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Plex vs Emby – Which Is Better?

Nowadays, almost everyone plays and streams media files. It could be audio, picture, video, etc. Likewise, it could be a movie, live show, song, or podcast.

Whatever you’re playing, you’ll need a media player software/application. This allows you to open and play media files saved on your device. Not to mention, you might need a streaming platform if you want to play media files from online streaming services.

Plex and Emby are both recommended media servers for playing media files.

If you want to know which among the two is the better platform to go for, read on as I compare Plex vs Emby.

What Is Plex?

Plex is a freemium media server launched in 2003. The platform works as a client-server media player and as a global streaming media service.

In other words, you can use Plex to play media files locally on your device or stream online media from other sources. Plex is of two types: back-end server and front-end player.

With the back-end server, you can upload media files e.g. video and audio. In fact, you can upload from your local files or other storage platforms like iTunes, Aperture, or any online source.

Conversely, the front-end player is then used to watch the media files uploaded from the back-end server.

Plex is more popular than most other alternatives in the market today.

What Is Emby?

Emby is a digital platform that facilitates the upload, organizing, and play of media files. The platform is available for free, but you need a premium subscription for some unique functionalities.

Emby features a back-end server from which you can upload your media files and a client app for watching them. It supports audio, video, and photo files.

After uploading, you can watch the files from any compatible client platform. Emby saves them to the cloud so they can be easily streamed. The software has several features for easy sharing and management.

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Setup

Plex

To set up Plex, you first have to download and install the server installer. This installer isn’t an application on its own because it does not feature GUI. Once you launch the installer, you’ll be redirected to the Plex Web App via your browser.

Then, you’ll be required to create a Plex account or sign in. The platform will bring up a Setup Wizard that’ll guide you through the configuration process, especially uploading media to your library. The last thing to do is install Plex apps on your devices.

Emby

Emby requires both installations of the server and the client. To install the server, you first need to organize your media files in different folders according to their type. You have to follow the platform’s instructions on arranging folders and media files for them to be uploaded properly.

Afterward, you should download and install the Emby server app for your device. The same goes for the client app – download and install it. As the server owner, you can then add and invite users to access your media library.

Verdict

The Setup Wizard featured on Plex makes it easier to set up than Emby.

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Media Server

Plex

For your videos to show up in the Plex Media server, you have to create various media-type libraries. There are media preparation guidelines you should follow, but the platform will also do its best to automatically match media content to their respective libraries.

The Plex Media Server supports simultaneous viewing on multiple devices but would consume higher CPU resources. If the server is overworked, you’ll experience issues like buffering and stuttering. In some cases, the media files might not play entirely.

Emby

The Emby media server automatically organizes your personal media files into a library. Several factors are needed for your videos to be read successfully by the Emby media server. This includes the media file formats, client devices, and consumed bandwidth.

For instance, you’ll need a relatively powerful device for your server if you’ll be uploading higher media formats. Not to mention, the server regularly transcodes media files. That way, your media files can play on different devices without hassles.

Verdict

Plex and Emby media servers are relatively similar. They sort files according to their types and would consume many resources if overworked.

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Customization

Plex

Plex offers several customization options to personalize both server and client platforms. You can customize your navigation, edit the Home Screen display, reorder Home Screen rows, add and remove rows, amongst others.

These customizations can be made whether you’re using Plex via the web, mobile app, or big-screen apps.

Notably, as the server operator, you can customize what media files should show up as recommended in the player apps. Furthermore, Plex features a reset customization option; one click and you can revert all customizations to their default state.

Emby

Customization options featured on Emby are mainly for customizing server and device appearance.

For instance, you can customize the names of all devices connected to your server so you can easily identify them. The server customization options allow you to edit the server’s name and the preferred display language.

Nevertheless, Emby features a unique branding customization option. This allows you to add a customized message to feature on a client login screen.

With Emby, you can customize and send message notifications to display on a client app. There are network customization options too.

Verdict

Both Plex and Emby support customization, but Plex features more personalized customizations.

Foreign Library

Plex

With Plex, you don’t only have access to your personal media files or files shared by other servers. The platform also features films and shows from other libraries. Hence, you get on-demand video.

You can stream and enjoy over 20,000 movies from other sources like Crackle, MGM, Lions Gate, and Warner Bros amongst others. For audio, you can access music files from other sources like iTunes, Amazon, and Tidal.

As with streaming platforms, certain limitations and restrictions apply when streaming on-demand video. Hence, not all Plex users can access these foreign libraries.

Emby

Emby can only be used to upload videos from a server location and then play via a client platform. The platform doesn’t support on-demand media content hence you can’t access any foreign library.

Nevertheless, you might still be able to add on-demand video but it will require coding. You’ll have to create a new library using STRM files if the on-demand videos are part of an m3u file. Alternatively, you could build a VOD channel plugin from scratch. Some Emby users have already built plugins for some VOD platforms.

