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Entertainment Hardware

Plex Cloud Means Saying Goodbye To the Always-On PC ( 173

Finally, you don't need an always-on PC or any other network-attached storage device if you want to use Plex's media player. The company has announced that it now allows you to stream TV shows and movies from your own collection via a new online option called Plex Cloud. From a report on The Verge: Plex is giving the world another reason to subscribe to Plex Pass subscriptions today with the launch of Plex Cloud. As the name suggests, Plex Cloud eliminates the need to run the Plex Media Server on a computer or Networked Attached Storage (NAS) in your house. It does, however, require a subscription to Amazon Drive ($59.99 per year for unlimited storage) and the aforementioned Plex Pass ($4.99 per month or $39.99 per year). Plex Cloud functions just like a regular Plex Media Server giving you access to your media -- no matter how you acquire it -- from an incredibly broad range of devices. Most, but not all Plex features are available in today's beta.
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Plex Cloud Means Saying Goodbye To the Always-On PC

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  • Pretty cool (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Monday September 26, 2016 @02:48PM (#52964345) Homepage Journal
    Instead of paying once, I can pay every month! I love the Cloud!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Well you don't only pay once. Unless you are 100% off the grid you are still paying for your electricity, which for a decent machine in an area with higher power prices you could expect to pay close to the $100/yr this would cost. Then add in the fact that parts will fail and you probably will be putting on average another $40-50/yr worth of replacement parts or upgrades in and potentially paying for higher upload bandwidth and $100/yr actually starts to seem about right.

      • Re:Pretty cool (Score:5, Interesting)

        by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Monday September 26, 2016 @03:02PM (#52964461)

        So in other words, instead of just paying for electricity and hardware I have control over, I can pay for plex cloud. I'm sure I can expect other interested parties having access to my data through an NSL and my ISP to stick me for insane bw usage. Yay! What a deal!

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          By Grabthar's Hammer, what a savings.

        • Re:Pretty cool (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 26, 2016 @03:14PM (#52964573)

          So in other words, instead of just paying for electricity and hardware I have control over, I can pay for plex cloud. I'm sure I can expect other interested parties having access to my data through an NSL and my ISP to stick me for insane bw usage. Yay! What a deal!

          And pay for all the extra bandwidth you need to be streaming the same files over and over from the cloud rather than just accessing them over your LAN. Also being aggravated when the cloud or your ISP goes down when you want to watch it most.

      • Re:Pretty cool (Score:5, Informative)

        by barc0001 ( 173002 ) on Monday September 26, 2016 @03:21PM (#52964607)

        This looks like a solution searching for a problem to solve. Who really needs their Plex library "in the cloud"? The vast use case for it is as a home media server so if you go the Amazon cloud way instead you get to upload it all (at a painfully slow rate in many areas) then have it eat into your data cap a second time as you stream it to watch. Not to mention if you have any files of a less than 100% above the board nature, the MPAA/RIAA and a subpoena may start poking around in the PlexAzon caches to see what needs a closer look. No thanks.

        • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

          Who really needs their Plex library "in the cloud"?

          Many people share their libraries with friends and family. If your local hardware or bandwidth isn't up to snuff this can make sharing multiple streams simultaneously a poor user experience as it will either stutter or video quality suffers.

          Is the service needed by everyone? No. Is it required that everyone run Plex now in the cloud? No. Can it be of benefit to some users? Yes. I think it's far better to have the option and not use it, than to not have the

      • by Anonymous Coward

        So you are saying that cloud services pay for your electricity, or your electrical bill will give you a free discount because you are using a cloud service?
        Parts? Who needs those? Nothing like having everything in the cloud so the service can increase the cost in a short time, and you can't do shit about them fluctuating their pricing because you don't have any parts of your own and they own you by the balls. Not to mention the glorious Internet failures, the glorious lack of off-line capability, and the gl

        • Re:Pretty cool (Score:4, Insightful)

          by jedidiah ( 1196 ) on Monday September 26, 2016 @04:06PM (#52964957) Homepage

          The power costs of running your own little PC is gravely overblown. On the other hand, this takes everything out of your control and makes it dependent on any number of 3rd parties. Any one of them could fail.

