Before Sharing Your Plex Media Server

image_thumb-16 Before Sharing Your Plex Media Server

If you have a Plex Media Server, you know how convenient it is to have access to your media anywhere you go and on any device. Having access your media (music or videos) is something that you can easily go to your friends and family and brag on how awesome it is; you might even be inclined to offer them access to your Plex Media Server.

This might be a mistake on your part…

From a perspective, having a Plex Media Server is a point of pride and responsibility. I mean you have to provide the hardware, electricity, the effort to curate your media (music and videos) and you also have to maintain your Internet service. And if you have bandwidth caps, you could be balancing a very fine line.

Have no doubt, there is a certain dollar amount associated with running around Plex Media Server, but when you take upon yourself to offer others access to your Plex server, depending upon what kind of content you have on your server, you could be deciding to offer friends and family a ‘free version of Netflix’.

Technology is great when it works, and for the most part, people want to be magnanimous about being able to offer something people can actually appreciate. But what a lot of people don’t recognize in the early stages of offering access to a Plex server is when you have the demanding nature of quasi-customers.

When you initially offer people access your Plex server, it’s because you want to share your media library with them so they can watch a movie or listen to music and everyone can be happy. The problem seemed to start when your quasi-customers start contacting you because there playback is buffering, there Internet connection is working, the audio is choppy, the picture isn’t clear or you don’t have the video they want to watch, etc.  Issues like this seem to pop up when people start becoming more accustomed to just having Plex available to them.

General Examples:

  • You’re sitting on your couch on Saturday night at 10 PM and you get a text message from a friend who says they can’t access Plex; they want you to fix the problem (now). All of a sudden, you become tech support; trying to troubleshoot why your friend can’t get access to Plex. You have to work everything back from your server, your Internet connection, their Internet connection, and all the way back to where they press play. It’s a little bit frustrating and a bit inconvenient.
  • If you have movies or TV shows on your Plex server and you keep getting phone calls periodically about why don’t you have this movie or why don’t you have that movie, or you’re missing this TV episode, or to go so far as to say that the quality of your videos is not very good.
  • You’re trying to watch a movie from your Plex server at home, you start up Plex and you’re not able to watch anything. You go to your Plex server and you see that you have 12 concurrent streams coming off of your Plex server. In addition to the high number of streams, you also notice that it’s all coming from the same account. This means that the person that you gave access to Plex for has given their Plex account information to all of their friends, and now all of them are streaming and possibly getting out the account to even more people.

When you start having to deal with friends and family on a regular basis for Plex questions, and they are now treating you like the complaints department of Netflix, it’s time to start thinking about cutting them loose. The reason you want to cut them loose is that they are not understanding the expenditure on your side to provide this service; something that they are not even paying for.

For some people, this can be a very personal decision because you’re going to have to go up to your friend or family member and explain to them that you are removing their Plex access. You have to explain to them what sin they have committed; this can be a negative event because now you going to take away their access to free movies, TV shows or music. Regardless, they are not paying your electric bills, paying for new hardware, your Internet service or your expertise in maintaining all that.

Before you decide to share your Plex Media Server, and before you give access to anyone, it’s easier to have ground rules for accessing your Plex Media Server. If they break those rules, you kick them off.

  1. You have what you have (TV, movies, music); you don’t do requests.
  2. If the Plex Media Server is down; it’s down- try back later.
  3. No sharing of Plex accounts. Access your Plex Media Server is intended for X person only.

So there you have it; things to think about before sharing your Plex Media Server.

If you want to take all this on, you may want to check out Tautulli for tracking users history.

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