Plex: Still Sucks

I have a desktop computer in my upstairs office. I have an HDTV in the downstairs living room. All I’ve ever wanted to do is stream video files from the computer to the TV, under two specific conditions: 1) I don’t want any kind of “app” running on the desktop PC; and 2) I don’t want to deal with any kind of “library” feature.

After researching for weeks, I decided on the WDTV Live, because it was the only one that met my two conditions.

As to the former, the WDTV Live was (at the time) the only streaming box I know of that supports SMB. Since I’d already shared my video folder to the local network, all I had to do was configure the WDTV Live to access my Wi-Fi network, then click Video > Choose Source > Network Shares > Windows Shares > [My Computer] > Video.

As for the latter, the WDTV Live has the ability to search for metadata and create a nice library of my videos. But since all I want to do is watch the video once and then delete or archive it, I like that all I have to do is download a video and make sure it’s in the correct folder: no adding it to (or removing it from) a library… in an app that has to run on my desktop PC 24×7.

I’ve had the WDTV Live for several years now, and the local video part of the device still works as good as ever. I download a video to my “Videos” folder, and it’s available instantly on the WDTV Live. The device plays almost any type of video file, except for WebM, gifv or flv (none of which are really used for TV shows or movies) and HEVC files (which are newer). DivX or XviD in an avi container, mp4, mkv containers, DVDs ripped as ISOs… the WDTV Live seems to play them all.

The WDTV Live also has a variety of streaming apps, too, like Netflix, YouTube, Spotify and others. But Western Digital discontinued the WDTV Live in 2015, having not updated the firmware a long time before that. So many of these apps no longer work. So I have a box that can play any type of locally networked file… but can’t do Netflix, Amazon Instant, Hulu, Spotify, TuneIn or Pandora any more.

I asked for (and received) one of the new(ish) Chromecasts for Christmas. And it works OK, but has a strange bug: my Vizio smart TV loses connection to the device randomly. For 2-5 seconds the screen will go black and say “No Signal”. Sometimes it’ll happen three times in five minutes; other times it’ll only happen once every 2-3 hours. Since my Time Warner DVR and the WDTV Live have never had this problem, I thought the issue might be the Chromecast. So I ordered one of the new Roku Streaming Sticks.

The Roku, of course, can’t play files directly like the WDTV Live can. The Roku can only accept streaming input. So, while playing around with it on Monday, I wondered what Plex is like these days.

Plex is an app that runs on a PC (the “server”). It takes a bunch of videos on the server, finds metadata (episode summaries, DVD cover art) for them, puts it all in a nice UI, then transcodes them and streams them to devices that have the client app installed. It’s kind of like iTunes Library Sharing, but for videos. And yes, the UI is really pretty. It’s like having your own personal Netflix. There’s also a “Plex Premium” plan, which allows you to stream your stuff to an Android or iOS device anywhere… which is kind of cool, I guess, for those times I go to a friend’s house and choose to ignore them and watch Elementary instead.

All this is, of course, assuming the shit works… and it almost certainly won’t.

I installed the server app on my computer, and the installer shot my CPU up to 100% and made the fans whine like a beaten mule. And the installer went on and on and on… After what seemed like 15 minutes, I got the message: “You must restart your computer before using Plex”. It seems odd to still get this message in 2016, but that’s OK – you can almost always ignore it, right? I clicked on the Plex icon and got an error message. What? You really do have to restart your computer before using Plex? Awesome.

I grumbled and restarted, and once back into Windows I started the Plex app. But starting the app just starts the app – you have to actually configure it. OK, that makes sense. But in loading the web-based configuration I was presented with “Please wait a moment while Plex starts”. Only it wasn’t a “moment”, it was about five minutes. Nice. Eventually, though, the app appeared. I was presented with a quick and easy configuration wizard. No worries. Only when I clicked “OK” at the last screen, the app just sat there, a circular progress meter on a yellow button endlessly circling. I actually had other, non-computer, things to do at that moment, so I did those instead. 18 minutes later, that damn progress meter was still sitting there with its endless circles. Was it ready to go? Was it indexing every media file on my PC? Who could tell?