          One of the whole points of local content is that you can completely ignore any external network issues, like it not even being there.

          Otherwise, you could just use Netflix and not bother with your own media in the first place.

      • by Junta ( 36770 )

        For most places and efficient low cost configs, I'd say maybe 30-40/year in energy cost.

        The upload bandwidth is killer. The performance of accessing the media is terrible (when I access a local rip, it's super high quality and *instant* seeking, versus streams from netflix and the like.

        • by Gr8Apes ( 679165 )
          I'll be honest, local rips are almost instant, remote clients do have a minor startup time. But I won't be using the cloud. Seem like a ready made trap for any number of cases. Besides, it's a home media server, for serving my files at home, for me only. Why do I need it on the cloud, and why would I want to stream from the cloud at a fraction of my data rates on the LAN? There's a reason I prefer hard media over streaming, and there's no reason I want to have my library lowered in quality to the equivalent
          • by Junta ( 36770 )

            At least with emby, local rips are instant. I had a bear of a time with Plex Media server performance, so I migrated. That was a long time ago though.

      • by gmack ( 197796 )
        A few points: 1. My new TV box puts itself to sleep when I'm not using it (It detects via the HDMI channel when the TV turns off and sleeps). 2. It has no moving parts to break and my last one lasted two years and is still going strong (gave it away). 3. The whole thing total cost me CDN $49.99 so I don't get your replacement parts cost at all.
        • A few points: 1. My new TV box puts itself to sleep when I'm not using it (It detects via the HDMI channel when the TV turns off and sleeps).

          What sort of box is it? The problem I have with TV boxes is that I can't find one that can play every format, hence the need for a media server to transcode it. If a media box could do it it would be cheaper to have one for each TV than to set up a server and I wouldn't need something like Plex at all.

          • by gmack ( 197796 )
            It's a Goo Bang Doo Abox running Android 6.0.1 and Runs Kodi. I just ran a few mins of tests and so far for video formats: ASF,WMV,MPG,MOV and my usual MKV. So far the only thing I don't have working is H265 (HVEC). For audio formats I've used MP3, WAV and FLAC.
      • by PRMan ( 959735 )
        I use a netbook for my server you insensitive clod.
      • To stretch this analogy a bit... instead of investing in legacy Bricks-and-Mortar, lets use the, _equivalently priced_ , Housing-as-a-Service.

        It makes sense to own, not buy, stuff that you use consistently and long term. (E.g. cook, sleep, ... even eat: have a vegie patch or balcony garden).

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And you can stream media at your ISP's max speed AND subject to their data caps rather than be limited to those pesky wire speeds of your home LAN with unlimited data transfers.

      • Oh yeah. Forgot about that. And as a bonus you can pay more when Google or Plex decide they need more revenue that year, or lose service when Google gets bored of it.
        • Google? Google isn't even a party here unless Plex or Amazon were bought out...

          This is for the people who currently stream from their Plex systems to remote clients, not for you apparently since you have no friends/family you want to share your videos with.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Instead of paying once, I can pay every month! I love the Cloud!

      Yeah .. no thanks. I'll keep my PC which is my media serving device. Samba/NFS on the LAN, SFTP (as implemented by internal-sftp from the OpenSSH suite) for everywhere else. Free dynamic DNS services make the latter option even easier. All of my devices can access and play my media including my smartphone. Piping the output to the TV is trivial (and a phone running a VNC client makes a fine remote).

      All of the benefits of the cloud, no bullshit monthly subscription, I retain privacy and control, and I d

    • I can see your cynical side, but the current price is $100/year total.

      I seem to spend at least that upgrading drives in my Tivos or buying external drives anyway.

      So if the "unlimited" truly is unlimited, this could be a way at least as cheap as doing it myself, and potentially easier.. (There is a Plex app for Tivo, I think..)

      • by Anonymous Coward

        plus the internet fees. More if mobile data. Dude is right, you gotta love the cloud!

