Five years ago I wrote a post detailing my media server setup. The post is woefully out of date from a hardware standpoint, but only slightly out of date from a software standpoint. The endpoint of my systems is still a Roku with the Plex app, but now I have a almost three-year-old Roku 2, which is significantly faster than my old Roku HD. Currently I’d recommend the Roku Stick or Stick+.
When we moved almost 4 years ago, the old laptop I was using for a server would no longer turn on. Instead I’ve been using a low-powered Windows 8.1 HP Stream Mini desktop combined with an external hard drive. If I were to buy one today, I’d get a similar cheap PC or maybe a refurb desktop, since the HP Stream is discontinued. Since all of my media is directly played by the Roku/Plex, the computer can be wimpy since it doesn’t do any transcoding, just serving.
On the server, I’m still using Windows Media Center to DVR over-the-air shows via my USB TV tuner and attic antenna. Media Center has also been discontinued, but you can still install it if you know where to get it. For me it has been the most reliable, easy to use DVR software in Windows.
After it is recorded I use MCEBuddy to compress/encode the video (which is usually a couple GB) and remove the commercials. MCEBuddy runs in the background and works automatically after the initial setup. MCEBuddy can also organize your media for you, putting in the folders by show and season…just the way Plex likes it.
Finally, to avoid latency, since the Roku 2 has an Ethernet port and so do the server, everything is hardwired through my router. This made more of a difference than I expected it would and allows me to keep using my old cheap wireless router.
That’s about it. We use the Roku to access the media, but also to watch stuff on Amazon Prime Video, YouTube, PBS, etc.