On a foundational level, streaming is a simple client/server service — have a remote server distributing all content to the clients. Although big streaming players like Netflix and HBO use the same foundational architecture, they have evolved the technology 10x. They are starting to leverage high-end technology, such as AI, CDNs, and even distributed edge mini-clouds, to make their services intelligent, broad, and ultra-fast.
It seems that creating your personal streaming service is out of your league.
But is it? — What if you could create your streaming service? your own Netflix? With your movies, music, photos, so that you can see it anywhere and share it with friends?
In this post, we’ll learn the basic steps to creating your personal streaming service. We’ll briefly describe the ingredients and the preparation.
What Ingredients Do You Need?
Simply put, streaming is: transmitting and receiving flawless media data over a network while allowing immediate playback without interruptions. Streaming is just like downloading something but playing it as it downloads. Although it sounds complicated, it is not. Fortunately, there is software and hardware technology available that can help you create a streaming service.
How does Streaming works?
Streaming uses a client/server model. The Server distributes all media content to the clients.
1. The Server.
To stream something, you need a server. The streaming server locates, organizes, and serves all the media requested from clients. Netflix is believed to have between 4,500 to 5000 distributed servers across the world.
On-prem vs. cloud-based?
But you may only need one server! You can have an on-premise or cloud-based server. You may want to run a home-based streaming service, store all content on a large media, and allow a network device to transfer all media content via a Wireless LAN. Or you can also use a server on the cloud to offload maintenance, deployment, security, and other functions to a third party.
Which Software? Plex Media Server is the preferred software for streaming servers. It is free and very straightforward to use.
2. The Client.
Clients are devices that display the media-on-demand. They can be from laptops, mobiles, smart TVs, etc. Plex Server Client is straightforward because you can open it with a simple web browser or install it on almost any device.
Of course, client devices would need to have the proper processing power, screen, and access to the Internet to play the media as it comes.
The Preparation: Deploying a Streaming Server.
You could install a dedicated on-premise server to play your media. But that would require 100% responsibility on deployment, installation, and maintenance, which is out of the scope on this post. Also, you would need a large bandwidth to transfer media to local and remote clients.
In this tutorial, we’ll talk about the cloud-based dedicated streaming server: The VPS Seedbox.
A VPS Seedbox allows you to upload personal media from your local resources, download media from third-party P2P sites, and stream media anywhere, and with any device.
VPS Seedboxes can be either dedicated or shared.
A dedicated virtual server is when all the resources of a single virtual server go to a single user. This type of server is rented with a stated amount of memory, storage, and bandwidth. On the other hand, a shared VPS is a server where all resources are shared with other users. An example would be a single physical server that hosts multiple sites.
When you get a Seedbox for the first time, you’ll get:
1. Remote Access VPS. The VPS Seedbox provider will give you access to a shared or dedicated remote server. They are likely to give you encrypted access and security protocols to log into your server. They’ll also provide you with information on connecting with a specific remote/web admin application, such as VNC, X2Go client, or Microsoft Remote Desktop. Including all access information like IP and the credentials.
2. Manage the remote VPS. With this information in hand, you’ll be able to access and manage the VPS Seedbox from your local computer via remote access.
3. Control the VPS Seedbox. Once you log into the VPS Seedbox, you can download torrents anonymously and create media libraries for streaming. Plex Media Server is free, the easiest, and most efficient streaming media service.
4. You can also download all media to your on-premises. You can use a safe transfer mechanism like SFTP. The SFTP server on the VPS Seedbox allows you to transfer all information to your local computer with an SFTP Client. VPS Seedboxes will usually have a pre-installed SFTP or FTPS application, such as FileZilla Server so that you only need to download the client on your computer and transfer your files directly. You can also use other services such as HTTPS and RSync, to transfer data to your local computer.
5. Make Streaming better and easier. Make Streaming better and easier. To make a streaming life more convenient and comfortable, most of these services are already optimized for streaming media. For example, they are likely to include torrent clients like uTorrent to download/upload torrents immediately, Sonarr-and-Jackett to automatically download media, Handbreak to encode videos, and Plex to organize media and stream it anywhere.
The Streaming Media Software.
Plex is a client-server media system. It automatically organizes your entire media collection, allows you to stream it, and shows it from any client device.
To make it simple: You can install Plex Server on your home computer, plug a storage device with your media collection, and stream all your media from any device within your Local Area Network.
But what’s really cool about Plex is that you can install it on a remote server (or VPS) upload/download all media to that server, and stream all your content from anywhere on the planet, and even share it with your friends!
How does Plex Server work?
- Plex Media Server: The core component that tracks, organizes, and gives you access to all your media files. It can be on-prem or cloud-based.
- Plex Client: The Plex Client is a different, simpler piece of software, that fetches the media files from the server. It connects to the server, displays the content, and plays it. It can be installed anywhere, from web browsers, smartphones, Smart TVs, Xbox, etc.
- Plex Central Server: This is Plex’s server, which stores and maintains information on your Plex account. When you connect Client and Server across the Internet, the Plex Central Server is doing the mediation.
Deploying Streaming Software.
There are two ways to deploy Plex: On-premises and through the Cloud via a VPS Seedbox.
On the one hand, an on-premises streaming server is fantastic because it lets you have more control over your resources, such as bandwidth and CPU utilization. An on-premises Plex streaming server is great for 1-2 users on a small home but larger than that; you might need a powerful dedicated server. If you are using it to stream content from remote devices, you’ll need a wide bandwidth and powerful CPU.
On the other hand, a cloud-based VPS Seedbox will deal with maintenance, upgrades, storage, infrastructure, security, and pre-installed apps, such as Plex. Everything is handled on a silver platter. You’ll be able to stream all your content anywhere because the VPS is precisely tailored for that. But of course, it comes with a membership price.
Putting Everything Together.
As shown in the diagram below, the VPS Seedbox pre-configured with Plex Server will connect to the Plex Central Server via the Internet. It will get all your Plex membership and media information. You’ll be able to download media to your VPS Seedbox and stream it immediately from any client.
Deploying and running Plex media system from a VPS Seedbox can give you the following benefits:
- Create your online media libraries with Plex. Then stream it with a Plex Client anywhere in the world.
- Fully automate your Plex Media Server to request movies, TV shows, and music to be obtained automatically to your server with software like Sonarr, Radarr, and Jackett.
- Store and load all your media collection right from the Internet and display it on any device.
- Download it to your local resources using a secured transferring method such as FTPS or SFTP.
- You can also improve security using a VPN tunnel from client to server.