Advice on System Set-Up for Home Assistant and Plex

Hello all. I have searched the forums and found some relevant advice but it all seems to be a year or more old and I am worried a lot of the information may be obsolete.

I have been messing around with only the very basics of Home Assistant for about a year now but I am ready to take the plunge and invest a bit more into some real hardware. I have been using a Pi 3 with microSD card and while I have not had any issues so far, everything says the SD card will fail eventually so I want to move onto something a bit more robust.

At the same time, I have been looking to move into Plex and set up a home media server for quite some time to rip by close to a thousand DVD/Blu Rays as well as all of my music, and was thinking about killing two birds with one stone. I am looking for advice on hardware for these.

My tech skills are decent. I get overwhelmed with a lot of new information at once but I can follow online guides pretty well even if they are not fully up to date. I am not super comfortable with tinkering with hardware such as flashing an OS on a light or switch though.

I am currently looking at most likely setting up a NAS of some kind. I have never used Docker before but I think I could probably figure it out. I would like to keep my Home Assistant and Plex Server on a single device (as well as maybe a few other things in the future such as security camera backup) if possible but was also looking at an Nvidia Shield Pro for the Plex server alone. One question I had about Plex specifically is I cannot find anywhere if people recommend keeping the actual storage (the movie/audio files themselves) on an SSD vs HDD. Every time I Google this question it only ever talks about having the Plex server itself on SSD vs HDD.

I have seen good reviews about Synology NAS systems, and the vast majority of my use of Plex will be local on my home network, but there will be times when I will want to access it remotely, and while I currently do not have any 4k movies, I want to start going in that direction and want to try to future-proof my setup for 4k if at all possible without adding a ridiculous extra cost.

My Home Assistant setup is slowly but surely growing. It controls three TV’s, about 10 Google Home devices, door locks, my HVAC, two security cameras, a washer/dryer, and my next project is getting all my light switches replaced with smart switches to control my lighting.

My main question is does anyone know if it would be better to go with an Nvidia Shield Pro and a cheaper NAS system, or a more expensive NAS system by itself that can handle Plex. I do not know if the stronger NAS would also help with Home Assistant, usefulness as a local backup for security camera footage, etc. I am hoping to drop no more than around $400 to $500 on everything, (I already have 2, 2TB HDD’s that are compatible with most NAS systems out there I’ve seen and will use that as a starting point for storage space).

Does anyone have a similar setup and could provide some recommendations on good hardware and/or tutorials I could follow to get things up and running? Thank you so much for any help.

There might be multiple factors you have to take into consideration.

  1. I don’t have 4K media, but from what I’ve seen, such movies can be around 40GB in sice for a 2 hour movie. Not considering a variable bitrate, that would mean you roughly require a 50MBit upstream connection to direct-play the content.
  2. Plex provides a feature referred to as transcoding, which re-encodes the stored media to a format the client-device is capable of displaying. This will reduce the required bandwidth a lot, but also requires a lot of computation on the Plex server (not taking hardware-acclererated encoding into account).

That being said here are some thoughts:

  • The content will likeley be at rest most of the times and won’t change. For such data I personally don’t see a need for SSDs. HDDs are much cheaper.
  • Depending on which quality you choose for your media-backups, the 4TB could quickly be eaten up. With an average of 3GB per movie, you already are at 3TB with your 1000 DVDs / BluRays.
  • In case you can’t rely on your clients the be able to direct-play the content, you will need transcoding. And as you mention wanting a future-proof system, you probably have to take this into consideration when deciding for the used hardware.

I don’t know what’s currently available on the market, but the last time I looked the NAS-devices capable of transcoding where very expensive. A fairly popular device which isn’t too expensive would be an Intel NUC. Their integrated GPU provides QuickSync hardware accelleration and is able to transcode multiple streams at once without eating up all the CPU (at least if the media is in a format that can be transcoded with the accelleration). However I don’t know how well this works with 4K content.

I myself have a NUC with i5 processor and a 8TB HDD connected via USB. I don’t run Home Assistant on that machine though because I don’t want to risk a high system load, caused by transcoding, to impact my Home Automations.

Here’s what I have that does almost exactly what you are after:

  • A QNAP NAS model TS-251+ with 2 GB of RAM and a Celeron 2.00 GHz CPU
  • This has two bays, and I have a 4 TB hard drive in each bay.
  • I set up the disks so they are in a RAID configuration - that means I only have 4 TB available…
  • Home Assistant running a RPi 4
  • QNAP runs an SQL server (MariaDB)

Then, I moved the history data from Home Assistant (so it doesn’t hammer the SD card constantly) to the NAS by adding the following to my configuration.yaml file:

  purge_keep_days: 180
  db_url: mysql://user_name_from_NAS_database:password_for_NAS_database@IP_ADDRESS_TO_NASS:3306/DB_NAME_FROM_NAS?charset=utf8
  # Following are excluded from the database
      - automation
      - updater
      - input_boolean
      - group
      - light.mbr_one
      - switch.dryer
      - and a whole bunch more - data I know I'll never look at

The documentation on the recorder is at: Recorder - Home Assistant (

Now, for Plex, we installed that on the NAS. Plex has a fully functioning app that loads pretty easily on QNAP from within QNAP. I’m not sure about Synology, but my guess is that they do. We’ve been very happy with the QNAP performance and setup. It passed the “rest of the family” test, i.e., they use it all the time on multiple TVs without any problems.

If I could do it over again, I would have bought a NAS with a more powerful CPU and more RAM. How much more powerful? I don’t really know, but there have a few times I wish it were a little faster. It’s not bad at all, and it’s going on 5 years old.

My other advice is to definitely move the Home Assistant history data to an SQL server on the NAS. I haven’t had any issues with the RPi 4/SD card - probably because it’s not written to a lot - only logs.

As far as storage space for Plex, you will run out at some point (that’s like a physical law of storage space, I think). I have 436 movies burned to disk, a few TV series, and a bunch of music (they don’t use that much space). And I’ve used about 80% of my available hard drive space. The usage was higher, but we realized there were movies on the drive that we would never watch again - so they are gone now. So my experience with the NAS is that even though a bunch of TB seems like a lot, you still have to prune it every now and then. And as @danielperna84 said, 4K movies will eat up the space a lot faster.

I try to keep my movie files between 2 and 4 GB each. I use Handbrake to knock them down to size after ripping them from disc.

Good luck! It’s a fun adventure!!

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My setup is fairly old and needs some revamp, so I can’t give you hardware recommendations.
But have a look at as an operating system that has (had) NAS as main focus and also provides a great docker integration. (With pre-defined templates for almost everything)
I run everything off of it. NAS, HA, MQTT, PLEX, INFLUX, GRAFANA, …
One of the benefits is that unRAID does not require all your disks to be the same to provide protection. With a few restrictions you can mix and match your disks to make your storage pool as big as you want.