Verdict

Plex wins in the Emby vs Plex comparison category as the platform has native support for foreign libraries.

Local Streaming

Plex

Plex offers an advantage when it comes to local streaming. If you have media files on the same local network with your player app, the app will automatically discover it for you to play. You might not even need to sign in to your Plex account to stream content locally.

However, for this to work, the media files must be 100 percent compatible with your player device. This is because the server won’t be transcoding automatically. The media files must be in a compatible resolution and encoded with compatible codecs.

Emby

If your server and client are on the same local network, you can stream content locally. Although it doesn’t require constant internet access, you should attempt to connect to the internet occasionally.

Furthermore, local streaming is supported on limited devices including Smart TVs, Apple TV, Roku, and via the web app. To stream content on other player apps like on Android, iOS, and Amazon TV, you’ll have to pay for a premium plan.

With Emby, you can use STRM files to stream content from other networks like they were stored locally.

Verdict

Local streaming with Plex is a lot easier and straightforward than with Emby, so Plex wins.

Remote Streaming

Plex

If you want to access your media files while away from home, you can turn on remote streaming from your Plex account settings.

For remote streaming, you need a router that supports UPnP or NAT-PMP. You can choose to manually forward a port, which you have to turn on via the settings.

For the router, the Plex server will establish a connection automatically. If the connection is unsuccessful, you’ll have to follow the troubleshooting instructions. You can set up remote streaming video quality, maximum speed, resolution, and more from your server.

Emby

Emby supports remote streaming and that’s what most users use the platform for. The first thing you have to do is to turn on remote connections from your server network’s settings. You’ll also have to enable port mapping if your router supports UPnP.

If the automatic port mapping setting is not visible, you have to install the Emby Port Mapper Plugin. Once you turn on UPnP on your router, you can start streaming remotely. In cases where automatic port mapping doesn’t work, you can set up remote streaming via manual port forwarding.

Verdict

Remote streaming is one of the common features of Plex and Emby. Both platforms are reliable for remote streaming.

Live TV

Plex

Watching Live TV with Plex is very easy. With a premium subscription, simply launch your player app and you can watch any live content that’s currently airing. Live TV content is usually featured in the Right Now content section with the client app.

From your server, you can allow users you share content with to access Live TV or not. This can be set from the Restrictions tab in settings. As mentioned earlier, Plex features content from foreign sources. There are over 100 Live TV channels you can tune in to watch at any time.

Emby

As an Emby server user, you can stream Live content so client users that connect to your server can watch. Clients can also access Live TV via a web browser. Configuring Emby for Live TV streaming is somewhat technical.

You have to configure your TV tuner, add TV guide data, and channel map your lineup to guide data. Nevertheless, the platform features instructions to walk you through the process. Emby doesn’t provide any content, so you can only access Live TV shared by a server.

Verdict

While both platforms support Live TV, Plex brings Live content from many channels so you can watch more.

DVR

Plex

Just like the Live TV, DVR recording with Plex requires a premium subscription. The platform supports all major DVR tuners and antennas and you must have these connected to your Media Server for DVR to work.

DVR recording with Plex is easy. First of all, you need to launch the item that you want to record. It could be a movie, episode, show, event, etc. Then, click on Record. Plex features several settings to make the perfect recording and you can adjust these at any time.

Emby

An active Emby Premiere subscription is needed to record DVR. You can access the DVR settings under the Live TV Menu. Thanks to the simple and elegant interface, scheduling and managing DVR recordings is quick with Emby.

It takes just one click to start recording. You can record while watching Live TV or set the app to record ahead of time. By default, Emby will send all recordings to one folder. However, you can customize the DVR recording paths for different media file types. There are free guide data to use.

Verdict

This Plex vs Emby comparison category is a draw as both support DVR and recording functions almost the same way.

Parental Control

Plex

Plex supports parental controls and there are two ways to control it. You can set up controls for online media or create restriction profiles. The easiest and best way is by creating a restriction profile.

Restriction profiles are already customized to exclude content that’s unsafe for kids. There are three types of restriction profiles you can choose and they include Younger Kid, Older Kid, and Teen profiles.

For online media controls, you have to access your server to disable specific users from accessing specific media content.

Emby

With Emby, you have access to several parental control tools. However, you can set it up easily by applying restrictions to specific users.

For every user account connected to your server, you have the option to choose a maximum allowed parental rating. The higher the rating, the higher the restrictions.

Another way is by using tags. As you upload content to your media library, you can add tags like “kids-blocked” and Emby will prevent the content from showing up on clients that fit the category. Finally, you can set up an access schedule.

Verdict

In this Emby vs Plex comparison, the winner was Emby as the platform features more parental control options.

