Previously, we summarized a list of best media server options for multi-device streaming needs. And Plex was on top of that list and deservedly so.
If you do not like what Plex has to offer, there are a good number of apps like Plex in use today. Which one you choose depends on your specific media and devices.
Some are great for music, while some are better for access to free content. While there are plenty of alternatives to Plex, each media streamer comes with its own specialty. [Read: 9 Best Home Server Apps to Automate Media Management]
This post explores some of the best media server options, including some free Plex alternatives.
Table of Contents
- Best Plex Alternatives 2022
- 1. Jellyfin - The Free Software Media System
- 2. Emby - Take Your Media Anywhere
- 3. MediaPortal - The Open Source Media Center
- 4. Stremio - Freedom To Stream
- 5. Medusa - Automation At Its Best
- 6. MediaMonkey - The Media Manager for Serious Collectors
- 7. Serviio - Media Streaming Server
- 8. TVersity Media Servers - Media Sharing and Screen Mirroring
- 9. JRiver Media Center - The Most Comprehensive Media Software
- 10. OSMC - Open Source Media Center
- Honorable Mentions
- Final Thoughts on Best Alternative to Plex Media Server
Best Plex Alternatives 2022
Not all Apps like Plex are the same and so not always the best replacement for Plex. This depends on your personal criteria. A free Plex alternative may allow you to have more features but might also require more manual configuration.
On the other hand, many advanced features are not always available using paid apps like Plex. [Read: Plex vs Emby vs Jellyfin vs Kodi: In-depth Comparison]
The best Plex alternatives listed here were chosen for two reason:
- They look and feel like Plex.
- They behave like Plex and have the same basic features and functionality.
The best options to replace Plex here are given in the order I believe you, as a SmartHomeBeginner reader, are most likely to use.
Jellyfin is the free software media system built by volunteers to put you in control of your media. With Jellyfin you can stream to almost any device. [Read: 10 Best Jellyfin Client Devices  – 4k, Hardware Transcoding, etc.]
All kinds of plugins are made for Jellyfin to provide metadata and artwork for your entire collection of movies, TV shows and music. [Read: 15 Best Jellyfin Plugins  – Supercharge your Media Server.]
You can record and collect your favorite TV shows, and Jellyfin will automatically organize them by season and episode. There is even a plugin for missing episodes, so you can know what you want to watch next.
You can make playlists so you can listen to your music without fumbling through your library to find the next good song you want to play. You can also watch live TV and schedule automatic recordings to add to your collection while you are away from your TV.
Jellyfin also allows you to watch your media from a web browser on any operating system. Jellyfin also supports AirPlay and Chromecast. There are various client apps on Google Play and Apple App Store. There is even an official Jellyfin Roku client, which we have reviewed in the past.
With a lot of control over customization and plugins, Jellyfin is the best free Plex alternative for tinkerers.
Emby is also one of the best Plex alternatives and probably the most well-known before Jellyfin. There is no doubt Emby has it going on. With all kinds of great features to make viewing and managing your media easier, Emby has features that are definitely worth using.
But you will need an Emby Premiere subscription to fully harness the power of Emby.
Emby Connect gives you access to your personal media remotely. You don't have to worry about a change in IP address making your home network inaccessible when you are out of town. You can simply sign in and beginning sharing your photos, videos and music with your family and friends.
Emby supports live TV streaming to almost any client device, providing client apps for all operating systems and hardware.
You can manage your DVR from inside the Emby GUI and record all your favorite shows, podcasts and radio. Unlike Plex, Emby (and Jellyfin) has no limits on channel numbers. [Read: Complete Plex IPTV Guide : IPTV on Plex still works]
Emby also has parental controls. Today not every app can say that when it seems more important than ever. You can also monitor and control viewing sessions remotely to ensure nothing is being watched that is not allowed.
Emby offers mobile apps and clients for numerous platforms and supports offline content with Emby Mobile Sync. This Plex alternative can also send you event notifications about activity on your server.
Like Jellyfin and unlike Plex, web-based tools allow you to edit metadata and images, search for subtitles, and organize and manage your media files. Emby can automatically detect DLNA-enabled devices on your home network, so you do not have to configure every new device that comes and goes when someone visits with a new phone or tablet.