I gave it a few more minutes, then refreshed the page. Everything was fine – it looked like the previous page had gotten stuck. Terrific! At this point, I had to add a library (movies, TV shows, music) to my… uhhhh, library? Simple enough: you click a large button for the type of file (movies, TV shows), then enter a name for it (uhhh… “Jim’s TV Shows”?) and then choose a language… I guess. In Chrome, the language drop-down was empty. Terrific. You then choose a (Windows) library or a folder. Plex scans the folder and retrieves the metadata for the files… which is when the real shitshow begins!

Where do I even start? Plex flat-out missed several shows. I had several episodes of The Hollow CrownThe Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst, Serial Thriller, Icelandic shows Ófærð and Hraunið, and Houdini and Doyle… and Plex missed them all.

Plex Sucks 03
“The Jinx”: Missing in Action

But it took me a while to figure it out, because while Plex correctly tagged about 25% of my shows, it tagged almost half of them as Burn Notice for some reason:

Plex Sucks
(click to embiggen)

Yes, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver is EXACTLY like a fictional spy show set in Miami. And oh yeah – for reasons I can’t even begin to understand, not only did Plex associate some of these rogue episodes with Burn Notice, it associated multiple unrelated episodes to a single episode of Burn Notice. Once Plex decided that all these episodes were Burn Notice, it assigned every episode with “s03e07” in the name to that episode of Burn Notice. So “Brooklyn.Nine.Nine.s03e07”, “House.of.Lies.s03e07” and “New.Girl.s03e07” were all part of season 3, episode 7 of Burn Notice, with no apparent way to break them up into individual episodes.

I’d be interested to learn exactly how Plex’s scanning engine works. I’ve heard that filenames are supposed to be in a specific format, which would explain why Plex successfully imported one episode of Limitless but ignored seven others:

Plex Sucks 02

But it still doesn’t explain why Plex just flat-out ignored those episodes, instead of putting them in an “Uncategorized” or “Shit to Figure Out Later” category.

I have a pre-air of a British show called The Secret, which Plex confused with a 2009 TV movie about the self-help book of the same name. OK, I can see why that’d happen. But it took way too many clicks to even get to the “fix this shit” option, and when it appeared, I hated it too:

Plex Sucks 04
(click to embiggen)

The above screencap is from my trying to fix a French version of Beauty and the Beast starring Léa Seydoux. If you have to search multiple sources (or multiple times), this fucking box resets itself every single time. I initially entered “2015” as the year, and messed up and left the language as “English”. Of course there were no hits, so I had to go back… and enter 2015 again, then select French. No hits. So I went back, entered “2014” as the year and had to manually select French again. Which is annoying as hell.

Believe it or not, I’m actually condensing a lot of stuff here. I eventually gave up on this install, so uninstalled (and manually deleted the almost 400MB of stuff left behind in AppData, because whoever designed the uninstaller couldn’t be bothered to include a “check this box to REALLY remove everything” option). After moving some files around, I reinstalled and actually got a much better hit rate on correct metadata. But the shit-tastic UI that makes it SO UNNECESSARILY DIFFICULT to correct faulty metadata just wore me down:

“Fuck it – I’ll just leave it for now and see how it looks on the Roku before I waste any more time on this.”

See, all this would be worth it if Plex created a beautiful user experience and produced top-notch quality streaming video. But yeah… about that:

Plex vs. WDTV: Plex
(click to embiggen)

You can’t really tell from this potato-quality picture of my HDTV, but the Plex video looked really “soft”. There were no obvious problems – pixellation, dropped frames, freezes, stuff like that. But it still looked like bad streaming. Have you ever watched a bunch of 720p sports highlights on YouTube, then watched one that was 360p and thought “man, this looks like crap?” Yeah, that’s what this looked like.

Plex does have an “optimize” function which will supposedly make the videos look better… but I’ll be damned if I’m gonna waste my time “optimizing” 300 hours of TV shows – and every show downloaded in the future – for this shit. Fuck all that. Also, Plex puts a gradient around the subtitles… which I hate, but that’s just me. Maybe there’s an option to turn it off… I couldn’t be bothered to check.

Plex vs. WDTV: WDTV
(click to embiggen)

Once again, you can’t really tell from this potato-quality picture, but the same video file played back on the WDTV Live looks remarkably better. I won’t say it’s “indistinguishable” from a live HD feed, but it’s very, very close. It’s been so close for so long that I only download 720p versions of “important” shows I want to “keep forever” and possibly re-watch one day, like Better Call Saul and The Americans. Most other shows I just “consume” – watch once and be done with, like Limitless, The Blacklist, and the above pictured Stitchers – I just download the standard x264 version because it’s “close enough”. It’s so close that most people can’t tell the difference.

