New Plex Setup

30. May 2019 11:17 by Cameron in   //  Tags: ,   //   Comments

Last year, I bought a a Synlogy DS918+ and 4x4TB Seagate Ironwolf NAS drives. My plan was to use this NAS for Plex and upgrade the storage as needed. However, I am quickly running out of space (2TB free of 12TB) and the time that it takes to re-calculate parity when swapping drives is enormous. An option with this NAS is to add an external addon for an additional 5 drives, but this enclosure is $500 and too expensive for a proprietary solution. Another issue is the CPU power is limited when trying to stream to multiple devices or transcode to a mobile device's Plex library. In comes my new plan. Build a new server using old parts (HP enterprise hardware) which can act as a NAS and Plex server.

A few years ago, I purchased an HPE Proliant DL380 G6 from a local computer recycling company. This server is a capable machine with two Xeon X5650 CPUs, 72GB of RAM and a variety of HDD/SSDs. I bought this server to act as a web server/application server. I have this server deployed in a local colocation center so I can access the server anywhere in the world. Now, in 2019, I have returned to this same idea, but for a more dedicated purpose: NAS and Plex. This server will be hosted in my house so I can get the best speeds and not worry if the Internet is offline.

The new server I bought is also an HPE Proliant DL380, but it is G7. I bought it from the same computer recycling company as before. My initial setup includes two Xeon X5660 CPUs, 48GB of RAM, 1x240GB SSD, 5x5TB Seagate Barracuda HDDs, and an Nvidia Quadro P400. With this setup, I plan to install Windows Server 2019 DataCenter to the SSD and create a RAID 5 array of the 5TB drives, leaving me 20TB of usable space on the array. The Quadro P400 is mainly for entry level H.265 transcoding so I don't need to maintain both the 4K and 1080p copies of my video library. I may see about getting a Quadro P2000 or better later down the line if the need arises. With this server configuration, it has two drive bays capable of holding 8 2.5" drives. This will allow for expansion for two more 5x5TB RAID 5 arrays down the line.

For my Synology, I will move all of the video related items to my HP Proliant DL380 G7 and use the Synlogy as a personal file sharing NAS for family and friends.

Plex with Synology DS918+ NAS for home media

28. July 2018 22:19 by Cameron in NAS  //  Tags: , , ,   //   Comments

I realized that I was going to quickly outgrow my desktop PC's storage for use with Plex once I started ripping my 4K UHD Blu-ray disks. To remedy this, I recently purchased a Synology DS918+ NAS for handling storage of my files and TV/movie collection. I purchased the DS918+ because of it supporting four drives, expandability options (expand up to 5 more drives), and its processor for Plex transcoding.

To start, I installed three 4TB Seagate IronWolf NAS hard drives and configured to use Synology's hybrid RAID. I will be adding a fourth 4TB hard drive later this summer. With the hybrid RAID option, I can have mixed hard drive sizes in my array and upgrade the disks gradually. The main requirement is that I have two of the largest disks in the array. I will probably upgrade all of these drives to 8TB at some point, but it shouldn't be right away.

I have been thoroughly enjoying Plex and having my TV shows, movies, and music available anywhere in the world. I ripped all of my audio CDs with iTunes and copied over all of the albums I bought on iTunes too. I also bought an HDHomerun Prime to record cable TV and save to the NAS. I record with my home theater PC and strip out commercials with MCEBuddy and Comskip. After recording, MCEBuddy copies the files to my NAS for archiving.

I am strongly considering cancelling Hulu and Spotify in favor of my own libraries. I think Hulu is less necessary when you can record your own TV shows and watch them at your own leisure. In regards to Spotify, I hardly listen to much of the new stuff out there and it would be cheaper to buy an album on occasion to support individual artists. Spotify doesn't pay artists very much for music played.

It takes a bit of patience to rip a large movie collection. However, all you need is a PC with a Blu-ray drive and MakeMKV to save the rips directly to your NAS. You can rip everything from DVD to UHD Blu-ray with MakeMKV. Ripping UHD Blu-ray is more challenging as it requires specific drives with specific firmware. However, the process isn't too bad after you've patched your drive's firmware (assuming you have a newer drive). Ripping audio CDs is very quick since they contain at most 700MB of data.

With Plex for Windows, I am able to play UHD mkvs on my 4K SDR TV with HDR to SDR tone mapping. As far as I know, the Windows application is the only client capable of tone mapping. Most UHD releases also come with 1080p releases, but I must say that the tone mapped colors are much more vivid than their 1080p SDR equivalents. I jumped on the 4K TV bandwagon before HDR was readily available, but I will be getting an HDR10/Dolby Vision TV at some point in the near future. At that point,tone mapping will not be needed.

Since getting all of this setup, I have been extremely happy with my purchases. There is a bit of an upfront cost with all of the equipment, but the features in Plex make this worth every penny. Whether you're just beginning to build a movie library or you've been collecting a while, Plex is a good way to get your collection preserved and make it available anywhere in the world.

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