How to Setup and Use a Plex Media Server for Movies and TV

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These days, more and more people are cutting the cord from cable and using services like Netflix and Hulu to stream video content online. Something you may not realize though is that setting up your own personal media server is easier than ever before.

DockSTARTer is a software bundle designed to make setting up your own media server as easy as possible. It provides one-click installation of all of the components you will need to run your very own Netflix-like server.

This article will outline how to setup DockSTARTer, a complete home theatre in a box, with Plex media server as the central focus.

Please Note: A Plex media server should only be used to stream content for which you hold a license to view. Please review our acceptable use policy for details on our anti-piracy policies.

Why Setup Your Own Media Server?

The Problem:

You have a lot of media files like movies and TV shows that you want to instantly stream across all of your devices such as desktop, laptops, Smart TVs, and mobile devices.


You also want one centralized server hosted on blazing fast connection that can deliver your content with no slow buffering times, just like Netflix does.

The Solution:

Setting up your own Plex Media Server gives you one easy to use interface to stream media to any internet connected device. You're in full control as the server administrator.


After the initial setup and configuration, your Plex server will automatically load newly downloaded media and make it available across all of your devices.

What is a Plex Media Server?

Plex (www.plex.tv) is an open source piece of software designed to allow you to stream media such as TV and movies. Think of it like your very own Netflix, storing all the media files you own and allowing you to stream them on your laptop and desktop computers, Apple TV, Smart TVs that have the Plex App, Roku devices, etc.

The Plex Media Server interface displays all of the movies and TV shows in a grid, with a thumbnail for each media file.

Hardware Recommendations

The system recommendations for a Plex media server vary widely depending on the codec of the content being streamed, the frame rate of the content, and the device being streamed to. For an in-depth discussion on the topic, view our Plex Media requirements help article.

For example, a piece of content encoded in H264 mpeg to a desktop PC will typically be able to directly stream to the device without any transcoding required. This will use significantly less CPU and memory than a Plex server streaming and transcoding content to 25 users.

As such, it's difficult to provide accurate system requirements breakdown as every setup will be different. A modest setup streaming to a handful of users will perform adequately with the following specifications:

  • Latest Debian Operating System
  • At least 8GB of RAM
  • Sufficient disk space to store media files
  • 2.4GHZ+ processor speed

Preparation

In order to prepare for installation, we're going to order a Dedicated Server from ServerMania.com loaded with the latest version of Debian.

ServerMania offers a variety of bare metal servers that are provisioned within just a couple of minutes after ordering. This is the perfect option for a Plex Media Server and will be sufficient for most personal media servers.

Depending on the amount of content you will be streaming and the number of active connections to the server, your server requirements will change. Book a free consultation today with one of our server experts to determine which server is best for you.

How Installation Works

1

Choose A Server

Start by ordering a Hybrid or Dedicated Server at ServerMania. Remember to choose a server with sufficient disk space for all of your media files. This server will be hosted on blazing fast 1Gbps connections so your media is instantly accessible worldwide.

2

Install Server Software

We'll walk you through the steps for installing DockSTARTer, an automated media server software package.

3

Configure the Server

Finally, you will configure all of the services on the server for downloading and managing media files.

Installation Steps

DockSTARTer will run on any version of Linux which supports Docker, but we're going to run this tutorial on Debian. Commands may vary if you choose to use another OS.

Step 1: Login to the server via SSH

Using your favourite SSH client, connect to the IP address of your server. You can view our article on how to SSH on Mac and How to Connect to Your New Server.

The IP address and root password will be sent to you once the service has been provisioned. The following command can be used to connect:

ssh root@IP-Address

Step 2: Update Repositories and Download Required Packages

We will update the apt repositories on Debian and then download curl, git, and sudo, which will be used by DockSTARTer.

apt-get update
apt-get install -y curl git sudo

Step 3: Create a user for plex

A dedicated user will be created to run the media server software:

adduser plex

Create a User in Debian

Enter the password for the new user and provide some basic information.