So… for what I want, and how I want to use it, the WDTV Live still reigns supreme. I was actually hoping that the Chromecast or Roku had some kind of local streaming option that was as good as the WDTV (and supported SRT files), but it looks like the answer to this (so far) is not just no, but “hell no”.

38 Replies to “Plex: Still Sucks”

  1. Honestly sounds to me like your computer just sucks. Also you need to use the renamer, and then plex will run like a dream. But really, get a decent computer if it’s running slow, that’s you, not plex.

  2. If the author had spent a fraction of the time reading the “how to” for Plex that he spent listing all the easily correctable issues listed here we wouldn’t have had to read through this drivel only to find the Author had obviously done no research.

    Anyone thinking of using Plex…..do not let this uninformed silliness influence your decision.

    I would take the time to itemize the mistakes in this article RE naming conventions et al. but why should I do the homework that should have been done by the Author PRIOR to writing this biased nonsense.

  3. What a sad post. Plex is a wonderful piece of software and has been for many years. Most of what you encountered as not working is actually you not using the software correctly. This article by far does not represent the actual Plex experience, neither as the library/server admin or as the end-user. I would advise to read a few of the nice how-to docs at plex.tv beforehznd next time.

    1. hahaha!! If I *need* to “read a few of the nice how-to docs at plex.tv”, then you’ve designed your UI incorrectly. End of.

      Plex still sucks.

  4. As a long time user of various solutions, Plex is by far the best solution for large collections with distributed needs.

    “If I *need* to “read a few of the nice how-to docs at plex.tv”, then you’ve designed your UI incorrectly”

    Has nothing to do with the UI and everything to do with naming conventions. You wernt operating the UI wrong, you were not rereading and understanding how plex works.

    Its obvious to anyone who actually uses and understands the software you simply didnt know what you were doing. From transcoding to bitrates to naming files correctly.

    The title shoudl have been

    “Plex Sucks when you have tiny collection, subpar CPU and no concept of how to configure it”

    1. First off, eat a bag of dicks.

      Secondly, AS I CLEARLY STATED IN THE OPENING PARAGRAPHS OF THE POST, I have *no interest* in starting a “library”. None. I want to watch a video on my TV once then delete or archive it. End of.

      Thirdly, my computer exceeds the minimum requirements for Plex Server. But thank you for assuming it does not. Assumption being the mother of all fuck-ups and all.

      Lastly, fanboy, people like different things, and have different experiences. Plex sucked five years ago and it sucks now. Get over it.

  5. Plex is amazing!!! It manages 1100+ movies, 3500 TV episodes and 4000 albums. I have it fully automated. I don’t have to anything. Sounds like you don’t know what you are doing .

  6. Mate – I agree wholeheartedly! PLEX, TVersity, DLNA etc etc all shite!

    I haven’t used a WD live but have an old (8yrs) PopCorn Hour. This does SMB/CIFS and plays everything I have ever downloaded. The interface sucks ass and the remote is retarded but it plays everything every time.

    Glad I am not the only person thinking this shit used to be a lot easier before everything got ‘smart’ and rubbish

    1. And I like all the posts about how it’s “so easy to use” and I’m obviously a moron… but none of these fanboys have addressed the fundamental issue of Plex video looking like shit. My computer isn’t great, but it far exceeds the minimum system requirements for Plex. It’s got a gigabit card connected to a gigabit switch on an Archer C7 router. The Roku is set up to use 5Ghz, and is the only such 5Ghz network in the immediate area. Yet, the picture quality of Plex is horrific. It’s soft and fuzzy and screams “BAD STREAMING!” from a mile away. The picture quality on the WDTV Live rivals broadcast, even with x264 videos. I GUARANTEE if I put 10 people in my living room and blind tested them with Plex, WDTV showing a 720p video, and a live 720p video, those 10 people would accurately pick the Plex stream 100% of the time, and wouldn’t be able to tell the broadcast stream from the 720p stream.

      1. Mate – I agree 100%. I can get a dumb ass laptop, point it at a CIFS folder and play anything i want directly from it. That surely is the primary purpose of a video server, just play the shit properly.

        Having a library is a nice touch but thats lame if it shows you a beautiful thumbnail and lots of IMDB data but doesn’t fucking play – grrrrrrrrr

        Stick with your WD & I will keep using my PopCorn Hour from 2008.

