How to Turn Your PC Into a Media Server With Plex

Enjoy local content on any of your devices!

Turn Pc Media Center Plex Featured

With giants like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and even some free streaming services offering unlimited content on demand, you’ll probably never run out of stuff to watch. But maybe you’d like to access your PC library containing movies and TV series on your Google TV or phone without having to transfer files using a USB drive. This is where a media server like Plex comes in to help you organize and sync your local media content with other devices.

Looking for your next favorite movie or show? Check out these free streaming services.

How to Set Up a Plex Media Server for Windows

Plex Media Server will scan all of your local media folders and arrange them into an accessible online library. The app also allows you to seamlessly access your PC content on any other device (without being bogged down by USB drives) while also converting your collection of movies and TV series into a streaming platform of its own.

  1. Download and install the Plex Media Server for Windows. The app is also available for Mac and Linux.
Plex Download 2
  1. Launch the Plex Media Server application. Note that it functions inside your internet browser, not as a standalone app.
  1. The initial setup wizard will ask you to sign up for an account. Choose your signup method and sign in to Plex.
Plex Launch Log In
  1. As part of the server setup, choose a name for your new server and add the respective media folders from your PC by pressing the “Add Library” button.
Plex Server Setup Name
  1. Once inside the Plex interface, you can add even more media to your server by clicking the “More” button on the home screen to open the “Pinned” section.
Plex Home Screen More
  1. Hit the “+” icon next to your server name on the home screen to start adding media.
Plex Server Setup Add Library
  1. Select the type of media you wish to add to Plex. You can add movies, TV shows, music, photos, or other videos.
Plex Add Library
  1. Once Plex is finished scanning all the content from your selected folders, you can view it on the home page by selecting the relevant library on the left.
Plex Home Screen
  1. On top of having your own online server that contains all of the content from your PC, you can also browse Plex’s library. Plus, it’s possible to add content from your favorite streaming apps to Plex via the “Discover” tab. Note that Plex simply works as a discovery application for your streaming apps. It will still redirect you to the respective app if you want to watch a particular title.
Plex Streaming Services Select
  1. Once you’ve closed Plex Media Server in your browser, you can launch it again by double-clicking the Plex icon in the Windows system tray.

Want to become more proficient at using Plex? Check out our ultimate list of Plex keyboard shortcuts.

How to Set Up Your Plex App

After populating your Plex server with your movies and TV series that are stored locally, you can now move on to installing the Plex client app on the device where you would like to watch your content. Plex has free apps available for multiple platforms, including Android TV, Apple TV, iOS, Android, Roku, and Amazon Fire TV.

  1. Download the Plex app to your phone, TV, or tablet and sign in with the same account you’ve been using with Plex Media Server on Windows.
Plex Android Mobile Sign In 2
  1. You should be able to view all the local content that was synced with the app.
Plex Android Mobile Library 2
  1. Start streaming your media on your TV or phone by selecting the movie/show you wish to view. Remember that the device running your Plex media server should always be on and running Plex in the background.

Want to stream music instead? Try these best Spotify alternatives.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should you explore Plex alternatives?

Plex might be one of the best media center applications, but it is not without some limitations. For instance, Plex’s free content contains ads that are likely to hamper your viewing experience. Moreover, if you want to watch trailers and reviews on Plex, it redirects you to external sources. You may also miss features like Netflix’s “Likes” or others like “Want to Watch,” and many additional features in Plex are locked behind a paywall. If you don’t find the Plex experience as fulfilling as you’d hoped, explore Plex alternatives that offer much more for free.

Is Plex legal?

Yes, Plex is completely legal. In fact, streaming content from any of the Plex alternatives is legal as well. As far as your local content library is concerned, we advise you to source all of your content legally.

Why does Plex fail to play some movies?

If you’re unable to play certain titles on your client device, the drive hosting your Plex media server may be running out of temporary space to transcode that particular file. Assign a different temporary folder that’s on a larger drive to solve the issue.

Why is Plex so laggy?

If your Plex app is lagging, your connection may not be fast enough, or other devices in your home may be hogging all your bandwidth.

Image credit: Pixabay. All screenshots by Tanveer Singh.

Tanveer Singh
Tanveer Singh

Tanveer hunts far and wide for PC Hardware and Gaming ideas to write about. An MBA in Marketing, he has been writing on Technology, Gaming, and Marketing for over 5 years now. When not scouring the web, he can be found trying to identify the next big Altcoin, running for his life in GTFO, or wrecking karts in Smash Karts.

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