How can you set up a high-performance Plex Media Server using a Synology DS1019+ and ensure smooth 4K streaming?

12 June 2024

When it comes to building a powerful media server, the Synology DS1019+ stands out as a popular choice among enthusiasts. This bay NAS device, designed for small businesses and home users alike, offers robust storage and performance capabilities. Using this network attached storage (NAS), you can create a Plex Media Server that not only allows access to your media files from anywhere but also ensures smooth 4K streaming. Here's a comprehensive guide to get you started.

Setting up a media server requires a reliable NAS that offers ample storage and efficient performance. The Synology DS1019+ is a network attached storage device that fits these criteria perfectly. Equipped with five hard drive bays, it provides flexibility in terms of capacity and hard drives configuration. Coupled with Plex Media Server, this NAS can transform into a high-performance media hub.

Plex Media Server is a versatile server application that organizes your video, music, and photo collections and streams them to your devices. With Plex, you can enjoy your media on smart TVs, streaming devices, and even mobile devices, ensuring that you have access to your content anytime, anywhere.

Setting Up the Synology DS1019+

To begin with, you'll need to set up your Synology DiskStation and prepare it for use as a Plex Media Server. Here's how you can do it:

  1. Unbox and Install Drives: Start by installing your hard drives into the NAS. This model supports up to five drives, and you can use a combination of HDDs and SSDs depending on your storage needs and budget.
  2. Connect and Power On: Connect the DS1019+ to your network using an Ethernet cable. Then, power it on.
  3. Initial Configuration: Open a web browser on your computer and navigate to This will search your network for the Synology NAS. Follow the on-screen instructions to install the operating system, known as DiskStation Manager (DSM).
  4. Create Volumes and Shared Folders: Once DSM is installed, you can create volumes and shared folders to store your media files. Navigate to the Control Panel, go to Storage Manager, and set up your drives and volumes. Create shared folders for different types of media like movies, TV shows, and music.
  5. Install Applications: Visit the Package Center in DSM to download and install essential applications. Since we're setting up a Plex Media Server, you'll need to install Plex from the Package Center.

Setting Up Plex Media Server

Once your Synology NAS is prepared, you can start configuring Plex Media Server. Here are the steps:

  1. Install Plex Media Server: In the Package Center, search for Plex and install it. After installation, open Plex from the main menu.
  2. Initial Setup: When you first launch Plex, it will guide you through the initial setup process. You'll need to create or sign in to your Plex account.
  3. Add Libraries: Plex requires you to organize your media into libraries. In the Plex web app, navigate to Libraries and click Add Library. Choose the type of media (e.g., movies, TV shows, music) and point Plex to the respective shared folders on your NAS.
  4. Optimize Settings for 4K Streaming: For smooth 4K streaming, Plex needs to be optimized. Go to Settings > Server > Transcoder in Plex. Ensure that hardware acceleration is enabled if your NAS supports it. Also, consider setting the quality to original for direct play of 4K content, reducing the need for transcoding.
  5. Access and Enjoy: With your libraries set up and settings optimized, you can start enjoying your media. Plex clients are available for various devices, including smart TVs, streaming boxes, and mobile devices. Install the Plex app on these devices, log in to your account, and you can start streaming your media seamlessly.

Ensuring Smooth 4K Streaming

Achieving smooth 4K streaming involves more than just setting up the server; it requires fine-tuning and understanding the demands of high-resolution content. Here are some tips to ensure a seamless viewing experience:

  1. Network Considerations: 4K content requires a robust network. Make sure your NAS and streaming devices are connected via Gigabit Ethernet for the best performance. If you're using Wi-Fi, ensure it's a strong and stable signal, preferably using Wi-Fi 6.
  2. Hardware Capabilities: The DS1019+ is powerful, but ensure it has sufficient RAM and processing power. Upgrading the RAM, if needed, can help with heavy transcoding tasks.
  3. Transcoding Settings: In Plex, avoid unnecessary transcoding, which can strain the NAS and reduce performance. Where possible, use direct play or direct stream to allow the media to play in its original format.
  4. Drive Performance: Use high-performance hard drives designed for network attached storage. Drives like WD Red or Seagate IronWolf are optimized for NAS environments and offer better performance and reliability.
  5. Regular Maintenance: Keep the DSM and Plex software updated to benefit from performance improvements and bug fixes. Regularly check for firmware updates for your drives and the NAS itself.
  6. Monitor Performance: Utilize DSM's Resource Monitor to keep an eye on the NAS's performance. This can help identify bottlenecks and address them before they affect your streaming experience.

Managing Your Media with File Station and Control Panel

A critical part of running a successful Plex Media Server is efficient media management. Synology's DSM offers powerful tools like File Station and Control Panel to help you manage and organize your files effectively.

File Station

File Station is a powerful file management tool within DSM that allows you to manage your media files seamlessly:

  • Upload and Download: You can easily upload media files from your computer to the NAS or download files from the NAS to your computer.
  • Organize Files: Create folders, move files, and organize your media library directly within File Station. This organization is reflected in Plex, making it easier to locate and stream content.
  • Permissions: File Station allows you to set permissions for different shared folders, ensuring that only authorized users have access to certain media files.

Control Panel

The Control Panel in DSM offers various settings and tools to manage your NAS device:

  • User Management: Add and manage users who have access to your NAS. You can create user accounts for family members or colleagues, giving them access to specific folders and files.
  • Network Settings: Configure network settings to ensure your NAS is optimized for streaming. Set up static IPs, DNS settings, and ensure your network is secure.
  • Scheduled Tasks: Automate tasks like backups, updates, and maintenance checks to keep your NAS running smoothly without manual intervention.

Setting up a high-performance Plex Media Server using a Synology DS1019+ can provide an exceptional media streaming experience. By carefully configuring your NAS, installing and setting up Plex Media Server, and optimizing for 4K streaming, you ensure that your media server is ready to handle anything you throw at it. Proper media management using tools like File Station and Control Panel further enhances your experience, making it easy to organize and access your content.

By following this guide, you can enjoy seamless 4K streaming, making your media library accessible from any device, anytime, and ensuring a top-notch viewing experience for you and your users.

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