Dear IT User,
Imagine having access to a wide range of tv shows, movies, music and live content at your finger tips. Download the content you want to watch, then store it on your own NAS (network attached storage device) running Plex. Then connect your Plex account to all your media streamers such as your TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV etc and browse your media library similar to popular streaming apps.
Here at Kapiti.IT we've been installing high powered NAS devices for many years, offering homeowners the ability to download what they want to watch. As for downloading content, we can't help there, but can point you in the right direction such as Usenet.
A NAS suitable for media streaming will cost around $300 - $1,000 depending on the number of drives. Most entry level models offer 1 or 2 drives, with more advanced models offering 4 or 6 drives. Each drive will need to be considered, ranging in price from $250 for a 4TB drive, up to $800 for a 16TB drive. Newer models offer NVME caching, so adding another 1TB or 2TB SSD drive will cost another $150-$200 depending on the model.
A fully fledged NAS reading for media streaming will likely cost around $800-$1000 for a basic entry level model, up to $2,500 for a powerhouse setup.
If you're thinking of getting a NAS installed for Plex streaming, give us a ring today. We offer a done for you installation package.
Below are some common network attached storage devices we do for our clients to give you an idea on what we can do/help you with too.
What is a Plex media server?
A Plex Media Server is software that lets you organize your personal media collections, such as movies, TV shows, music, photos, and more, and stream them to various devices both inside and outside your home network. Plex provides an intuitive interface, powerful media organization tools, and robust streaming capabilities. Here's a brief rundown of its features:
Centralised Media Management: Once you set up Plex Media Server on a computer or compatible network-attached storage (NAS) device, you can add your media files to it. Plex will automatically organize and fetch metadata (like cover art, summaries, cast details, etc.) for the content you add, making it look appealing and easy to browse.
Streaming to Multiple Devices: With Plex apps available for smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, streaming boxes/sticks, and more, you can stream your media to nearly any device. The server will even transcode (convert) your media on-the-fly if the target device doesn't support the original format, ensuring smooth playback.
Remote Access: Plex can be configured to allow you to access and stream your media from outside your home network. This makes it easy to watch your favorite movies or listen to your music collection even when you're traveling or at a different location.
User Management: You can set up multiple user accounts, each with its own watch history, recommendations, and preferences. This is great for households with multiple members.
Plex Pass: While the basic functionality of Plex is free, they offer a subscription service called Plex Pass. Subscribers get advanced features such as mobile syncing, cloud syncing, live TV and DVR capabilities, parental controls, and more.
Plugins and Extras: Although Plex phased out its native plugin support, there are still some third-party integrations and tools that can add additional functionality and sources to your Plex server.
Security: Plex provides features like SSL/TLS for secure connections, ensuring your data is encrypted when accessing your media remotely.
Music and Photos: Beyond video, Plex also does an excellent job organizing and streaming music collections and photo albums.
How to start using a Plex media server?
To get started with Plex: Install Plex Media Server on a supported device (it could be a computer, certain NAS models, or even some powerful routers). Add your media libraries (e.g., Movies, TV Shows, Music, etc). Install Plex clients/apps on the devices you want to stream to (e.g., smartphones, TVs). Sign in, and you're ready to start streaming your media!
Where should I get content for my media server?
If you're looking to build a movie library for your Plex Media Server, it's important to do so legally and ethically.
Physical Discs: You can purchase Blu-rays or DVDs and then rip them for personal use. There are several tools, like HandBrake and MakeMKV, that allow you to convert your physical media into digital files compatible with Plex. Make sure you're adhering to your country's copyright laws when ripping discs.
Usenet NZBs: Most of our clients install a NAS and Plex media server to download Usenet files. These .nzb files are found using an Indexer search engine and a Usenet news server. Once the files are downloaded they are stored on your NAS, ready for use with Plex. While we can't help you download content this way, we can help with installing and combining these apps together for you.