Casting

Plex

Plex supports casting to Chromecast devices. You can cast videos, audio, and photos. All you need is the Plex app for control. In addition to casting, you can mirror content with the Plex app. That way, the content you browse on your app is also shown on your Chromecast.

Casting content with Plex is easy. From your app, simply select the casting option and choose your casting device. Likewise, you can easily disconnect casting with one tap on the casting icon. Plex supports casting for Android, iOS, and desktop applications.

Emby

From the Emby web app, you can easily cast content from your media server to your Chromecast device. The platform supports the latest Chromecast features including 2nd generation 4K devices and Chromecast audio.

In addition to the web app, you can cast media using the Emby iOS and Android app. As usual, all you need is to tap the casting icon and select your Chromecast device from the available devices. There are some criteria your media needs to meet for efficient casting with Emby.

Verdict

Plex and Emby are reliable for casting, but support for all the latest Chromecast features gives Emby a slight edge.

Add-ons

Plex

Plex features a host of add-ons and plugins. These plugins are made available by Plex users on GitHub or the Plex forum. However, the platform has ceased automatic support for plugins. To install any plugin, you’ll have to do it manually.

Nevertheless, this is easy. All you have to do is to unlock the plugin bundle and move the plugin file to the Plex Plug-ins folder. The location of the Plex Plug-ins folder differs for different devices. Generally, you can find it in the Plex program files folder.

Emby

In the Emby forum, you would find lots of plugins created by users. These free plugins can be installed manually or automatically. For manual installation, ensure that you download the plugin file and save it in the plugins folder.

Automatic installation is easier. Simply click on the Plugin section in your admin dashboard. From there, you can click and install any plugin you want. Most of the plugins featured here are for customizing the platform’s look.

Verdict

Plugins and add-ons work the same way on Emby and Plex. However, Emby wins because it has native support.

Supported Devices

Plex

Notably, the Plex media server works on limited devices, which include Windows, Mac OS, Linux, Netgear, and NVIDIA SHIELD. Conversely, you can install the client app on myriads of digital devices.

It can be installed on all major browsers, mobile devices, tablets, desktops, laptops, Smart TVs, and Streaming devices. This includes Android, iOS, Samsung TV, Alexa, Fire TV, Chromecast, and Roku.

Emby

You can download and install Emby on various Operating Systems. Some of which include Mac OS, Linux, Windows, FreeBSD, etc.

For the client app, you can install it on about 30 different devices. This includes Android, iOS, Kodi, Roku, Smart TVs, XBOX, Amazon Alexa, Fire TV, Play Station, etc.

Verdict

Both platforms support a variety of devices.

Emby vs Plex Pricing

Emby Pricing

Emby Premiere is the platform’s premium plan and you get advanced features with it. The pricing options include:

  • Monthly Plan – $4.99 per month
  • 1-Year Plan – $54 per year
  • Lifetime Plan – $119.99 one time payment

The Emby Premiere plan will allow you to download media for offline viewing, record DVR, create interesting cover art for media files, and sync your media to the cloud.

Plex Pricing

You can use Plex for free or subscribe to the premium Plex Pass plan. There are three subscription plans:

  • Monthly Plan – $4.99 per month
  • Annual Plan – $39.99 per year
  • Lifetime Plan – $119.99 one time payment

Note: you need to subscribe to Plex Pass if you want to use Plex on your mobile devices – iOS or Android. Also, a Plex Pass subscription is needed for DVR recording.

Verdict

Plex and Emby feature about the same pricing plans. The only difference is that Emby’s annual plan is higher than Plex’s.

Similarities & Differences

Similarities

  • Client and server applications
  • Free and premium accounts
  • Supports customization
  • Supports local streaming
  • Both Emby and Plex support remote streaming
  • With either Plex or Emby, you get support for Live TV and DV.
  • They both support parental controls.
  • With either Emby or Plex, you get support for casting.
  • Supports plugins

Differences

  • Plex features more personalization options than Emby.
  • Plex supports foreign libraries but Emby doesn’t.
  • Installing plugins is easier with Emby than Plex.

Pros & Cons

Plex Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Supports customization
  • Supports foreign libraries
  • Local streaming support
  • Remote streaming support
  • Parental controls
  • Casting support
  • Plugins

Plex Cons

  • No server UI
  • Manual plugin installation

Emby Pros

  • Easy to set up
  • Local streaming support
  • Remote streaming support
  • Parental controls
  • Casting support

Emby Cons

  • Less personalization
  • No support for foreign libraries

Wrapping Up Plex vs Emby – Which is Better

Plex and Emby are top players in the home media market. However, from this comparison, the better platform is Plex. With Plex, you are provided with more functionalities, unlike Emby.

Not to mention, Plex allows you to watch and share your personal media files and also brings you on-demand content from external libraries. Furthermore, you can purchase a Plex Pass for one year at a lower price than Emby Premiere.

Author: Tom ClaytonTom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing. Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.
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