Add the plex user to the sudo group:

usermod -aG sudo plex

Change into the new plex user:

su plex

Step 4: Download DockSTARTer

bash -c "$(curl -fsSL https://get.dockstarter.com)"

Download and Install DockStart

Step 5: Reboot the Server

sudo reboot

Step 6: Reconnect to the Server

Connect to the server with the plex username we previously created:

ssh plex@IP-Address

Step 7: Start DockSTARTer

Launch the DockSTARTer application:

sudo ds

DockStart Configuration
Select Configuration and hit Enter

Select Full Setup

DockStart Full Setup

Select the software you want to run on your media server. You can hit the space bar to select the software, and hit enter once you are done.

We recommend the following:

  • Plex: This will be the software used to stream media on the server to desktop, laptops, and mobile devices.
  • Ombi: A tool which can be used to request new movies and TV shows on the server, which are automatically downloaded using SickRoar or CouchPotato
  • Transmission: A web-based torrent application which will be used by SickRoar and CouchPotato to download media.
  • SickRoar: A tool used to automate the downloading of TV shows, including when new episodes are available.
  • CouchPotato: A tool used to automate the downloading of movies.

You can hit Yes to use the default settings for each software, or change them if needed.

Run Docker Compose

Click Yes to start the installation process.

Setting Up Plex Server

The installation is now complete and Plex is accessible at your public IP on port 32400.

In order to allow remote access to your Plex server outside of our network, you'll need to open an SSH tunnel to the server in order to configure Plex.

On Linux or Mac:

Enter the following command in the terminal. You can follow our tutorial to learn how to SSH on a Mac:

ssh ip.address.of.server -L 8888:localhost:32400

On Windows:

Download PuTTy and enter the following details:

Host name (or IP address): your.server.ip
Category (on the left): Connections > SSH > Tunnels
Source port: 8888
Destination: localhost:32400
Press button: "Add"
Press button: "Open" (on the bottom)
User - root, root password

Then open your browser and type in http://localhost:8888/web/ and you will have access to configure your Plex server for remote access. The following page will appear:

The Plex setup page guides you through the media server setup process.

Setup the server and define a folder on the server for Movies and TV Shows.

Your Plex server is now accessible to remote devices. You can logout of the SSH tunnel now.

Setting Up Other Services

Transmission

Transmission is a web interface which allows the downloading of torrent files. You can use other tools such as Sickrage and Couchpotato to automate the searching for media files. Transmission will download the files automatically and place them on your Plex server for streaming.

Transmission can be setup at http://IP-Address:9091

Configure Transmission Torrent Download

SickRoar

SickRoar is a tool used to automate the downloading of TV shows to your server.

SickRoar can be configured at: http://IP-Address:8081 Replace IP-Address with the IP of your server.

Under Search Settings, you can configure torrents to be sent to Transmission to be downloaded. You will tell Plex to scan the Downloaded Files Location automatically, so once the torrent is downloaded, it will appear in Plex.

Configure SickRoar

The Search Providers page allows you to configure which websites to use to download torrent files to Plex.

Configure SickRoar Search Providers

You can then search for TV Shows and they will be automatically downloaded based on your settings.

CouchPotato

CouchPotato is a tool used to automate the downloading of movies to your server.

CouchPotato can be configured at: http://IP-Address:5050

Start by selecting an admin username and password:

Setup CouchPotato to use Transmission to download Movies. Make sure to setup a separate Movies directory so that Plex knows to scan your Movies folder for movies.

Finally, you can complete the setup:

You can then search for, select, and add movies:

Ombi

This tool can be used to provide access to users to request content that will be automatically downloaded to the server and available for streaming on Plex. Ombi combines Transmission, Sickrage, and CouchPotato to give you one single interface to add new media to your server.

Ombi can be configured at http://IP-Address:3579

Replace IP-Address with the IP of your server.

Configuring Ombi

You will login to authenticate your Plex account, and you can setup Ombi to automatically download movies from CouchPotato and TV Shows with Ombi.

Next Steps

You now have a Plex Media Server preloaded with applications which facilitate the automated downloading of movies, TV shows, and other media.

Need assistance? Leave a comment below.