Personally, I feel Emby is struggling to fit in because those who can pay, usually go for Plex Pass, and those who can't or prefer open-source software go for Jellyfin.
MediaPortal is a free Plex alternative and complete media solution optimized for Windows. Hundreds of plugins and skins allow you to personalize your experience with the MediaPortal Configuration program. MediaPortal plugins are fully intergrated and installing skins is easy using MPEI, the MediaPortal Extensions Manager.
MPExtended lets you access MediaPortal remotely. MediaPortal also is compatible with apps like Plex clients to tap into features from client devices.
You can view RSS news feeds. The MP weather section gives you 5-day weather forecasts. You can even access Wikipedia pages (with images) from inside MediaPortal.
And MediaPortal has games!
You can install and play games like Chess, Yatzee, Clickmania, Mine Sweeper, Connect4, MasterMind, Simon Says, Frustration, Hexxagon and Music Trivia. Tetris and Sudoku come with MediaPortal.
Stremio is the best open source Plex alternative for simplicity. It truly is a one-stop solution. With over 50 addons in their catalog, you can discover, watch and organize video content from just about any available source.
You can watch video from many different sources and cast what you are watching to another device with a single click. Stremio can play HTTP links, magnet links, and you can drag-and-drop torrent files.
You can also check out third-party apps like PimpMyStremio and Stremio Downloader. Addons allow you to find online content and access locally stored media. You have access to movies, TV shows, online channels, sports, podcasts and standard TV.
Stremio has desktop apps for Windows, Mac and Linux. With official and community addons to enjoy video from various content providers. It works on Android devices such as NVIDIA Shield and Amazon Fire Stick. While it does work on iPhone, addons are not yet supported on iOS.
Stremio can display a calendar of all the movies and series in your library. You can even export your Stremio calendar and sync it to new episodes. Offline content is an upcoming feature, but you can cache content on your device to watch offline from the settings panel.
Medusa is an automated video library manager for TV shows that watches for new episodes of your favorite shows using torrent/nzb searching, downloading, and automatically converts media to the quality you want.
You can sync your shows with Trakt and keep movies and TV episodes updated in your Trakt watchlist. It supports TVMaze and TMDB indexers and allows you to choose which indexer to use. You can manually search episodes based on provider, seeds, and release.
Medusa can generate Fanart, and NFO/TBN metadata. You can also configure automatic episode renaming and sorting. It will searches TheTVDB.com and AniDB.net for new and old shows, seasons, episodes, and matching metadata for all your media.
You can manually search for subtitles, which allows you to use a different set of subtitles for better quality if necessary. Medusa also provides Kodi media library updates with Fanart downloads and NFO/TBN generation. Medusa can notify Kodi, Growl, Trakt, Twitter, and WDTV and more when new episodes are available. And, Medusa is capable of supporting Anime movies and TV shows.
Besides using torrent trackers, Medusa also supports Usenet with NZBs, BinSearch, Usenet-Crawler and many other apps made for torrenting. It is available for all platforms and uses a simple responsive web UI.
Medusa performs automatic subtitle matching for downloads from Addic7ed, OpenSubtitles, Podnapisi, and TVSubtitles. It supports several torrent providers, such as TPB, RARBG, IPTorrents, T411 and others.
For the tech-savvy, Medusa supports Python 3 and also provides real SSL certificate validation.
MediaMonkey is the media manager for serious music enthusiasts. It is not a great Plex replacement option if videos are important to you. With MediaMonkey you can organize your music and videos using your PC or smartphone. You can also manage over 100,000+ songs, audiobooks, podcasts and videos on a hard drive, a network device such as a NAS, or from cloud storage.
MediaMonkey is a free Plex alternative with an available upgrade to a gold license, making it one of the Plex alternative media servers for pros. You can customize MediaMonkey by installing addons and skins to suit your tastes. MediaMonkey is for collectors, small business owners, DJs, and anyone who needs to entertain.
MediaMonkey will convert unsupported formats for playback. One other great feature of MediaMonkey is it will normalize volume levels for you. This is great if you can't stand how much you have to adjust the volume during a single show.
