PLEX not streaming well!!!

After getting my drobo, I moved my PLEX server to the drobo… Great solution!

BUT… I cannot stream some movies properly. Movies I have saved in MKV format stream fine with no issue. However, movies saved in AVI format will not stream properly. The keep pausing every few seconds, then play, then pause.

Anyone know a solution to this, other then to re-encode them to mkv. thx

The problem is that the Drobo is trying to repackage the video and audio streams in a format that the player can handle. That is probably too much for the Drobo’s CPU, especially if you have other apps running on the Drobo as well. You can have a look at the Plex logs to see why it is stuttering like that.

where are plex log stored?

I only have plex app installed and running on drobo.

Anyone else have issues with avi on drobo???

The logs are under “/mnt/DroboFS/Shares/DroboApps/plex/Library/Plex Media Server/Logs”. Mind the spaces.

I also have some AVIs that give me trouble. My solution was to get a RaspberryPi and run OpenELEC on it, accessing the files over NFS.

Dont really want to start finding new hardware… I have chromecast on all tvs. that what I stream to. Worse case i just start PLEX server on pc. but was hoping to find a solution on the drobo. thx

I have a Drobo 5N and ran into the same problems: Some Plex media doesn’t playback on my Amazon FireTV, Roku 3 or even Plex Home Theater App on my MacBook Pro Retina i5.

The reason for this is that those media files have an incompatible codec and need to be transcoded. The problem however is that the ARM CPU in the Drobo is way too weak to do that reliably for any HD format. Adding an mSATA SSD doesn’t help at all.

The ease-of-use makes the Drobo 5N really sexy, but I’ve learned that its weak CPU is a huge drawback. And it doesn’t look much better on other NAS systems. Check out this table.

I came to the conclusion to build my own NAS, despite not being an IT expert. I’m going for FreeNAS with its Plex Plugin.

Here’s the platform I just ordered:
[]Fractal Design Node 304 Case
]ASRock E3C226D2I Server Mini-ITX Board
[]Intel i3-4360 CPU
]2x Crucial 8GB DDR3 PC3-12800 Unbuffered ECC 1.35V 1024Meg x 72 CT102472BD160B
[*]Corsair CS550M Power Supply

FreeNAS is based on ZFS which requires ECC memory for data integrity. This leads to the said ASRock Server motherboard, as consumer motherboards typically have no support for ECC.

This setup should be powerful enough to run the NAS and transcode two concurrent 1080p AV streams.

If you want to learn more on FreeNAS, you should check out this very detailed Newbie Guide.

Or you could take yet another path and pair a direct-connected Drobo with an Intel NUC, like I did. This way I enjoy all of the advantages of Drobo and a proper, beefy Intel i5 CPU in an ultra-compact package. I run Plex on it (well, actually inside a virtual machine hosted on it) and it happily transcodes everything I throw at it without breaking a sweat. It doubles as a CIFS server (for sharing the Drobo contents in my LAN) and everything-else-server. Smart little beasts, those NUCs.

[quote=“Zbig, post:7, topic:140270”]
Or you could take yet another path and pair a direct-connected Drobo with an Intel NUC, like I did.[/quote]

Which not only is a higher total hardware investment, but very likely also consumes more power (two systems with two power supplies). The advantage of the Drobo + NUC over the FreeNAS however is, that the NUC can be used for other things as well, whereas under FreeNAS the hardware can do anything but the NAS and the FreeNAS Plugins.

Higher investment - yes, definitely. Besides NUC, you need a memory, local storage and OS license (if you choose Windows). But then, you can be sure it’ll do everything your regular PC is able to. My time isn’t free, also, and I’d rather not spend it fiddling with my NAS, trying to squeeze that last little piece of functionality out of the poor little ARM which was never really meant to do that in the first place.

Regarding the power usage: those Haswell systems are very energy efficient. I took some measurements when I got it and while I’m not really sure I remember the results correctly (so don’t quote me on that), I think it was somewhere in the 15W ballpark when not stressed. I could repeat these measurements if there’s an interest. Anyway, from my observations, some people tend to look for energy savings in all the wrong places. This NUC’s power consumption is nothing, really, compared to, say, your fridge, lighting, etc. But I digress here and I don’t really want to start any flamewars. The fact that it uses a separate PSU doesn’t change much, really, with the modern, highly efficient SMPSs. And again - for me, that little bit of extra monthly power consumption (if any) is well worth the time I’d otherwise have to dedicate fiddling with a non-standard, unsupported installation or rolling my own. I still have great respect for Ricardo’s work but I guess it’s just not my thing anymore. I don’t want having to wonder whether the next release of Plex server will still work on my unsupported platform.

