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I installed Plex a little while ago when I wanted to access my music using DLNA on my AV Receiver and Windows Media Player's implementation was just too slow and not up to the job.
I got Plex installed, libraries discovered and I was up and running with a fast and reliable server pretty much straight away.

Since then, I've moved my TV recording onto NextPVR, with MCE Buddy archiving recordings to MP4 as mentioned in previous articles and Plex just handles this without any major complications.
On top of simple set up and configuration, it ticks all of my boxes for Media Server requirements - it looks good, I have remote access and more recently (and pretty critically), there's an Alexa skill that allows me to play music directly to my Echo devices.

After installing Plex on your system, you will be asked to create an account with Plex - this seems a little strange when you are probably going to be accessing local content, but it handles authentication for you should you enable the remote functions.

The basic Plex account gives you basic access - there are some players and some advanced features that benefit from Plex Pass, but in all honesty, there are plenty of options for Plex that make Plex Pass unnecessary for many users. That said, if you do want to go down the Plex Pass route, keep an eye out for lifetime membership offers - they appear from time to time and make the premium features very affordable.

One of the nice things about Plex is that you can specify multiple Libraries, even Libraries for similar content types. I've configured it with five libraries so far - TV Shows, Movies, Music, Photos and Home movies. Although home movies are the same media type as tv shows and movies, Plex allows this, which means that this different content is listed separately.

Although there are no parental controls in the basic Plex account, you could work around that by creating a couple of libraries for Kids TV and Kids Movies - just move that content into a different folder on your drive and Plex will happily scan and keep that content in different Libraries.

Keeping Movies and TV shows separate is advised as Plex uses media agents to scan your folders - there are different agents for TV shows and Movies, so keeping them separate means each folder is configured with it's own agent and you're more likely to get the correct metadata downloaded. There are some tips for handling the agents and metadata which I'll cover a little later.

Remote Access

This is pretty simple - if you are familiar with setting up port forwarding in your router, you probably won't need any instructions here, just the port numbers. If that's the case, you want to configure the port as 32400.

That port number is in the Remote Access page in Plex settings, easy to access. You can also change the port number on the Remote Access page.

Plex have written (and linked to from the settings page) a guide for setting up remote access. I've taken a glance through it and it looks a little complicated as it tries to cover all bases.

In summary, what you'll need to do is log in to your router - probably going to something like or This can vary depending on your router configuration, but there will most likely be details printed on a label on your router.

Once logged in, you'll need to look for port forwarding or game and application sharing. Within this menu, you may have to create an rule for Plex - this will be some details about which port to listen to from the internet and what port this should be directed to - you can set them so they match, or so the router will translate it to a different port number on your local network.
Next, you'll need to apply that rule to a computer - here you'll enter the IP address of the computer your Plex server runs on (or select it from a drop down list in some cases) and then which rule to apply - again, probably selecting the rule you just created from a drop down list.
Some routers will change those steps and you may just enter the IP address of your computer and which ports forward, but it'll be easy to find instructions for your specific router in a google search.

Once it's configured, you should see a green tick in the Remote Access settings page, but you should also be able to access your content either from your internet IP address/URL. Alternatively (and a good choice for secure access) is to go to This is one of the good reasons for having to set up a free Plex account.

Libaries and Agents

TV Shows

The TV Shows agent uses to retrieve metadata. It's well worth getting your head around how this works as it's the metadata which makes Plex so powerful.

When you save your TV Shows to your media drive, it's best to use the following format {Media Drive}:\TV Shows\{season title}\{season number}\{showtitle-S##E##-Episode title}.mp4 for example, E:\TV Shows\The big bang theory\Season 1\The Big Bang


You don't need to add the season sub folder, that just tidies things up sometimes - I have a mix of folders that use season subfolders and those that don't.


The Movies agent uses It works in a similar way, but the format is along these lines: {Media Drive}:\Movies\{movie title}\{movietitle (year)}.mp4 for example, E:\Movies\Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind (2004).mp4.

