For long time Mac users, iTunes became the default media server for all your movies, television shows, music, home videos, and the like. It worked decently enough, but the user really had to take the time to manage file information, metadata, album or movie artwork, and much more.
A much better solution has gained widespread adoption over the last few years, and that is Plex. Plex does what iTunes does, serving up your content over your network, but it does so much more, and it does it so much better.
Do you have an older Mac sitting around with nothing to do? You have to really watch those old Macs, they get lazy if you don’t tell them what to do! Why not repurpose that Mac to be a Plex media server?
OS X Minimum Requirements
The biggest software requirement for an older Mac to become a Plex media server is that it has to run Mac OS 10.8 or later, otherwise known as Mountain Lion.
If Older Than Mountain Lion, Try Linux
If you have an older Mac that does not run Mac OS 10.8, you could install Linux on the machine and run a Plex media server that way. Ubuntu 10.04 can be run on many older Macs, and will make a fine server. And you know you always wanted to play around with Linux a little, right? Here is your chance!
A Plex media server does something really cool that we only wish Apple’s iTunes did: it takes care of all the meta data for you. It will scour the internet to provide movie descriptions, album artwork, keep television series tagged correctly for season and episodes, provide album data for your music, and much more.
Interested in Buying an Old Mac for Cheap?
Running a large media library via a Plex server is no problem. Simply connect a large external hard drive, or even a RAID, to your Mac, configure Plex to look on that drive, and your all set. Even cooler? Any time you add something new, Plex will update your library automatically at a set interval. (I have mine set to once an hour).
While we all love Apple and Apple products, we also live in a world with numerous other technologies. Smart TVs, Android, Windows, Playstation 3 and 4, the Xbox, Amazon Fire TV, and ROKU (just to name a few). And everything listed above is compatible with running the Plex client software, which is what you will use to enjoy all your content!
The new Apple TV (forth generation) has a Plex client you can download, so if you are an only-Apple technology household, you can still take advantage of the better Plex media server. (One caveat: iTunes purchased content cannot be played via Plex).