Watching and streaming content over the web has taken over the world as the preferred mode of entertainment acquisition, outvying even cable and broadcast TV.
And in this world of digital content consumption, Plex has made an indelible mark with its innovative modus operandi and free-to-use service model.
With Plex, you can now stream and download your favorite movies and shows within your library on all your devices free of cost.
But what about data? How much data does Plex use?
Plex uses 0.9 - 1.8 GB of data per hour for low-resolution video streaming and almost 9 GB/hr for a 4k or REMUX file. The amount of data used by Plex depends on the transmitted content type and size. Plex does not use any data for local sharing.
With that said, here's a comprehensive account of everything PLEX and how to limit data use with plex.
How much Data and Speed Does PLEX Require for Streaming/Sharing?
Unlike most other streaming services, PLEX doesn't follow a unified data consumption/speed requirement plan.
The speed and the data cap hence consumed depend on the file type and the upload speed of the Server device.
Here are the various upload speeds based on the file type:
|File Type||Upload Speed(Minimum)|
|SD (Below 720p)||1.8 GB/hr|
|1080p Videos||4.5-5.4 GB/hr|
|4K, REMUX, HEVC, RAW codecs||9+ GB/hr|
These upload speeds are only applicable to raw/original codecs and file types.
PLEX employs a transcoding function that processes the original file type into a version compatible with the client device.
Take an example of a 1080p video. Some client devices, like smart TVs or other smart devices, may not be able to decode/play particular codecs, like AAC.
Consequently, PLEX transcodes such incompatible file formats into a more suitable H.264 or MPEG 4 format.
And so, transcoding may require additional bandwidth since PLEX performs them on the go while transferring.
And when you take transcoding into account, the file size may reduce or increase exponentially. So does the upload speed, invariably.
Fortunately, you can limit the upload speed on the PLEX client app to not eat up all the available bandwidth. This function comes in handy, especially for users with an asynchronous connection.
Asynchronous connections favor one direction bandwidth allocation, in most cases download, over the other. Hence, the upload speeds on most such networks may be limited.
If PLEX consumes a large chunk of this allotted bandwidth, there occurs a lack of bandwidth. Now the users may have a hard time communicating with the network.
Follow these steps to limit the upload speed on your PLEX server device.
1. In the PLEX server app, click and open the Settings(gear) icon towards the top right of the app interface.
2. Scroll down to the Media tab.
3. Click and open the Remote access tab under the Settings tab.
4. Here, you can set the limit for your upload speed.
Save the changes and exit the menu. You could also adjust several settings on client devices like Plex on Roku.
Another thing to note is that local streams within the same LAN network do not consume any data per se.
The only requirement is that you will have to allow access to local sharing on your Server app.
We will take a look at how to enable local sharing on your PLEX server sometime later. For now, let's understand Plex a bit more than that we come to know of it.
The Transcoding feature does demand a powerful server device. If you're using your NAS as your server device, make sure that the NAS is powerful enough to drive the transcoding feature.
Here is a list of recommended NASs endorsed by PLEX.
What is PLEX?
Plex is simple. Think of it as your personal streaming service.
And like all streaming services, there is a central server from which all the content originates and client devices that facilitate content acquisition from the server.
Obviously, when dealing with servers, content organization forms the crust of all tasks (certainly the most daunting one of them all).
But Plex has made even this arduous task a manageable yet simple one.
The server device can be your PC, which houses all your media, or any other device capable of hosting a server.
Popular server devices include PCs, Macs, dedicated NASs, Linux-based computers, etc.
Once you install the PLEX server app on your server device, proceed to make an account. You can also opt-in for the PLEX pass, which comes with a few nifty features like mobile/smartphone access.
Once done setting up the app, the rest of the process will all be taken care of by the PLEX app. It automatically recognizes all the files in your system and organizes them in a specified manner.
Additionally, PLEX also acquires related info of the many files detected, like cast and crew info, trivia info, subtitles, cover arts, etc., all from the internet.
You can also get exclusive commentary from the makers.
PLEX can also detect and acquire files other than media files. So that's an added bonus!
Coming to the client side of things, install the PLEX client app on a device and log in; that's all to it. Make sure to enable Remote Access on the server app to facilitate sharing.
And just like that, you can now access all your favorite movies and shows from anywhere, anytime.
You can also grant access to other users, like your family members and friends, to your PLEX media server. Only make sure to enable sharing to invite other users to access your server.
One distinguished server device among all the others is the Nvidia Shield TV. Apart from being an exceptional client device, the Shield TV can also pose as a capable server device with its powerful CPU and ingenious UI.
Although, you may have to supplement the internal storage with additional storage mediums, like SD cards or external hard disks, to store your many movies and shows.
How To Access PLEX Without Exhausting Data
Apart from remotely accessing content from the server, you could also access your content offline. (Provided, the client device is connected to the same LAN network as the server device)
The science behind this ingenious contraption is pretty simple. Transferring data through the same LAN network doesn't require an internet connection, much like Bluetooth but faster and better.
Doing so can help you access PLEX even when the client device is facing internet speed issues like when the internet download speed is slow on Roku.
Usually, PLEX has to verify/authorize a connection before you can access the server files. But this requires an active internet connection and sharing via the internet.
You effectively bypass this authorization with local sharing. Hence, allowing you to access content 'offline'!
But you do need to configure your Server device to enable local sharing.
After you have connected the client device to the same network as the server device, follow the steps on the Server app.
1. Log into your Server app or access the panel by entering https://[your IP address]:32400
2. Click on the Setting(gear) icon on the top right section of the interface.
3. Scroll down to the Server tab.
4. Click on the Show advanced button if you haven't already.
5. Select the Network option.
6. Scroll down to the "List of IP addresses and networks that are allowed without auth" tile.
7. Enter the IP addresses of the devices you wish to connect or the netmask of the devices.
8. Save and exit the portal.
And so, you can now connect and share media offline.
A netmask or a subnet mask is a collection/range of consecutive IP addresses.
And so, in place of entering the static IP address of every single one of your devices on the PLEX list, use a netmask instead.
To make a netmask, say of the 192.168.1 series, you would enter 192.168.1.1/255.255.255.0. This mask constitutes every address from 192.168.1.1 to 192.168.1.254.
PLEX is indeed an incredible platform as an ultra-modern alternative to the streaming services available a dime a dozen.
The ever-evolving range of free movies and shows on the PLEX channel also makes a solid point for its existence.
Shell out a couple of bucks, and you get the PLEX pass which further ascends your PLEX experience to the next level.
The amount of data consumed by PLEX is relatively less compared to most other streaming platforms, which, as a matter of fact, demands much higher data caps.
But when facing issues with Plex on client devices like with the AI upscaling issue on Shield TV, the data hence consumed can also vary.
If you are in the vicinity of the Server device, do yourself a favor and opt for the local sharing feature.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)
Does Plex streaming use data?
PLEX does consume data if you're streaming remotely through the internet. However, if both the client and the server devices are connected to the same network, you can stream offline without consuming any data.
Is Plex data encrypted?
PLEX provides free SSL certificates to its users, ensuring a secure encrypted mode of communication between your devices. With such provisions, you can now use plex free of any masks or VONs for additional security.
How much is Plex monthly?
PLEX pass costs $4.99 per month. You also get a much better deal for the PLEX pass with an annual fee of $40 or get a lifetime membership for $120.