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Thread: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

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    Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    I'd been thinking about installing Jellyfin to manage my growing media collection.
    Instead of Hijacking the QOTW: Do you still buy physical media topic I thought I'd start a new one as Saracen mentioned Emby that I'd not heard of.

    So now there's quite a choice...

    I found a useful comparrison of features between Emby, Jellyfin, Plex, Kodi ++. I believe it's up to date.
    https://github.com/Protektor-Desura/...-Media-Servers


    My primary function I'm looking for is to store Video files that I could access from my TV in a similar manner of Netflix/Prime.
    I'm not bothered by the other features like Music, Broadcast TV or streaming. I'm happy to keep those as a separate entity.

    I'm not too sure which one to get. My preference of platform for the server side is Windows simply because I'm familiar with the OS and can diagnose/fault find a lot quicker than the others.
    I have a feeling I'm going to need some sort of additional hardware client as well. Panasonic is very unlikely to have the means to connect to either of these without some sort of Stick/Mini PC. Their App Shop is very behind the times.

    What do you like about the Media server you use?
    Are there any others I should consider (I'm definitely not going down the QNAP/Synology route).

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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    Well, my opinion of the media server software is that they all do the same sort of thing, but in slighty different ways. For instance, it seemed to me that :-

    • Plex - perhaps the most polished BUT ;-
      • Not as configurable as others
      • a number of options behind a paywall

    • Emby - not far short of Plex in polish
      • More configurable than Plex, but a bit more complex to set up
      • Still has stuff behind a paywall, but not as much
      • Not as restrictive in layout
      • If Plex is Apple, Emby is Windows and Jellyfin is Linux

    • Jellyfin
      • Open Source
      • No paywall (that I remember
      • A bit behind the other two in features, but good nonetheless


    I got the distinct 'feel' that the choice was going to come partly down to exactly what you wanted out of it, and your approach to both a bit of extra config, and/or paying for some features.

    Given what you sau about what you want, and don't want, I doubt any of the features behind a paywall will be an issue, so that discounts that. For most of the basic functionality, they'll all do. How 'configurable' do you want it?

    I am NOT an expert on these packages, not by a country mile. I excluded Plex because it felt too Apple-mindset for me .... i,e, this is how we do stuff, and so will you. That has some advantages, but drawbacks too.

    Emby is more able to set to store stuff, and display it, how YOU want, but .... you do need to do some reading and work out, for instance, folder structures. There are vatious ways of organising your media, and most structures will work in that they will pick up and play your files BUT ....

    If you are loading up your own personal videos, it won't much matter how you store it but will impact how you can display it. If you're planning on digitised films, TV shows etc, then not complying with sructure requirements negatively impacts the ability of Emby to 'scrape' databases (IMDB, TVDB and so on) to fill in metadata for you and build cast prgiles, director details, episode lists, descriptions etc. Now you could, of course, do most of that manually and for home/personal videos you'll (obviously) have to, but for a large collection of flms and TV progs it's either going to take you a very, VERY long time and shedloads of work, or you wanna get the folder structures such that they comply with what IMDB / TVDB et.al. expect.

    Which brings me to my main criticism of Emby. The sftware, IMHO, is damn good. The documentaion .... a bit less so. I mean, most stuff you need is there, but it shows signs of being written by someone that already knows how the software works, and not used in anger by someone trying to work out how the bleep to do this, or that. That bit me, a little. I got there, by careful reading and expeimentation. But instructions are not always cler or comprehensive, and a bit stingy with examples.

    Then again, you 'buy' free software, you can't really complain.

    Jellyfin? I didn't really spend much time on it. Some of the features I wanted, or at least wanted to be sure were available if I decided I wanted them, were in Emby/Plex but not Jellyfin. Behind a paywall in several cases, but there. So I ruled Jellyfin out, fairly early. After a few more generations, my guess is they'll all be about as capable as each other, but I don't plan on changing, so wanted maximum versatility right now.