  7. I’d suggest checking out Kodi instead. A cheap FireTV box from Amazon and sideloading Kodi would do exactly what you want. You’ll probably face the exact same issues with the “library” aspect if you don’t want to rename files, but if you honestly don’t care about that at all you can just ignore it. Same deal as your WD box, add an SMB directory to your Videos list, choose “none” as the category. Open videos, pick the source you just set up, and have a simple raw file list. Click and play. You won’t have to bother with transcoding or dealing with any of that nonsense either. It should all play natively across the network. Plus you can tweak the UI as much as you want to get rid of all the other library menu options to keep it simple.

    1. Thanks for the tip! The WDTV is still working well, but I discovered last night that it can’t play HEVC files. A shame, but not unexpected. When\if the scene moves over to HEVC files completely, I’ll for-sure look at the FireTV + Kodi!

  8. I agree PLEX sucks. I only tried PLEX because I just got a roku ultra. It buffers all the time very unreliable. It tries to trans code my movies by default. even if you got it setup to play directly without transcoding. it still buffers. Keeps renaming my media incorrectly.

  9. I, like the writer, have been frustrated by Plex. It does somethings well, but it’s the little things that just frustrate the crap out of me. I threw it at my library and of course if cannot see any of the DVD formatted stuff. Ok, i didn’t read that part. It picked up a couple videos and some trailers and garbage video files like intros. Now, how to delete the garbage? There HAS to be a way, but not through the GUI. I am going to read some/most of the docs to see what I’m missing, but some thing simple like remove this from the library and don’t show it again should be in top ten things from something designed to scan through files and add arbitrarily. Then for laughs I tried the TV channels. That was actually funny. ABC had no shows. Same for two other major broadcasters. Some showed a bunch of titles, and then a season (getting excited), then nothing in the season. Ok try another series, same only Season 4 with no titles. Well, I will continue to pursue, but everything’s coming up spend a decade getting all the movies coded, ordered, and corrected. Then maybe when I retire I can watch a movie. I like having the DVD format and not just an epsiode, but maybe I’m just wak! I did read their reasoning, and it makes sense for that perspective. But why not give ME the option instead of saying “it’s problematic and you would not want to do that.” The latter smells of bittorent. Oh well. I hope that I can figure it all out.

  10. Glad I’m not the only one. Samba. That’s all I need. I don’t need a fancy DLNA library. Telstra TV (rebadged Roku 2) is unusable for a decent sized library.

  11. Absolutely LOATHE Plex. I have to sign in and re-sync – two or three times at least because it never works on the first try – with my MacBook every time I want to use it (even though I have a static IP address assigned on my network – Plex can’t seem to remember the damn thing from one moment to the next). And trying to get assistance through that shitty-ass ‘help forum’ they have set up is fucking joke! Wading through pages and pages of irrelevant crap is no help at all. Sad for them really, because if the free version was worth a damn I would pay for the upgrade in a heartbeat. As it is though, I’m shopping around for a better option.

  12. Meeting the minimum system requirements means just that, you are able to use the software but your experience is going to be not as enjoyable. It would be like a having a low end graphics card and complaining that you don’t get the frame rates or visuals that a game is capable of achieving. I have a WDTV live, an Android box, an Apple TV 4th generation and use Plex and all have their pros and cons. I also have a fast internet connection which is probably the most important requirement for all of them.

  13. I’ve been using Plex for over a year now and it’s been nothing but great. I’ve streamed to Tivos and Rokus in my home and shared my library with family members all over the world. By following a few simple naming convention rules (which make perfect sense if you have a large library), Plex has done a fantastic job of organizing my media into an easy-to-navigate structure. I bought a 1-year Plexpass last year when I first set things up, but will be upgrading to Lifetime when this expires.

  14. Confirmed PLEX still sucks! Those that say different most likely work for them or are easily amused by their BS.

  15. I found this by total mistake!, mysteriously i’m on of the users that have ‘attempted’ to use PLEX in at least 20 occasions!, I deploy media centers on datacenters and on video editors for living… made a post similar to this on the plex/redit page and i got banned! lol… all solutions are ‘ you must be doing it wrrong’, seems is never plex the problem is always the USER.. so odd..