A good tip for both of the above agents is to use the websites to find specifically how the agent is expecting to see the title. By having the filenames correct at stage one, you will have to do less fiddling around to get your metadata correct on your media server.

If the agent hasn't picked up the correct show/movie, you can do a manual search to apply metadata within Plex. Within a series or movie in Plex, you can click the ... button and select "Match" or "Fix Match". This will load a search window that will initially attempt to locate metadata using the agent. It will then display a list of possible matches with a rating of how confident it is with that match.
If nothing in the list of results is relevant, you can click the "Search Options" link in the top of that window and simplify the programme title (or make it match what you've found on thetvdb etc).

After sorting out a couple of fixes, this will become second nature and you'll get the hang of how to match your programmes with the correct metadata.

The circumstances where you'll probably need to do this is where two programmes share the same title. My son watches a children's programme called "The Deep". Naturally, this title is pretty common and initially Plex matched it with the wrong series. On, I was able to go in and search to locate the correct series - "The Deep (2015)" and then search for this within the Plex "Fix Match" window.

As this was applied to the top level of the series, it works for anything else that is dropped into the same folder.

There are some shows that are less straight forward - Power Rangers, for example.
Here, to get the correct metadata, I had to go through the Power Rangers entry in and find the correct series number that matched the particular series I was trying to match. In that case, I then had to rename all of the files to match that format. Power Rangers will most likely record with a title like "Power Rangers Dino Supercharge", which is a title that doesn't appear in and needs to be changed to something along the lines of "Power Rangers\S23 Dino Super Charge\Power Rangers-S23E06-Forged Under Fire_edit.mp4" to work (note the lack of a series title in the first part of the filename).

This isn't a big deal for me as I tend to trim the start and end of recordings after they've been added to Plex, using MCEBuddy, so I just change the filename to the correct format as I save the output of that process and then delete the file with the wrong filename.

Media Players and Alexa Skill

Media Players

Plex comes with a web based media player out of the box. Here, you access a web front end through your web browser, using your IP address, followed by the port number that you're configured with (or via

This works well on computers and mobile devices and I'd probably have stuck with that had I not wanted to control my media centre at home with a remote control.

There are a couple of options for Plex Media Player - some applications like the Windows App available through the Windows App store, which unfortunately seems to need a Premium Plex Pass to use properly, but also a free download from

On that page click "Get an App" and then select Plex Media Player > {Your OS} to download the player.

Not only does this media player have a better interface in full screen (recommended), it also allows you to use a standard remote control, so it will understand cursor keys, pause buttons and FF/REW (jumps video forward) etc. Well worth a look.

Alexa Skill

I got an Echo Spot for my birthday. I love it, but I was initially frustrated by appearing to need a music subscription to get the most out of it. I wanted to play my local MP3 collection through my Amazon Echo and it initially seemed that I could only do that by connecting to the speaker using bluetooth.

Eventually, I found that there is a Plex Skill for Alexa, which does allow you to access all local MP3 files as long as you have Plex Media Server running. If you have a computer at home and you are happy to have this running 24/7, you can get some instructions from the rest of this article to get Plex running for you and then access your own media through your Alexa device.

Setting up the Alexa Skill for Plex is pretty easy - gives good instructions and you'll be away in no time. The article kind of assumes you have access to more than one Plex server. If, like me you only have one, you don't need to do the "Ask Plex to change my server" step. If you do it, Alexa will just tell you she's already selected the one server you have.

After that, you can access your local music by saying "Alexa, ask plex to play the album {album title}" and you will hear your own music played through the echo device.

Once I realised that a music subscription is not necessary, I ended up buying more echo devices, such as the Amazon Echo as I wasn't as tied to a subscription as I expected to be.


Amazon Echo (Referral) Amazon Echo Spot (Referral)
Amazon Echo Amazon Echo Spot Alexa Plex Skill