    Oh, and built in to my plans are a 'lifetime' paywall licence anyway, so I dont care what is behind it, and what isn't. I'm just spending some time making sure I can get Emby to do what I want (mostly, so far, yup) and that I like the way it works, before forking out for the licence. Once I do that, I'm pat the point of no return.

    But if your needs are limited to what you said, and stay that way, my guess is any will do what you want so it comes down to easy of install, ease of use and degree of flexibility to get things how you want them, not you adapting to working how some packages insist you do.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    Quote Originally Posted by AGTDenton View Post
    ...

    Are there any others I should consider (I'm definitely not going down the QNAP/Synology route).
    I did go that way, but I doubt it matters to your choice. Emby, for example, is available for a variety of server platforms, including (but not limited to) Win, Linux, NAS versions like QAP/Synology, but also TrueNAS, and a variety of others.

    If you're planning on using a TV, you might want to check the availability of the client side for your set (LG WebOS, AndroidTV, etc) are all there, certainly fr Plex and Emby, as are Firestick, nVidia Shield/Pro (which was one of my must-have factoors), Roku, and so on. But if you need specific hardware, make sure.

    You can probably also access them via a straight browser session - that's how I'm doing it on my Win machine. TV can too, I believe, but not tried it.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    I've used Plex forever, the issues Saracen mentioned are not an issue for me.
    As you say, its Windows based to easier to manage, I run it on a VM and pretty much other than updates I leave it alone to do its thing.

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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    i've been using kodi since it was xbmc on the first xbox and that let's me stream pretty much any media from a SMB share on my pc or from an ftp site or usb stick or HDD plugged directly into it. it's free and works on all sorts of platforms. i use mine on a 4k firestick in one room and nvidia sheild in another room

    my setup is limited to playing stuff whilst at home, which is the only place i watch. i understand the different with plex is that can let you watch stuff elsewhere, but there is a fee involved

    i don't have any fancy menus or anything, it just shows the filenames and let's me play them

    i don't use any plugins on kodi, just vanilla setup with the old xbmc style interface

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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    Firstly thank you all for replying previously.


    I've finally had a go with Jellyfin & Emby


    I actually installed Jellyfin 3/4 months ago or so but the outcome was sadly a fail.

    The only reason I could not continue with Jellyfin is that it relies heavily on all the files being on the server that you install the software on.
    As soon as you add a networked drive which is where all mine would reside, it could not cope. I spent the better part of a week trying to get the library to detect networked content, and it just would not work. Looking up the issue many people have the same problem and really the only solution was to have the content on the computer you're using. This of course is completely impractical for network only drives and the way I have my storage configured.


    So today I've installed Emby, and within 10mins I have installed the server, created my first library and connected to the library with my phone with no issues whatsoever.

    After trying Jellyfin, believing that I might have similar or other problems with the next solution, I've only just been able to make some time for Emby which as it turns out it took no time at all.

    So I may as well have a good go with Emby before trying something else. Sadly my Panasonic TV does not support an Emby app so if this turns out to be the final solution, I'll have to get some sort of Roku device. Not that it's bad idea in the long run anyway as the Panasonic App Store is dire! For now I'll just plug in a Laptop and see how it is with that.

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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    Quote Originally Posted by Saracen999 View Post
    If you are loading up your own personal videos, it won't much matter how you store it but will impact how you can display it. If you're planning on digitised films, TV shows etc, then not complying with sructure requirements negatively impacts the ability of Emby to 'scrape' databases (IMDB, TVDB and so on) to fill in metadata for you and build cast prgiles, director details, episode lists, descriptions etc. Now you could, of course, do most of that manually and for home/personal videos you'll (obviously) have to, but for a large collection of flms and TV progs it's either going to take you a very, VERY long time and shedloads of work, or you wanna get the folder structures such that they comply with what IMDB / TVDB et.al. expect.

