NAS for Plex Media Server – 8 Mistakes People ALWAYS Make!

Buying a NAS for Plex Media Server – 8 Things People Get WRONG!

If you have decided to invest in a network-attached storage device to host your Plex media server, then congratulations, you are close to owning one of the easiest and most user-friendly multimedia home server options out there with a GUI and features that rival the likes of Netflix and more. Although paid subscription streaming services can be very attractive and affordable in the short-term, in the long-term you end up paying for content you don’t own, a limited choice of content that changes regularly and even end up having to watch the occasion advert – on a PAID platform?! Many of us own hundreds of boxsets and movies at home in digital form, or in disc form that is waiting to be switched to a more streamable form, that you can simply load onto a NAS and then enjoy the benefits of Plex with. However, although the price of a solid NAS has come down substantially and the ease of setup never being more simple, there are still many common mistakes that people make when buying a NAS for a Plex media server the first time. These errors end up ich either costing more money to resolve or have to be endured until the next upgrade. In order to help you choose the right NAS for plex correctly the first time, I have compiled a list of the most common mistakes that NAS buyers make when choosing a solution. Some are small and some are large, but all of them are easy things to miss as you narrow down the choices. So here are 8 common mistakes made by Plex users when choosing their first NAS.

Extra Point! If you already have a Plex NAS users and having difficulty, I have already made several other guides on how to make the most of your plex NAS, as well as fix some common issues people encounter. You can click one of the articles below to open it in another tab and learn more. Alternatively, you can scroll to the bottom of the page and use the free advice section here on NASCompares.

Plex NAS CPU and Embedded Graphics

This is easy to miss and a common one as something that a number of brands will often try to skip over when talking about the hardware specifications of a NAS. There are many CPUs that are popular in the NAS world (Intel Celeron’s, Ryzens, Xeons and ARM v8s for example), more specifically targeted towards efficiency and long-term use. These processes, unlike gaming PCs, are designed for use for days, weeks and months at a time and do not have the luxury of liquid cooling systems or customised temperature control systems inside. Despite this, the range CPU used in NAS is still very diverse and unsurprisingly, many users will assume that a CPU with a high-performance speed in Gigahertz (GHz) and a larger number of cores will be best for Plex media server use. However, a processor that features embedded graphics, integrated graphics, on-board graphics or whatever they like to call it, will always perform better than a likewise processor without it in a single comparative playback. There are some remarkably affordable Celeron and Pentium processors on the market that can often outperform some Xeon processors at Plex media server performance, thanks to these CPU having an element of hardware onboard that is dedicated to visual and graphical structured data. A more powerful CPU may still ultimately handle more high-end media than a lesser Pentium or Celeron, however, it WILL use substantially more resources in order to do it. Always check to see if there is an embedded graphics CPU alternative before purchasing a non-GPU equipped CPU. I recommend an Intel Xeon-W series or the Intel i3/i5/i7 Core range processor.

Plex NAS and NOISE!

Something that I discuss a great deal on YouTube when discussing more powerful NAS solutions is the subject of noise. As soon as you start to consider more capable CPU NAS solutions, as well as consider larger enclosures for more capacity and scalability, you will have to prepare for the inconvenience of ambient noise. More enterprise drives with click, hum and wurr whilst in operation. Likewise, because more powerfully equipped CPU NAS feature passive cooling systems (rear fans and heat sinks), they often rely more on the chassis to assist the heat dissipation. The ultimate conclusion is that more high-performance NAS systems generally produce a large degree of ambient noise whilst in operation.

If you plan on installing your Plex NAS in an attic or suitably insulated location, this will be less of a concern. However, if you plan on being in close proximity to the NAS whilst enjoying the multimedia on your Plex server, the general background noise can be distracting at best and downright infuriating at worst.

Plex NAS and Appropriate Memory!

