Backend media sharing

Discussion in 'Storage & Backup' started by Madengineer, Apr 29, 2017.

  1. Madengineer

    Madengineer Member

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    Hey guys,

    I'm looking for a solution to share media across my network. Up until now, Plex has been good, but it's having problems sharing files (I suspect due to the update it recently had).

    Anyway, I've got a small low power PC acting as the 'server', and while Plex was decent, I want something a little more dedicated.

    I play everything through my Xbox One, and not too fussed on frontend looks, as long as functionality is decent (as long as I can hit 'play all' or 'play from here' on my files, I'm happy.

    In terms of backend support I'm looking at FreeNAS, but I don't really have much experience with that.

    What would be a good option to look at?
     
  2. bart5986

    bart5986 Member

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    What do you mean by Plex and sharing files?
     
  3. OP
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    Madengineer

    Madengineer Member

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    Plex is a media file system. It acts as a network media sharer. I'm after a better solution.
     
  4. bart5986

    bart5986 Member

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    I assumed by sharing files you meant something other then streaming.

    What problems are you having? Plex is mostly bug free and in my opinion you won't find a better alternative.
     
  5. OP
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    Madengineer

    Madengineer Member

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    Nah just streaming.

    Incredibly glitchy for the firat minute or so of a lot of files, random dcs, metadata (which I'm trying to stop)
     
  6. bart5986

    bart5986 Member

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    You should check your Internet or server as that shouldn't happen.
     
  7. sammy_b0i

    sammy_b0i Member

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    I can highly recommend a consumer NAS, like a Synology or QNAP, bundled with an AndroidTV box like the Xiaomi MiBox, and you can have your plex, kodi or whatever app. :thumbup:
     
  8. Copie

    Copie Member

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    Sounds more like a transcoding issue, what server are you using and what is your playback device?
     
  9. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    My problem with the approach Plex takes is that it wants to transcode on the fly every time the media is played. That means you're using a lot more power than just playing the media file directly.

    I'd rather have media sitting on a basic file server in a format that my player of choice can handle naively. I keep all my media in h264 format on my very low power file server, and play it on Raspberry Pi units connected to TVs. Purely from a wattage point of view, the overall power usage is a fraction of using Plex to transcode and stream, and a gaming console to decode and play back to the TV.

    That's not a comment on Plex's stability or code quality, but rather the overall design of on-demand transcoding approach, which I'm not a fan of.
     
  10. Copie

    Copie Member

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    Transcoding only happens when you don't have direct stream/play enabled and the device you are streaming to isn't compatible with the videos container.

    For me it will transcode to my chromecasts, but if I send content to my NUC it will direct play and not transcode (and I don't want it to transcode for the NUC as I want native audio and video)

    Whether you transcode on the server or process the video via decoders on the device itself the outcome is the same.
     
  11. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    If you transcode at the server, you're doing a decode/re-encode process, transmitting that to your player which is doing a second decode to raw to send to the output device. You're not sending raw data to your player, as nobody at home has the bandwidth for that, especially over WiFi. HDMI itself sends data anywhere between 4 and 18 GBit/s to a screen, which is impossible to send from your server to your player over home networks, hence the double-step decode/re-encode/re-decode.

    Compare and contrast to where the player is doing the decode, and the server is just sending files over a network file system. You're using less power with the latter.

    Sure, the end result is the same (picture appears on screen), and for may folks the power usage isn't of any great concern. But I don't like the former approach by design.

    That's the purely technical side. From a licensing point of view, I don't agree with Plex's mixed licensing scheme, and prefer to stick to 100% open source. A "dumb" file server, some Raspberry Pis and 100% free software is my preferred method combining both my technical and political desires.

    Each to their own. Plenty of folks use Plex and love it. But it's not for me and plenty of others for these reasons (merely answer the question that someone else asked above).
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017
  12. OP
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    Madengineer

    Madengineer Member

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    Yeah I don't really wanna buy a whole new system. I've got an old hp sff (running a 2600s) that serves as a 'server' coupled with multiple 5tb hdds. When it has to transcode, plex gives it an absolute flogging. But even when it doesnt, natively supported files glitch out and its a pain.

