Updated July 2020
Plex is a “free” media server that enables you to put all of your media in one library and then stream it across all of your devices, even when you aren’t on your home network.
But while it is free to download, Plex is actually not free to use. You can either pay a one-off fee per device that you want to register with Plex, or you can subscribe to Plex Pass for a monthly fee.
Why would you sign up to have to pay monthly when you could just pay a one-off fee?
Plex Pass unlocks a lot of premium functionality in Plex, which makes the difference between a nice-to-have library manager and an incredibly useful media center.
Today, I am going to tell you what exactly Plex Pass is and why you should care.
What Is Plex Pass?
Plex is free to use. Kind of.
You can install Plex Media Server on your PC or NAS (Network Attached Storage) or even on your NVIDIA Shield TV and watch your videos on it.
But the real power of Plex is to be able to play all of your media anywhere you want – whether you’re at home or on the go.
And for that, you’re going to need to spend at least a little money.
How Much Does Plex Cost?
Each Plex client app costs $4.99 to use. That means, for every device that you want to use Plex on – Android, Android TV, Apple, Roku, PlayStation, Xbox, Fire TV, etc. – you’ll be paying $4.99 for each app.
Plex Pass, however, is a monthly subscription. Instead of paying for all your devices individually, you pay a monthly fee to cover all of your devices. This will cost you nearly $5 per month, $40 per year, or $120 for a lifetime pass.
But this does not just cover all of your devices; it also unlocks a lot of additional features that make Plex a very powerful tool.
Plex Pass Features And Benefits
1. Free Apps
I got into this a little bit earlier, but Plex apps aren’t free to use. They’re free to download. But you’ll need to fork over $4.99 for each in order to unlock their full potential – in other words, to watch more than one minute of video.
If you opt for the pay-per-app method, you’ll minimize your costs up-front. But if you’ve got more than one device you want to watch Plex on, then the costs can quickly get out of hand. That’s where getting at least one month’s subscription to Plex Pass can really pay off.
2. Live TV And 3. DVR
This requires an HD antenna to really get the most out of it. One of the newest features is being able to watch and record live TV. Plex rolled out their Live TV and DVR functionality recently, and right now, it’s exclusive to Plex Pass members.
The channels you get will depend on where you live and how good your antenna is. If you’ve cut the cable cord but still miss live TV and DVR functionality, then this could be great news.
4. Mobile Sync
Mobile sync lets you queue content you can watch offline. You’re probably not going to use this very often, but this is still a cool feature.
Think if you’re going camping with the kids and want to bring along a little entertainment (just in case). Now you can mobile sync some cartoons and have a safety net if the kids get bored.
5. Multiple Users And Parental Controls
Speaking of the kids…
Plex Pass includes the ability to set up individual Plex users – each with their own versions of your media library. Want to create a user that just has access to your G-rated content? Now, you can.
You don’t have to use this just for your kids. I’ve got different users set up for myself and my fiancée. That way I don’t have to page through her romantic comedies in order to get to my sci-fi movies.
6. Music Extras
This isn’t a feature I use, personally. I think that with most people using some kind of streaming service like Pandora or Spotify, this may not be one at the top of your list, either.
If you have your CDs converted to digital and stored on your hard drives (which should be all of you), then you can access music extras like lyrics, album art, artist bios, and album extras – all from within Plex.
If you like to create your own playlists, Plex can help with features like Plex Mix and mood mixes.
7. Cloud Media Sync
Cloud Sync lets you upload selected content to a cloud storage provider like Google Drive, Dropbox, or Box. You’ll need a subscription with the service you want to use. However, online storage is so cheap nowadays; this is an easy way to have access to your media even if your home network is offline.
8. Trailers And Extras
If you’re like me, you love trailers. For example, when the new Star Wars trailer dropped, it became a big social event for me and my friends.
You can set up Plex to play trailers before you watch your movie just like if you were at the theater. You’ll also get access to any extra features like interviews, behind-the-scenes videos, and deleted scenes that normally come on the DVD version of your movie.
9. Plex Pass Perks
You need some extra stuff to make the most out of Plex.
Plex Pass Perks takes a little of the sting out of it with some pretty nice discounts on the stuff you’ll need (or want).
The discounts change over time, but you’ll find things like Mohu antennas, Drobo and Western Digital storage solutions, and HDHomeRun media extenders.
10. Early Access To New Stuff
Plex is constantly improving. New features like Live TV and DVR roll out to Plex Pass subscribers first. Think of it like getting early access to the next generation of the Plex Media Server.