Most NAS systems that are recommended or advertised for use as Plex media servers will arrive with at least 2GB of memory. Considering that some people are able to run Plex media servers from as little as a raspberry pi, 2 GB of memory sounds like absolutely loads. However, the Plex media server component of this device is running on top of the NAS architecture and system software, which commands its own requirements with regard to CPU and memory utilisation. The result is that although 2GB of memory might seem like enough, it is highly recommended that you buy a NAS with 4GB of memory, or at least the ability to upgrade your available memory later in the lifespan of the system. The differences between DDR3 and DDR4 memory when it comes to Plex are pretty small ultimately, but the improved performance of a NAS with 4GB over 2GB is massive in terms of large media handling.

PLEX NAS Playback and 4K, HEVC/H.265 and HDR/10bit

Multimedia in 2021, especially 4K and 1080p high-definition media is not as straight forward as it once was. In order for video files to maintain incredible picture quality as the standards of playback client devices improve, multimedia file types and practices in their creation have had to evolve. This is made possible by the use of video compression techniques and superior format creation. Ultimately, that means that not all video files are created equal and high-end material, such as HDR and HEVC/H.265 require more advanced hardware to playback the media or software licences by the manufacturer in order to support the format.

The result is that some media files of this higher compression and format require powerful systems in order to be played, or in most cases will need to be automatically transcoded, to be reshaped into a more suitable format for client devices to play. Ways around this include utilising embedded GPU architecture on the CPU to get the job done or (as found in the case of QNAP) the ability to add licence support for the codex with additional smaller fees (in Cayin player). If the bulk of your media collection arrives in h264 or you plan on only using low to mid-level HD/4K content, you should be fine with something between an Intel Celeron and Intel Pentium.

Plex NAS – Freemium vs Subscription with Plex Pass

One of the main benefits and motivations of hosting a media server on a NAS is because most users like the idea of making one large payment at the beginning and never having to pay any long-term monthly subscription costs as the years go by, as found in Amazon Prime, Netflix and more. Indeed, Plex media server is available for your NAS and client devices (phone, TV, etc) for free. However, some people are still unaware that some of the premium and fully-featured functionality Plex is only available with additional monthly payments or a larger one-off lifetime membership with the Plex pass system. You do not need to this for general use, enjoying the scraping of metadata for making your media look good and even for sharing access to your collection with other users. However, features such as hardware transcoding, Live TV recording, connection with streaming services and improved content applications within Plex itself require you to pay. Ultimately most of these services can be ignored, but if you are using a NAS with embedded graphics or even a pre-installed GPU, then the option to use hardware transcoding is unavoidable.

Plex NAS and HDMI Out in 2021

Many users have seen that a number of systems arrive with additional HDMI ports and support of remote controls and peripherals. This means that rather than trying to push huge 4K multimedia files through your network (potentially maxing your bandwidth) to Plex client devices, you can output the NAS directly to a 4K TV and control it like any TV box. Up until early 2020 or so, this was a surprisingly easy and versatile option. However now in 2021, there are fewer Plex HDMI out applications available for common NAS brands, as well as reduced development by both Plex themselves and third-party developers to continue improving the existing tools. That means that although Plex over HDMI on a NAS is still possible, it is far less smooth and stable than it once was.

Do you even NEED transcoding on your Plex NAS?

Transcoding is a word that is thrown around a lot when it comes to streaming media privately from your own server. In its most basic form, transcoding simply means the changing of a multimedia file to a version that is better suited for the client environment. Maybe you own the latest Marvel movie in 4k UHD HEVC HDR/10bit format, which is great for your new OLED TV, but is huge overkill in terms of picture quality and file size to watch on your iPhone 7. So transcoding can allow Plex to change a file on-the-fly before it leaves the NAS and allows the client watching hardware to access a much smaller version, the still looks perfect on the device, but is far less taxing on its hardware and significantly reduces data consumption while streaming. Now, that is all fantastic and I have been making videos on the subject of transcoding for a number of years that help users understand how well individual NAS systems perform in different files types, but it still has to be noted that transcoding is not ESSENTIAL! If you intend to watch most of your multimedia on devices at home (ie on the same network as the NAS), plan on enjoying the content on high profile and prosumer devices made in the last year or two, OR don’t really plan on using metered or limited data connections when connecting with plex – then you really are not going to need transcoding at all! If you JUST want to watch your media and have the client hardware deices and connectivity to handle the hard/dense 4K media, then you can actually be quite conservative and opt for a I3/Pentium/Celeron NAS system, perhaps even a non-GPU equipped CPU like an Intel Atom or Ryzen Embedded Processor seen in recent releases (if you aren’t looking to go hardcode-4K).

