Over the Thanksgiving weekend I moved my Plex Media Server from my iMac to a Mac mini, and it was an almost painless process. Actually the process was painless, the problem was that I had not done enough homework. Let me explain.
I had been thinking of moving Plex off the iMac for some time because there were just too damn many things running on the iMac, and I thought the Plex server deserved a dedicated home. I asked about it at the local Apple Store on Walnut Street and was assured that a Mac mini would be more than up to the challenge, and since I stored all my media files on an external drive, a base model mini would probably be all I needed. I knew that once set up, the mini could be managed remotely from my iMac, but I was concerned about the initial setup; they reminded me that the mini had an HDMI port, so I could use my TV for that. And I had an old keyboard and trackpad, so that took care of that.
At Plex’s website I found the instructions for moving a Plex server from one system to another, and so I felt confident to go ahead. I ordered the base model Mac mini.
When the mini arrived, I plunged into the move. Plex’s instructions were clear and easy to follow, and I had no trouble. Since all my media files were on an external drive, I didn’t have to worry about tinkering with the Libraries. Once the move was done, Plex recognized them instantly. Plex on the Mac mini was behaving exactly like it had on the iMac, except it seemed to be running much more smoothly.
There was only one hitch. The mini now had only about six Gigabytes of free disk space. That wasn’t enough space to install an OS update.
What I had neglected to find out was just how much space the Plex server files take up. They were using up about 90 Gigabytes of file space; as the base configuration of the mini only had 128 GB, they were hogging most of it. The main culprit was a folder called Media which had about 70 GB of files.
After asking on the Plex forums if their server files could be moved to an external drive and not receiving a prompt reply (it was Thanksgiving), I recalled that Apple had a 14 day return policy. So I ordered a mini with a 256 GB internal drive and returned the first one.
The move to the second mini went just as smoothly, and frankly I couldn’t be happier with the mini and the way Plex is performing on it.
Just a word to the wise: if you move Plex to a new system, check the size of the “~/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/” folder, and make sure your destination system’s internal drive is large enough to handle it with room to spare.