Bonus Feature: Stop Bugging Me!
OK. This one is a bit tongue-in-cheek, but I still think it’s a great benefit. If you subscribe to Plex Pass, you won’t get any more annoying message boxes asking you to subscribe to Plex Pass.
I don’t know about you, but the less annoying messages I get, the better!
FAQs About Plex
How Much Is A Plex Pass?
Currently, Plex Pass costs $5 per month, $40 per year, and $120 for a lifetime subscription. This covers as many devices as you need. If you go for standard Plex, you pay a one-off fee of almost $5 per device. But Plex Plus also comes with additional functionality that is unavailable with standard Plex.
Why Do I Need A Plex Pass?
If you are going to use Plex Pass as your main media center, there are a variety of reasons why you need Plex Pass. Some of the best functionality you get with Plex Plus is that it allows you to stream live TV with an HD antenna and provides DVR functionality so you can record live TV to watch later.
You can also download content to watch offline later, which can be useful while you are traveling. It also introduces accounts and parental controls, which are essential if you have multiple family members accessing the media library.
Is Plex Illegal?
Plex is entirely legal, as it is simply software that allows you to set up your own media server. But, of course, that software can be used in a way that is illegal. For example, it is not uncommon for users to set up servers that allow other users to access pirated content. This is still illegal, regardless of whether you are playing a Plex subscription or not.
Is Plex Better Than Netflix?
It is not really possible to compare Netflix and Plex, because they just aren’t the same thing. Plex is a way to organize your own media library, while Netflix is a streaming service that offers you access to their content. While they are both used for watching, they offer entirely different services.
In fact, if you have a Netflix account, you can also get a Netflix plugin for Plex. Then you can search Netflix along with your other media sources in Plex when looking for something to watch.
How Much Is Plex A Month?
If you move onto a monthly subscription for Plex with a Plex Pass, it will cost you $5 per month. But you can get discounts for paying upfront. A Plex Pass will cost you $40 per year or $120 for a lifetime pass.
How Do I Watch Free Movies On Plex?
At the end of 2019, Plex launched a streaming library of movies and television shows. It is free to all Plex users, but it is ad-supported, so expect your viewing pleasure to be disrupted occasionally.
You can also download a variety of other plugins that allow you to access movies and television shows, some of which are free and some of which are paid for. For example, you can watch old films on the Internet Archive or subscribe to USTVNow for some of the major channels.
It is also possible for individuals to share content between their movie servers. There are some users that fill their servers with the latest movies and allow other users to access them (again, free of paid for). But this activity is often illegal.
Is There A Better Alternative To Plex?
There are many free alternatives to Plex; the most popular of which is Kodi. It similarly allows you to organize your media library and stream it to any of your devices. Other alternatives include Mezzmo, MediaPortal, Stremio, and Universal Media Server.
Do I Need A VPN For Plex?
You do not need a VPN to use Plex, and it is unnecessary if you are streaming your own content to your own device on your own home network. However, if you are streaming from other sources, especially sources that are geofenced or contain copyrighted content, it is advisable to use a VPN.
Does Plex Share Your Data?
Plex does not collect or store personal data. It may anonymously send files names and other identifiers linked with your personal content to the Plex servers in order to customize your experience, improve search, and so forth. But you can disable this capability if you want.
Is Plex Pass Worth It?
Whether Plex Pass is worth it for you depends on what you want to use it for.
If you are just looking for a convenient way to stream your own content to a handful of devices, for example, two smartphones and a TV Box, then the one of $4.99 payment for each device is probably all you need.
But, are you looking to stream your content across multiple devices? Stopping halfway through a movie on your TV box and then pick up exactly where you left off on your smartphone?
Do you want to be able to watch and record live TV?
Do you want to get discounts on premium streaming content?
Do you want to set up accounts for every user in the household, some with parental controls?
For all of this, you will need Plex Pass.
Plex Pass will only cost you $40 a year, which is the equivalent cost of eight devices. It is not difficult for a normal household to reach that number when everyone has their own smartphone, computer, tablet, and TV box.
Considering all the extras you get with Plex Pass, this additional expense suddenly seems to come with a lot of value.
To get the greatest value out of Plex, you need Plex Pass. You can sign up for Plex Pass by heading over to Plex.tv.
Just be sure to come back when you’re done, ok?
What do you think? Do you have a Plex Pass? Let us know in the comments below!