2 (photos)

Workflow for ripping my Blu-ray collection: MakeMKV -> Handbrake -> PLEX Media Server. I have about 400 discs. Takes about 40min right now to turn a 30GB file into 3.3GB file. This should take me a few months. I plan to use MakeMKV while I am home, and then queue-up a few titles to run while I am at work and at night.

The handbrake setting I use is a slightly modified preset of the Roku 1080p30 Surround.

So far I have not had any issues with the setup. I loaded a few movies and streamed them to my ROKU box over my network without issue. I want to make sure I have all of the security correct before I try to stream it outside my network.

Media Server:
OS: unRAID
Case: HAF 912
CPU: i5 3570K (O.C. 4.2Ghz) Still putting in work.
Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77-V
RAM: 4x4GB G. Skillz DDR3 816MHz (16GB)
PSU: EVGA Supernova 550 G2 (ECO Mode)
Cache Drive: Samsung 840 PRO - 256GB
Parity Drive: WD 8TB Red (CHANGE)
HDD 1: WD 8 TB Red
HDD 2: WD 8 TB Red
Boot Drive: USB 16GB x 2
SuperMicro CSE-M35T-1B
SATA 6G PCI Express Card
8 x Fans. Should stay cool


 

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Discussion Starter #3
Nice! How do you back up your photos from your phones?via the camera upload of Plex?
I have PhotoSync (Google Play App) installed on my phone and my PC. I direct the app on my PC to store the pictures on a networked drive on my server. The folder is also the same path that PLEX is directed to.

It is the simplest and easiest solution I have found. Anything documents I have on my phone are on google drive and phone numbers are linked to my google account, so it is really only photos I need to backup.
 

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I can understand using MakeMKV to back up Blu Rays for plex. (I have about 1500 of mine backed up on plex for use now.)

I can't understand using handbrake to throw away most of the data from blu rays. If you are winding up with a file that's 90% smaller than the a typical blu ray backup you are actually losing a lot of data in the process.... I would bet the resulting file would be itunes quality... might as well just use itunes. You don't need to do any of the ripping, encoding, storing, serving... just stream from itunes... done.

(This is why I have an AppleTV 4K and I am building a huge itunes library... even though I have a 40TB pex server with 1500 blu ray rips.)
 

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You are butchering your collection. You should feed your Plex server the rips straight from MakeMKV and let Plex transcode as needed. ~3GB for a Blu-ray is way too much encoding.

If you do want to waste time and power encoding your rips the end result should be more like 10GB with 1080p and lossless audio. You don't want to repeat the ripping your CDs to 128kbs MP3 instead of flac (or 320kbs or vbr). For me it's too much effort and storage is cheap (~$160 for 8TB WD Red drives).
 

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So you have 16TB of storage? I agree with the others. Unless you despise good video quality, then I recommend not butchering your files. You should have enough space to leave 400 blu-rays untouched. I also have a hair over 400 blu-rays, and it takes up 10 TB on my server (all converted to MKV using MakeMKV). Your CPU should be strong enough to transcode on the fly as needed. I think I would rather watch a DVD than a blu-ray converted to 3 GB. At least there wouldn't be a bunch of compression artifacts.
 

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So you have 16TB of storage? I agree with the others. Unless you despise good video quality, then I recommend not butchering your files. You should have enough space to leave 400 blu-rays untouched. I also have a hair over 400 blu-rays, and it takes up 10 TB on my server (all converted to MKV using MakeMKV). Your CPU should be strong enough to transcode on the fly as needed. I think I would rather watch a DVD than a blu-ray converted to 3 GB. At least there wouldn't be a bunch of compression artifacts.
Same here, I for one want top quality and let my QNAS with plex do the transcoding, no issues or hiccups. I have 16TB as well and used about half for a few hundred rips.

Plex just sent me an offer for plex pass for $79 for lifetime, anyone think it's worth getting at that price? I do not do remote viewing that often but it's a nice to have in the tool bag.
 

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Same here, I for one want top quality and let my QNAS with plex do the transcoding, no issues or hiccups. I have 16TB as well and used about half for a few hundred rips.