    Which brings me to my main criticism of Emby. The sftware, IMHO, is damn good. The documentaion .... a bit less so. I mean, most stuff you need is there, but it shows signs of being written by someone that already knows how the software works, and not used in anger by someone trying to work out how the bleep to do this, or that. That bit me, a little. I got there, by careful reading and expeimentation. But instructions are not always cler or comprehensive, and a bit stingy with examples.
    I'm now experiencing the Emby Folder structure requirements.

    So far, with most of the films I have it's managed to cope with the metdata. There's only been a couple of anomalies.


    FYI there's been a recent exploit discovered with Emby. This is only of concern if you allow incoming connections via the Internet.
    https://emby.media/support/articles/advisory-23-05.html

    Only beta has been patched at this time.

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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    I find Emby gets the metadata right the large majority of the time. Where I had had .... issues .... is usually more with boxed sets of TV shows than films. Much of the same basic technique works, which means getting structures and especially naming conventions right. It's a good habit anyway, though.

    Where it can get a bit trickier is, when digitising DVD/Bluray sets there's often 'specials'. One option is just don't bother with those but the pedant in me rebels at that. The second option is that the metadata databases (TVDB, et.al) know about quite a lot of those specials, but not all. Where they have the data, it'll get picked up and done automatically usually storing them at Series 0, though you often have you get naming right..

    Where it has to be done manually, at least in my experience, is when specials relate directly to a specific series. For instance, Battlestar Galactica has sort-of 4 or 5 series. S1 to S4 are prety straightforward, but S5 is more of an S4.5, and extended version of S4 it seems, bringing the whole thing to an overall early end. Things like S4.5 do NOT fit neatly into Emby's naming conventions.

    Also, one series (from memory, S3 but it could be S4) sort-of starts with a side-series consisting of 2 extended episodes, so the S3 E1 of the disk is more like S3 E3 in actual chronological order as the mini-series was shown after the end of one series and before the start of the other.

    And of course, where 'specials' are series-specific, like actors or director etc cmmenting on aspects of that series, they really belong with that series, not all bunged into a 'specials' S0.

    That's when it can get a bit tricky. It's not that it's hard to do .... once you've worked out how you want to handle it, where you want it displayed etc. And, how to "edit metadata" to do that. That's where I find the documentation a bit too brief, too vague, lacking in sufficient examples.

    But it's genuinely not hard to do, once you get your head around how Emby works.

    This is probably one of the biggest strengths but also a bit of a drawback with Emby.

    Getting it installed, running and doing stuff? Dead easy. When you want to deviate a bit, its strength is that it really is possible to set things up with exceptions like the above, pretty much how YOU want them to show up, but it isn't great at showing you how. There is, therefore, a bit of a learning curve as soon as you step outside automatic handling.

    Again, it's NOT hard, but takes a bit of noodling to work out what it does, in order to do what you want. I mean, once you've dug around in the menus a bit, looked at the metadata, tried this and tried that, it soon becomes clear how Emby uses which bits of metadata to do which bits of its layout, and from that point on, it's easy.

    But at least you CAN do it the way you want it.

    Oh, and I have no trouble running Emby on the NAS, network drives andor SMB shares,and connecting via browser on the PC, or an app on nVidia Shield Pro attached to the TV. The TV also detects it directly but I use the Shield Pro.

    Thanks for the exploit warning. I have the entire NAS locked down (I think) to LAN-only, and all external services and potential servers turned off.
    Last edited by Saracen999; 30-05-2023 at 11:26 PM.
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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    So in adding Music based content, it is completely bamboozled!

    It looks like I'm going to have to separate Music Videos vs Music DVDs vs Music Documentaries... otherwise it's completely lost based on the databases it's pulling the info from.

    I'm quite enjoying it so far, I like the fact I can do my maintenance remotely (despite the recent exploit).

    Next task will be to come up with some best practices which will take a bit of experimentation.
    TV shows is next on the list to add which will probably teach me quite a lot by the sounds of it.