    • Re:Pretty cool (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday September 26, 2016 @03:19PM (#52964597)

      The Cloud(tm) is awesome! Instead of paying absolutely nothing and streaming the videos I own within my own home to any of my devices, I can
      (a) pay Amazon an annual fee for Cloud(tm) storage
      (b) pay Plex an annual fee for a Plex Pass account
      (c) pay my ISP for regularly exceeding my monthly broadband cap to watch the videos I own

      Thanks for looking out for the little guy, Plex. Thumbs-up emoji.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The Cloud(tm) is awesome! Instead of paying absolutely nothing and streaming the videos I own within my own home to any of my devices, I can
        (a) pay Amazon an annual fee for Cloud(tm) storage
        (b) pay Plex an annual fee for a Plex Pass account
        (c) pay my ISP for regularly exceeding my monthly broadband cap to watch the videos I own

        But wait, there's more! You forgot the most exciting feature!
        (d) All your data goes away when Amazon or Plex decide to change their business model!

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          (e) You get subjected to illegal scans by the MPAA and the RIAA

          • (f) And the NSA!
            (g) You recoup nothing when you stop paying. You are left no physical assets (server).
            (h) Nor the skills you'd gain setting up an efficient (*) home-cloud yourself

            (*) The 'Avoid an Always-On PC' statement is misleading. Its possible to let your PC asleep and issue wake-on-lan packets via the internet router (or a small RasberryPi Zero hanging off of it)

    • Not only that, the little control you had by having a NAS with proprietary software in your house that you potentially were still be able to hack, is replaced by their servers. You have no control at all anymore over the data you paid (a licence) for.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      2016: Still falling for 'The Cloud' troll/meme

      I seriously hope you guys don't do this.

      Welcome to the New Reality: Nobody owns anything, you just rent or lease it, and pay, pay, pay, ad infinitum. You don't own your computer, OS, or applicatons, you rent them. You rent your house because home ownership has been made too expensive for the poor, which we are all rapidly becoming in this post-middle-class world. You lease your car because only rich people can afford to own -- but you still have to pay for m
    • Plex offers a lifetime pass for $150. I LOVE my Plex server, i have it at my in-laws house on an 80Mb/sec symmetrical link. I am still going to sign up for Amazon Drive to get this. If one side is down, ill always have the other.
  • So I get to spend $100 a year to avoid using an old garbage PC with beefed up storage and have to rely on someone else to serve me my own stuff, hoping the connection remains strong?

    This sounds horrible.

    • Yep, I'll stick with my $150 for a NAS with hard drives that actually powers up and down on demand. I'm not seeing how exactly this is an advantage, maybe unlimited storage but I don't need that.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I'll stick with my modded NSLU2 with UnSlung firmware and Twonkyserver software. It uses almost no power, a wall wart and a few flashdrives.
      • Where do you get a NAS for $150? Is it one with 4 drives and RAID?

        I was watching one under $200 for a while on Amazon, but never ended up buying it.. (I think it may have been a slightly older model too).

        They seem WAY more expensive than that.

        • If your serving media files you realy do not want classic raid. Snapraid and the like are a much better option for a large volume of seldom/never modified storage. This way drives no used can spin down.

          • I just looked at the FAQ for SnapRAID. Looks fairly complex. Especially since it is "just" media files, I theoretically wanted something I could basically set up once and then would survive one disk failure.. If I lost it all, I wouldn't be too bummed.

            Also, wouldn't you need another machine up and doing the snap raid 'backup' or sync or whatever you all it? (A NAS is all in one, the other machines can be off/asleep.) and/or would a Raspberry PI or somesuch be adequate for that?

            • No extra machine and it's a few lines of config per drive. Being able to use mixed size drives to max capacity is a big advantage. The huge advantage is if you loose 2 drives (with single drive parity) you only loose the files on those drives each file and the directory structure to go with it is on each drive. Long term it's got power savings as each piece of media is read off a single drive meaning the rest can be spun down.

              • What do you mean no extra machine? Do you mean you can use SnapRAID on something like a Synology 4 disk NAS? (Just one of the ones I was looking at today..)