Plex just sent me an offer for plex pass for $79 for lifetime, anyone think it's worth getting at that price? I do not do remote viewing that often but it's a nice to have in the tool bag.
You'll have access to new features before normal paying customers if that's something you may enjoy. Other than that, considering remote viewing is not a priority for your viewing habits, it may not be worth it, but for a lifetime deal, a pay and forget scenario may just work out.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thank you for the feedback. I have not deleted any of my MakeMKV rips (only about 10 in). Right now the .mkv files are stored on the server in a different folder. I did not consider using the original file to stream over my network. That definitely seems like the better option. I am going to give it a try today with the .mkv files that I have.

I travel a lot for work, and to locations that do not have a reliable internet connection often. I guess in the back of my mind I was thinking more for portability of my movie collection. It will be nice to put everything on one portable hard drive.

@ Brian Hampton and others that use the .mkv file with PLEX. Do you RIP the entire disk, or just the movie with the audio tracks and subtitles?

If the .mkv file works out with the PLEX server then I will only use Handbrake only on the movies that I want to make a little more portable for viewing on a laptop or tablet.

Thank you again for the feedback.
 

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I rip (backup) only the movie and subtitles. (I rip all english subtitles in case there are forced subtitles.) (for a foreign language film I take the original language, all english subtitles and possibly the original language subtitles also.)

In the case of my movies I always redeemed all the digital copies (sometimes it was possible to redeem both in Vudu and iTunes.) I didn't always buy new though so the DC wasn't always available. The end result is I had about 30% of my collection through Vudu, iTunes (or Movies Anywhere.) I can live with 30% being my on the go collection. I don't go many places and when I do I don't actually watch movies that often when away from home. If I had a 2 hour commute by train then my on the go priorities would be different.

-Brian
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Thank you.

Yeah, I do the same. I backup the English subtitles, all of the English audio tracks, and the movie. I backed up an entire disc (Jack Reacher) to see what would happen when PLEX read the file. It broke it into two separate files on the client, one of the movie and the other was the previews.

It is now taking about 20-30min to backup the movies and the sizes are around 30-35 GB. I used John Wick Chapter 2 to stream from my server to my Roku Box, viewed on my projector. Everything worked out well.
 

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Thank you.

Yeah, I do the same. I backup the English subtitles, all of the English audio tracks, and the movie. I backed up an entire disc (Jack Reacher) to see what would happen when PLEX read the file. It broke it into two separate files on the client, one of the movie and the other was the previews.

It is now taking about 20-30min to backup the movies and the sizes are around 30-35 GB. I used John Wick Chapter 2 to stream from my server to my Roku Box, viewed on my projector. Everything worked out well.
If you buy Plex Pass you can "pin" the media to your device and it will transcode the file to your local storage at your selected bitrate (file size). I usually just pin a few movies or TV shows before a trip. It can grab from a 4K UHD rip and drop it down to a 480p file if desired.
 

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If you buy Plex Pass you can "pin" the media to your device and it will transcode the file to your local storage at your selected bitrate (file size). I usually just pin a few movies or TV shows before a trip. It can grab from a 4K UHD rip and drop it down to a 480p file if desired.
There's also a separate feature called 'optimized versions' that allows you to store smaller, transcoded versions of the videos. So there are a few options for OP if he wants smaller versions of the videos without having to use handbrake.

To OP, I just rip the main movie title, audio, subs, and chapters to the MKV.
 

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There's also a separate feature called optimized versions that allows you to store smaller, transcoded versions of the videos. So there are a few options for OP if he wants smaller versions of the videos without having to use handbrake.

To OP, I just rip the main movie title, audio, subs, and chapters to the MKV.
I don't want it to be different, right?
 

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I have the same CPU in my plex server, and it handles transcoding just fine so far. It will NOT transcode 4k UHD to 1080 though, says it isn't powerful enough. I keep both the 1080 and 4k copies in those cases. I am at 506 movies now (4 of them UHD, just started ripping 4k), all uncompressed, all blu ray rips, and I still have 1.5tb left of 16tb. I will be buying another 8tb to throw in the server soon. I save money by buying 8tb usb drives and pull the drive out (saves about $100). Not WD Reds by any means, but they work just fine. I back it all up to external NAS, so no need for raid or higher end drives.