    The worst i got attacked personally by a bunch of fanboys! after my post 🙁 i got even offensive words from the fanboys.. and then got banned/kicked from the reddit/plex.. so weird.. simply because i posted 4 things that have never worked properly on plex and wrote my dissatisfaction with it… since is as JIM says the purpose is PLAY videos, look cool is a plus not a feature.

    with this posts i find that i was not alone in that plex fanboy forum..

    *wraps plex and flushes down the toilet*, washes face and reloads synology video station (witch works mostly, but they are very open to their issues and resolve them springy fast, at least happy with it)

  16. JKL’s experience is exactly my experience…. the autologin doesn’t work. I check it and save it and next time.. nope, I have to log in. I start the server at login and then manually click the player and I get “search”, “search”,”search”,”search”,”search”,”search”.. I have to login the player too and it tells me to go to the plextv site and input the 4 letters. Why can’t it remember this??

    If you really want to shoot yourself in the foot try the Plex skill with the Amazon Alexa app. The hype is: you can voice command Plex.. woohoo…!! It’s hard to setup. Alexa can’t find the player and when you do get it set up you have to carry on a thesis style conversation with Alexa to get the damn thing to play anything. A remote is so much easier, but after you’ve spent 15 minutes logging in to the server and player and getting it going each time you want to use it. It’s a huge pain in the ass..

    I finally gave up and now just go to my movie folder and click my Aurora player.. two mouse clicks and away it goes…. a movie…. so much easier.

  17. lol there are quite a few give aways you have no clue what you’re talking about .
    “and it most certainly won’t”. This is true, if you keep your head firmly up your posterior and continue to tell yourself, I can’t make it work, therefore- it sucks!”
    It actually works quite well, and it’s not hard to setup. You might be challenged, or averse to using a computer beyond email but why say something totally ignorant when it’s so clearly a bottleneck in you head, it’s hard not to laugh.

    Your assessment of the plex pass is also totally inaccurate. You most definitely can use it remotely but why even bother trying when it’s easier to piss on something bc it’s too complex for you (to be honest, 10 year olds set it up without issue).

    At least you aren’t this guy, he’s my fav- “I found this by total mistake!, mysteriously i’m one of the users that have ‘attempted’ to use PLEX in at least 20 occasions!, I deploy media centers on datacenters and on video editors for living”
    LOL sure you do dude, sure you do. And plex has thrown you for a loop. This routinely a giveaway in the forums- “This SUCKS, it dont work and I WORK IN IT”.
    I’m guessing you may work around a Colo but not much time in the actual cage.

  18. totally disregard, I just realized all the comments were idiots. lol holy shit, it’s actually comical. go fofer!

  19. I can really recommend Twonky, been using this from my NAS for ages and it works like a charm.
    You just set it up the right folders once and any device supporting DLNA(which most devices do) can stream movies and pictures directly from the folders you’ve setup. Also supports subtitels, all video formats and all photo formats(that I have used so far).

  20. I too have finally given up on Plex… you could use Kodi, as it does indeed play hevc and so on – this is what i’ve ended up using.

    Hilariously, a third party Plex client called ‘Serenity’ can in fact use mx player as an external player, and then play all video and audio codecs directly from a NAS on my Minix U1 box… NOTE this client is currently being rewritten/updated BUT this un-updayed for a year (?), not sure, actually does a better job than the official Ple client at PLAYING VIDEO. I relied on Serenity from my first attempts many, many months ago when Plex was even worse – Plex tried to auto decide what my Android box could play, and would then transcode ( or try to… my NAS is not meant for that…) even though the Android box was perfectly capable of playing the codecs, and even though Plex settings were explicitly set at ‘direct play’ and on and on… then an update that forced a touchscreen android tablet interface on an android TV box – and would ignore your request to change its layout to the TV version, and on and on…

    MX player can feedback played status to Plex server – and the mx player plays everything with excellent subtitle support… but Plex insists on you using their out of date player.

  21. June 2017 and IT STILL SUCKS BIG TIME.

    Now? They’re advertising Live TV. Too bad it doesn’t work. At ALL.

    I attempted it on my TiVo Roamio Plus and the app isn’t even “half baked”. UGH.

    I’ve given up on it. At least PlayOn makes some sense and it works on my Roku just
    great.

  22. Anyone else notice that EVERY SINGLE ONE of the Plex fan boy posts, no matter who the author claims to be, use the exact same language, the exact same phrases, and the exact same tone….almost like they were written by the exact same person.