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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    I must admit, I don't use it for music. I rarely use music on anything not a PC, so run MediaMonkey 5 for that (on the PC, music files on the NAS).
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    As an update for anyone still interested, I had a session with plex too. I set up a parallel movie/TV show collection to the Emby stuff, installed Plex and ... it worked. It has, IMHO, quite a lot going for it. And fr msic, there's Plex Amp, too.

    It still has the paywall thing going on, but I was willing to pay for that.

    A couple ofthings put me off a bit, though. \the first was .... rumours .... about the financial position of Plex whch, allegedly, is a bit precarious. How true that is I've no idea, but it makes e nervous about buying a "lifetime" licence.

    The other aspect is it's propensity to "phone home". That, I'm not a fan of. #

    If you put those two factors together, well, I'm averse (as anyone familiar to my long-held view on Steam) to setting myself up as a hostage to fortune by handing over a non-trivial sum of money for what's supposed to be a lifetime licence, where if they change their mind, they can just disable the software you paid for, at the server end, "lifetime" licence or not.

    It's certainly somewhat the case with Emby too, in relation to te extra facilities that a "premiere" licence buys you, but as far as I can tell, Emby does far less phoning home and doesn't require an internet connection, more or less permanently, to work.

    The best bet in terms of that factor is probably still Jellyfin, but i don't get the feel that it's quite there yet, in feature or 'polish' terms.

    So, I removed Plex from my servers, a bit reluctantly i might add, but ..... so be it. If it didn't require all the home-phoning, I'd probably still use it, at least, in parallel.
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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    For longest time I was a Kodi user, since XBMC days,like the other poster here, however most of the TV's in the house are connected to FireTv sticks and they are severly limited on memory theses days due to the uninstallable crap that Amazon puts on them. And because I'm a media hoarder my library (17Tb and growing) the Kodi database size was nearly 2Gb which became too big for the FiretV sticks. There are workarounds like offloading storage to USB drives but that causes issues as well.

    So time came to set up media server on separate pc and just have a client app on the FireTV sticks. So I now have a NUC running as a Plex/JellyFin server amoungst other duties and the FireTV sticks have both JellyFin and Plex installed both accessing the same media library running off a Synology NAS. I prefer Plex, the wife and kids prefer Jellyfin as simpler interface. Both work well and pretty much flawlessly, but these are Linux installs as the NUC is currently running Ubuntu.

    The best thing is the NAS which amongst other things is an automated media download box running Sonarr, Radarr, lidarr, Bazarr, Prowlarr, SABnzbd, qbittorentVPN, SpeedTest, Pi-Hole, Portainer via docker. The library folder is a SMB share for the whole local network and NUC mounts it at boot as the library folder for Plex and Jellyfin server. Sounds complicated but once you have your basic Docker compose folder sorted it's actually pretty simple and means that I can also get the same setup running on OMV, TrueNas Scale and Unraid pretty quickly.
    Last edited by jimborae; 02-04-2024 at 10:20 AM.

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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    I use Plex, have done for ages, never paid for it tho as I don't need the 'paid' features.

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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    Quote Originally Posted by AGTDenton View Post

    I actually installed Jellyfin 3/4 months ago or so but the outcome was sadly a fail.

    The only reason I could not continue with Jellyfin is that it relies heavily on all the files being on the server that you install the software on.
    As soon as you add a networked drive which is where all mine would reside, it could not cope. I spent the better part of a week trying to get the library to detect networked content, and it just would not work. Looking up the issue many people have the same problem and really the only solution was to have the content on the computer you're using. This of course is completely impractical for network only drives and the way I have my storage configured.
    My conclusion: Jellyfin=rubbish
    Should I decide to move from Plex, I will under no circumstances consider Jellyfin. Life's too short to spend endless hours trying to get junk software to work.
    "In a perfect world... spammers would get caught, go to jail, and share a cell with many men who have enlarged their penises, taken Viagra and are looking for a new relationship."