Your Plex NAS needs to be connected to the Internet!

This is something that alot of first time NAS buyers who are considering Plex Media server (as well as NVIDIA Shielf, modded Mac Mini and Raspberry Pi users) do not quite know. When accessing your NAS multimedia with Plex and Plex Media Server, you do generally need to have the NAS and/or client connected to the internet. If you are accessing your device over the network (ie Fire TV near the sofa, NAS in the attic, both on the same network), you will still need the NAS to be connected to the internet. This is because Plex will need to ping it’s own servers periodically, update background processes, periodic metadata scraping and just generally requires an internet connection (especially for Plex Pass use). In fact, if you have the NAS on the network, but not connected to the internet (as you need to create, register and connect a Plex User Account to start connect the plex media directories), then you will not even be able to connect to the Plex server and complete the initialization. For many of us, this is not a huge deal, as the amount of internet-connected data used is tiny, or that they want to access Plex externally anyway means this was their plan all along. However, if you were hoping to use plex completely and utterly disconnected from the Internet and rely solely on the network for connectivity, you are likely going to encounter period accessibility issues and hurdles along the way.


And there you have it, 8 of the most comment mistakes and early hurdles faced by first time Plex NAS Buyers. If you are still on the fence, need guidance about the RIGHT solution for your multimedia needs (size, power, budget. etc), then use the free advice section below to message me and I will help you narrow down the very best solution for your needs. Bear in mind that this is ONLY manned by me, is not run for profit and is unbiased 1-to-1 advice, so I might take an extra day or two to reply. Thanks for reading!



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    62 thoughts on “NAS for Plex Media Server – 8 Mistakes People ALWAYS Make!

    1. Every PC I have owned in the last 45 years has run 24/7/365 so sorry this does not make sense. A properly constructed PC will run without issue 24/7/365. Nas and File Hosts have always been ripped off with this logic. Most companies Intel, AMD, Nvidia all make the biggest profit from selling components to File Hosts. I can understand arguing that the components Like Xeon and its competitors from AMD and Nvidia with their error correcting have commercial value, but it can’t be proved that their MTBF rate justifies the price differential or use case. Components in small business and home user are a rip-off, plain and simple. Sadly because most people don’t want the hassle of building their own or don’t have the knowledge. So this could be argued that the service provided meets a need, but it does so at a completely unreasonable value. You could easily build a NAS for a quarter of the price any of these companies provide one, and they have the saving of scale purchasing. I like your website, though I am sorry I disagree with the logic that people spout that components used in commercial NAS’s are justifiable based on reliability they are not they are basic cheap lowest spec parts. IF you start with a low spec CPU, you are going to carry this low spec part selection right through the build, as nothing else would make sense. Having a top end CPU with a low- end graphics card would illustrate this, it would be point less. If the CPU in these Nas’s is so pathetic, then all the other components will be too. In one of your other videos, you correctly point out that these low end CPU’s cant properly take advantage of PCI 4.0 now 5.0 and lose all the benefits of technology available now. Cost is important but TBH anyone serious about NAS should consider their own build all these pre-built NAS’s are appalling

    2. Good video, thinking of buying a new nas to handle my plex as i am running out of space for my movie library. What do you think of this one QNAP TVS-h1688X-W1250-32G? Will I need to add a video card to do the transcoding although not really thinking of streaming to smaller devices. What’s important to me is that it can stream 4K files without effort, I use a couple of nividia sheilds to play on my 4k TVs and have a pretty good network.

    3. About a 1GB network, (Does that mean the ethernet connections between router, nas, and clients?) That the speed of Nas drive function wont matter as much with higher speed drives if the ethernet is maxed out at 1GB (Router?)? I heard a 6e cat might be over kill. Not sure if that is true . . .And does that mean a better router would avoid a bottleneck?