My biggest issue now is transfer speed. I rip on my regular computer and send over network to the Plex server, then to the NAS for backup. Half the time it runs at the max for gigabit ethernet (about 115 MB/s) but half the time it gets 10-20% into a copy and drops to 10-20 MB/s, and I haven't been able to figure out why. I have cat6a from the computer to a fairly high end switch, then to the Plex server and NAS units. If my Shield and FTV's could read jumbo frames, I would turn it on, but I fear that will cause even more issues. I would like to upgrade to 10gbps over copper but the PCIe cards and the switch are still too expensive. I ran the shielded cat6a when I built the house, so I have the wiring for it. It would only help with transferring those huge files around on the network, the shield is still only gigabit and the new fire tv's with the ethernet adapter are only 10/100, not that they need faster anyway. The 1080p files stream direct around 25mbps, and the 4k uhd uses around 55-60mbps. And since I am now using a Plex server with internal drives, I don't need to worry about multiple users maxing the network between the NAS and the media player.

I don't store any optimized versions on the plex server yet, I haven't had a need. However, I will finally have my CL gigabit internet installed next week (they had an issue getting fiber to my house so I am on Spectrum 100/10 right now), and I will be setting up a bunch of friends with access to my plex server, so I am interested in seeing how bad the CPU usage is when there are multiple transcodings happening at once. My theater isn't done yet and my living room TV is only 3.1, and I have issues with shield and the TV so I have surround disabled, which means Plex will always transcode the audio. I am looking at upgrading the CPU to the i7 from that generation (so I can keep using my mobo and ram), I can get one pretty cheap on Ebay.

I have the plex pass. At the very least, I feel better that I paid them since I use it so heavily. I do use the live TV feature, although I have been struggling to get it to work well. I have an HDHomeRun box and no matter if I transcode or not, the Fire TV boxes won't play it back smoothly. Shield and a PC/Laptop stream the live tv from Plex just fine. The guide in Plex is glitchy as hell and DVR recordings often get cut off or start at weird times. And watching the super bowl last night, the pans were so horribly jittery that I nearly turned it off. I couldn't tell if that was something with the broadcast, something with the HDHomeRun, or something with the Plex server. I need to start looking into that issue, if this is going to happen a lot I need to figure it out. I'm pretty sure it isn't the Plex server that caused that crazy jittering.

Sorry for getting off topic a bit, hope this info is useful, since our servers are so similar.
 

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For those looking to save some storage space without severely degrading video quality, what about transcoding to h.265? It wouldn't help with UHD rips (already in h.265) but it seems like it could save a fair bit of storage space on 1080p rips, especially if you have a 7th gen Intel CPU for hardware transcoding and/or h.265-capable clients. Thoughts?
 

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Discussion Starter #17
@dkersten, Thank you for the insight. I am at 72 movies and 1.8 TB. BB has a sale for their 8TB WD external drives that have the Reds in them. I might pickup one for a second parity drive seeing as I only have the one backup right now. I have not had any issues with playback over my network or backing up the movies with MKV. I have a couple of 4K movies but have not messed with them yet. I also looked at an i7 from the 3rd Gen, but prices are still high. Might look used. What tells you that the processor cannot transcode the audio? Is it the PLEX app on the playback device?
@Stephen Hopkins, have you tried this with a file to see what the difference in size is? Because this is intended to be used over my network, I am not concerned with transcoding as much as I thought I was. I will still put a few movies into handbrake to bring the size down if I am going to go on a road trip or travel.
 

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@dkersten, Thank you for the insight. I am at 72 movies and 1.8 TB. BB has a sale for their 8TB WD external drives that have the Reds in them. I might pickup one for a second parity drive seeing as I only have the one backup right now.
Just keep in mind that there are recent reports about the BB easystore devices not having Red drives in them. I got one a few weeks back without a Red.
 

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Just keep in mind that there are recent reports about the BB easystore devices not having Red drives in them. I got one a few weeks back without a Red.
They are white label Red drives to prevent reselling.
 

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I dunno, I've been pretty impressed with the quality of the handbraked mkv's I've experimented with. I don't take them quite down to 3GB though. More like 5-10.
 
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