                • Yes, the level of difficulty getting it installed would vary but pretty much all your 4 disk nas boxes are Linux often on top of x86 with various methods to add 3rd party software. Mind you buying the equivalent to better hardware and using any of the number of nas software or simply your preferred Linux is cheaper and does not paint you into a corner. Mind you I would not buy or suggest a low end consumer synology device it does not have any facilities for bit rot detection they just released btrfs suppo

                • I highly recommend the Synology NAS boxes, they are great. The one I used to have however didn't have enough horsepower to run Plex server, so I had to run the Plex from my domain controller.

                  • The very little bit of research I've done seems to say you need the 'play' versions ('play' is in the name) to do Plex re-encoding. Others can work as media servers if no reencoding is needed. At least based on what I saw on Amazon in the past few days, the non-Play Synology 4 or 5 drive boxes are a bit under $300 at best price, the play ones are a couple hundred more.

                    Could I stream a non-reencoded HD show to an iPhone or iPad out of the house? At least VLC can play raw MPEG files (the old one, before Do

                    • I have been fighting the Tivo issues as well, it seems that there is no good solution for moving tv shows to more durable formats, that works well and in an automated fashion.

                      The Synology NAS I had allowed the use of DLNA for streaming, but I am not an Apple person, so I don't know if that is supported by their equipment.

                      There was also some kind of Synology Video app, but I never actually used it.

        • 2 drives, minimal RAID capabilities. I actually bought the skeleton one and picked up a couple drives on black Friday. For me it has been working pretty good for a few years, just have to wait 5-10 minutes for it to come online sometimes. But I primarily use it to share development files between computers, rather than a media server.


    • by PRMan ( 959735 )
      You are almost certainly paying over $100 a year for electricity for a desktop PC as a server.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is either going to be shutdown IMMEDIATELY by the copyright trolls, or its a trap set by the copyright trolls

  • So - $100/yr for... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Monday September 26, 2016 @02:53PM (#52964383) Journal

    ...something I could do at home with a low-end shoebox computer (or better yet, an old cast-off box with a little SSD and a big platter drive stuffed into it) that would be incredibly cheaper over time, electricity included.

    And wait - who said I had to have the damned thing on 24/7 at home? I boot it when I turn the TV on - takes less time to start up than the TV does these days thanks to SSD *shrug*.

    Seriously - if I subscribed to this service, I'd be damned embarrassed to say that I did and claim that I'm a geek at the same time...

    • by nobuddy ( 952985 )

      Not too old. Those HD movies take a bit of grunt to serve smoothly.

      • I bought the lifetime plex pass when it was under $100... If the movies are encoded properly it servers 1080 up rather easy, this is why I stay away from pirated movies and just buy dvds... (although I do take them to a place that is buy, sell, and trade afterwards)

        • by cdrudge ( 68377 )

          If the movies are encoded properly it servers 1080 up rather easy, this is why I stay away from pirated movies and just buy dvds...

          If you are just serving up DVD you purchased/ripped then you aren't anywhere near 1080.

          • You are right it's usually just the new stuff on bluray that is 1080 and there are other older movies that aren't even 480...

      • by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        The nvidia GPUs that drive my decoder boxes are so trailing edge that they are at the point of being desupported.

        Even back in the day, it was only the really cheap boxes that had any problems dealing with HD anyways. This was a tricky problem a long time ago. Now, not so much.

      • So buy the DVD version instead of Blu-Ray. VLC and Dragon Player's upscaling work quite well. Besides, SD content is good enough for many people.
      • With Plex, yes, as it transcodes on the fly for the destination resolution. I transcoded all of my media into MP4. I use MCEBuddy, set to watch a network share, that runs on my desktop and transcodes in the background. But to run Plex, you still need to have some hefty CPU to do the on the fly transcoding of the videos.

  • I would seriously consider Plex Cloud if Netflix, HBO Now, and a few other streaming services weren't seriously eating into my monthly cap from Cox. Maybe the Google Fiber elitist will have more fun with this...

    • You have a cap on Cox? I thought they decided not to implement them... they didn't in my area.