    4. I’ve tried PLEX server a few times and always found it hard to set up and maintain. I much prefer Emby and even though it’s not a direct install on QNAP, it’s easy enough to install as a third party. Then I use Kodi on the TV with the Emby plugin to access the server directly. Yes I could use the Emby app (and it does work), but I find shows look better in Kodi’s media player.

      The only downside is if/when you update your QTS version – mostly I have to reinstall Emby and set the server up again. After using Emby for years, I basically split everything out on the server directories into watched/unwatched. That way it’s easy to set up again as even with the .nfo files in the directory (which store the status of the played file), Emby doesn’t always look at it when re-installing.

      And BTW – It does hardware trans-coding for free.

    5. I know this is an old video now, but I’ll ask anyway ????

      I already have a really powerful server which I bought a couple of years ago when I was contracting, mainly to serve at that time as a development environment of virtual machines. It has 2 Xeon processors and 128GB RAM.

      I have a VM that I am using as a “media” server and was looking to get some more storage, as I want to start replacing things like Google Drive and backups on to here. Also, I want to start using it to store all of our pictures and DVD and Blu Ray collection. I have purchased Plex Media Server and that is installed.

      But….what I don’t really know a lot about is networking, particularly NAS and I keep seeing these pop up in my recommended items.

      If I already have this kit, should I really just be buying additional disks (obviously specific to NAS storage), or is there something special about a NAS that would still make that better?

      To my basic brain, I just see it as a way to have the storage available on the network with some additional processing power to run things like conversions, but if I am leaving my server on all of the time, will a NAS actually be more beneficial?

      I don’t want to spend the money (not saved up yet!) if everything I would have in a NAS is already sitting on my desk in a server.

      Hope that makes sense.

    6. A couple of questions:

      Regarding expandability — what’s involved with adding extra drives to a NAS? Would I have to back up existing data, reformat the whole NAS, then reload existing data? Or can the system just see extra drives and somehow just use them?

      I notice that my Roku device can not only access a Plex server but also a Roku server. What are the relative advantages to each?

    7. My plan is to add a NAS onto my current server PC running plex. I can do that right? Just using the NAS as storage and continue running the server portion on the PC? Map the drives in the nas to the server and add it to my collection?

    8. I have the TS-653D as Plex media server only with around 2500 movie and 260 TV shows alot in 4k HDR and have no issue with transcoding-. Usually not more than 2-3 people watch so transcoding from 4k to 1080p is no issue and the CPU is at around 60-70% of usage with 3 users and I have the J4125.

    9. Hi, I need some help, Im looking at buying a NAS and I would like to buy a Synology because of SHR Raid. I want to have all my photos and movies both the once I shoot and a Plex library. I was thinking of a DS1621+ and add one or two NVME.2 and run six seagate Exos 6TB I have a Samsung tv 4k so want to stream 4k to the tv, but I do not really understand if that would work or do I need to buy something else because it does not have a GPU. I have it on standard home network. Also is a NVME.2 memory good upgrade for my use? With one should I buy and do I need to buy 2 or is one enough and what sizes?

    10. I run mine on a Hewlett Packard Proliant gen8 server. It has bays for 4 4tb drives. I run esxi and run virtual computers, I still run plex using a virtual windows 7. Now I normally use windows 10 but windows 7 takes less memory than windows 10. Now a proliant gen8 is very quiet, and is designed to stay on all the time. It is not too noisy, and I keep it in a separate room

    11. I bought a cheap $100 ZyXEL NAS326 and threw in a moderately silent 8TB WD drive. Somehow, it amplified the sounds made by the drive 25x. I can literally hear the damn thing through the wall which is completely unacceptable given that I couldn’t hear it when the drive was in my PC.

    12. Thanks for the info. I heard that my ISP could throttle me if I was seen to be streaming. Is this true? If so is there any way I could run plex through my ipvanish?
      I only plan to share between a couple of family members and use it myself whilst on holiday.
      Many thanks ????????????

    13. I think the thing with plex pass and transcoding is just for hardware transcoding, mainly an external or pci GPU if the cpu has imbedded graphics it should still encode the same with or without plex pass.