MediaMonkey will automatically find and add missing artwork and metadata, organize and rename files, remove duplicates, and create playlists. You can easily share media on Windows, Android, and Apple iPhone, iPad, or iPod devices. It can detect and play to most smart TVs and other UPnP/DLNA such as Chromecast.
Just ensure DLNA is enabled and enjoy!
Serviio is a free Plex alternative with a pro version. Another awesome feature is the Serviio Alexa Skill to use voice commands. Serviio Media Server is one of the best Plex alternatives available for Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems or QNAP and Synology NAS devices.
Serviio also implements the standard DVD file structure stack video stacking feature. If you have a DVD file structure or split videos, Serviio can stack multiple parts into one. It supports most playlist formats and subtitles. Serviio also supports RAW camera images.
It can stream audio, SD and HD video and image files in their native format or real-time transcoding from RSS/Atom feeds, live streams and content embedded on a web page. You can play internet radio stations, SHOUTCast streams, and live TV.
Serviio automatically updates the media library when there are changes in media files or a metadata for your collection. It extracts metadata from embedded metadata tags, local metadata files, and online metadata sources for video thumbnails, album covers and movie posters. Native integration with Trakt.tv allows Serviio to categorize video files into movies and series, and keeps track of viewed episodes.
But what makes Serviio one of the best Plex alternatives for techies is custom renderer profiles. Serviio allows you to create renderer profiles for rendering devices. Using the profiles definition file is
config/profiles.xml, Serviio allows you to create new profiles in
TVersity Media Server is a UPnP A/V and DLNA server for Windows XP or higher with very fast response times. It can handle massive media libraries of up to 100,000 items or more. TVersity also supports keyword searching and advanced search expressions to help you quickly find shows and songs.
You can connect multiple devices and TVersity will fetch metadata while providing media in a format that is optimized specifically for the target client device. It can detect the best format for playback and caches your content to avoid transcoding the same media twice. Raw digital camera image streaming is also supported. [Read: 10 Best Plex Client Devices  – STUTTER-free Streaming]
TVersity also runs as a service, so you can access the media server without logging into the computer. It only has to be on. This allows controlling TVersity locally or remotely inside the desktop GUI or through a web browser. Command-line tools automate tasks and help you to integrate third-party applications.
TVersity will play online audio and video streams, RSS/RDF/ATOM/OPML feeds, podcasts, and display images from online sources you already use on your smartphone. The pre-installed iTunes plugin automatically imports your iTunes library and playlists and keeps them in sync. You can also pause live internet feeds just like with TiVo.
TVersity is a paid alternative to Plex with a free version.
JRiver Media Center uses multiple software servers to share media between devices. Media Center zones serve media to multiple clients, even playing different media on the same device at the same time. JRiver Media Center works with smart TVs, Blu-ray players, receivers, and other devices supporting DLNA playback. You can even use a PlayStation 3 or Xbox 360 with JRiver.
JRiver has a 10-foot user interface called Theater View drawn with 3D graphics that is highly configurable. You can remove portions of the UI that you don't use and move GUI controls to personalize your biggest screen TV. Theater View is also touch screen friendly.
KDE users can use MCWS Remote Control Plasmoid.
There are also several soft remotes from third-party developers.
Video streaming from Netflix, Hulu, and Youtube is integrated natively into the JRiver Media Center interface. JRiver uses its own innovative Red October system to download, install, and configure DirectShow filters automatically. No set up required!
JRiver Media Center is the absolute best Plex alternative for music, giving you audiophile quality like no other media server can. You can use JRiver to modify audio playback by upmixing, downmixing, bitdepth, and complete speaker control.
MC supports all lossless formats of audio (FLAC, APE, ALAC, WM), AIFF, and WAV files with tagging functionality. The 64-bit audio makes any adjustments to volume, bitdepth, and sample-rate mathematically lossless.
JRiver can output audio data in many ways. Different hardware requires different "communication methods" for quality and performance.
JRiver Media Center is a powerful way to store and view your photos. You can delete, rotate, and tag images. Media Center allows you to rename, move, and copy files to directories according to date and other tag information. You can also crop, adjust, and resize pictures without changing the originals. You can easily undo changes and start over.