Exaclty. I’m genuinely astonished just how much I can throw at the tiny little box, comparing to the PCs of yesteryear. For me, the real kicker is the Hyper-V server bundled with Windows 8.1 Pro. I chose the Linux version of Plex server for one particular reason, so I’ve put it inside a Hyper-V virtual Linux machine. It looks like a separate machine to all the world.

Whoo, that’s a long one. I hope it didn’t come as overly ranty (wasn’t meant to be) :wink: And no, I’m not on Intel’s payroll, however this might appear :wink:

It only now occurred to me that I’m not really addressing your point as you’re not so much advocating using a Drobo only as using a custom PC only but, well, anyway :wink: I personally like my solution better as 1) I just like Drobo :stuck_out_tongue: and 2) I kind of shift the responsibility of maintaining my redundant storage to Drobo and have to take care of the higher-level software thing only.

If I may add my two cents, I’ll side with Zbig. Please let me explain my point of view.

  1. For all the flak that Drobo NAS devices get, they have the best storage technology out there, bar none. Although I am a bit biased towards Drobo (how about that for an understatement?), if you understand a bit of storage algorithms I strongly suggest that you give the BeyondRAID patent a look. If the devices implement what is showed there, then BeyondRAID offers a level of protection at least equal to ZFS. If you take into account the dynamic reconfiguration aspects (e.g., dynamically changing from single to dual redundancy), I’d say that BeyondRAID is leaps and bounds ahead of ZFS. Mostly because…

  2. There is zero configuration required. I dont need to handle ZFS storage pools, drop to a shell and pray that I found the proper ZFS command to replace a failed drive, etc… Furthermore, if I want increase read performance I just buy an mSATA SSD, add it to the bottom bay, and I’m done. No L2ARC, no arcane HOWTOs, it really just works. To put it under a different perspective: if I mess up Plex’s configuration nothing of value was lost. If I mess up ZFS’s configuration, that is potentially a disaster.

  3. According to pcpartpicker, your setup costs USD 588 without disks. You did not mention which CPU cooler, so let’s round it up to 600. A 5N can be found on Amazon for USD 480. An Intel NUC with a Core i5 + 8GB RAM + Wifi card for USD 446. I’d go further than Zbig and boot the NUC from the 5N, i.e., have the NUC netboot from the 5N. After all, I just need it for its processing power. So yeah, it is a more expensive proposition, almost twice as expensive. On the other hand, I did find a Core i5 desktop computer for USD 300 on Amazon without trying too hard, so there’s that. We can pick a cheap PC counterpart because the sensitive stuff is on the 5N, so no need for special motherboards or ECC RAM. USD 600 vs USD 780 is not that much of a difference (a wee bit more than a WD Red 4TB?), and you get a lot more flexibility and usability out of it, as Zbig indicated.

  4. If you plan to exclusively run Plex, then you could configure the PC to wake on LAN. Without an HDD (remember we’re netbooting), power usage should be minimal. Of course, once you get addicted to the power of the Core i5, it’ll probably be hard to not keep it running. With that being said, I’d love to have something like a Raspberry Pi dedicated to Plex, i.e., something that would be able to transcode, but running with less than 10W.

  5. I was never a big fan of running Plex on the Drobo. For better or worse, Plex is written in Python, which makes it extremely inefficient on the 5N. Not to mention ridiculously memory hungry. The CPU usage is not so much of a problem, but the memory consumption is. Running Plex on the Drobo causes high I/O loads since the kernel can’t keep a good, large cache in memory. If fact, even without transcoding it might be better to run Plex Media Server on a separate Raspberry Pi simply due to the fact that Plex will be better contained.

@Zbig: I’m investigating this Drobo+PC solution for myself. I run simple apps on the Drobo (e.g. the usenet bundle), but Plex is just too heavy for the Drobo for now. I’m a heavy user of subtitles, and currently Plex does not know how to stream subtitles to a Chromecast without transcoding. Google says that it is possible, but the Plex guys haven’t done it yet. I’m kind of getting tired of waiting.