      • by BRock97 ( 17460 )

        Yes; they send them out in the Omaha, NE area. I don't know anyone who's received the warning getting charged, though. The email they send is rather off-putting.

    • Data caps only are a problem for wireless phone networks or a few insular countries.

  • by WoodburyMan ( 1288090 ) on Monday September 26, 2016 @03:05PM (#52964497)
    I've been a avid Plex user for almost 2 years now. A bit over a year ago I bought a storage array NAS just for dedicated Plex storage, and built a i5 media center system that acts as Plex server and a few other things so I don't have to leave a power hungry gaming desktop on all the time. Previous to that I only kept some content on disk, and backed up media to CD's, then DVD, then Bluray. Combined, I have somewhere north of 2.5TB of content. Charter in my area offers only 60mbit/4mbit service, with 150mbit/5mbit service as a $50 upgrade. That's over 150hours to upload A week straight. Then content, when I add it, has to be uploaded. It makes no sense to download content, only to upload it, to stream/download it again. With GoPro 4K 60dps footage I have taking up SEVERAL gigs, it's just way too much to upload to Amazon, let alone upload the small trimmed down clips I want to YouTube sometimes. Maybe in the future, if ISP's in my area decide to offer actual upload speeds. As it stands if I download at 60mbit, 50-75% of my upload bandwidth is spent in just TCP acknowledgements and overhead. And symmetrical business speed is offered via Fiber only here at costs of $500+/mo.
  • ...and the aforementioned Plex Pass ($4.99 per month

    Adding yet another duck to the ISP / Netflix /Hulu flock doesn't seem very compelling to a rapidly-shrinking middle class.

    • Assuming enough economic zones begin offering Basic Incomes to their citizens, businesses will design and price packages to evenly consume the monthly amount. Great for the businesses to have a constant flow of cash. Great for the payment processors to skim their percent off the top. Great for three letter agencies that can watch these transactions - either financial or data streams - to learn about devices / versions / locations and of course content. Arguably Great for consumers so they don't have to "thi

  • I don't want a computer running full time and using electricity. I also don't want to pay per month for the cloud.

    I use Infuse with an Apple TV in one room and a Fire TV in another, connected to a shared hard drive plugged into my router. Works great and needs virtually no computing power on the sharing end.

    • I don't want a computer running full time and using electricity. ... connected to a shared hard drive plugged into my router.

      Your router is a computer.

    • by b0bby ( 201198 )

      Does Infuse work by copying to your device? That's what it seems like. Not sure if that would work for a Fire Stick.

  • To include: Most, but not all Plex features are available in today's beta. Some of the missing capabilities include Camera Upload and Offline Sync, though those will come in the future. Other features missing in Plex Cloud include DLNA support, Cloud Sync, Media Optimizer, and the newly launched Plex DVR. Note that Plex Cloud is not a copy of your local Plex server and Plex, as of today, doesn’t mention any type of media migration tool.

    Wow! Sounds great!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Hey, that's amazing!

    Until smart TV's and digital stream analysis on the new audio out non-port of your phone decide this is a DRM violation and decide to block you from actually watching and/or listening to any of this.

  • Though hooking usenet up to a e3 instance could be amusing.

  • Sucker bait (Score:4, Insightful)

    by eyepeepackets ( 33477 ) on Monday September 26, 2016 @03:31PM (#52964693)

    Anyone who buys into this has not been paying attention: These "cloud"-based businesses vanish like the mist once their funding has dried up and there is no growing revenue stream, and if you've invested your time and data with them, you're screwed.

  • Given my ISP's monthly cap of 100GB per month, it will take me about 30 months, nearly 3 years, to get all my music files into Plex's cloud. Meanwhile, I won't be able to use my Internet connection for anything else while I am uploading the music files.
    • How do you catalog and play from that?

      I've got less than half of that, it chokes all the 'media players' I've tried.

  • I used to use plex. I've moved to emby.

    Under linux, you might as well give up and run it under docker as they are very messy about their depedencies, but at least that's not too complicated.