Free Public Domain Movies: There are movies that have fallen into the public domain, which means they are no longer under copyright and can be freely used and distributed. Websites like The Internet Archive or Public Domain Movies host such content. Always verify the copyright status before downloading and using.
Digital Copy with Physical Purchase: Many Blu-rays and DVDs come with a digital copy code. You can redeem these codes to get a digital version of the movie.
Personal Recordings: If you have the equipment and the rights, you can record your own movies or personal videos and add them to Plex.
Specialised Platforms: There are platforms like Vudu that offer a "Disc to Digital" service, allowing you to convert your physical disc collection to digital for a fee.
Library Lending Services: Some services, like Hoopla or Kanopy, partner with local libraries to provide digital lending of movies. You can check them out, download them, and temporarily add them to Plex for viewing.
Plex's Own Content: In recent updates, Plex has also started offering its own library of free-to-watch movies and TV shows, supported by ads. While this doesn't let you "add" movies to your library in the traditional sense, it does give you and your users more content to watch.
How much does it cost for a NAS with 4 x 16TB drives?
The cost of a NAS (Network Attached Storage) device and hard drives can vary greatly based on factors like the brand, specific model, region, retailer, and fluctuating market conditions. As of my last update in September 2023, here's a rough estimate:
NAS Device (without drives): The cost can vary depending on the brand and model. Popular NAS manufacturers include Synology, QNAP, and Western Digital (WD). A 4-bay NAS suitable for home or small business use might range from $500 to $700 or more. High-performance, business-oriented models can cost considerably more.
16TB Hard Drives: The cost of hard drives also varies by brand and specific model. Popular hard drive manufacturers for NAS include Western Digital (WD Red series) and Seagate (IronWolf series). As of 2023, a 16TB NAS-specific hard drive might cost between $500 and $800.
Given these rough estimates:
4 x 16TB drives could cost between $2,000 and $3,000.
Combining this with the NAS device, the total cost might range from $3,000 to $4,500 or even more.
Please note that these are just rough estimates based on 2023 pricing. For accurate and current pricing, you'd need to check the websites of major retailers, NAS manufacturers, or specialised IT stores in your region or country.
Is it legal to use Plex?
Yes, using Plex itself is entirely legal. Plex is simply a media server software that allows you to organize and stream your personal media library to various devices. Many people use Plex to manage and view their legally acquired content, such as home videos, music, photos, and movies or TV shows they've purchased.
However, the legal concerns arise based on how users obtain the content they place on Plex. Here are a few things to consider:
Illegally Downloaded Content: If you use Plex to stream pirated or illegally downloaded content, you could be breaking the law. Different countries have different rules but here in New Zealand, hardly anyone has ever been convicted of copyright infringement from downloading movies using Usenet.
Sharing Content: Plex allows you to share your libraries with other users. If you share copyrighted content without the right to do so, this can be considered a violation of copyright laws, especially if the people you're sharing with did not legally acquire the content themselves.
Ripping Physical Media: Some people rip DVDs or Blu-rays they own to store them digitally on Plex. While this may seem like fair use since you own the physical media, in some jurisdictions, breaking the Digital Rights Management (DRM) of a DVD or Blu-ray disc is illegal, even if you own it.
Recording TV Shows: Plex offers a live TV and DVR feature. Recording TV shows to watch later can be seen as fair use in many jurisdictions, but distributing those recordings to others might not be.
Geographic Restrictions: Some media may have geographic restrictions. Even if you legally obtained the content in one country, it might be illegal to access or share it in another.
VPN and Plex: Some users deploy VPNs with Plex, especially when accessing their content from different locations. While VPNs themselves are legal, they can sometimes violate the terms of service of some platforms or be used to obscure illegal activities - not in New Zealand though.
In summary, while Plex as a software is entirely legal, how you use it can determine whether your actions are legal or not. Always respect copyright laws and only add content to Plex that you've legally obtained. When in doubt, consult with local laws or legal advice to ensure you're in compliance.
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