Netflix has ramped up its crackdown on password-sharing. Just last month, the streaming giant announced that it will now charge a premium for the privilege and honour of sharing a password.
Some may not be convinced that this is the best way forward for the service, and we wouldn’t blame you. If you’re in this category, we’ve got you covered. There are, in all honesty, many other places to stream content. It doesn’t even have to be a direct competitor of Netflix.
While the easiest solution is to sign up for the likes of Amazon Prime Video, Disney Plus, or Showmax, we’re here to give you a slightly-more-complicated solution. We promise it will be even more satisfying because you worked so hard to get it.
The simPlex solution
Meet Plex. This is a media server software that allows you to stream any content you have stored on a hard drive.
While technically you could always watch any content on a hard drive, Plex gives you the ability to access those files in a Netflix-like environment. You can customise the streaming experience and stream your files from anywhere as long as the PC with the files is connected to the internet.
You can stream your own collection of movies, TV shows, music, and photos across various devices like smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, and more. Put simply, it acts as your own personal Netflix. Still with us? Then you’d probably like to know how to set up your very own server at home.
Getting started with Plex
Setting up a Plex server might sound complicated, but trust us, it’s a breeze. Here’s what you need to do to get started: some hardware, some software, some media, internet connectivity, and some techy skills.
Start by designating a computer or NAS (Network Attached Storage) device as your Plex server. Ensure it has a competent processor (nothing extreme is needed here), sufficient storage space, and a reliable internet connection.
Download and install the Plex Media Server software on your chosen device. It acts as the command centre, organising and streaming your media library. Now comes the fun part — building your library! Gather your movies, TV shows, music, and photos, and organise them into separate folders. Where you get these files is none of our business. Plex loves order, so keep things tidy.
Install the Plex app on your devices — smartphones, tablets, smart TVs, game consoles, or even your trusty old laptop. This way, you can access your media library from anywhere within your home network.
Plex offers cool features like adding artwork, descriptions, and subtitles to media. Take some time to customise your library and make it visually appealing.
To access your Plex server remotely, you’ll need something called port forwarding on your router. This allows incoming connections to reach your Plex server from outside your home network.
Some routers have “UPnP” (universal plug-and-play) or “NAT-PMP” capabilities. If your router supports UPnP, you can simply test it in the Plex settings, and it should automatically grant you external access. Sometimes, routers have UPnP enabled by default, but if it’s not the case, you can enable it in the router settings.
However, if your router doesn’t support UPnP or NAT-PMP, you’ll need to manually set up port forwarding. Here’s a simplified explanation of how to do it:
- Access your router’s settings by typing its IP address into your web browser.
- Locate the port forwarding or virtual server settings in your router’s configuration menu.
- Add a new port forwarding rule by specifying the Plex server’s local IP address and the specific port number (usually 32400) used by Plex.
- Save the settings and exit the router’s configuration interface.
- Next, ensure that your Plex server is configured to allow remote access. Open the Plex Media Server settings and navigate to the Remote Access section.
- Enable the “Manually specify public port” option and enter the same port number you set up in your router.
- Save the settings and restart your Plex server if necessary.
It’s advisable to remember the exact steps may vary depending on your router model, so you may need to dig a bit more to get this sorted.
We’re rebels, and subverting Netflix’s password-sharing legislation is the main goal here. But setting up your own Plex server offers a few other useful functions.
Firstly, you control the content. This means you can curate your content exclusively to your taste. If you only enjoy watching horror sci-fi films from the 80s, go ahead. You won’t be forced to watch trailers for the same new reality show that streaming services force into your eyeballs daily.
As long as you have an internet connection, you can stream your content from anywhere. This is particularly useful if you travel frequently and would like to access your media remotely. Just be warned that the server won’t work during load shedding if you don’t have backup power.
Remember, Plex is all about legal streaming and giving you control over your media. We’re not encouraging any illegal activities like torrenting. Let’s keep it above board, folks.