Skip to Content

How to Install Plex Media Server on FreeNAS

n this tutorial you will learn how to install Plex Media server on an existing FreeNAS system. You will also learn how to create a dataset for Music and how to share it with your devices.

Introduction

FreeNAS is an operating system that turns new/existing hardware into a network attached storage device. It can be used to share data over the network, as a backup device, and it can even be used to stream TV shows, music, or movies to just about any device you may own by installing the Plex Media Server plugin.

Hardware Requirements

Before trying to install Plex on your FreeNAS system, you should make sure the hardware meets the following minimum requirements.

  • Dual Core CPU 2.4 GHz or greater (Intel recommended).
  • 8 GB of RAM.
  • At least 1 HDD with enough storage to store your all your media (2 or more is highly recommended).

If you require new hardware, you can build your own system or purchase an existing NAS device that’s compatible with FreeNAS. It’s usually cheaper to build your own, and if you do it right, it will be higher quality than anything you can buy off the shelf.

The remainder of this tutorial will assume you have the required hardware with FreeNAS installed. You can learn how to install FreeNAS in the post: How to Install FreeNAS on a USB Flash Drive from a Windows 10 Machine.

Instructions

The following instructions were tested on the latest version of FreeNAS which at the time of writing is 9.10.1-U4.

The IP method is set to static with an address of 192.168.1.222. This makes it easier to connect to the device because the address doesn’t change during reboots.

To begin, open a browser, enter the IP address of your FreeNAS server and then enter your login credentials.

Note: If it’s the first time you are logging in, you will be asked to assign a password. Assign the password and skip the configuration wizard.

Add a Volume for Storage

Before you can install the Plex Media Server plugin, you must have a ZFS volume created because the plugins are stored there and not on the boot device. The following example will show you how to create a mirror volume out of 2 x 1 TB HDD’s.

Note: If you already have a volume configured you can skip this section.

  1. Click on the Storage menu item at the top.
  2. Click Volume Manager to open the Volume Manager window.
  3. Enter volume name. In the following example I’ve called it tank.
  4. Click + to add the drives. In the following example you can see 2 x 1 TB drives have been added and the volume layout is set to mirror.
  5. Click Add Volume to close the Volume Manager window and create the volume.

As you can see from the image below, we now have a volume called tank. In the next step, we will install the Plex Media Server plugin inside this volume.Advertisements

Install Plex Media Server Plugin

  1. Click on the Plugins menu item at the top.
  2. Scroll down and click on the PlexMediaServer plugin.
  3. Click Install and then click OK on the confirmation window.

The plugin will download and be installed on the tank volume.

Adding Storage to Plex

In the following steps, we will create a new dataset for storing Music, set the correct permissions, and then assign the dataset to the Plex Media Server Jail so that Plex can access the music files.

  1. Click on the Storage menu item at the top.
  2. Select the tank volume we created earlier.
  3. Click the Create Dataset icon.

When the Create Dataset window opens, do the following.

  1. Enter the dataset name: Music.
  2. Click Add Dataset.

Change the permissions so that anyone can write to the Music dataset.

  1. Click the Music dataset.
  2. Check the Write box against the Other column.
  3. Check the Set permission recursively.
  4. Click the Change button to apply the permissions.

Assign the Music dataset to the Plex Media Server Jail by doing the following.

  1. Click on the Jails menu at the top.
  2. Click the Storage tab.
  3. Click Add Storage.
  4. Select the plexmediaserver_1 jail.
  5. Enter the source and destination paths. The source path is the path to the Music dataset we just created. The destination path is where the folder will be accessed inside Plex.
  6. Click OK to finish.

Sharing a Dataset on the Network

The easiest way to copy files into the Music dataset we just created is to share the dataset with devices on your network using the Windows SMB protocol. This can be done by following the steps below:

  1. Click on the Sharing menu option at the top.
  2. Click on the Windows (SMB) tab.
  3. Click Add Windows (SMB) Share.
  4. Select the path to the Music dataset.
  5. Check the Allow Guest Access box.
  6. Click OK to create the share.

As you can see from the image below, it’s now possible to view the Music folder using the UNC path \192.168.1.222\Music.

Copy some Music into the folder from iTunes or a rip of a CD you own, then in the next steps we will configure Plex.

Enable the Plex Media Server plugin

  1. Click on the Plugins menu item at the top.
  2. Click on the Installed tab.
  3. Change the Off switch to On by clicking on the button in the service status column of the Plexmediaserver row.

The plugin should now switch to On and you will be able to access Plex via the IP address of the Jail plus the default port number for Plex. In my case it is: http://192.168.1.223:32400/web

Connecting to Plex Media Server

If you don’t know the IP address of your Plex Media Server you can find it with the following steps.

  1. Expand the Plugins menu.
  2. Click on PlexMediaServer.
  3. Click on the here link of the PlexMediaServer window.

Configure Plex Media Server

Connect to the Plex Media Server web portal by clicking on the link found in the previous section.

You will be presented with a screen asking you to Sign In or Sign Up. This step can be skipped if you don’t have a Plex Pass by doing the following steps.

  1. Click What’s this?.
  2. Click Skip and accept limited functionality.

You will now be presented with a first time Wizard to do basic configuration. In the next steps we will name the server and add our Music folder.

Click GOT IT! to close the How Plex Works screen.

Click on the X at the top right to close the Plex Pass screen.

  1. Enter the name of your Plex media server as you want it to appear to other devices on the network.
  2. Clik Next to proceed.

Click the Add Library button to open the Add Library window.

  1. Select the Music option.
  2. Click Next.

Click on the Browse for Media Folder button.

  1. Select the /media/Music folder.
  2. Click Add.
  3. Click Add Library.

As you can see from the image below, we now have the Music folder added to Plex. If you have more folders to add, you can repeat the steps by creating a dataset, adding it to the Plex Jail and then adding it to Plex using the previous step.

Click Next to finish the Media Library step.

The final step is to click the Done button. It’s up to you, if you want to send anonymous usage data to Plex. I’d rather not, so I uncheck the box.

Plex should now be configured. You may want to go through the Settings screens and have a look at the options.

The screenshot below shows the final setup with two albums added to the Music folder. If you copy an album using the UNC path to the Music folder it should appear here.

You can learn more about using Plex by visiting the documentation page on the official Plex site.

Conclusion

We now have a FreeNAS system which doubles up as a Plex Media Server. We learned how to create a dataset, how to share it with a Windows device, and how to configure Plex so that it can see any media that gets added to the dataset.

Next Steps

There’s a lot more you can do with Plex. Here are some things you might want to look at next.

  • How to setup Sonarr and Transmission to automatically download TV episodes for free.
  • How to setup PleXBMC on your Android TV for a free way to stream the media to your device.
  • Using Plex Pass to share your media with family and friends.