    Plex sucks

  23. Seems to me that you have tried to shoehorn Plex into being a solution that it was never meant to be.

    You state, “I don’t want to deal with any kind of “library” feature.” That’s Plex’s primary purpose, to serve as a media library interface and playback tool.

    Additionally, Plex is not designed as a renaming tool. There is a specific naming schema required though and if your files don’t meet that, then you need another tool (you could simple setup sonarr, or couchpotato, or filebot to handle this) to do it for you. Of course, it really depends on the specifics of how you acquire your files. For me, I literally do nothing and my new content appears in my library within minutes of being available.

    I have a Plex docker running on my server and it has generally been a great experience. Household of 4 adults accessing content on numerous devices with little to no drama.

    I also just made my library available to three friends (via the remote access feature of Plex) on the weekend (three mates in a sharehouse). In literally ten minutes all three of them had Plex successfully installed, with no PC restart, and were successfully streaming 720p content @ 3Mbps from my server.

    Kodi and Emby are two other options that you might consider.

    I’ve tried Kodi on several occasions over the years, but I’ve never found it very enjoyable to work with. The whole 10ft experience just feels awful to me. I wasn’t overly impressed with Emby either. Not to trash-talk them, they just aren’t for me.

    Last thing, the “optimize” feature is not really about making content look better, but more about taking load off your server (or your bandwidth). https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/articles/214079318-Media-Optimizer-Overview

    And for the record: live tv is in beta, it states as much in the app, so expecting a smooth experience naive.

  24. Wholeheatedly agree with you my friend, plex is a pile of horse dung that takes the hard work of kodi/xbmc and turns it into a netflix style gimpathon. I have been a die hard XBMC/Kodi/Mediaportal fan for many years and recently bought an LG TV that has a plex app built in. I tried to love it, but when it stutters when playing a 1080p movie over gigabit ethernet, when it fails to recognise my episodes and when it begs me to upgrade to total crap that offers me nothing… I finally pull my wallet out and buy a proper media player I can install Kodi on and watch my movies without stuttering/freezing/telling me it can’t find the NAS located 5 metres away over a local LAN and I couldn’t be happier typing apt-get remove.

    Rubbish. Kodi kicks it’s ass every time.

  25. Just been trying to figure out this sucky-suck-fest. At first I chose to let Plex do its thing with a host of all my anime collection, which is all named with episode numbers and all seasons separated by different folders. I was just curious about Plex as its on my PS4 and read up on it. I figured that since my bedroom TV, which I use for my PS4 is not smart (as my lounge TV can stream all of my media perfectly from my laptop wherever I leave it). However, Plex makes you fart arse around with crap, and when you agree to let it play metadata it just throws your files wherever it wants. ep1, then ep10-19, then ep 2-9, then ep 20-26 ect. which is retarded when my smart TV lets me access my files perfectly how they are on my laptop.

    Then I went and deleted them all (if in fact every episode was there – I hadn’t checked as it was a mess). So I tried again while adding the metadata opt-out. And low and behold my surprise that it actually worked and sorted them right (don’t care about any librarian effect one way or the other as long as it does what I want). However, my joy was short lived. At least 2 3rds of the episodes are missing and it chooses not to re-sync and find those missing episodes.

    So, what I’m getting at is that when I want to watch my anime in my bedroom lounging back with the fan blowing cold air in my face a 64GB Flashdrive is better than Plex. I just spend a few hours sorting it and when new episodes come out it takes but a few minutes to add them and remove watched shows I don’t plan on watching again.

    Now you Apple (sorry you were sounding like Apple fanboys) Plex Fanboys can go shove this crap up your arses. This is 2017. I’m very confident when it comes to technology, new and old. Never had to read my PlayStation manual, or X-Box manual, or LG TV manual, or VAIO manual, or Windows manual (98/2000/XP/Vista/7/8/8.5/10), Android, iPhone… well you get the picture. There have been times where I’ll admit that I didn’t know where something was, but Google answers tiny little things like not knowing how to find the factory-reset button (because some phone manufactures like moving it), but for something as simply lain out as Plex to need manuals? Why can’t it just read what I’ve labelled the files as and add some nice cover art like my phones music player and leave the episodes ordering the way I wrote it?