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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    Quote Originally Posted by AGTDenton View Post
    Firstly thank you all for replying previously.


    I've finally had a go with Jellyfin & Emby


    I actually installed Jellyfin 3/4 months ago or so but the outcome was sadly a fail.

    The only reason I could not continue with Jellyfin is that it relies heavily on all the files being on the server that you install the software on.
    As soon as you add a networked drive which is where all mine would reside, it could not cope. I spent the better part of a week trying to get the library to detect networked content, and it just would not work. Looking up the issue many people have the same problem and really the only solution was to have the content on the computer you're using. This of course is completely impractical for network only drives and the way I have my storage configured.
    Never encountered that issue with Jellyfin and that's exactly how I have mine set up. My Libraries are SMB shares mounted on the Linux box that Jellyfin and Plex server are installed on. Maybe its an issue for the Windows version??

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    Re: Media Servers: Jellyfin vs Emby Vs something else

    Quote Originally Posted by jimborae View Post
    Never encountered that issue with Jellyfin and that's exactly how I have mine set up. My Libraries are SMB shares mounted on the Linux box that Jellyfin and Plex server are installed on. Maybe its an issue for the Windows version??
    That, and Denton's comments, are the kind of thing that put me of Jellyfin.

    To be clear, I haven't even tried it, but the sense of that, the potential fiddling to get it running, is why. I thoroughly approve of the principle behind it (Open source, community project, etc) but, certainly for my media server, I pretty much just want something that just works, not a 'project'.

    And that, I feel, is the balance at play here, with Plex on one end, Jellyfin on the other, and Emby somewhere in-between. Plex is the most "just works" of the three, but the price paid for that is the rather more rigid environment .... and the phoning home. Emby can still require a bit of tweaking, mostly in initial setup, and there is a bit of a learning curve attached, but it's not very onerous. Jellyfin? As I said, Ive not tried it so my perspective is from reading about it, forum threads etc. It feels a bit more than I want to try to sort out .... but having not actually tried it that's an impression, not experience.

    For anyone looking at these with zero experience, I feel it's a combination of what you want/need, and your background. I'm a billion miles from being a Linux expert, but I have had a couple of machines running Ubuntu for years. That said, I use it almost exclusively in GUI mode and I'm a novice in (Linux) command line. That said, my computing experience gooes back decades, and I'm not a novice with command line interfaces in geberal, just with the Linux CLI.

    So, setting up Jellyfin is not, I'm sure, beyond what I could cope with. Just beyond what I want to cope with. Both Plex and Emby were pretty simple, but they are running on a NAS. Plex was ready to install in the NAS GUI by clicking an icon. Emby, a little more fiddly, but not by much. It took me probably 10 minutes, and most of that was sitting and watching the installer do it's thing.

    I've been asked several times, by friends, which to use and I don't find that easy to answer. A lot depends on the background of the user, and what they're prepared to tackle. One friend that wanted a media server is really not computer-literate. Using a WP and accounts package, as a user not an admin, is about their level and much beyond opening and saving files, or printing them, is a challenge. The solution there was that I set it up, showed them basic usage, how to populate media directories with appropriately titled files, and that's about it.

    For others, they've been wanting to get a bit more computer literate and setting up and running their own NAS is a good first step, with some hand-holding, and then Plex or Emby become pretty easy. But I have neither time nor inclination to be their 24/7 support line, and made that explicitly clear before starting. One friend (well, acquaintance really) didn't quite get that, until I reminded them of that conversation and explained my schedule of fees. Then, they got the point remarkably quickly.

    All told, for me, Emby was a good middle ground. It suits enough of what I want it to do, and is easy enough to set up and run without risking becoming a 'project' to mainrain. But that's just me, and I'm wary as hell of recommending any of the three above the others because so much seems to depend on what the user wants from it, what they'll be running it on, what they know and how much they're prepared to dig in to the detail.
    A lesson learned from PeterB about dignity in adversity, so Peter, In Memorium, "Onwards and Upwards".

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