    • I just set up emby on a centos 7 VM, my media is on a 4TB HDD attached to the server. It was easy, it took me longer to figure out that iptables was taken out of centos 7 than it took to set up emby. So far I like firewalld better than iptables.
  • by Ziest ( 143204 )

    My home setup is:

      - home assembled PC, 4 core CPU and 16 GB of ram
      - Ubuntu 14.04
      - ZFS (8 TB)
      - MakeMKV and Handbrake
      - Ruko box attached to the TV and home network

    Total one time cost $1500.00

    Sure Plex is charging $40.00 per year but notice I control the entire setup. No one throttling the bandwidth between the Plex Cloud and my TV and no one selling the information about my DVD / Blu-Ray collection to advertisers.

  • Or will different rules apply to Plex than to Kim Dotcom's Mega site?

  • Plex Cloud also means you lose control of your stuff. They will sell information on what you store/view in a heartbeat. It will also make you more dependant on an internet connection, so when your connection goes down, you are SOL. Oh and just wait until it says your files were deleted because of copyright infringement. Lapse on a payment and they'll outright delete your entire collection.

    Invest in a large SSD and put it in a NAS that can accept multiple drives. If you run out of room, buy another larg

  • by ewhac ( 5844 ) on Monday September 26, 2016 @05:16PM (#52965487) Homepage Journal
    A couple years ago, I set up a FreeNAS box to solve the problem of, "the file I want to work with is not on the machine in front of me." Once set up, I also wanted a media server so I could watch stuff on the TV in the living room. Many of the comments in the FreeNAS discussion fora spoke well of Plex, which is available for FreeNAS as a plugin jail. So I installed it and gave it a spin.

    I immediately knew something was fishy when I tried to connect to the local server, and the login page didn't work. I run Firefox with NoScript installed. I had the local server IP whitelisted, but the page ignored all button clicks. I click on the NoScript icon... And discover that it's trying to pull in boatloads of JavaScript from

    "WRONG!" exclaimed I. The whole point of a local media server such as Plex is for all media-serving code and resources to be hosted locally on my server hardware. The moment you start reaching outside the LAN to do anything, you are no longer a local server.

    This discovery basically shattered any alleged positive value Plex may have had, since its primary function -- the basis on which it was sold to me -- turned out to be a lie. I promptly uninstalled it.

    Now, it seems Plex has dropped the pretense altogether, and are just another disk farm outside my control. Good luck with that, guys; I'm sure you'll be able to beat Apple, Google, and Amazon at that game.

    • I use Plex and really like it, but I am looking for an alternative because it doesn't work unless I can login into their server. So I can't watch movies on my TV from my computer unless I can verify my username/password over the internet. Really pissed me off when hurricane Hermine came through and after I got electricity back I didn't have internet for three days, so no streaming to the TV. Of movies I own. WTF.

      Cloud? Why would I add even more layers of crap between me and a movie?
    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      I have QNAP and that has Media Servers and other servers as well. Actually I have no idea what they are exactly as I just mount the device when the PC(s) start up and handle it as if it were a local system and run whatever I desire on the local machine.
      The only thing that runs remotely is torrent, because that can keep running when the PCs are down.
      Locally I then run smplayer, XBMC, mcd or anything else I desire. I see no need for a media server as such as I have a fileserver. I do not connect my phone to i

  • Sure, I'll be glad to upload my entire video collection of 20TB's which will take approximately 180 days of continuous uploading to Amazon's cloud drive (take longer with data caps because I'll have to restart it each month until it actually completes the 20TB uploads) where it is not encrypted nor well protected and whose contents will be completely indistinguishable from pirated content versus a ripped personal use copy. I am sure the MPAA would love to go after this data. I will gladly give over my har

  • and AnyDVD. Can you still rip your own dvds? I know Disney did all sorts of nasty crap to DVDs to make them hard to rip (I used to rip the ones I bought and give the rips to the kids so I didn't have to buy them again in 4 months when they got hopelessly scratched, kids are grown so I don't bother anymore).
  • It would be awesome if there was some way for my home computer to become a server on the internet, and I could download or stream files straight from my computer! That would be so cool. Someone should invent that.

Interchangeable parts won't.