Disclaimer: This is not an intended use of the Plex App’s “Download” feature. There is nothing in this guide that is against TOS/EULA, but Plex may decide to take this capability away at any time.
Note to Plex: Please don’t take this away from us. It’s really cool.
Despite the fact that I outright detest Plex’s overall direction with the PC (removing TV mode and killing HTPC support), they’ve added a neat feature. Using the new Plex app, you can now download to your PC.
In this guide, a combination of the new Plex app and Plex Media Server will be used to download and serve content on the go.
It’s a pretty slick, relatively hands off setup. As you add and remove media from your downloads, the mobile server will dynamically add and remove content as well.
There’s even an option to delete media that has been watched automatically.
Possible uses (not comprehensive)
- You’re going on vacation, and you want to take a bunch of media with you, but you’re not sure if you’re going to watch it on your laptop, or your phone… or your tablet… or your Chromecast…
- You want a mobile RV server where an internet connection is intermittent, and you want to have a library of media available on multiple devices while on the road and parked.
- You’re going on a road trip, and you want to serve media to others (kids?) in the car.
- You’re taking an international flight, and you want to serve media to friends/family’s devices while on the plane.
- You’re a teacher, and you want to show an “instructional” video to your class (Movie days were the best!)
- A Windows or MacOS computer
- Preferably something small / portable: NUC, tiny PC, laptop
- Plex’s new client-side application simply called “Plex”
- An existing Plex Media Server you have permission to sync/download from
- A clean Plex Media Server installation on your target computer
- Stable Wi-Fi: Even a basic pocket router is more than enough to connect multiple devices and stream Plex. You just need a stable connection. Sometimes high-traffic areas like schools and hotels can cause issues with a setup like this, so it’s best to bring your own solution.
- This guide will cover Windows software setup only. The information for MacOS will follow the same outline, but things like the directories will be different. Should be easy enough to figure out.
- By default, the Plex app will store its downloads on the
C:/drive. The easiest way to mitigate this is to have a large boot drive, such as a 1TB or 2TB SSD.
- Another method of mitigating this would be to create a hardlink to another storage device, whether internal, external, or network. This will be covered in the guide.
- If you want to use Plex Media Player to play back the downloaded files, you can do so via this guide. (Plex Media Player does not have the download feature)
- The Plex app can start and stop downloads at any time, and resume downloading from partial files.
- Movies and TV shows retain external subtile files when downloaded
- The Plex app does not convert or optimize downloads. The more storage you can give it, the better.
- If you’re just going to be using your boot drive, 512GB minimum is recommended, with 1TB or 2TB being ideal. Doesn’t matter whether it’s a SATA or NVMe SSD.
- Downloading media will be fastest when local to your main server, connected via gigabit ethernet.
- For mobile server, the hardware shouldn’t matter much. Since everything you’ll be serving will be on the local network, the server shouldn’t have to transcode.
- For best performance, connect the mobile server via ethernet to the network you want to access media on. Using Wi-Fi will put double strain on the Wi-Fi network (server sending, client receiving) and may reduce performance on other devices.