    There are just h264 files. Which the xbox one supports. Up until recently they played fine. Rolled back the update and it still has issues.

    It transcodes h265 fine (hammers the system but the xbox plays them without a problem)

    I had a bit of a play around with freenas tonight, but its not quite going to suit the purpose.
     
  13. bart5986

    bart5986 Member

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    Just to make it clear.

    If you use the a player capable of it, you can direct play everything.

    The only reason Plex has transcoding is so that people can play file types their players are unable to play.

    For example OpenPHT can play everything 100%, I run it on my media players at home.
     
  14. OP
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    Madengineer

    Madengineer Member

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    So you're saying if I have direct play on, majority should play fine?
     
  15. bart5986

    bart5986 Member

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    You can't turn direct play on and off, each device has a profile that determines what it is capable of playing. You can override the profile but there isn't much point, the profile was created so that a low end device didn't attempt to play video it can only run at 10fps.

    If you are buying a premade device with the plex app on it, there is a very high chance the CPU is too slow to direct play anything it doesn't have hardware acceleration for.

    For example even with an android box with x265 and x264 hardware decoding support, you'll still find that it won't have hardware decoding support for random things, maybe .ts files, 10bit files, who knows, you need to research.

    I prefer to just use more powerful hardware.
     
  16. Copie

    Copie Member

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    You can turn direct play/stream on and off via the server app.
     
  17. bart5986

    bart5986 Member

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    I've never seen the server with this feature, where are you saying it is?

    Seems like a pretty pointless feature, why would you want to force all your clients to transcode?
     
  18. Copie

    Copie Member

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    I'll check in the morning but from memory it's in settings then under the user advanced tab. Edit: Its under settings > Web > Player > Show Advanced and they are there. You can also adjust or force connected clients to a certain stream bitrate as well from the same page.

    Well it's not pointless if your on a network with bandwidth limitations, ie congested or poor wifi.
     
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2017
  19. bart5986

    bart5986 Member

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    Settings > Web > Player is Plex player. not Plex server.

    Everyone with a plex account, regardless of the server has that, it has nothing to do with the server and doesn't require administrator access.
     
  20. elvis

    elvis Old school old fool

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    As above, I don't use the streaming (transcoding on the fly) method. My Raspberry Pis can't decode h265. So what do I do? I have post-processing scripts that transcode the file from h265 to h264 offline, non-realtime. My server can only transcode at about 10-15FPS, but I don't care. It happens late at night when the household is asleep and I'm in off-peak power. Once complete, the file on disk is h264, and will be played by any of the Raspberry Pis in my house.

    Looking at it big picture, yes, it's still a re-transcode step. But I do this once per file, not once per stream. At worst it's the same effort as in-stream-transcoding. At best the media is watched 2-3 times over, and the re-transcode is saved each subsequent time. That, and I don't need powerful hardware server-side (again, it can happen non-realtime, and doesn't worry me)

    And that's the fundamental difference in approaches. I'm not at all concerned with how "powerful" the hardware is. I want low power consumption, but fit-for-purpose hardware.

    A Raspberry Pi has a built in hardware h264 decoder on-GPU. Even at under a single watt for the lowest end models, a Raspberry Pi can decode a 1080p h264 video realtime. Without that hardware decoder, you'd need a general purpose CPU or GPU that was several times more "powerful", and use many times the power consumption.

    The downside of course is as above - there's no h265 encoder onboard. But there are Chinese models like the OrangePi that can do that (and 4K), and are cheap ($18 or so from AliExpress for the lowest end model that will suffice as a 1080p h265 media playback device, and up to about $50 for the 4K model).

    It's difficult to fairly gauge how "powerful" hardware is. High clockspeed general purpose CPUs can do almost anything with new software, but you sacrifice a tonne of wattage to get it done. Lower end hardware can have in-CPU/GPU instructions to speed things up dramatically for a fraction of the power consumption, but generally can't be upgraded to new codecs trivially. I prefer the latter, as even with forced hardware upgrades for new codecs, the overall cost of hardware alone is far less. Factoring in power consumption, less again. Plus living in Queensland, most x86 devices under my TV die a horrible death in the summer months (either that, or force people to run the air conditioning harder, once again contributing to the crazy power draw it takes just to watch a movie).
     

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