Scott Hanselman

Fixed: The Synology NAS with Plex Server and mismatched version numbers

February 4, '14 Comments [15] Posted in Bugs | Musings
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I am a HUGE fan of Plex. Plex is a server you run combined with both a great HTML5 web app and some awesome native clients. Plex has clients for iOS, Windows Store, Windows Phone, and on and on. Best yet, the Plex Server can run not only on your spare computers, but also NAS (Network Attached Storage) devices like Synology, Netgear, Drobo, and more.

Last year, Plex came to the Synology DiskStation. I have a Synology 1511+ NAS and run everything on it from Minecraft Servers to Plex to using it as a giant 5TB NAS to storing my Time Machine backups and Windows 8 File History. I also run CrashPlan headless on my Synology.

Synology has an ersatz App Store that allows you to easily install all sorts of stuff to your Synology NAS, like phpBB, Plex, Git, and more.

Plex installed on Synology

However, I personally (and others) have found this feed of packages to be either updated not very often, or when it is updated, versions don't line up.

If I can be slightly critical of Plex for a moment, they are fairly aggressive about keeping their client and server protocol versions in line. This means if you aren't keeping your Plex Server reasonably up to date, one day you'll startup your iPad Plex app or Windows Plex app and be told that server version is too old. It's a little jarring.

The issue for me happens when I go to the Synology to update and there's no new update. So the client is saying "you need version x+2" and all I see on the Synology feed is version x.

Plex example on a Microsoft Surface RT with Windows 8

Here's the gotcha, and why I'm writing this up for you. You can use the Manual Install option (as seen in the top picture) then visit https://plex.tv/downloads and manually upload the .SPK file for Plex to your Synology server.

If you don't uninstall Plex first - that's the one that you install from Synology's feed originally - then you can get yourself into some very weird versioning situations where Plex thinks one version is running and the Synology thinks another as seen in the screenshot below.

Plex Version Numbers not lining up

This has been discussed in the forums for almost a year now with no clear answer or solution.

Again, here's what I did:

  • Uninstall Plex from the Synology Package Manager
  • Download Plex from https://plex.tv/downloads
  • Use Manual Install to install the new SPK to Synology

I hope this helps someone. Be sure to check out Plex, it's a joy.


Sponsor: Big Thanks to Aspose for sponsoring the blog this week! Aspose.Total for .NET has all the APIs you need to create, manipulate and convert Microsoft Office documents and a host of other file formats in your applications. Curious? Start a free trial today.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. I am a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Tuesday, February 04, 2014 1:25:18 AM UTC
How does the NAS handle HD video? I'm trying to move Plex Server from my windows 7 desktop to a NAS. As Plex uses the CPU for decoding/encoding have you had any issues with the NAS?

Have you noticed a max file size that it struggles at? Any movies that are over 4GB in size it can't handle.
Matt Ritchie
Tuesday, February 04, 2014 4:37:27 AM UTC
If it's got an Intel chip, as my 1511 does, I haven't seen a single issue. My largest movie is 3.8G and it works just fine.
Tuesday, February 04, 2014 8:41:24 PM UTC
Regarding transcoding video from your NAS, what kind of clients have you tried it out with?

I know players like the Roku/Chromecast have different requirements for video format, and have heard some people having issues with of their NAS Plex server not being able to support the correct transcoding. Right now I'm using a PC for the server, so haven't had any issues, but I would like to eventually move things off to a NAS.

On a side note, always nice to see a plug for Plex, it is definitely one of my favorite services/pieces of software!
David
Tuesday, February 04, 2014 10:20:11 PM UTC
I've got the 1513, which I think is pretty much the same CPU as Scotts 1511. I've found that any file, no matter how big, plays fine as long as it's in the native format of the client.

So that's pretty much h264 (which most of my collection is) to most of my clients (PS3, AppleTV, iPad). And it's fine. No matter what resolution or file size.

However, anything over ~720p in a non "native" format, and you're going to have a bad time. The exact point where it fails depends on the source, some formats are slower to transcode than others.
Wednesday, February 05, 2014 10:50:49 AM UTC
Do you know what the actual value of the Git Server package is?

Is it just for the command line on the NAS itself?
I don't get the point why this could be necessary.

Btw.: Have you heard of ownCloud? Pretty awesome!
Timm Krause
Wednesday, February 05, 2014 5:12:04 PM UTC
Scott: How have you found Time Machine backups to the Synology? I've been trying to get network Time Machine backups working reliably for years and its always flaky (I've been using FreeNas, but in my reading it sounds like Time Machine over network is generally not considered stable). It will be fine for weeks to months and then one day OS X will say the backup can't be verified and just start creating a new backup thus losing my backup history. I'm curious as I'd love to have solid network backups and if a Synology or other off-the-shelf NAS can do it reliably, I'm there!
Jeremy Wiebe
Thursday, February 06, 2014 2:59:23 PM UTC
Yes! Plex is awesome!! I'm especially loving it now that it's on the Chromecast.
Spencer
Monday, February 10, 2014 3:01:46 AM UTC
I have Plex running on a 1511+ and a Roku 3. I'm really struggling with non-Roku-native movies. The 1511+ just doesn't seem to have enough CPU power to do transcoding into a Roku friendly format. I'm contemplating either re-encoding all movies or moving the Plex Server to a dedicated computer I am not using right now and just using the NAS for movie storage. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Shawn
Wednesday, February 12, 2014 11:55:35 PM UTC
When we get a Plex client on the XBox One? Make that happen, Scott.

Please.
Sergio
Saturday, February 22, 2014 3:24:29 AM UTC
I'm thinking about picking up a few WD Red disks (4 disks) and dropping them into an old pc I have. Primarily for Plex (and maybe something that enables a personal dropbox/onedrive-ish type experience). If I later bought a Synology, could I just place the disks into it and be good to go? I'm thinking for the interim FreeNAS on a thumbdrive and booting that would suffice until the Synology upgrade. Does Synology require the disks to be configured in some specific way?
Robert
Monday, March 24, 2014 8:21:07 PM UTC
Scott, thanks for your post! I have one question about the advise of yours:

  • Uninstall Plex from the Synology Package Manager
  • Download Plex from https://plex.tv/downloads
  • Use Manual Install to install the new SPK to Synology

    The question is - would I lose all the Plex settings (sections & video metadata) after uninstalling Synology version of Plex and then installing the official Plex, or will it keep all the settings intact? Thanks!
  • Denys
    Sunday, March 30, 2014 6:48:05 AM UTC
    I'd like to hear anybody's answer to Denys' question too

    To add to the thread, I've got a DS412+ and it'll encode and play files way over 4GB without issue
    James
    Monday, March 31, 2014 12:01:18 AM UTC
    To Deny's Question:

    I just followed the instructions and my server came back just fine. In fact, it's working faster than ever. I was showing the exact file mismatch described above. I followed the exact instructions and I had no issues. I did not have to rescan my libraries or map my file shares. It just came back showing the new (and matching) versions.
    Brandon
    Tuesday, April 15, 2014 6:19:22 PM UTC
    @Robert

    I was hoping that was the case too, but unfortunately the synology NAS requires formatting at time of install as it needs them in a certain format.
    Mike
    Friday, April 18, 2014 8:19:54 PM UTC
    Hi Scott,

    Do you have updates on using the synology. How's the backup going with Crashplan, have you upgraded to the new DSM 5.0
    rob
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