JRiver even lets you email image files, send files to Flickr, Facebook, Twitter, Menalto, and JRiver's pix01.com. You can also add files to playlists to give the slideshow a soundtrack. Though it is not free, it is easy to see why JRiver is among the best Plex alternatives available for Mac, Linux, and Windows XP up to Windows 11.
OSMC is among the best Plex alternatives as a Debian-based Linux distribution that boots directly to Kodi Media Center. With OSMC it is easy to get started right away with very little tinkering. If you are a tinkerer, OSMC is the best open-source Plex alternative that allows you to make custom changes.
OSMC can play any video file in a wide variety of file formats. You can also install extra codecs from the Debian software packages out of the software repo, and it will work with codecs you purchase for faster transcoding and playback.
Vero 4K + is OSMC's flagship device. The Vero can play anything you need it to play with support for 4K, HEVC, 10-bit content and HD audio. OSMC also manufactures and sells an official DVB-T2 dongle suitable for terrestrial OTA TV.
OSMC manufactures and sells an official hardware remote designed that works on any device. You can shop the OSMC App Store to install server software or install official Kodi addons and other extensions for Kodi from third-party repos.
Another great feature is OSMC supports a great number of hardware remotes, which you can select from a gallery of remotes and set as your default remote. OSMC also supports CEC, which gives you hardware remote control over OSMC with your existing TV remote.
To run OSMC on Android, your best option is the Vero 2 or higher. My recommendation is the Vero 4K+. You can also install OSMC on the Raspberry Pi. I recommend the Raspberry Pi 4 with 8GB of RAM. [Read: 10 Best Media Server for Plex + one SURPRISING bonus ]
With OSMC you have access to all kinds of addons and Debian distro repo apps like Plex that work along with Kodi. A desktop environment and a web browser are scheduled for inclusion in OSMC in the near future!
The downside is the OSMC is geared more toward local streaming, unlike other alternatives to Plex listed on this page.
- LibreELEC - Just Enough OS for Kodi
- Kodi Media Center
- Universal Media Server
- Mezzmo - Stream Your Media
- VideoLAN Projects
Is there a better option than Plex?
Possibly. Plex is popular because it requires little to no real configuration, but you can configure more options and use it along with a great variety of client apps. Jellyfin uses plugins to do this and has many client apps. The reason Jellyfin is not as widely used is simply that it requires a bit of technical skill to install and configure. This does not define Jellyfin as better, but it is better for tinkerers.
Is Plex still the best media server?
Yes, it is, simply because it is easy to install and use. More people know about Plex but not everyone knows about Jellyfin and Emby. Plex also comes with live channels and shows, but Jellyfin does not. If you want to use Jellyfin remotely, it requires some technical skills. Plex only requires a subscription.
Which is better Plex or Emby?
Emby competes with Plex but does not rival Plex in terms of popularity. Plex is definitely the chosen winner among end users above Emby or Jellyfin. While Emby does support plugins, it only supports the plugins provided by Emby developers. If you do not mind paying for premium service then Plex Pass offers more than Emby Premier does.
Which free media server is best?
Jellyfin or one of the others listed on this page. Plex offers a premium subscription and live channels, but Jellyfin allows you to add more features using plugins. Jellyfin is better than Plex and Emby if you are a tinkerer. In either case, we believe Jellyfin is the best free media server.
Final Thoughts on Best Alternative to Plex Media Server
Plex is easy for anyone to use. If you are willing to pay for a media server, you will not have to do nearly as much to install and configure it. You also will be able to add your online content and locally stored files more easily. Your home network may already include many devices and client apps that make one choice better than another.
While Plex is essential to my setup, it honestly could not replace Jellyfin as my first choice. Plex gives you many opportunities to do this and so do Jellyfin and Emby. You will find with any media server you can achieve the same thing, but you must do things differently. All in all, the best media server is the one you use the most.
As shown in this post, there are many Plex alternative media servers, each geared towards specific features. We hope that this post allowed you to shortlist few good ones to try as Plex replacement. If we missed anything, please feel free to share with everyone in the comments.