    So bottom line, Plex sucks, and some annoying Plex employees who don’t like criticism should piss off from fanboying their own crappy product on all of these Blogs. For heck sake, I read forum posts where some poor guy was being heckled into believing he was in the wrong for criticising Plex on Reddit.

    Anyway, Plex sucks-sucks-sucks – so if Plex is lucky I’ll be waiting… 🙂

  26. Plex is a streaming pile of shit.
    I have been using it for 3 years and I can’t stand it anymore. It hates certain video containers, hates certain subtitle formats, hates certain resolutions (my 1920×756 videos keep being listed as 720p) that require a sql database program to fix a simple text line descriptor, and does not make db scraping easy.

    Back when this code was called XBMC it ran like a dream, now that the geniuses at Plex got their hands on it they have turned it into shit. How’s that for alchemy?

    The boxes mentioned here used to be excellent for this type of thing as was XBMC, but I moved on to higher resolutions and collecting. I eventually just built a NAS with a large drive pool (well more of a Server than a NAS) and started storing everything I had there and everything new I bought. When it came to streaming all roads led to Plex so that is where I went. At first things seemed good, but the more they “updated” their product (read: added bells and whistles to sell extras) the more they screwed it up and features started vanishing.

    The home media player portion vanished after one update and they expected you to now buy an app in the Windows store. Sorry friends I don’t use the windows store. So next was a XMBC/Kodi plugin that later vanished as well and got locked behind their paywall.

    The entire Plex project is now about how many different ways to collect money instead of actually fixing their product. There are many complaints you can read about in their forums that have been around for years that they just ignore because they do not know how to fix it. I gave them money at one time, but never again as they have proven over time they have no idea what they are doing.

  27. I’ve gone through many different iterations of HTPC’s, Sage TV was my go to for a long time. At this point, I find Plex to be the easiest thing to set up and maintain, I’m not sure what Jim’s problem is. If episodes of TV shows were skipped, he probably didn’t list that parent directory in the TV Shows category. Yeah, that is a bit of a pain, but really compared to the hassle of what most solutions are this is pretty easy peasy stuff and we are talking about maybe 5 additional minutes of setup.

    As far as bogging down his PC, it might at first while it scans everything and collects the meta etc, but after that it is really light weight. Yes, there are more robust and elegant solutions that can be set up with Kodi or what have you, but they are more expensive to implement, more time consuming to set up, and generally require more maintenance. With Plex I literally can access all of my media anywhere, and I don’t ever have to deal with anything. At a friends house and want to share some videos/music/photos? The Plex app can do that for you, beyond it already being on your phone.

  28. I have to agree with you, at this point, Plex sucks.

    I’ve been a big fan of plex since 2012. It was my base system for cord cutting, combined with a GoogleTV. I still have the GTV, Plex, and I’ve added an XBox One to the mix 12/2016. The GTV support has been waning for a long while with Plex. It now is completely disfunctional, and since I can’t update it through GTV play store, i assume they no longer support it. Shame on me for not checking on its current status daily, I’m just an old school guy that assumes when I had two things coexisting if I don’t mess with them they will forever coexist. Not so with Plex. Even more discouraging is the XBoxOne which I reformatted numerous videos just due to the fact that it didn’t support the native formats of my prior choosing on the now defunct GTV. Alas, even the reformatted to support direct play XBoxOne videos no longer are being direct streamed which is obvious with the stuttered playback. Again, all videos used to stream perfectly in direct play mode, now none of them do. What is the difference? Yes, Plex server updates which I have auto updating and now Plex is dead to me. Screw you plex, I’m just plain tired of your ambitions to upgrade to new crap all the while telling you heritage installed user base you don’t have time to worry about regression testing. Once a great platform, now completely useless to me and I suspect many others.

  29. This kind of post is just irritating, as it is an opinionated rant on perceived shortcomings in Plex, rather than the account of someone who has put even a modicum of effort into getting it working. People interested in trying Plex, disregard what has been written here, as it is either wrong, poorly informed, or simply a lie. So here is a refutation of each of the ‘shortcomings’:

    1. ‘It takes ages to install and requires a restartand it freezes and blah, blah, blah…’ This is a combination of two factors. Firstly, if it does 15 mins to install, and you are above minimum requirements, then your PC’s operating system is fucked. Seriously, clean it up, or better yet, reinstall, because the problems extend far beyond Plex taking a while to install. Here is a video of someone installing and configuring the server in 5 minutes (this was the first video when I googled ‘Plex install tutorial’): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K4KHIhvp2xk and there are a myriad of others.

