RAID is boring, what about watching my videos?!

Massive backup storage with easy to use drive redundancy protections?! Boring!

Today let's talk about using that technology for something truly important like watching video, listening to music on any device you own around the office, the house and even the world.

Not interesting enough? The text below intimidating you? Then by all means skip to the video!

Time to return to my experience with my Drobo 5N and specifically the Plex App on it.

The Plex app comes ready to go right on the Drobo 5N, installed in minutes and configured just as easily. My video content on the Drobo was catalogued beautifully in the Plex interfaces. Plex tracks what I have and haven't watched and their interface allows me to sort my content in a variety of useful ways to find just what I want.

While Plex does most of the work, it also allows me to edit my catalogued content. There are some movies where Plex grabbed a cover "poster" that I really don't associate with the movie. I was easily able to go find the URL to the "poster" I wanted on IMBD.com and make that what I see in Plex. 

The only drawback I've had with the Plex Drobo App is that the Drobo 5N doesn't have enough CPU muscle to do heavy duty transcoding. Uh, geek-coach-said-what? The 5N is after all a drive system, not a full blown PC. Consequently, it can't take your monster sized .AVI and .MKV type files and stream them out to devices like your Xbox or Sony PS. I have no problem playing these files to other PCs using various Plex interfaces from the Drobo, so this is a specific problem that you may or may not encounter. 

Good news is that the Plex app has no problem with smaller file sizes such as .MP4.

Also, Plex does have a Media Server you can install on another PC that will do the transcoding of those troublesome, but beautiful .AVI and .MKV type files to your devices that need it. I've installed and tested it and it does the trick.

All that being said, I'm very happy with this combination of Drobo and Plex and recommend them together or separately as your situation warrants.

Since this is a little longer than I generally like to create, below are some time indicators to get to the bits in which you are particularly interested.

  • 0:00 Intro 
  • 0:50 General Drobo Apps discussion
  • 1:45 Drobo Shares discussed
    • Basically Shares just set up baseline directories in your Drobo to which you place your files as you see fit. You could conceivably setup just one share in Drobo and place all your files there. This isn't recommended in their documentation and I don't think it is a great idea as you map rights access of users to the shares. Consequently, if you want to have a private directory for each of your users it is advantageous to have a share for each user. Additionally Plex indicates that streaming is more efficient if you have your videos, photos and music in their own separate shares.
  • 3:30 Share creation shown 
  • 4:50 Configure Plex discussion, demo & IP address assignment tip
  • 8:00 Video content management 
  • 8:38 Answer to, "This work with my X360 / PS3 / etc.?". Yes, see "The only drawback..." caveat paragraph above for more.

I'll let Plex sell you on their solution themselves, so go to Plex.tv to hear it straight from them as to what all it can do beyond what I've covered in this video.