    14. I have a NAS raid 5 I’m just using it to sit the media on there. Plex is set up on my pc no problems so far apart from vc1 and dts so I use the plex app on my tv for stereo. If I want surround I use my nvidia shield tv app direct to my amp for lossless audio and as I have no 4k on my plex I don’t really have any issues. All movies ripped in mkv and no compression. Bit bit from mkv to my nas. 26tb so far used.

    15. Thanks for the tips! Tbh I was going to get a high end NAS (the Synology DS920+) for Plex even though I am only really going to use Plex locally. But I thought I may decide to use a NAS partition for my own Cloud backup as well and just know that that would be able to handle everything I COULD want to do. Last thing I would want is to buy a NAS and discover I bought one that was not powerful or efficient enough. So any drives up to 8TB are fairly quiet? That is really good to know. I thought the NAS had to be plugged into the router via Ethernet so did not realise there was an option to have it in a different room (i haven’t bought one yet so haven’t been able to play about with it). If you have a NAS with 2 bays, can you have Bay 2 be a backup of Bay 1, as opposed to a RAID1 setup? Please can you expand on a NAS that would very capable of Plex, and possible simultaneous cloud backup facilities (i am just talking phone backups, not PC) so I do not make the mistake of paying too much for a NAS I won’t fully utilise? I would much rather spend the money on the storage instead, of course. Thank you.

    16. Man oh man…You’ve been around long enough here and you still have terrible audio on your videos!
      Your buddy next to you have loud clear audio. Your’s is suck and weak on your other videos too.
      Can’t you notice it man?! Fix that them thing do something about it I have to turn my volume up
      to max to hear you than the ad comes in blasting and blowing my speakers out! How could you
      do this kind of thing for so long and I’m not the only one to complain about it either!

    17. My LG c9 has the plex player and I’m streaming 1080p blu-ray ripped, with srt subtitles x264 and x265 no problem and has direct play/stream. Buuut, if I try with the same files on ps4 pro or even my ps5 then its crazy transcoding going on.

      Qnap ts-251 4gb ram

    18. I run my Plex on my old mac pro 2010 5’1 Intel Xeon X5690 6-Core 3.46GHz 12 core 64 gigs of RAM it has 60 TB of space has been running for the last five years rock solid I have family that lives in Japan they use my Plex the rest of my family all of them got rid of all Subscriptions to all of the streaming services and just watch my Plex don’t care about electricity that’s not a concern of mine I just needed it to be rock solid as it is I put western digital red pro drives in it i use OWC SOFTRAID PRO in it with plenty of room to add a swappable 14 bay or more attachment storage right to the computer if needed and the beauty of it the computer was just laying in my closet all of my music pictures movies videos and even my music in iTunes all streams right through Plex to all of the mobile devices iPads Apple TV fire stick Roku it really gets a work out and it is rock solid I love it and wouldn’t change a thing about it and i run it right on top of the operating system and we’re not gonna talk about the extra benefit of being able to access files outside of media

    19. For a weeks I’ve felt like a kid in toy shop with my finger on the buy button for new a DS1621+ along with 6 iron wolf drives to store all my 5.1 movies probably in MKV format ( been told it’s the format) that will be viewed by 2 OLED TVs on a fully cat7 network 16 port 1 gigabyte switcher I’m not into watching on table or phone so do I need still need to think about transcoding ? Or will the ds1621 be a good purchase and I’d be happy to install the maximum size of both MVES the only other think I’d use the nas for would be for hosting basic website while I’m teaching myself to build to save hosting cost

    20. To me, Plex is simply not a good choice for a NAS. It’s software that is designed for a PC. The very approach that Plex have taken is completely backwards, and putting it on a NAS makes absolutely no sense. It means is you are using what is probably the least powerful computer in the house to transcode and send the files to devices that are almost always far more powerful. That’s a stupid approach. Far more sensible to simply send the files to the device and do any transcoding in the player. On the Mac and on IOS, Infuse is a better choice (connected to your NAS), and on Windows, you can simply connect your NAS shares to the included Films and TV app. The other good alternative is to use your PC for the Plex server, but keep the files on the NAS.