    2. ‘Plex scans the folder and retrieves the metadata for the files… which is when the real shitshow begins!’ and ‘it scans 25% of my videos correctly’ If you bothered with one Google search for ‘Plex naming’ or something similar, you would come across this lovely page: https://support.plex.tv/hc/en-us/categories/200028098-Media-Preparation which tells you how to prepare media file names in great detail. Alternatively, it simply tells you to have 2 seperate folders, ‘Movies’ and ‘TV Shows’, and that movies should be in the format ‘Avatar (2009).mp4’, and TV Shows in the format ‘Suits – S01E01.mp4’ Really very simple, a child could understand it. If you have lots of files with terrible naming standards (as I note from the screenshots), there is even a fantastic piece of software called Filebot, which will ingest your media files, match them against the TVDB or TheMovieDB, and automatically rename them to conform to the naming convention. It took less than ten minutes for me to setup, ingest and rename over 300 movies and 25 TV Shows.

    3. Metadata correction – not much of a case for me to make here, correcting incorrectly matched media is a bit shitty in Plex, but if you name files correctly, you end up correcting so few it doesn’t matter. I had to correct 4 movies out of the 300+ scanned once they were named properly.

    4. ‘Quality is bad’ – This is your lack of configuration, not Plex screwing with your media. If you select to stream the original file, your TV sees exactly the same file that the WD Live serves up. What you have most likely done is incorrectly configured the bitrate to something like 2mbps. Yourr WD only looks better because it just pushes the file, and doesnt offer varying bitrates. As I’m unsure as to which Plex client you’re using, I can’t give specific instructions, but generally if you go to settings > playback, you can set to play original media, which should have been done as part of the initial configuration.

    Lastly, just a few words in general. If you have a circular object, stop trying to fit it into a square hole. You explicitly state that ‘I don’t want to deal with any kind of “library” feature’, yet you then go and download a piece of software that is openly advertised as a ‘Media library management solution’ on their main page. Thus a subsequent tantrum about how it isn’t a ‘dumb’ WD Live share and how it requires you to have a library doesn’t demonstate that the software is bad, rather that your ability to read is lacking. Furthermore picking on features such as Optimise and Plex Pass without fully understanding what they are or how they work benefits no one. Plex as a piece of software is entirely free for you to use. The server and client are both free. There are no ads, no sponsored content, nothing. Plex Pass adds features such as multi users and such, but is by no means necessary. Thus to see you complain about what is free software and how bad it is, whilst simultaneously demonstrating that you have absolutely no intention of putting in one iota of effort into learning how to use it is both hypocritical and misleading.

    Before you accuse me of being a fanboy, this is the first comment I have posted on anything on the internet in about 6 months. I generally don’t have any loyalty to a particular OS, brand or software company when it comes to tech, and switch frequently. What motivated me to write this is that, whilst I think that there are a few things at Plex that I’d like to see done differently (better community management, truly open sourced clients, no public/private client development, etc.), they are a pretty decent bunch who make freely available the product of literally hundreds of thousands of man hours of work, some of it open sourced, and they continue to support a single great product as opposed to constantly pushing you to buy the latest fad. For you to come along and piss all over it with a shitty blog post like this, where you have simply taken something, used it, and given nothing back of value, is utterly counterproductive, misleading and petty. If you’re going to shitpost, have the decency to research the shit you’re shovelling.

  30. Hi,

    Would have loved to see you use my 3rd party scanner for plex
    https://github.com/ZeroQI/Absolute-Series-Scanner and compare both.

    “I’d be interested to learn exactly how Plex’s scanning engine works”
    https://support.plex.tv/articles/200381023-naming-movie-files/
    https://support.plex.tv/articles/200220687-naming-series-season-based-tv-shows/

    You have the most horrendous unprepared filenames (no series folder and random tags not in brackets, years not in parenthesis for movies and the worst of all movies and series together in a clump) i have ever seen and that could be useful for me and others to include a broader list of tags to exclude that will boost accuracy for title matching.

    If you could create a filelist of your library by running this batch file in your library root (feel free to inspect or run on a test folder beforehand) i would appreciate the resulting filelist.txt

    https://github.com/ZeroQI/Hama.bundle/releases/download/v1.0/Filelist.and.library.dummy.file.creator.bat

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